The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup was officially opened with a vibrant welcome ceremony in Christchurch, New Zealand on Sunday.
Representatives of the 16 teams competing at the tournament, along with officials from the ICC, New Zealand Cricket and other partners in the event, gathered at the Christchurch Art Gallery to be greeted by traditional Maori songs and haka.
The captains of the teams were also joined by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori for the photographs along with the impressive silver trophy which one of the captains will take home in three weeks time.
In opening the tournament, New Zealand Cricket President Denis Currie said the competition was one of the most prestigious events on the international cricket calendar. “During these next few weeks on cricket fields throughout this country, we will witness the success and outstanding abilities of the superstars of world cricket tomorrow,” Mr Currie said.
“New Zealand Cricket is privileged to host this wonderful event. The popularity and interest in cricket on the world scene has never been at such a high level and for all the players taking part in this tournament there are tremendous opportunities for personal success in the years ahead.”
New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive Justin Vaughan also noted the significance of the tournament in the development of the game. Mr Vaughan said: “The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is particularly important to the ICC as it is great showcase for the best young cricketers in the world, and it’s a really important way to grow the game of cricket throughout the world.
“The 2010 event is the eighth ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and each of the past events has uncovered new cricketing stars that have graced the international stage, right from the first event in 1988 held in Australia.
“That event featured players like Brian Lara, Mike Atherton and Inzamam-ul-Haq. And since that time, events have introduced players to the world such as Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Graeme Smith – and in the last event New Zealand’s Tim Southee was player of the tournament. All have gone on to have quite significant international careers.
“I am certain that the millions watching this event through ESPN STAR Sports worldwide will be just as fascinated to see which stars emerge after the next three weeks of competition.”
Mr Vaughan also paid tribute to the efforts of the Associate Members that had qualified for the event. “This event in New Zealand has ICC’s 10 Full Members represented, but importantly they are joined by the six best Associate U19 sides.
“It is great to see the United States of America, Canada, Ireland, Afghanistan, Ireland and Papua New Guinea joining the 10 Full Members to compete in this tournament. Those six Associates earned their spot through a tough qualifying tournament in Canada in September last year – so well done for making it here.”
The tournament is expected to reach a huge global audience, with ICC’s broadcast partner ESPN STAR Sports to televise live all the 10 matches to be played at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, near Christchurch.
Live scoring, highlights and other features from the event will be available at the tournament website, www.iccevents.yahoo.com.
About the U19 CWC 2010
This 16-team tournament, which is seen as an important breeding ground for the next generation of senior international cricketers, will take place in New Zealand from 15 to 30 January 2010.
Defending champion India will open its campaign against qualifier Afghanistan in front of the ESPN Star Sports (ESS) cameras at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, near Christchurch on the opening day of the competition with Pakistan facing the West Indies in Palmerston North and 2008 beaten finalist South Africa taking on Ireland in Queenstown.
The 16 teams are split into four groups with Groups A and C being based in and around Christchurch, Group B teams playing their matches in Queenstown and Group D games taking place in Napier and Palmerston North.
A full match schedule for the tournament is available at