Biratnagar, (Region 1 of Nepal) Wai Wai U19 National Cricket Champions 2013 (Picture

Three contenders for the ACC U-19 Elite title in May have been preparing for the event with their own domestic U-19 championships. “Match-play is critical to any team’s chances in what’s going to be a highly competitive event, that and a drilling in high-performance conditions,” says ACC Development Officer Aminul Islam. Just one team from the ACC U-19 will join UAE in the ICC U19 World Cup Qualifier in early 2014 in the Emirates.

Nepal have been holding U-19 domestic competitions for more than a decade, which have played a big part in their strong showings in previous U19 World Cups. That and rigorous training camps. As they’ve developed, so have other teams, Afghanistan in particular, but the model to follow remains the same. “Get the U-19s playing as high a level of cricket as they can, not just beating teams in their age-group, but playing with senior cricketers, and you’ll prepare them for the challenges of taking on the other best U-19 teams in the world,” says ACC Development Officer Rumesh Ratnayake. In a sign of out-region development, Biratnagar won their first U-19 title, with established youth players such as Mukunda Yadav and Kalicharan Yadav featuring prominently.

Thailand’s 2011 U-19 Elite squad

Thailand have been showing some promise. Their domestic youth development scheme has reaped rewards in women’s cricket and their boys’ team has been performing well with a good mix of native cricketers from their ‘Sawasdee Cricket’ program (started in 2002) joining the cricketers whose fathers and grandfathers have played the game. Chiang Mai won the recently completed National Youth Cricket Championships of Thailand and though it was only a 15-over event, it was an important exercise in familiarising the players involved, a number of whom will feature in Malaysia in May, with the demands of competition.

Kelantan, Bauer U-19 Inter State Cricket Carnival 2013 champions in Malaysia (Picture

Malaysia have traditionally done just that little bit better at youth level than seniors, thanks to their extensive youth development program and this year’s U-19 Inter-State Cricket Carnival was the most successful yet with 12-teams taking part, and like Nepal’s, sponsored by a major corporate. In preparation for the ACC U-19 at home, the best players will attend camps as close as possible to what coach Roy Dias used to hold so successfully when he was in charge of Nepal from 2001 to 2010, a period which saw Nepal beat Test-playing countries at U-19 World Cups and trophies at every ACC age-group competition. Since Roy Dias became Malaysia’s national coach, they’ve also won their first ACC title, the 2012 ACC U-16 Elite.

“All these countries have given themselves a good chance of doing well, there are ten teams in the ACC U-19 Elite, only one goes through to the ICC U19 World Cup Qualifier on merit but you also don’t want to be relegated as that sets you back four years,” says ACC Events Manager Sultan Rana. As ever, perfect preparation prevents poor performance. Much to play for.

Malaysia Cricket Profile
Nepal Cricket Profile
Thailand Cricket Profile

Filed February 18th, 2013