Innocent Kurira Sports Writer
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) says they are leaving no stone unturned in making sure the national Under-19 side gets adequate preparations ahead of the forthcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup early next year.
The 2024 Men’s U-19 World Cup will kick off with hosts Sri Lanka taking on Zimbabwe on January 13. Defending champions India will take on Bangladesh the following day.
The 41-match tournament will be played across 23 days in five venues, all in Colombo.
The R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium will play host to the tournament opener, the semi-finals on January 30 and February 1, along with the final on February 4.
The P Sara Oval, Colombo Cricket Club, Nondescripts Cricket Club, and the Sinhalese Sports Club are the other venues.
ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza says preparations
“We realise we are going to be hosting the next 50 over World Cup so it is part of our strategic objectives that we get that team ready. We know we are going to have players from this Under-19 side in the team for the World Cup when we host it in 2027.
“The team has already been preparing. In the next school holiday, we will intensify preparations. They are going to play matches here in Zimbabwe against a select side that will be made as strong as possible for them to make sure they get adequate preparation,” said Masakadza.
He says they are also working on organising a tour of South Africa as part of the preparations.
“We have confirmed they are going to go to India enroute to Sri Lanka but possibly before that we are in talks with South Africa so we can get a tour with them. Those talks are still very much alive and we are looking forward to developing them.
“From there they will go to India which has the same conditions that they will see in Sri Lanka where they will go a bit earlier to play three warm-up games with Ireland before the official ICC warm-up games. When the World Cup begins they would have played a number of international games. We are leaving no stone unturned in making sure we give coach Prosper Utseya and his technical team everything they need to get the team ready,” said Masakadza.
The ICC has announced a fresh format for the tournament. While the 16 teams will initially be grouped into four groups of four, there will be 12 teams qualifying into the second round, instead of the eight previously.
The Super Six stage will feature two groups of six teams each, with the top four progressing to the semi-finals.
Earlier, the second round consisted of the top eight teams moving into the Super League – a knockout format for the World Cup title – while the bottom will go into knockouts for the Plate trophy.
Each team will play two warm-up matches between January 7 and 11 across four venues.
India, with five titles, is the most successful team in the competition’s history, followed by Australia with three.
Pakistan has won twice and England, Bangladesh, South Africa, and West Indies have lifted the crown once.