The Pepsi ICC European U19 Division 1 World Cup Qualifier (WCQ) gets under way on Friday with six teams competing for one spot in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in the UAE in 2014. They will join the ten ICC full members, hosts the UAE and four qualifiers from the other four regions - Afghanistan, Canada, Namibia and Papua New Guinea.
Scotland won this tournament the last time it was played in 2010, and will no doubt be looking to retain their title. Their squad has a core of players who have come right up through the Scottish youth system. Four players from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2012 return for this tournament, so Scotland will look to their experience to take them to another tournament.
Ireland will also be backing themselves to qualify for yet another ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, and like Scotland have a team full of players who have come up through their youth system, five of whom participated in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup last year. Two of their players have played for Leinster in the new Irish inter-provincial tournament, whilst Ben Wylie played in the annual varsity match for Cambridge University against Oxford University in England earlier this year. He'll be hoping to have a more successful time bowling in this tournament as that match saw him on the receiving end of the first triple century in the history of the fixture by Sam Agarwal.
The Netherlands will be looking to qualify for their first ICC U19 Cricket World Cup since 2000, but they will have to do it without the talented 16 year old left-arm spinner Daniel Doram, who is not eligible to play in this tournament. They will perhaps look to Vivian Kingma, who has played twice for the seniors in the YB40 this year, to lead their bowling attack, and they also field the Zulfiqar triplets, who played with much success in the Pepsi ICC European U15 tournament in Guernsey last year.
The two Channel Island sides - Guernsey and Jersey - are both currently adopting a youth policy at senior level, so players for both teams in this tournament will be looking to stake their claim for a place in their respective senior squads. Some of the players have already done so, with Jersey picking four players who were in their Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Six winning squad and Guernsey also picking four players who were in their Pepsi ICC European Division One squad in Sussex this year.
Denmark are the promoted team, having won Pepsi ICC European U19 Division Two in the Isle of Man back in 2011. They're playing at this level for the first time since 2009. They field two players who played in the Pepsi ICC European Division One tournament at which Denmark finished as runners-up. They will be hoping to go one better in this tournament and qualify for their first ICC U19 Cricket World Cup since 1998.
The tournament will be played at four venues in the Netherlands from 2 August to 8 August. With only one place available in the World Cup, it's set to be a fiercely competitive event.