A welcome return to international cricket fixtures for Bangkok, after the floods of November 2011 caused so much damage to the AIT ground in particular, sees an ACC tournament with quite a bit riding on it. As ever, where it comes to ACC events, winner or finalist is where the teams want to be. That’s the position from where teams advance up a division (to Elite, in this case) and doing well leaves a legacy for the next generation of cricketers in the two-year cycle of events. But this time, the fourth U-19 Challenge over the past five years, there’s just a little more riding on it.

Oman have applied for ACC Associate status and look like fulfilling all the criteria; however their U-19 side have to be “no worse than the third placed Affiliate” in the ACC region. And thus – with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain above them (in the U-19 rankings already) they need to either win this ACC U-19 Challenge or finish second behind Singapore, an ICC Associate since 1974. Why should Associate status be sought? Well, in a world of hierarchies, it’s the highest status a non-Test playing country can achieve and there’s also around an extra US$150,000 development funding available from the ACC and ICC. If it can be achieved, its worth achieving and with Oman achieving on so many other fronts in the past couple of years, Associate status is something they merit. The U-19s have to do their part and with Duleep Mendis as their new Chief Development Officer they have a good chance. They were the first to announce their squad for the event and have been preparing long and hard.

Singapore are a decent side too, and with Bhutan and Maldives have been acclimatising a week in advance of the tournament in Bangkok with games between themselves (Maldives looking particularly potent) and local cricketers. Iran are never less than dark horses, feisty, raw and combative and could spring an upset. Myanmar have plenty of heart and are the keenest of triers and China, under the tutelage of astute coach Monjurul Islam could just be the most improved team of the event. Oman are going to be challenged strongly.

ACC U-19 Challenge 2013

Filed December 6th, 2013