The contribution and importance of under-19 international cricket

The contribution and importance of under-19 international cricket
Australia's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) final match against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19, 2023.(AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2024
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The contribution and importance of under-19 international cricket

The contribution and importance of under-19 international cricket
  • Maphaka should be in full view as he was named as player of the tournament for his haul of 21 wickets

Talent spotting at under-19 level in cricket is an essential part of the game’s ecosystem. The opportunity to do so was afforded recently by the U-19 men’s ODI World Cup, which concluded on Feb. 11 in Benoni, South Africa. Australia convincingly beat India by 79 runs to cap a remarkable run of success for all of Australia’s national teams over the last 12 months. At U-19 level, India had been champions in five of the 15 editions of the tournament and were favorites in 2024.

This makes Australia’s achievement even more impressive, ending a 14-year trophy drought in the competition.

Australia’s captain, Hugh Weibgen, has joined the ranks of three previous Australian U-19 World Cup-winning leaders: Geoff Parker (1988), Cameron White (2002) and Mitchell Marsh (2010).

Parker did not go on to play for the Australian senior side, playing only 37 first-class games, his focus being split between cricket and football and seeming to prefer the latter.

White’s star looked to be shining brightly in 2002, but he found difficulty in fashioning a consistent career at senior international level. He represented Australia in four Tests, 91 ODIs and 47 T20Is, captaining seven matches. In 2020, White retired from playing to focus on coaching.

Mitchell Marsh has gone on to have a celebrated senior career, so far playing in 40 Tests, 89 ODIs and 52 T20Is. Currently he is captain of Australia’s T20I team and is set to be so in the 2024 ICC World Cup. Since 2021, he has been free of injury and has enjoyed a resurgence as an international cricketer, featuring in Australia’s victories in the 2021 T20 and 2023 ODI World Cups. His elder brother, Shaun, played in the U-19 World Cups in both 2000 and 2002, going on to play for Australia at senior level on over 100 occasions.

These are two examples of players who have represented their country at U-19 level and progressed to distinguished senior representation. There is no shortage of others who first came to prominence at an U-19 World Cup. In the first-ever edition, Michael Atherton was England’s captain. Later, he captained the senior side on 54 occasions. The same World Cup featured Nasser Hussain, Inzaman-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Sanath Jayasuriya and Brian Lara.

In the 2000 U-19 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh was player of the tournament, scoring 203 runs and taking five wickets. Forward to the 2011 seniors’ World Cup, which India won for the second time, Yuvraj Singh was the player of the tournament, scoring 362 runs and taking 15 wickets.

England’s U-19 team of 2010, captained by Azeem Rafiq, contained Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and James Vince, all of whom have become household names, despite being knocked out in the quarter-finals.

Australia’s winning team of 2024 may well contain players who will go on to senior representation. Weibgen’s leadership has been lauded for not only scoring 304 runs, including a century against England, but also for his intelligent on-field decisions.

Harry Dixon also impressed with 309 runs at the top of the order and is one to watch. However, it was Australia’s quartet of fast bowlers which inflicted the greatest psychological damage on the Indian team. They deliberately targeted India’s batters with short-pitched deliveries on a fast pitch, much in the manner of previous generations of Australian fast bowlers. It should be no surprise that one of them, Mahli Beardman, has received advice from Dennis Lillee, one of Australia’s greatest fast bowlers.

Australia had reached the final by narrowly defeating Pakistan by only one wicket, with five deliveries remaining, in a low scoring semi-final. Fifteen-year-old Ali Raza captured four Australian wickets. One of Australia’s fast-bowling quartet, Tom Straker, claimed six wickets for 24 runs in Pakistan’s score of 179.

India had reached the final by defeating South Africa by two wickets with seven deliveries remaining. South Africa scored 244 for seven and then had India in all sorts of trouble at 32 for four, courtesy of Tristan Luus and Kwena Maphaka.

