The 2010 Under 19 World Cup was held across New Zealand from January 15th to 30th with 16 teams competing for the trophy. The six Associate slots were decided following a global qualifier held in Canada the previous year, won by Ireland, who were joined by an emerging Afghanistan, USA, Hong Kong, Canada, and Papua New Guinea.
The Irish had learned from the mistakes of the previous tournament and invested in some proper preparation, acclimatizing for two weeks beforehand, in Sydney and Christchurch, playing warm-up matches as well as the bowlers receiving extra coaching from former Test player Geoff Lawson.
There were seven survivors from the 2008 campaign, one of whom Andy Balbirnie was given the skippers armband. He scored a century in a seven-wicket warm-up win against Afghanistan, while Paul Stirling also made three figures in victory over NSW University first grade team. The Irish also came close to beating West Indies in another warm-up game, just losing by four runs despite a brilliant 83 from James Shannon, who had made four fifties in the warm-ups.
The Irish, under new Head Coach Matt Dwyer and assistant Ryan Eagleson, were drawn in Group B alongside South Africa, Australia and USA. Despite being a tough group the Irish had the bonus of the location being Queenstown, venue of the recently filmed Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The first group game against South Africa saw the Irish put in a decent effort, recovering from 36 for 4 to post 216 for 6, thanks to half centuries from Ben Ackland and Lee Nelson who added 117 for the fifth wicket. Stuart Thompson and Paul Stirling took two wickets apiece but SA were always in control of the chase, winning by five wickets. On their side were two players who would go on to play in Ireland. Graham Hume, soon to be Irish qualified after his time here with Coleraine and NW Warriors, plus North County professional Malcolm Nofal.
Australia beat USA by 108 runs in the other game with wickets shared between Alister McDermott – son of one time Irish bowling consultant Craig – Adam Zampa and Josh Hazelwood. They continued this strong form in their clash with Ireland as they overcome a slightly hesitant start to post 274 for 5. Jordan Coghlan and George Dockrell took two wickets apiece with the former greatly impressing Australian coach Greg Chappell who enquired about the possibility of a placement for the Clontarf speedster. Alas it was never to be as Coghlan pursued a career in professional rugby.
The Irish batting reply was a bit of a car crash as they were skittled for 65 – four wickets for Nick Buchanan (son of Australian Test Manager and now ICC referee John), and three for Kane Richardson.
The Irish had little time to lick their wounds as they faced USA in their final group game. Craig Young and Lee Nelson both grabbed three scalps as the Americans posted 217 – fifties for the dangerous Steven Taylor and Saleem.
The chase was in the balance as the Irish reached 105 for 4, but a 104-run stand between centurion Paul Stirling (114) and Graham McDonnell (35*) ensured a five-wicket win which meant the Irish went into the Plate competition in good spirits.
As expected Australia and South Africa progressed to the quarter-finals, with SA finishing top after chasing 276 to win by two wickets. They were joined by England – who had Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Vince and Jos Buttler in their ranks – who finished about second placed India thanks to a Stokes century.
New Zealand, with Tom Latham, Doug Bracewell and Jimmy Neesham in good form topped Group C, ahead of Sri Lanka, while Pakistan won Group D – with future Ballymena, Ardmore and Glendermott opener Azeem Ghumman in fine fettle. West Indies pipped Bangladesh to second place, winning one of the games of the tournament by one run.
The quarter-finals saw a Mitch Marsh inspired Australia beat New Zealand, while Kragg Brathwaite was in the runs as West Indies upset England. Pakistan knocked out defending champions India in a tense, spirited low scoring contest, while Sri Lanka outgunned South Africa. Marsh (98) was to the fore again in the semi-finals as Australia reached the decider beating Sri Lanka, but Brathwaite’s 85 wasn’t enough as Pakistan chased 213 – Hammad Azam making an unbeaten 92.
In the final, Australia prevailed thanks to a solid all-round batting effort as they posted 207 for 9, which proved 25 too many for Pakistan, with Josh Hazelwood taking four wickets and slow left-armer Luke Doran three.
Back to Ireland and in their Plate quarter-final they proved much too strong for Zimbabwe, who just managed 102, with former YMCA and CIYMS player PJ Moor top scoring with 28. Bready seamer Craig Young took four wickets while there were two each for Shane Getkate and George Dockrell. The chase was a routine one especially after a typically boundary laden 65 from Paul Stirling.
That earned Ireland a semi-final against Canada at Palmerston North, which never got under way due to a sodden pitch. That suited Ireland who progressed due to their superior record, and a clash with Bangladesh who proved much too strong for PNG.
The final in truth was a one-sided affair with the Irish bowling unit missing George Dockrell – called up to the senior squad in Sri Lanka. Skipper Balbirnie assumed lead spin bowling duties and did well to pick up four wickets but a solid and fluent batting display saw Bangladesh put 307 for 8 on the board - Mominul Haque hitting 81. The Irish chase never gained any momentum and it soon fell apart. Babu took three wickets as they were reduced to 39 for 5. Ben Ackland and Graaham McDonnell hung around making 30s as they tried to gain some respectability, but Kamrul Islam Rabbi finished proceedings with a hat-trick – Ireland all out for 112 and soundly thrashed by 195 runs.
Of the Irish squad, ten would go on to senior recognition, including the current Irish skipper Balbirnie who has 135 caps, Stirling who has 8977 runs in 285 appearances, and Dockrell who in his 224 caps has 288 wickets – bettered only by Boucher and Monteith.
The 9th place finish in the tournament was a best performance for them, and deserved for one of the stronger squads at this level.
IRELAND U19 WORLD CUP SQUAD 2010
Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Ben Ackland, Jordan Coghlan, Adrian D'Arcy, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Graeme McCarter, Graham McDonnell, Lee Nelson, Stuart Poynter, Eddie Richardson, James Shannon, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.