This year’s ACC U-19 Elite Cup serves as a direct feeder to the ICC U19 World Cup with the winner, or other finalist should the UAE make it to the Final, making it to the global event in the Emirates next year. There’s no other qualifying tournament in between as there has been for the last two U19 World Cups. The usual mix of favourites, dark horses and teams for whom staying in the Elite is the real goal have gathered in Malaysia.

Even if they win the event, the UAE are guaranteed sixteenth place in the ICC U19 World Cup next year, by virtue of being hosts. The other five ICC regions all sending one country to join the ten ICC Full Members. With the tournament taking place in May, and final school exams looming for many an 18-year old, all the countries are fielding teams short of their ideal starting XI. Nevertheless, coaches and administrators, armed with the schedule since last year, have been working with what they have. Afghanistan and Nepal have had the benefit of six-week camps and as ever, are likely picks for the Final yet Hong Kong and Kuwait, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are contenders for the semi-finals too and once you’re in a semi-final its just 100 overs between you and a place in the Final.

Bowlers win considerably more matches at this level than batsmen and spinners can particularly dominate. Malaysia’s lush turf will be alien to many of the visitors, nevertheless the smartest and most cricket-savvy will find ways to thrive. The players of the best two teams will have six matches to prove their worth.

“U-19 cricket exists to give developing cricketers more than a taste of tough competition, its there to teach them what it means to wear the national shirt and have a chance of playing in a World Cup on world-class grounds with players who are as like them as is possible,” says ACC Events Manager Sultan Rana. “When you are 18 and playing against another boy who is 18 the differences between you can be of skill, more likely any differences are of application, practice, fitness and coaching,” he adds. At U-19 level what is tested is as much a country’s cricket set-up as it is a group of teenagers. If a country has a good development set-up it will set up good cricketers at all ages.

Cricinfo are providing live scoring for all the matches.

2013 ACC U-19 Elite Cup Tournament Page
ICC U19 World Cup 2012
2011 ACC U-19 Elite Cup Tournament Page

Pictures by Peter Lim

Filed May 3rd, 2013