Mumbai: India’s World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev and national coaches have come forward to wish good luck to the youngsters who will take part in the forthcoming Under-19 cricket World Cup which starts in Chittagong on Wednesday.
The 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven associate and affiliate members — Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland.
On the opening day, defending champions South Africa will take on hosts Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, while 1998 winners England will play Fiji at the MA Aziz Stadium, also in Chittagong.
“Good luck to all the boys participating in the tournament. They can write their own destiny,” Kapil, an International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket Hall of Famer who led India to victory in the 1983 cricket World Cup said in a release received on Tuesday.
Three-time champions India will open their campaign against Ireland in Group D on January 28.
“Many Test and one-day teams are going through a transition phase and the U-19 cricket World Cup will enable them to take a look at the young players. We have seen so many young boys become men after this tournament,” Kapil, now one of the most respected commentators who took 434 and 253 wickets in 131 Tests and 225 One-Day Internationals (ODI) respectively, said.
Kapil mentioned the likes of star players Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, who have come through the U-19 World Cup.
“They are today the biggest inspiration for young cricketers,” he said.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said he still remembered his time at the inaugural U-19 World Cup in 1988.
“The U-19 Cricket World Cup is a breeding ground for budding cricketers. Memories of 1988 are still fresh in my mind. So many great cricketers came though from that World Cup like Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq and our own Sanath Jayasuriya,” the former Sri Lanka Test player said.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson wished the junior Kiwi team good luck and said he will be watching their performance closely.
“On behalf of the BlackCaps, I want to wish good luck to the New Zealand side at the Under-19 World Cup. Make sure you enjoy the experience and use what is a great opportunity to test yourself against the best in the world,” Hesson said.
Pace bowling great and Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis urged players to enjoy the tournament and serve as ambassadors of their respective nations.
“The U-19 World Cup is a platform for youngsters to showcase their talent in the big arena. In the modern cricket era, the tournament has gained in stature. Thanks to the ICC’s endeavours, it has emerged as a dream event with every young cricketer aspiring to be a part of it,” Younis, who is an ICC cricket Hall of Famer, said.
Veteran coach Dav Whatmore, who is currently with Zimbabwe, said the tournament could launch several promising careers.
“Good luck boys! This could be the beginning of a great career. A lot of top cricketers have come through the U-19 World Cup,” Whatmore said.
Scotland’s coach Grant Bradburn also wished the participants well.
“All the very best to all the players and teams competing at this year’s U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh. May you all realise your dreams and skills, and step forward onto the world stage during this amazing tournament,” Bradburn said.