Wesley Baressi worked as a warehouse manager, studied law and played cricket in his spare time until last year. But the 26-year-old could take three months leave without pay from his job to prepare for the World Cup because the Netherlands Cricket Association gave him financial support.
The wicketkeeper-batsman now hopes to extend his "professional" cricket career by playing county cricket in England and knows the World Cup is likely to be his last chance to impress the clubs. "Apart from helping Netherlands win, that (impressing county clubs) is also a major incentive to perform in the World Cup," says Baressi, who has been given a full time contract for 2011 by the Dutch cricket board.
Baressi is one of the many Associate team players who are nursing dreams to turn professional and know fairly well this World Cup could be their last chance to make that shift.
Most of these amateurs got a chance to experience the life of "professional" cricketers" since their teams qualified for the World Cup in 2009 as their cricket boards offered them contracts. Canada captain Ashish Bagai thus took a break from his job as an investment banker in England while Harvir Baidwan could stop job-hunting after he was handed a central contract in 2009.
All these contracts were made possible thanks to the International Cricket Council's special funding for World Cup preparations. However, that cash flow could dry out after the tournament as the apex body will prune the number of teams for the 2015 edition to 10 teams.
"If we are not going to play the World Cup, then the board will struggle to get sponsors. We will also have to look for other jobs and play cricket on the sidelines," says the Chandigarh-born Baidwan, who migrated to Canada eight years ago. This World Cup is so vital for the likes of Baidwan, who along with many of his Canada teammates played club cricket in Sri Lanka last year. Although it was not for financial gain, it gave them the opportunity to experience the life of a professional player. "The big team players have their own agenda. But for most of us this is our last chance to turn professional and we don't want to miss it."
John Mooney (Ireland)
Andrew White (Ireland)
Atse Buurman (Holland)
Bernard Loots (Holland)
Profession: Works as finance department in mining company