The 2011 Under 19 Global World Cup qualifiers took place in Ireland at the end of July and remarkably, in a country where the rain is never too far away, there was a result in each of the 45 matches played with none being lost to the elements.
The format saw ten teams vying for a very generous six slots at the 2012 tournament which would be held in Australia. Two qualifiers from each of the ICC regions travelled to the Emerald Isle with hosts Ireland and Scotland the European representatives.
Canada and USA were the Americas qualifiers, Nepal and Afghanistan from the Asian region, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea from the Pacific, while Kenya and Namibia represented Africa.
The conditions were expected to favour the European sides, although given the good weather and late season pitches, the odds weren’t so heavily weighted in their favour as would have been the case if the competition was held in May.
The opening day wasn’t without incident or indeed surprises as the tournament got off to an eventful start. Nepal and Afghanistan met at Rathmines and to the surprise of the ICC organisers, thousands of fans turned up and chaos ensued as various ‘frank exchanges of views’ took place necessitating the intervention of the Irish police! On the field Nepal stunned the Afghans who were also considered to be one of the competition favourites.
In the other matches Ireland scraped home against USA by one wicket thanks to Adam Coughlan’s 49, while Nitish Kumar made the first century of the event as Canada edged home by six runs in a thriller against Scotland. Kenya were the biggest winners of the day as they thumped Vanuatu, while the Baards were on song for Namibia as they beat PNG.
The second round of games proved no less dramatic as Ireland again came out on top after a thriller with Afghanistan – four runs the margin. Steven Taylor thumped 140 but it wasn’t enough as PNG beat the USA by six runs in a nail-biter. Scotland got their campaign up and running as they beat Nepal thanks to Freddie Coleman’s 81, while Namibia made it two from two beating Vanuatu. Duncan Allan’s century ensured the first points for Kenya in a 15-run victory against Canada.
Taylor made it back-to-back centuries but this time his 102 was in a winning cause as USA beat Namibia. Game of the day was Scotland’s win against Ireland as Peter Ross made 60 to lead them to a last over two wicket win. This was the catalyst for Scotland who got stronger as the competition progressed. Duncan Allan took four wickets but in a losing cause as Nepal beat Kenya after dismissing them for just 107. Nitish Kumar made 61 as Canada beat Vanuatu by 9 wickets while Javed Ahmadi’s 81 saw Afghanistan gain their first points in a six wicket chase against PNG.
The fourth round of games continued to have their fair share of close contests, emphasizing the fact there weren’t much to choose beyond many of the sides. Duncan Allan hit 123 for Kenya but half centuries for Shane Getkate and Graeme McCarter got the Irish home by two wickets in another last over decider. Two wickets was also the margin for Scotland in a tense battle with PNG at Oak Hill – Henry Edwards’ 62 getting him the MOM accolade. There was an ill-tempered affair at The Hills with USA and Afghanistan ‘locking horns’. Thankfully the ICC and the umpires managed to keep things under control – just about – Mital Patel’s six-wicket haul and Steven Taylor’s 49 gaining the points for USA. Canada’s Nikhil Dhutta made 116 but Stephan Baard’s five wicket haul, plus half centuries for Erasmus and the flamboyantly named Zhivago Groenwald kept Namibia’s qualification ambitions on track. Nepal trounced Vanuatu, who were the one side that looked out of their depth.
As the tournament approached the half-way stage, the competition moved to Northern Ireland, with the second half taking place in and around Derry and the NW region.
Andy McBrine hit an unbeaten 107 and George Dockrell 69 as Ireland piled more misery on Vanuatu, while Scotland hammered USA thanks to a four wicket haul for Kyle Smith and three for Ross Mclean. Kyle Edgehill’s unbeaten 52 ensured Canada got the better of Nepal by three wickets, while Thoua Tom’s 82 helped PNG to a win over Kenya, while in the game of the day Nasir Jamal’s 68 not out saw Afghanistan sneak home by one wicket against Namibia.
