ICC launches Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand

DUNEDIN, New Zealand -- The build-up to the International Cricket Council's Under-19 Cricket World Cup entered its final phase on Monday when the competition was officially launched in Dunedin, New Zealand.

With the 16-team competition now less than two months away, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat pointed to the competition’s track record as a launching pad for future stars.

“It’s been shown over and over that a number of players come through this event, and very shortly afterwards they’re on the international arena in a meaningful way,” said Mr Lorgat.

Speaking at the launch function at University Oval, Dunedin, Mr Lorgat recalled some of the current stars who have come up through the under-19 ranks – including New Zealand’s own Ross Taylor, who captained the national U19 side at the 2002 event.

Mr Lorgat also noted the swift rise of South Africa opener Hashim Amla, who went on to full honours after playing in the 2002 tournament in New Zealand, and fast bowler Wayne Parnell, who played in the 2008 tournament in Malaysia.

“Wayne Parnell had hardly finished playing at the under-19 level when he was picked in the international side. This reflects the close migration from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup tournament to the international stage.”

Mr Lorgat also reinforced the importance of the ICC U19 CWC as one of the flagship events of the global game. “It’s an extremely important event for us at the ICC,” he said.

“We’ve pencilled this in as one of our major events going into the future. The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup deserves to be put alongside the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC World Twenty20, ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC Women’s World Cup.

“This ICC U19 CWC is the most important event that those under-19 players will play at this stage in their careers.”

Mr Lorgat confirmed that the ICC was committed to growing the profile of the tournament, and was in negotiations to boost the level of television coverage for the event – which will already see matches carried to a global broadcast audience of millions.

Mr Lorgat said he was “very relaxed” with the preparations for the tournament, noting that New Zealand Cricket had an excellent track record of hosting major tournaments, including both the U19 CWC (in 2002) and the ICC Women’s World Cup (1982 and 2000).

This 16-team tournament, which is seen as an important breeding ground for the next generation of senior international cricketers, will take place in New Zealand from 15 to 30 January.

Defending champion India will open its campaign against qualifier Afghanistan at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, near Christchurch on the opening day of the competition with Pakistan facing the West Indies in Palmerston North and 2008 beaten finalist South Africa taking on Ireland in Queenstown.

The teams are split into four groups with Groups A and C being based in and around Christchurch, Group B teams playing their matches in Queenstown and Group D games taking place in Napier and Palmerston North.

In addition to the 10 Full Members, there are six Associate and Affiliate teams taking part, having won through their respective regional qualifying tournaments as well as the global qualifier, which was held in Canada in September.
Worldwide broadcast coverage will carry many of the major matches to a global audience of millions.