Argentina's Pablo Ferguson on his way to a disappointing 5 runs
Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 (WCL Div. 5) begins on 18 February with six teams, Argentina, Bahrain, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Singapore and Malaysia all travelling to Singapore to compete for the two promotional spots on offer to WCL Div. 4 to be held later this year (2012).
Argentina coach, Toby Bailey, a former wicketkeeper for Northamptonshire in England, has been coaching the side for two years and despite relegation from WCL Div. 4 in 2010, Bailey is looking forward to the challenge of Singapore with the team being engaged in a rigorous training schedule ahead of travelling to Asia.
"We have been training hard for the last six weeks and have had a combination of games between ourselves and an English touring side. The younger players were sent to an ICC Latin Americas Academy which was held in Argentina earlier this month.
"We have also had the advantage of having Chris Brown, an ECB Level 4 specialist spin coach, over in Argentina helping our spinners and Andy Pick, our ICC Americas High Performance Manager, working with our the seam bowlers," said Bailey.
The side features a number of new faces with Argentina keen to bring a youthful element to its side travelling to Singapore: "Alejo Tissera, Lauturo Musiani, Hernan Fennell are all products of the Argentina Academy and are definitely players to look out for at this event.
"Tissera is a 21-year-old all-rounder who is exceptional in the field while Musiani is just 16 and a talented batsman and leg-spin bowler. Fennell has been working hard for the last couple of years on his medium pace and it's really paid off.
"Another thing watchers of the game should keep an eye out for is Hernan Williams who is taking over the wicket-keeping gloves from Ali Ferguson, he's only played a couple of World Cricket League games before back in 2008 but he's a young and a hard-hitting batter and very capable with the gloves. He had a nasty knee injury which stopped him playing cricket for a year and a half. He is now looking forward to being the side's number one keeper."
Argentina has had a disappointing run of form in the World Cricket League, slipping three divisions in the three successive rounds of the event. Bailey believes the side deserved to be relegated in 2010 but believes hard work and focus will help the side to hopefully maintain its position in WCL Div. 5 at least.
"We certainly deserved to be relegated in World Cricket League Division 4 as the standard was higher than previous years due to Associate countries improving dramatically.
"There are no magic answers, there is enough talent in the side to succeed, but we all need to do the basics well and not over complicate things. The senior players will have to bring the younger players through and follow the processes we have talked about. It will be very hard to stay in World Cricket League Division 5 but we are looking forward to the challenge with some fresh new faces," added Bailey.
One side Bailey will be keen to try and challenge this event is Cayman Islands, a team Argentina regularly face in the ICC Americas region and a side the team regularly lose too. Bailey wasn't too forthcoming on a plan of attack for beating the Islands, however he did admit the country is way ahead of Argentina when it comes to cricket culture.
"I really am not going to tell you the game plan! However, we have failed to beat them in the past because they are a better side than us. The fact that we have beaten them a couple of times in the last five years is amazing, especially with the team they have got they should beat us every time.
"Cayman have players who have played first-class cricket in the West Indies, we have players who have never even seen a first-class game. We only have five teams in our top division competition and our standard of cricket is low in comparison to theirs.
"Cricket in the Caymans is their national sport, they are close to Test nations and have cricket on TV. The average Argentine has never heard of cricket. The gap culturally and the standard of domestic cricket is huge which I suppose stands as some sort of explanation for the losses we've encountered against the side."
Bailey may not be too confident against the likes of Cayman Islands but one thing he is certain of is that the conditions his side has been preparing in in Argentina are not dissimilar to Singapore which will prove useful when it comes to the event.
"None of the side have played in Singapore before, however a few have played in Malaysia. We expect the wickets to be slow and low and the weather to be high humidity and around 30 degrees. Fortunately the weather in Buenos Aires is similar in January and we have been training in those conditions," concluded Bailey.