Guernsey and Jersey are to take part in the 2008 ICC European U/17 and U/15 Division 1 Championships, which will both now increase as a trial from 4 to 6-team tournaments in 2008 for the first time since the Championships began in 1999.

Up until now only the four European High Performance Program (HPP) countries, Denmark, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands, have been allowed to compete for the U/17 and U/15 Division 1 titles, but following the recent success of the channel islands' sides it has been decided that they will be included in these two top division youth tournaments.

In 2007 Jersey won the U/19 and U/23 Division 2 Championships and was runner-up to Guernsey in the U/15 Division 2 Championship. Both sides did not lose a single match, other than to one another, in any of the competitions, and many of the victories over the other countries were so large that the gap in standards between the sides was very apparent.

The two Championships will be the first real test to see how the development of the youth in Jersey and Guernsey compares with that of the HPP members and it will be interesting to see how newly-elected ICC Associate Jersey and Affiliate member Guernsey perform at this higher level.

Commenting on the decision, David Piesing, Chairman of the Guernsey Cricket Board, said 'It is a fantastic opportunity for Guernsey's young cricketers to test themselves against the strongest nations in Europe at their own age group.

'Young players can only benefit from playing against strong opposition and in the past couple of years these youngsters have acquitted themselves well in friendlies against Scotland and Holland so they will be keen to renew those acquaintances. Our Under 15s showed this year that they were a very strong side by winning the Division 2 tournament in La Manga. 5 or 6 of those same players are still in the Under 15s in 2008 while the remainder of that squad will now move to the Under 17s age group.'

He added 'We are delighted that ICC Europe has recognised the playing strength of our youth sides in this way and we eagerly look forward to the challenges ahead. It will provide an additional impetus for our youngsters as they enter this winter's coaching programme.'

The decision to include Jersey and Guernsey in the two youth tournaments was made at a recent meeting of the ICC Europe Cricket Committee in which representatives from Europe's 27 ICC member countries finalised next year's European tournament schedule.

It was decided that the U/17 Division 1 Championship will be held in Belfast, Ireland over four days in July 2008. Six teams will form two groups of three and each team will play two 50 over matches over the first three days. Following a coaching day, each team will play-off against its counterpart from the other group to determine the final championship standings.

The U/15 Division 1 Championship will take place in Jersey in July and will be played to 45 over playing conditions.

The U/19 Division 1 Championship will be held in Scotland in August and will play the same playing conditions as the ICC U/19 World Cup, whilst remaining a four-team competition, with Europe's HPP teams competing.

Germany will host the U/17 Division 2 Championship in the Northern Rhine region surrounding Düsseldorf. The participants will be from Europe's remaining Associate and Affiliate countries, with Israeldefending the title they won at this age group back in 2004.

A decision was made to withdraw the U/13 age group event for 2008, following a change in policy regarding the development of players at this age group. With the development program forever changing, a full review of the tournament structure at all youth levels will take place during the winter months with new plans for 2009 likely.