Scotland became the first side to ensure qualification as half centuries for Freddie Coleman and Peter Ross saw them beat Afghanistan by 33 runs despite the best efforts of Afsar Zazai who hit 84. Graeme McCarter (5-8) and Shane Getkate (4-21) combined for the Irish to blow away Canada who were skittled for just 37 – Ireland didn’t have it all their own way as they lost five wickets chasing. There were two crushing wins for USA against Kenya and PNG against Vanuatu, but the daily thriller was provided by Nepal and Namibia. Chris Coombe took six wickets for the Africans but Nepal took the points in an eight-run win.
Showers on the Saturday as the competition reached a crucial stage meant DL and reduced overs were in use at four of the five games. Game of the day saw Nepal beat the hosts in another thriller. George Dockrell scored 55 and took three wickets but to no avail as Sagar Pun’s 50 ensured a ten-run win. (This match which was being live-scored by CricketEurope produced our largest audience for the game as fans back in Nepal followed their teenage stars' progress).
The win was being closely followed by Scotland who had just beaten Namibia by 40 runs in the adjoining field at the new international ground at Bready. Scotland knew the title was theirs to lose now. Javed Ahmadi’s 86 saw Afghanistan run out nine-wicket winners against Kenya, while USA kept their hopes alive with a 42-run win over Vanuatu. There was a run feast at Eglinton where Nitish Kumar’s 150 for Canada was outshone by Chris Kent’s winning effort of 166 not out for PNG.
The penultimate round of fixtures saw Ireland and Nepal ensure qualification slots, although the Irish needed their reserve day to beat Namibia. George Dockrell, Jason van der Merwe and Shane Getkate all making half centuries as they chased 245. There were also a trio of half centuries for the Nepalese as Rajesh Magar, Sagar Pun and Pradeep Airee helped them to 277 – 29 too many for PNG despite Chris Kent’s 80, with five wickets for Avinash Karn. Canada’s Maninder Alukah produced the best figures of the tournament (6-32) to help his side beat USA and put a severe dent in their qualification hopes. Ahmadi was again in the runs as Afghanistan’s late charge continued, while Scotland moved one win away from glory as they beat Kenya by 15 runs – Ross McLean again in the runs and wickets.
The final day dawned with five sides in with a chance of joining Scotland, Nepal and Ireland on the plane to Australia. It was a straight shoot-out between Canada and Afghanistan and it turned into a non-event as the Afghans skittled them for just 71 and raced in double quick time for an eight wicket win. It turned into a miserable day for the Americas as Nepal proved too strong for the USA and clinched second place in the table. Ireland suffered a hangover in their worst display of the tournament as Norman Vanua bowled PNG to a fully deserved win and a world cup place. Namibia came up on the rails profiting from Canada’s and USA’s heavy defeats – their 109-run win over Kenya ensuring they eked out the sixth place on NRR.
Scotland as expected clinched the trophy as they were far too strong for Vanuatu – Ross Mclean making 69 and Kyle Smith taking five wickets in a 130-run win.
The Scots were coached by Craig Wright who said of their triumph.
“'This group of players have shown tremendous resilience throughout the tournament especially after losing that first game. Looking back we had opportunities to beat Canada and it would obviously have been nice to win all our games. But we also had other matches which seemed to be going against us and each time the guys found a way to get over the line. Our aim was to qualify as champions so we are naturally delighted.”
This was to be the last of the Global qualifier events at Under 19 level as the regions and ICC reverted back to local competitions. It’s a pity as the two events held allowed the youngsters to experience and develop in conditions they weren’t used to.
- Tournament Qualifiers: Scotland, Nepal, Ireland, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Namibia.
- Tournament facts: There were nine centuries scored and ten players took five wickets or more in an innings.
- Player of the Tournament: Duncan Allan (Kenya).