The six remaining teams that will join the Full Members at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 in Australia are now known following the completion of the qualifying tournament in Ireland. And the team groupings for the 15-day celebration of youth cricket have now also been finalised.
The event will get underway in Queensland exactly one year from today and Scotland will be there as the leading Associate after winning eight of its nine matches during the qualifiers, which took place in Dublin and Derry.
Defending champion and host Australia will head Group A having been drawn alongside 1998 winner England, Nepal and Ireland. Group B is made up of the last event’s runner-up and two-time winner Pakistan, New Zealand, Scotland and Afghanistan while 2000 and 2008 champion India has been drawn in Group C along with West Indies, Zimbabwe and PNG. Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangladesh and Namibia make up Group D.
Following the qualification of his team Ireland captain George Dockrell, who is also a regular member of Ireland’s senior team, was delighted with his team’s overall result.
"It is a huge moment for me to be leading a side into the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup," said the Dubliner.
"To have played a part in leading the side into qualification for the event next year means a lot to me. I am lucky to have been part of the senior ICC Cricket World Cup earlier this year in India. The experience of playing at that highest level made a huge difference to my career. I came back to join the under-19s and felt really at home as we planned our pathway to Australia.
"The guys keep asking me from time to time about my World Cup experience and I share it with them. Now these guys will get a chance to experience what I went through. We will start planning for the event shortly. I have attended a camp in Sydney, but apart from that I have not really had an experience of playing in Australia. I am sure the pitches there will offer a new challenge for the squad. We are all ready for it," he said.
PNG coach and former Australia fast bowler Andy Bichel, who is originally from Queensland, will know the conditions well.
He said: "This is probably one of the most important tournaments for us. In terms of men’s cricket, it shows the amount of development work that has gone into the sport in PNG. The more these guys get exposed to better opposition, the better they will become.
"I know the conditions in Queensland, especially at the time of the year when we will have the World Cup (August). Brisbane is a lot closer to home for the guys. They have experience of playing there. We play quite often in Brisbane and have camps there. It will be much easier to acclimatise there."
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a very important tournament for us and I want to congratulate those six teams who have qualified to take part in Queensland next year.
"This tournament has proved to be an important stepping stone for elite young cricketers aspiring to play international cricket. It’s an opportunity for them to develop and test their skills in a high-pressure situation against the world’s best at this level.
"We also use it as an opportunity to educate them on several important issues like anti-corruption, anti-doping and social responsibility expected of international cricketers while also exposing them to the ICC Code of Conduct and media attention.
"In the past, we have seen some quality players come through the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, including star players like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yuvraj Singh, Brian Lara, Ian Bell, Virat Kohli, Eoin Morgan, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. I expect next year’s event to be no different in producing future world stars."