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Under 19 Championship Preview

Sun, Aug 3, 2008 1:29 PM


The tenth ICC European Under 19 Championship begins on Tuesday, with Ireland hoping to win its third consecutive title and sixth in all. Denmark will be hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive last place finish, whilst Scotland and the Netherlands are both fielding strong sides including players with experience of their senior teams.

Defending champion Ireland is fielding what for Under-19 level is quite an experienced side with six players, including captain Andrew Balbirnie, having played in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia earlier this year. Balbirnie and Shane Getkake have both represented Ireland in their Twenty20 matches against the Lashings World XI this year.

Five of the Irish side played in the European Under-17 Championship last month, though one player from that event will not be with the Irish side for this tournament - 17 year old Paul Stirling, who is becoming an increasingly important member of the senior side, having played in the senior European Championship and also being named as a reserve for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Belfast. His absence will allow others to step up to the plate for this event, perhaps hoping to emulate him and play for the full Irish side within a year.

Last year's runner-up Scotland, who will be hoping to capitalise on a home advantage, has a strong squad, with two players who have played for the full Scotland side this year, and a further three who have played for Scotland A.

One of those two who have played for the senior side, Calum MacLeod, has played for Warwickshire in first-class cricket this year, and was the player of the tournament in Belfast last year. Scott Redhead has also been involved in county cricket, playing for Durham Second XI and the Durham Cricket Academy. Scotland will be coached by someone who knows what it's like to win major tournaments - former Scotland captain Craig Wright, who captained Scotland to their ICC Trophy win in Ireland in 2005.

The Netherlands, who will be hoping to win its first Under-19 title in Glasgow, has seven players who played in last year's tournament in Belfast, and will be hoping to do better than its third place finish in that tournament.

Steven de Bruin has already played for the Dutch senior team, against Denmark earlier this year, and two further players have played for the Netherlands A side, including Tim Gruijters, who has played for the Warwickshire County Cricket Club academy team.

The Danish squad that will hope to avoid another last placed finish is one that has been developing for several years. All members of the squad have previously played at Under-17 level, and all but four have been playing for Denmark since Under-13 level, including Hamid Shah, the youngest player in the tournament, who will celebrate his 16th birthday the day before he arrives in Glasgow with the Danish team.

Danish captain Rizwan Mahmood has played four times for the Danish senior team, including against Ireland in this year's European Championship, however has just been withdrawn after getting injured in tournament in Belfast last week - this will weaken the Danes.

Four grounds in Glasgow will play host to the tournament, including Hamilton Crescent, famous for having held the first ever international football match - Scotland against England - back in 1872.

Full details of the tournament can be found on the ICC Europe website at www.icc-europe.org/EUROU19/



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