The ICC Americas South U15 Championship starts in Buenos Aires, Argentina tomorrow, in what is now a straight three match series between Argentina U15 and Chile U15. This was originally a three team event, but unfortunately Suriname were forced to withdraw from the event. The South American U15 title will thus be decided over three 40 over matches, scheduled for Wednesday 10, Thursday 11 and Friday 12.

Rosario all-rounder Federico Martin bowling in South Africa
Rosario all-rounder Federico Martin bowling in South Africa

The Argentina U15 combination will be in confident mood, with nine of their squad having just returned from a successful two-week tour to South Africa, and traditionally having had their better of their South American neighbours at junior level over the years. However, they will certainly not be complacent as the Chileans have shown dramatic improvement at junior cricket in recent years, and based on the results the last time the two teams met, in October 2008, the gap has narrowed significantly.

This was echoed by Argentina U15 coach Billy MacDermott. “Definitely we will not be taking Chile lightly, they are always improving, and a few key players who are very good and can turn a game. Also we want to keep gathering momentum with our U15 group, so playing positively and winning games is very important to us.”

The Argentina U15 team will be led by Lautaro Musiani, who has already been earmarked as a huge talent for the future. An impressive succession of batting feats in South Africa means he will be a key player, also with the ball as a dangerous leg-spinner. Patricio Cores is another young all-rounder to look out for, while Gonzalo Husain, Martin Peralta, Ramiro Escobar and Francisco Fernandez Mendy will also be expected to contribute meaningfully.

Especially pleasing for local cricket is to see five players from Rosario in the squad, and this bodes well for cricket development outside of the traditional catchment area of Buenos Aires. Rosario is a city about 300km from the capital.

“It is great to see the young talent coming through from Rosario,” commented MacDermott, “and these guys have earned their places by working hard at their games, even though their opportunities have been limited based on living a few hours away from Buenos Aires. We all want Rosario to once again be an important home for cricket, and these boys are definitely paving the way for the future.”

The Argentina U15 squad is: Lautaro Musiani (capt), Gonzalo Husain, Martin Peralta, Felipe Nogues, Federico Martin, Valentin Tumosa, Matias Fennell, Francisco Fernandez Mendy, Pedro Bisio, Patricio Cores, Mateo Fernandez Mendy, Aquiles Peirolo Sola, Mateo Arrighi and Ramiro Escobar.

For Chile, Australian born Tim Gayfer will undoubtedly be their batting threat, although only 13 years old, he averaged 70 in the domestic second división competition, and he will need to produce that sort of form with the bat to put pressure on the Argentines. Captain Hans Cerpa is a great bowling talent and another one to watch, a talented product of the Chilean development program, while Nicholas Hooper is another young player with a bright future for Chile.

Chile CEO Matthew Callaghan stressed that the team had clear objectives, and were under no illusions about the strength of their opponents. “We hope to play to the best of our ability, winning at least one game, but obviously aiming to win the series. We believe that all our hard work has left us in a good position to be competitive, and really make the most of this opportunity, that is after all the first time many of these kids have ever toured abroad.”

The Chile U15 squad is:  Hans Cerpa Cortez (capt), Nicholas  Hooper,  Raimundo  Eyzaguirre, Javier Palma Luengo, Martín Brucher, Timothy Gayfer,  Gerald  Cerpa Cortez,  José Antonio Millanao,  Jhoel Yévenes, Guan Ding Yi  Qi , Amilcar Enrique Perez,  Jessica  Miranda  and Nicole  Conejeros.