European Under 19 championship preview
ICC Media Release
Tomorrow the 2009 ICC European U/19 Division 1 Championship gets underway in Jersey. This year's event will be special for at least two reasons: it marks the debut at this level of hosts Jersey and island neighbours Guernsey , and the top two sides in this six-team tournament will progress to the global qualifier for the 2010 ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup.
On top of that, of course, the competition will involve many of the most talented young cricketers in Europe , including quite a few whose development has benefited from ICC Europe's programme of annual academies.
Having carried almost all before it in recent years, Ireland will undoubtedly start as favourite. Its squad includes eight players who took part in the last ICC European U/19 Division 1 tournament in 2008, all but one of whom went on to play in the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup itself.
One of the stars is likely to be Paul Stirling, who has a contract with Middlesex and who hit his maiden full international century in the Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya last week. Along with captain Andrew Balbirnie, James Shannon, Stuart Poynter and Stuart Thompson, he forms part of an Irish top order which seems certain to score plenty of runs.
The attack will be led by Shane Getkate, with Graeme McCarter, Craig Young, and Graham McDonnell offering Balbirnie plenty of seam options, while the spin will come from left-armers Jack Blakiston-Houston George Dockrell, Lee Nelson, Shannon and the skipper himself.
Scotland starts this tournament as holder, having won the heavily-rain-affected 2008 event on net run rate.
It, too, has a very experienced squad, with seven survivors from that 2008 party, including captain Calvin Burnett. Burnett, who has made 238 runs at an average of 29.75 in the Scottish squad's matches in the National League, which the Scots chose as preparation for this tournament, and took 14 wickets.
Stalwarts in the batting are likely to include, apart from Burnett, Marc Petrie (who did even better, with 331 at 36.78), Ewan Chalmers and Matthew Parker, while the seam attack will feature Patrick Sadler, Safyaan Sharif, and Burnett. Spin will come from Keith Morton and Oliver Hairs.
The main challenger to these two may be The Netherlands, who will have another of Europe 's rising stars in Alexei Kervezee at the top of the batting. Kervezee, who is contracted to Worcestershire, has already played 21 full ODIs and 13 first-class games, and has been a regular member of the full national side since he was sixteen.
In skipper and wicketkeeper-batsman Stijn Allema and allrounder Tim Gruijters The Netherlands has two more players who are capable of lending Kervezee plenty of support, and there is no shortage in the squad of youngsters with plenty of first-team experience with their clubs.
The batting will also feature Vinoo Tewarie (who is also a promising leg-spinner), Floris Kingma, Quirijn Gunning and Matthijs Luten as well as allrounder Philip van den Brandeler, who will share the seaming duties with Ferdi Vink, Olivier Klaus, Sebastiaan Braat and Paul van Meekeren. Apart from Tewarie, the squad has another leg-spinner in Lucas Brouwers.
Denmark's youth squads have found life difficult in European competition in recent seasons, but with seven players in their squad who took part in the 2008 tournament, it will be hoping that this time the results are more encouraging.
The team is led by opening bowler Sair Ahmed Anjum, while the leading batsmen include openers Ali Imtiaz Ahmed and Hamid Shah, and Lars Flemming Boldt, who along with wicketkeeper Melad Nevabi was in the Danish A team which took part in the inaugural tournament at that level in 2008.
Hosts Jersey won the U/19 Division 2 competition in 2007, and will have six of that squad taking part this time
They include openers Samuel de la Haye, seamers Steven Blackburn, Mark Chipperfield, and Anthony Hawkins-Kay, Thomas Gibbs, and Matthew Hanley. De la Haye's opening partner Ben de Figueireido, who is also a promising wicketkeeper, will be another to watch, as will another member of the seam attack, Charles Perchard.
Guernsey has almost as much experience in its side, led by top-order batsman and opening bowler Jonathan Clark. Wicketkeeper William Thompson is also an experienced opener, and the top order will also feature Robert Le Corre and Thomas Kirk.
The performances of the two Channel Island sides at this level will be watched keenly, especially on their own turf, and they will be hoping to improve on their efforts in last year's ICC European U/17 Championship in Belfast , where Guernsey finished equal third and Jersey a disappointing sixth.