Dubai: The road to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 in South Africa begins today with more teams than ever before in an expanded qualification process.The qualification process includes 50 teams in the regional qualifiers.
Due to the depth in strength in the Asia, Africa and Europe regions, a two division qualification pathway will begin in 2018. Teams from the Americas and EAP region will have a one division qualifying process that gets underway in 2019, with the winner of each regional Division 1 claiming five ICC U19 Cricket World Cup places.
In Europe, 12 teams will have the chance to qualify for South Africa. The U19 CWC 2020 pathway starts at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Europe Division 2 that includes nine teams competing for three spots. The three qualifiers will join Jersey, Ireland and Scotland in Division 1 in 2019, to compete for the European qualification spot to the U19 Cricket World Cup.
Division 2 takes place between July 31 and August 8 next in England, where Belgium, Denmark, France, Guernsey, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain will compete for three Division 1 places.
For the Africa region, there will be 14 teams across both divisions, 11 in Division 2, with three Division 1 positions up for grabs. Those three teams will join Namibia, Kenya and Uganda in Division 1, with the top team qualifying for South Africa 2020.
Africa's Division 2 begins next month where Botswana, the Gambia, Ghana,Lesotho,Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia will meet in South Africa between 19 and 28 August hoping to be the three teams to progress to Africa Division 1 2019.
The final region with two divisions, Asia, will have 14 teams competing in total in the regional qualifiers. 10 teams will meet in late 2018 in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Asia Division 2, with two joining Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore and UAE in Asia Division 1 in 2019.
The ten teams hoping to make it to Division 1, Bahrain, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the hosts will travel to Thailand and compete between December 9 and 17 for the two top places.
For Americas and EAP teams, their qualification will start in 2019 in one division only. In the Americas region, Argentina, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands and USA will compete for the U19 Cricket World Cup qualification position. Five teams in EAP - Fiji, Japan, PNG, Samoa and Vanuatu - will battle it out in ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier EAP Division 1 for top spot.
ICC Head of Events, Chris Tetley said, "The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup showcases the best of the next generation, with many top-class cricketers around the world having featured at this event. The qualification pathway for 2020 has expanded with 50 teams from across the world having the chance to challenge for a place in South Africa. I am sure it will be a competitive qualification process, with the best teams qualifying."
There will be 20 matches played at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Europe Division 2, across 10-days, which is to be hosted in Essex, England. Demonstrating the increase of junior cricket in the region, an increased number of European teams will participate in the pathway towards the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020. France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Spain all are new to this cycle of the U19 pathway.
ICC Regional Development Manager, Ed Shuttleworth said, "We are delighted to be kick starting the qualifying process in Europe to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020. U19 cricket is very important to the development of the game, and these events prepare cricketers for the step-up to major global tournaments. The ICC is committed to providing more competitive opportunities, this is evident with five new teams competing in this cycle of the U19 pathway."
The five winners of each regional Division 1 - will join the eleven automatic qualifiers from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2018, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Windies - for the tournament that will take place in January and February 2020.(UNI)