|The captains with the ACC U-19 Asia Cup trophy, Kuala Lumpur, June 22 2012|
There have been four U-19 Asia Cups, going back to 1997-2003, they were played by Bangladesh the first two times prior to them becoming a Test nation. Papua New Guinea (then ACC members) were even runners-up the first time around. But this year's U-19 Asia Cup is the first time that non-Test nations are competing shoulder to shoulder with the Test-playing countries. "And my opinion is, that in the main they will not be disgraced," says ACC Event Manager Sultan Rana.
Afghanistan and Nepal will be going to the ICC U/19 World Cup in Australia in July, as will the Test-playing countries. It was in 2008 in Malaysia that India won the U/19 World Cup and captain Virat Kohli walked off straight into the inaugural IPL. The list of U-19 cricketers who have gone on to be Test luminaries is a long one, the very reason that U-19 cricket is played is to prepare young cricketers for the top-level.
As in 2010, Afghanistan and Nepal came through a tough qualifier to earn their place in this year's World Cup. And the reason the U-19 Asia Cup has been revived this year is because the ACC members would like an Asian country to have the best chance to win the World Cup. Malaysia, with its fine facilities in non-furnace June and July is an ideal place to hold the event which features the hosts along with Qatar (third to Afghanistan and Nepal in the 2011 ACC U-19 Elite) with the other six nations. Doing well in the U-19 Asia Cup gives you every chance of doing well in the U/19 World Cup.
"Conditions in Malaysia are likely to be different to those in Queensland next month when the World Cup starts but there is no substitute for tough competition no matter what the conditions and Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be using the U-19 Asia Cup as preparation for what they will face in Australia," says the ACC Events Manager.
The U-19 Asia Cup is likely to be a regular biennial feature of the ACC tournament calendar from now on, with an A Teams event and an Emerging/Academy Teams event to be slotted in next year too. Busy times for the ACC, busy times for developing Asian cricketers. "Win or lose, the game is about improving all the time, making friends who will last a lifetime and making use as a cricketer of all the opportunities you have to play the game to the best of your abilities," says former Pakistan first-class cricketer Sultan Rana.
ACC U-19 Asia Cup Tournament Page
Filed June 23rd, 2012