The women's cricket movement gains further momentum with the latest ACC U-19 Women's Championship, the third of its kind, following its inception in December 2008. Kuwait hosts its second consecutive ACC women's tournament and is proving to be a most hospitable base for cricket in the Gulf.

As evinced by the decreasing numbers of wides alone along with the increasing number of boundaries in the 2008 and 2010 versions of the competition and with increased focus on training, matchplay and coaching among the teams taking part there is every expectation that standards will continue to rise. Governments and national sporting bodies are taking notice too. Nepal and Bhutan, finalists last time, received Ministerial receptions and cash prizes on their returns home and have inspired even more cricketers to take up the game.

"There's no doubt that women's cricket is a growth area globally, ever since the lead of Mr. Sharad Pawar of the BCCI and ICC, the ACC and ICC have been very much supportive of the cause and its been good to see how well the member countries have responded, particularly as women's sport has not usually been at the forefront of national sports policy in Asian countries," says ACC Development Manager Bandula Warnapura. The correlation between women's rights and sporting endeavours has long been established and though certain countries in the Gulf region have still to fully emancipate women, cricket has been pushing at the boundaries for some time. Considering the fact that Afghanistan's and Iran's lady cricketers and adminstrators for all their keen intentions to take part this time, have not been able to, is a shame, but one hopes they will be playing in 2014 or in next year's senior women's Twenty20 event.

As for this years' tournament, Bhutan and Nepal remain serious contenders and Thailand - if their batters can match their bowlers could beat anybody. China and Malaysia have been preparing better than ever before and Kuwait, thanks to their Player of the Tournament candidate Priyada Murali have every chance of going all the way. However, it may just be Hong Kong, so often the bridesmaids at this level who may just go all the way this time. The team have been training hard; the naivete of former years may just have been cast aside. And in captain Mariko Hill they have not only a bowler of pace and accuracy and a strokeplayer of considerable power, they have someone who is quite likely the best cricketer of her age anywhere in the world.

Hong Kong’s Mariko Hill takes on Bhutan at Ceylon Sports Club, Singapore, ACC U-19 Women's Championship, October 2010

The ACC are delighted to offer this opportunity to these cricketers to play, we're thrilled that Kuwait have stepped up yet again to host the event. We trust that the tournament will lead to even greater opportunities for women cricketers in the future.

ACC U-19 Women's Championship 2012 Tournament Page

Filed February 2nd, 2012