Stars of the future target qualification
Tue, Jul 10, 2007 3:43 PM
The road to the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2008 begins this month as teams battle through qualifying to try and reach the 16 team event which will take place in Malaysia next year.
Five qualifying events will take place in July and August across the ICC regions, with the first event being the East-Asia Pacific Region qualifier in Vanuatu between July 17-24th, with Japan, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji all competing.
Further qualifying events then take place in Europe (Belfast, 23-27 July), Americas (Toronto, 12-18 August), Asia (Malaysia, 20-29 August) and Africa (Benoni, 25-30 August).
Matthew Kennedy, the ICC Global Development Manager, believes these events are an important showcase for the Development Program. He said: "In many ways, the quality of the national Under 19 sides of our Associate and Affiliate members is the culmination and measuring stick of their overall junior development programs they have implemented over the years since the ICC Development Program began in 1997.
"These Qualifiers provide something for all young cricketers in these countries to aim for. In the past, such opportunities were only afforded to our Associate members but - as the Program has grown - now Affiliate members in every one of our five regions also have the opportunity to win their way through to the Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
"Importantly, these Under 19 squads are the future of the senior national teams and their exposure and experience in playing international cricket against their peers - and possibly against the world's leading cricket nations - will be invaluable to their career development."
The Associate and Affiliate countries have already proven in previous events that they are capable of competing with the Full Members at Under 19 level, with Nepal defeating South Africa and New Zealand (2006), South Africa (2004) and Pakistan (2002), while Ireland almost surprised England, who they lost to by four runs, and New Zealand, who defeated them by one wicket, in 2006.
And Kennedy believes these results reflect the improving standards of young cricketers beyond the sport's traditional boundaries.
He said: "Standards have both risen and expanded as more countries are now involved in our qualifying system. The Under 19 Qualifiers around the world are hard fought affairs and over the years we have seen many tight results, and many upset results which show that different members are presenting fresh challenges and showing improvement all the time. We are now seeing cricket played much more smartly at this level as players have come up through systems which were previously not there, or not as well structured."
Pakistan has won the previous two ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup competitions, defeating India in a dramatic final by 38 runs in 2006 in Sri Lanka. Pakistan made 109 all out, before India were dismissed for 71 in reply, having at one stage been 9-6.
European Under 19 Division 1 Championship 2007
Venue: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Dates: 23 - 27 July
Result: Winner to U19 CWC
Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark
Netherlands v Ireland (Bangor)
Scotland v Denmark (Stormont)
Denmark v Ireland (Osborne Park)
Netherlands v Scotland (Stormont)
Denmark v Netherlands (Belmont)
Ireland v Scotland (Osborne Park)