The Under 19 World Cup
When Midnight and I were planning our marathon trip to the Ashes and on to New Zealand we needed to find other things to do when there was no cricket. Ha ha you might say, what is this story all about!! Bearing in mind that we had been to New Zealand on a number of occasions, the task was to do things not having been done before. Easier said than done. Anyway I came across the Under 19 Cricket World Cup which was taking place in New Zealand from 13 January to 3 February with some convenient dates in Queenstown after we'd had a week in Tasmania.
So who is taking part and how did they qualify?
The ten ICC full members as at 2016 automatically do so, plus the top ranked associate from the previous tournament in 2016, Namibia, plus the five regional winners Ireland (Europe), Canada (Americas), Afghanistan (Asia), Kenya (Africa) and Papua New Guinea (East Asia Pacific).
So 16 teams split into 4 groups.
Presumably there was some seeding, no idea what it was, but England seemed to have the easiest group (C) with Bangladesh, Namibia and Canada.
The other groups:
(A) West Indies (holders), South Africa, New Zealand and Kenya;
(B) India, Australia, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea;
(D) Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Ireland.
Round Robin in each with the top two progressing to the quarter finals. The rest have a plate competition to sort out the minor placings which will give them all a more equal contest when compared with their group matches.
Sky Sports in NZ have been showing the top matches live and highlights programs. The tournament was almost a week old when we arrived so have relied on the excellent coverage on Cricinfo. The first game we were able to attend was between England and the not so mighty Canada. I assume that in order to ensure the game lasted more than a handful of overs, Canada decided to field first. It was fill your boots time. At one time England looked like scoring more than 400 but lost a few late wickets and finished with 383 for 7, Liam Banks and Will Jacks both completing less than run-a-ball centuries and the wicket-keeper Jack Davies a rapid 57. As predicted Canada weren't up to the task and were dismissed for 101.
As expected, England's stiffest opposition was Bangladesh but they managed just 175 in 49.2 overs. Only 29.3 overs were required to win by 7 wickets led by the skipper Harry Brook (from, of course, Yorkshire) with an 84 ball 102. Namibia put up a slightly better fight scoring 196 for 9 but only 24.1 overs were required to win by 8 wickets.
Now that the whipping boys have been eliminated, the serious stuff must surely commence. England face the old enemy, namely the Convicts.
So how did the other groups end up?
In Group A New Zealand were unbeaten so qualified with South Africa thus eliminating West Indies, who controversially had one of the Proteas given out 'obstructing the field'. Anyhow they lost the game which served them right. Have a look, it's unbelievable. Bye bye Kenya also.
Group B was dominated by India who beat Australia into second place knocking out Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea, the latter failing to score three figures in each of their games.
Group D turned out to be the most competitive whereby each won at least one game so Pakistan topped the group on net run rate from their conquerors Afghanistan. Sri Lanka and Ireland despatched to the Plate.
Most outstanding team performance, New Zealand 436 for 4 including U19 records for the Ist wicket (245) and individual score (180) however it was against Kenya!
The quarter finals would be England v Australia, Pakistan v South Africa, New Zealand v Afghanistan and India v Bangladesh, in that order. By the time that you read this, you may know what happened but I'll remind you even though it may be painful.
In the first match, the Convicts won the toss and batted, confident or what. Well, wickets fell regularly, the lively pace of Ethan Bamber and Dillon Pennington (3 wickets each) reducing them to 65 for 6, and Will Jacks 3 for 21, apart from their skipper's 58 and three other double-digit scores they were dismissed for 127 in the 34th over. Game on we thought. However, nobody expected a ginger head to come on with dire results. Having reached 47 without loss after five overs, on came leggie Lloyd Pope to bowl 9·4 overs unchanged and take a tournament record 8 for 35. Completely bamboozled, 96 All Out in 23·4 overs, opener Tom Banton 58 of them.
In the second quarter final at Christchurch, Pakistan won the toss and elected to field. South Africa mustered 189 for 9 in 50 overs which Pakistan beat with 3 wickets and 2·1 overs to spare.
In the third game also in Christchurch, Afghanistan chose to bat and with 4 of them scoring 60's they amassed 309 for 6. The hosts were blown away and dismissed for 107 in 28·1 overs, two spinners each taking 4 wickets. A bit of a shock but the Afghans in all forms seem to be on the up. Watch out everyone.
The fourth quarter final, in Queenstown, between India and Bangladesh became a somewhat one sided game. Having won the toss India batted first and were all out in the 50th over for 265 (Gill 86, Sharma 50). Bangladesh just couldn't cope, being dismissed in 42·1 overs for 134, losing their last 8 wickets for 58 runs.
Just for the record, the losers went in to a play off group to decide who finished in 5th to 8th places. Boring I know. England lost to Bangladesh and ended up beating New Zealand for 7th, worth recording a century from Tom Banton. Bangladesh and Afghanistan finishing higher than England, you have to believe it as it's true.
So in the semi-finals Australia would play Afghanistan whilst India would take on old rivals Pakistan, both games to be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
Despite England having lost, we had already decided to return to Christchurch for these two games.
Both were a huge disappointment. Firstly, if you were an Afghan supporter as everybody was, bar a few convicts. Afghanistan elected to bat, presumably fearing a long chase had they inserted the opposition. But they were all out at the end of the 48th over for 181, 80 of which scored by Ikram. So the convicts won by 6 wickets with more than 12 overs to spare.
On the following day, in front of what must have been a jumbo jet full of their supporters, India literally hammered Pakistan by 203 runs. Deciding to bat first, they got 272 for 9 (Gill 102n.o.). It could have been worse as the final two wickets put on over 20 but even so being rolled over for 69 in a semi-final is just not good enough.
So Australia will play India in the final which took place at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui in North Island so we didn't make the journey.
As expected India were too strong. The convicts decided to bat first but were limited to 216 all out in 47·2 overs. Inevitably India knocked them off in 38·5 overs, losing only two wickets in the process. They appear to be a well organised team who were managed by Raul Dravid, so watch out for some of these lads making the grade.
Once again another world competition slips by with England under achieving.
The ECB need to realise that there must be something wrong with their coaching system.
Will they, probably not.
That's it for cricket until the ODI's against New Zealand later this month.
So back to a bit more sight seeing which will no doubt be reported on by Midnight if he survives his 60th birthday.
Cheers for now.