Irish and Dutch under 15s head for the Caribbean
It may not have received much media attention, but two leading European Associates will shortly be taking part in a major new initiative: an international tournament at under 15 level.
The competition will be held in the Caribbean between 19 April and 4 May, and will involve sides from several Test countries as well as Ireland, The Netherlands, and other Associates.
The final identity of the participants is still subject to confirmation, but it will definitely include sides from the West Indies, England, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. It is almost certain that an Australian Schools side will also take part.
Kenya will be there as well, and there are plans for an ICC Americas composite side, drawn from the Cayman Islands, the USA and Argentina. It is hoped that Malaysia will also send a side, meaning that there could be as many as eleven squads involved.
The schedule provides for three groups, playing in Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad. Grenada, St Kitts, St Vincent and the Trinidadian island of Tobago will get involved from the quarter-final stage, with the final due to take place in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The draw for the group stage is due to be announced on 16 February, with Pakistan, West Indies and England seeded to head the groups.
The tournament will be sponsored by Clico, a Trinidad and Tobago-based financial group which has been involved with West Indian cricket, especially at youth level, since 2005. They have sponsored a number of Caribbean under-age competitions, but this is their first venture on a global basis.
This initiative will give invaluable experience to the rising generation of Associates players, boys who are likely to be in the running for the 2012 Under-19 World Cup, and in some cases perhaps, even for the 2010 tournament at that level.