ICC Under 19 World Cup is an established youth event contested by the under-19 teams of the world’s biggest cricketing nations. It is a junior version of the ICC World Cup, but it’s also a launching pad for some of the biggest stars in cricket.
The ICC Under 19 World Cup serves as a great way for players and coaches to get some experience, and it also helps to bring additional funds into the countries that host the event. In this guide we’ll look at the ICC Under 19 World Cup in a little more detail, discussing the history of this event, the format that it uses, the players who have played in it, and much more.
The very first version of this tournament took place back in 1988, although back then it was known as the Youth World Cup. The format was the same (more on that below) and the name was really the only change. It was launched to some publicity, but it never really got the attention that it deserved and as a result it was shelved for a decade.
It returned in 1998, at which point it had assumed its current name.
The very first ICC Under 19 World Cup, or “Youth World Cup” as it was known, was held in Australia and was actually part of their bicentennial celebrations. It was sponsored by McDonalds and all 7 test playing nations took part, as well as an “ICC Associates” team that consisted of players from associate nations, most of which were from Zimbabwe, with others from the Netherlands, Canada, Bangladesh and Denmark.
The hosts, Australia, were dominant in the tournament and eventually walked away as the winners beating England in the semi-final and Pakistan in the final. The Aussies only lost one game, with Pakistan beating them by 32 runs in the group stage, but they got revenge in the final.
After a ten year break the 1998 ICC Under 19 World Cup was hosted by South Africa and won by England.
The ICC Under 19 World Cup is hosted every two years, and the only exception to this was the ten year wait between the first tournament in 1988 and the second tournament in 1998. Initially there were only 7 test nations and one ICC Associates team, but all subsequent tournaments consisted of 16 teams, including some cricketing nations not usually seen on the biggest stage.
All non test nations are granted access based on a range of criteria, such as the winners of continental championships or the highest ranked associate team at the most recent world cup. Each team needs to enter a 15-man squad.
The tournament format has also changed over the years. Initially all teams were placed in one group and the top half of those then progressed to a knock stage. The modern ICC Under 19 World Cup now closely resembles that of the ICC World Cup.
There are several different groups of four teams each. Teams play each other once and are given 2 points for a win. The top two teams in that group then progress to the next round, known as the Super League. They then play in a series of play-off games, with the final two games being the final itself, which decides the winner and the runner-up, and the third place playoff, which decides the third and fourth place finishers.
There is also a Plate Playoff section. The teams who finished third and fourth in their groups are moved into this playoff, where they then compete to make it to the Plate Final and to win. This additional section is unusual in major cricketing competitions but it helps the ICC Under 19 World Cup in a number of ways. On the one hand, there are more games, which means more experience for players and more revenue for the hosts. On the other hand, it allows the event to have a complete list of finishing placers, telling them which team finished first, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., all the way down to last place.
The fact that the ICC Under 19 World Cup plays host to all major cricketing nations, as well as all up-and-coming ones, and acts as a showcase for young talent, means there are always some breakaway stars to be on the lookout for. It’s the same with any major international youth event in any sport, and over the years we’ve seen some of the greatest in the game use this event as a launching pad.
1998 is a great example of this, and it’s probably no coincidence that this was the year in which the ICC Under 19 World Cup truly made itself known on the world stage.
One of the biggest stars of the 1998 event was Chris Gayle, who would become one of the biggest stars in world cricket. He scored a huge 364 runs during the tournament, giving the cricketing world an early taste of what was to come. This was also one of the first times the cricketing public had seen players like Ramnaresh Sarwan and Graeme Swann.