After a gap of ten years from the inaugural tournament held in Australia it was 1998 before the ICC decided to make the event a biennial competition, with South Africa chosen as the host nation. It was appropriate that South Africa should host the event as they were unable to participate in Australia owing to their exile from Test cricket at that time.
This time the event had sixteen teams participating with seven Associate countries joining the nine Test nations. Denmark, Ireland and Scotland had travelled to Bermuda the previous year and qualified for the main event. The sixteen teams were seeded into four groups of four and after the round robin stage with each team playing the others once the top two teams went on into two the super leagues and the bottom two went into the consolation Plate competition. After the completion of these stages finals were held between the winners of each league to determine the winners of each competition.
In the preliminary rounds Denmark and Ireland were in the same Bradman Pool along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka and both sides met in the first round of matches with Denmark coming out on top by 2 wickets to reverse the defeat they had received in Bermuda the previous year. Ireland batting first posted a score of 160 all out thanks to Brian Dunlop scoring 57. In reply an all round team effort saw the Danes reach their target with 9 balls to spare. This was the only success for either team at this stage as they were no match for either of the Asian teams with Pakistan having Saeed Anwar, Abdul Razzak and Shoaib Malik in their ranks winning all three matches to top the group to qualify with Sri Lanka for the later stages.
Photo at right: The Ireland squad that took part in the 1998 Under 19 World Cup.
Scotland in the Gavaskar Pool fared little better against South Africa, who had Jon Kent, who became an overseas player for them in 2003 and 2004 in their side along with Jacques Rudolph losing by 8 wickets. They also went down to similar defeats against India who had Virendar Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh playing and Kenya.
In the Sobers Pool England captained by Owais Shah, New Zealand who had Regan West later to become professional at Bangor in their side, and Bangladesh all won two matches to finish level on points but Bangladesh lost out on run rate. Whilst in the Cowdrey Pool Australia with James Hopes included in the squad won all their matches to qualify with Zimbabwe for the super league. The West Indies finished third having arrived in South Africa with seven players who contravened the tournament age restrictions.
Once the Super League stages commenced the excitement and the crowds rose. New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka finished with four points each in the Pollock Pool and New Zealand went through on net run rate. It was a similar situation in the d'Oliveira Pool where England thanks to victory over Australia in their final match qualified on run rate at the expense of the Aussies and India.
In the final played at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat scoring 241 in their fifty over allocation with James Franklin top scoring with 56 and Regan West chipping in with an unbeaten 13 at the end. In reply Stephen Peters scored 107 and Owais Shah 54 as they won by 7 wickets and with 4 overs to spare.
In the Plate Competition Ireland met Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and Kenya and recorded their first victory when they defeated PNG by 6 wickets at the Lenasia Stadium in Johannesburg; PNG were restricted to 118 all out thanks to Keith Spelman taking 5 for 16 and the Irish knocked off the runs in just under 30 overs with Jon Bushe run out on 48 and Carl Hosford unbeaten on 33. However they went down by 3 wickets to Bangladesh after scoring 169 with Ed Joyce top scoring with an unbeaten 67 and by 4 wickets to Kenya. Bangladesh topped the group winning all three matches and progressed to the final.
Photo at right: Ireland during one of their matches at Willowfield Park, Benoni.
In the Proctor Pool Scotland, and Denmark met Namibia and the West Indies. Scotland also recorded their first victory when the defeated Namibia in their first match by 156 runs. They closed on 244 thanks to an unbeaten 128 from Greg Butchart and Namibia could only score 88 in reply with John Blain taking 3 for 19 and Ross Mitchinson 3 for 8. They then went on to meet Denmark winning by 82 runs to set up a section decider against the West Indies however the Caribbean side with Chris Gayle, Ryan Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Marlon Samuels won by 5 wickets and over 12 overs to spare. Denmark finished third in the group after defeating comprehensively Namibia by 226 runs. Batting first they amassed 305 for 5 wickets with Christiansen unbeaten on 90 and a half century from Jesper Hansen. In reply Christiansen with four wickets and Thomas Neilsen with three restricted Namibia to 79.
In the Plate Final the West Indies, despite an unbeaten 141 from Chris Gayle in their total of 243 for 5, were defeated by Bangladesh by 6 wickets with Al Sahariar making an unbeaten 90.