The chairman of the Philippine cricket squad says he is confident of qualifying for the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
The Philippines will take on Indonesia, Japan and South Korea on the cricket field of Emilio Aguinaldo College in December, when Dasmariñas, Cavite, hosts the initial qualifier for the competition.
“We are favourites for this qualifying tournament,” said Faisal Khan, chairman of the Philippine Cricket Association management committee, at a press conference at City Garden Hotel, Makati.
“We should win comfortably and we will be a medal contender in the 2019 SEA Games.” a
The winner after two round robins will advance to the second of four stages of qualifying early in 2019.
Australia will host the World Cup in 2020 with defending champion the West Indies — team including several Caribbean nations — looking to extend its reign.
Cricket a ‘mystery’
The Philippine cricket squad will rely heavily on overseas-born Filipinos to boost their prospects.
Mr Khan said there were several top-flight players in the United Kingdom and Australia with Filipino roots who are expected to join the Philippine squad.
Foreign residents of the Philippines can also join the squad, so long as they have lived in the country for seven years.
A 24-team men’s league and a four-team women’s league currently compete on the field at Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Jane Livesey, the East Asia development manager for Cricket Australia, said there was “huge potential” for the game in the Philippines — despite it currently being a mystery to most of the population.
According to a report by Rappler, this unfamiliarity with the game was on show at the press conference, where a sign outside the function room welcomed attendees to the “Philippine Crickets Association”.