A 171-run partnership between India’s captain Uday Saharan (81) and Sachin Dhas (96) took them to the brink of victory. The return of Maphaka, who claimed two further wickets, stopped the charge but, despite the run-out of Saharan, India edged home.

In looking to the future, Maphaka should be in full view. He was named as player of the tournament for his haul of 21 wickets. In addition to Dhas and Saharan, the tournament’s top run scorer with 396, India have promise in all-rounder Musheer Khan and Saumy Pandey, who was the only spinner to feature in the top five wicket takers. 

Given India’s wealth and depth of talent, it may take time for these players to earn a senior call-up. Pakistan’s fast bowler Ubaid Shah, brother of Naseem Shah, is one in a line of talent in the country, taking 18 wickets, second highest in the tournament.

South Africa has batting talent in the shape of Steve Stolk, who created U-19 World Cup history by scoring its fastest 50, in 13 balls, against Scotland. The previous record had been set by Rishabh Pant in 18 deliveries. 

A notable effort outside of the semi-finals, to emphasize that talent is widespread, came from Jewel Andrew of the West Indies. Against South Africa he came to the wicket at 52 for four, chasing 286. Andrew not only rescued the innings but took his side to within 35 runs of victory in scoring 130 from 96 deliveries.

Clearly, there is abundant talent, which is becoming more widespread, as witnessed by Nepal qualifying for the Super Six this year.

The progression of players from U-19 to senior level has been evident since 1988. This year, the event was switched to South Africa at short notice and was played in the shadow of SA20. Future editions need fuller exposure so that those who invest in cricket, either as observers, selectors or administrators, can witness talent as it emerges.


Ten Hag says reaction to Man Utd FA Cup win a ‘disgrace’

Ten Hag says reaction to Man Utd FA Cup win a ‘disgrace’
Updated 59 min 32 sec ago
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Ten Hag says reaction to Man Utd FA Cup win a ‘disgrace’

Ten Hag says reaction to Man Utd FA Cup win a ‘disgrace’
  • Ten Hag admitted after the match his team had “got away with it” but played down any notion of embarrassment
  • “The comments are a disgrace“

LONDON: Erik ten Hag says the media reaction to Manchester United’s performance in the FA Cup semifinal against Coventry was “a disgrace,” robustly defending his side’s achievement in reaching a second straight final.
United surrendered a 3-0 lead at Wembley on Sunday and were saved from a humiliating exit in extra time only by a VAR intervention, which ruled out a goal for offside in the final moments.
They eventually scraped through against the Championship side on penalties to set up a re-match of last year’s final against City.
Ten Hag admitted after the match his team had “got away with it” but played down any notion of embarrassment.
But he has been widely criticized, adding to speculation he is on borrowed time at Old Trafford.
Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton said the performance would “cement his sacking.”
But Ten Hag was in defiant mood on the eve of United’s Premier League match against bottom side Sheffield United on Wednesday.
“You asked the question: ‘Is it embarrassing?’ No, the reaction from you was embarrassing,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“It is the comments. Top football is about results. We made it to a final and we deserved it not only by this game but also the other games.
“We lost control for 20 minutes, we also had bad luck, 3-2, 3-3. We were very lucky in the end, it is clear. Penalties was very good and we made it to the final, it is a huge achievement. Twice, in two years, is magnificent. For me as a manager, four cup finals in four years.
“The comments are a disgrace.”
United, winless in their past four Premier League games, are in danger of missing out on a European spot next season after a poor campaign.
They are already realistically out of the race to qualify for the lucrative Champions League but still have the Europa League and the Europa Conference League to aim for.
“We have to win every game, we know that,” said Ten Hag. “That’s what United stands for and that is our approach, go from game to game but we have to qualify for Europe and we now have two opportunities — in the league and the FA Cup final.”
Ten Hag said he would work closely with newly appointed technical director Jason Wilcox to determine the future direction of the club.
Wilcox, 53, has left second-tier Southampton to take up the job at Old Trafford with immediate effect.
“We have to form a partnership, which is very important,” said Ten Hag. “We are a little bit behind in the process so we have to catch up and we will go and speed up the process.”


