By RON FANFAIR
Canada, once it fulfills logistical and budgetary arrangements laid down by the International Cricket Council (ICC), will host the Under-19 World Cup global qualifier in September.
The ICC Development Committee selected Canada to stage the tournament in which 10 Associate and Affiliate teams will compete for five spots in next year’s Youth World Cup in Kenya.
Two teams from the five ICC Development regions – the Americas, Africa, Asia, East Asia-Pacific and Europe – will take part in the global qualifier with the winners joining host nation Kenya and the 10 Full Members in the 16-team youth World Cup held every two years since 1998.
Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Uganda and Sierra Leone have already booked their places after coming out on top in their regional competitions last month. The East Asia-Pacific qualifier will be held in Papua, New Guinea, from May 30 to June 8, the Americas teams will meet in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) from July 5-12 and the European elimination series will take place in Jersey from July 14-20.
Cricket Canada’s acting chief executive officer, Ingleton Liburd, said ICC Americas Manager, Martin Vieira, informed him about a month ago that Canada could be in line to stage the event.
“This is not a tournament that we applied for,” said Liburd, who was hired last January as Cricket Canada’s senior development officer and has been acting CEO for the past four months since Atul Ahuja was fired. “Nevertheless, we are happy to be given this opportunity which I view as a trial run to prepare us to host the Under-19 World Cup in 2012.
“We will prepare our budget and send it to the ICC later this week for their approval and ICC officials will come over here next month to do an inspection of the pitches and facilities. As regards to the budget, I understand that the ICC will pick up the majority of the costs and we will be responsible for the infrastructure which includes the pitches that are mainly in good condition.”
The tournament is expected to run over a two-week period in early September at G. Ross Lord Park, Maple Leaf ground in King City, Sunnybrook Park, Toronto Cricket Club ground and Malton ground which the national squad will use as its outdoor training facility this summer.
Canada was awarded the global qualifier a day after the ICC announced major changes to the four-day Intercontinental tournament that will feature two divisions and as many as 11 teams. Canada will compete with Zimbabwe “A”, Kenya, The Netherlands, Afghanistan, Ireland and Scotland in a seven-team Intercontinental Cup elite division while Bermuda, the United Arab Emirates, Namibia and Uganda will play each other for the Intercontinental Shield.
The Intercontinental Cup winner and runner-up will receive US$100,000 and US$40,000 respectively while the Shield winner and runner-up will pocket US$25,000 and US$10,000 respectively. Teams that win their matches outright in both divisions will get US$3,000.
“I think this is good for the game,” said Cricket Canada president, Ben Sennik. “This is an incentive for teams to put their best foot forward in this competition.”
Dividing the competition into two will allow more countries to participate in the game’s longer version. The structure also means that countries in the top division will play one less match than before.
Canada finished second in the inaugural 12-team competition in 2004 in which there were four regional groups of three teams with the winners advancing to the semi-finals. The format was adjusted after the 2005 season whereby there were two groups of four with the winners proceeding to the final. The tournament underwent another overhaul in 2007-2008 with each side playing the other once in a simple league format.
ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, believes the new format will allow Canada and the other top five Associates to maintain a high standard of competitiveness.
“I am also delighted that, for the first time, the event has prize money for the Associate teams,” he said. “It will assist in their ongoing process to professionalize their operations and that, in turn, will help them continue to raise their playing standards.”
Canada is expected to play its first Intercontinental Shield contests on the road against Scotland and The Netherlands in July before coming home to face Kenya in a four-day match the following month. Plans are now underway for West Indies and India “A” teams to join the national side and the Kenyans in a quadrangular ODI series in the GTA in August.
While in Scotland, Canada will play two One-Day Internationals in Aberdeen on July 7 and 8 after the four-day contest that starts on July 2.
The national side will travel to the United Arab Emirates in late October for the ICC World Twenty/20 2010 qualifying tournament.
The tournament will feature Canada and the other five Associate and Affiliate teams with ODI status – Ireland, Kenya, The Netherlands, Afghanistan and Scotland – along with the United States which is a surprise inclusion. The winner and runner-up will join the ICC’s 10 Full Members in the third World Cup Twenty/20 tournament in Barbados, Guyana and St. Lucia during April and May, 2010.