Speed Opens ICC U/19 CWC, Says Event Has “Truly Come of Age”
The tournament will see 16 teams from all over the world play 44 matches in 15 days at five different venues, with the final played under lights at the R.Premadasa Stadium on Sunday 19 February.
And Mr Speed told a gathering to mark the opening ceremony on Saturday evening that the scale of the event was now, in every way, a far cry from the first time it was played.
“From humble beginnings in 1988 when it took place, for the most part, in country areas of Australia and involved just eight teams, through a ten year hiatus before the concept was revived in South Africa in 1998, this tournament has come a long way,” he said.
“It is now an established part of the global cricket calendar taking place every two years and when the ICC comes to sell television rights for all its events up to 2015 later this year it will form part of the package available to broadcasters.
“This tournament will see the Super League semi-finals and final broadcast on television with a possible global audience of hundreds of millions of people.
“Supporters will be following the matches in any way they can, through television, radio, newspapers and the internet and as an event there is no doubt it has truly come of age.”
Mr Speed said one of the attractions of the tournament, being held for the sixth time, was that it gave the cricketing world a first glimpse of the stars of tomorrow with many of the game’s current big names using the ICC U/19 CWC as a stepping stone to senior success.
“When it was last held in Sri Lanka, in 2000, two of the stars of the tournament were Yuvraj Singh of India and South Africa’s Graeme Smith,” he said.
“Six years on and this week Yuvraj scored a hundred in the white-hot atmosphere of a Pakistan-India Test match while Graeme has been captaining his country in Australia.
“There are plenty more examples of players who have done well in the ICC U/19 CWC before going on to success at Test and ODI level and that illustrates how important this tournament is to the future of the game.”
Mr Speed said the event also played a vital role in helping to develop the game beyond the ICC’s Test-playing members with six Associate teams – Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, Scotland, Uganda and the United States of America – in Sri Lanka.
“This ICC U/19 CWC allows those Associates to advance their cricket by exposing their young players to intense competition at a point where their games are still being moulded,” he said.
“That exposure is gradually reaping rewards at all levels. Two years ago Ireland and Scotland reached the semi-finals of the Plate competition while Nepal beat South Africa.
“And given the way many of the warm-up matches have gone ahead of the tournament it would be a brave person to suggest we will not have an Associate side beating a Full Member over the next 15 days.”
Mr Speed paid tribute to Sri Lanka for hosting the event for a second time, something no other ICC member has done.
“It shows your commitment as a country to the future of our great, global game, and for that the rest of the world owes you a huge debt of thanks,” he said.
“It also shows the confidence the ICC has in you as a country to host events of this scale.
“That confidence can be seen from the fact this is the third ICC event in Sri Lanka in the past six years, following on from the U/19 Cricket World Cup in 2000 an the Champions Trophy in 2002. No other member can match that achievement,” added Mr Speed.
The opening ceremony of the ICC U/19 CWC was held at the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo on Saturday evening with all 16 teams in attendance.
Also present were the Sri Lankan Government’s Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr Jeewan Kumaranatunga, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, Mr Jayantha Dharmadasa and Mr Ian Frykberg, the Director of the ICC’s commercial partners, Global Cricket Corporation.
This is the sixth staging of the event that was first held in 1988. The defending champions are Pakistan, who beat the West Indies in the final in Bangladesh in 2004.
Further details of the tournament, including assessments of the prospects for all 16 teams taking part, can be found at the official tournament website:
For further information, please contact:
Brian Murgatroyd – ICC Media Manager (in Sri Lanka for the tournament)
Tel: +94 77 97 120 10 (Sri Lanka mobile); Dubai mobile: +971 50 640 2534