“We’ve been practising indoors, in the early mornings, in the nights,” says one of the Kuwait U-19 cricketers who, fresh from a meeting with their royal patron Sheikha Naeema Al-Sabah. Kuwait, in captain Siobhan Gomez and all-rounder Priyada Murali have two of the cricketers in the ACC U-19 Women’s Championship in Singapore who are expected to shine. They performed well in the 2008 edition of this event, and join a number of familiar faces from other ACC women’s tournaments.

Nepal are defending ACC U-19 champions, having beaten Malaysia in the 2008 Final and are fancied again. Their players are mature and match-savvy, none more so than left-arm all-rounder Nary Thapa who is an old hand at this game. Following the success of the ACC Age-Verification Program for the boys’ tournaments in establishing that no player in any youth event is over the permissible age for participation, there would seem to be a case for the same protocols being put in place in girls’ cricket. Nepal’s seniors and Nary Thapa were beaten in 2009 by the rising stars of Thailand and though the Thai U-19s in Singapore this year aren’t in quite the same class as the Thai seniors, they are a well-drilled unit and will push all competitors.

Nepal celebrate their 2008 triumph

Hong Kong – ACC senior women champions – have many seasoned young players and are sure to feature in the reckoning. Captained by the lion-hearted Ishitaa Gidwani they are a team with wicket-taking bowlers and play enough matches in Hong Kong to have the edge on all other teams in experience. China's women are the rare case of being better than their men in terms of peer-group performance and it will be interesting to see whether this fresh batch, under new coach former Bangladesh international Monjurul Islam will be up to the task.

Home team Singapore are semi-final prospects. Of the four teams from the Middle East, UAE are expected to do the best though all of them will undoubtedly show the benefits of their dedicated training. Malaysia have two match-winners in all-rounders Winnie Duraisingam and left-arm spinner Alessandra Shunmugam. Bhutan are dark horses. “We’ve learnt a lot about what is needed at this level. The teams that bowl the fewest wides are almost always the winners before anything else,’ says Bhutan’s coach Damber Singh Gurung who has had his charges in a camp for the past month.

The greats of the game invariably stress the need to keep things simple. At this level of cricket as well, getting the simple things right is what wins.

ACC U-19 Women’s Championship Tournament Page

Filed October 1st, 2010