AlUla Camel Cup promises a one-of-a-kind experience

AlUla Camel Cup promises a one-of-a-kind experience
Updated 23 April 2024
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AlUla Camel Cup promises a one-of-a-kind experience

AlUla Camel Cup promises a one-of-a-kind experience
  • Tickets to major heritage event available online
  • The camel racing spectacular runs from April 24-27

AlUla: The AlUla Camel Cup, considered the pinnacle of camel racing in the region, promises an exhilarating spectacle for sports aficionados and cultural enthusiasts from across Saudi Arabia and the world.

Organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla in partnership with the Saudi Camel Racing Federation, the event will provide a celebration of sport, culture and entertainment.

In addition to the camel racing, there will be static and mobile displays and acts that celebrate AlUla’s heritage and Saudi Arabia’s artistic legacy, including music and performances that highlight the historical significance of the camel in local culture.

Workshops for adults throughout the day will cover calligraphy, traditional pottery making, incense crafting and Sadu weaving, providing hands-on learning experiences for visitors. Children, meanwhile, will enjoy a range of educational and creative activities, from camel origami and clay modeling to an augmented reality scanner that animates drawings.

Additional attractions include camel riding, a Light Brite experience where guests can try their hand at face painting, and a calligraphy light show after sunset. Visitors can also indulge in a traditional Saudi Arabian coffee roasting and tasting session.

Culinary delights from various cuisines will be available at pop-up stalls, while the retail experience will feature regional brands offering an array of products, including camel-themed streetwear, souvenirs and artisanal items reflecting AlUla’s heritage.

The event will also host the AlUla Design Award Ceremony on Friday, where the winning camel covers will be displayed in the Heritage Village.

Rami AlMoallim, vice president of destination management and marketing at the commission, said: “As the second edition of the AlUla Camel Cup draws closer, we warmly invite sports and culture enthusiasts from around the globe to join us for an experience unlike any other. This event exemplifies RCU’s commitment to sporting excellence infused with cultural depth, reflecting both our rich Saudi heritage and our forward-looking vision for AlUla.

“We are gearing up to deliver an unparalleled celebration of the ancient sport that is camel racing, set against the breathtaking backdrop of this oasis city that will resonate with fans and families alike. We look forward to welcoming guests to experience in person this culmination of Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural landscape and sports innovation.”

The event, being staged at the Mughayra Heritage Sports Village, will feature the region’s fastest camels and most skilled jockeys, promising several rounds of top-tier competition.

The inaugural Camel Cup last year drew thousands of visitors and this year promises an even more significant experience because 2024 is the Year of the Camel, celebrating the animal’s status in Saudi culture and society.

Ticket prices start at SR50 ($13). For bookings and further information, visit experiencealula.com.


Murray buzzer-beater lifts Nuggets over Lakers, Knicks stun Sixers

Murray buzzer-beater lifts Nuggets over Lakers, Knicks stun Sixers
Updated 23 April 2024
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Murray buzzer-beater lifts Nuggets over Lakers, Knicks stun Sixers

Murray buzzer-beater lifts Nuggets over Lakers, Knicks stun Sixers
  • The drama in Denver followed a scintillating comeback by the New York Knicks, who scored eight points in the final half-minute to stun the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Embiid was dejected but defiant, telling reporters: “We should be 2-0“

LOS ANGELES: Jamal Murray fired the game-winner at the buzzer as the NBA champion Denver Nuggets erased a 20-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 101-99 on Monday and take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference playoff series.

The drama in Denver followed a scintillating comeback by the New York Knicks, who scored eight points in the final half-minute to stun the Philadelphia 76ers 104-101 for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference set.

Nikola Jokic delivered a triple-double of 27 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists for Denver and Murray broke out of his shooting doldrums, with 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets notched their 10th straight win over LeBron James and the Lakers, a run of dominance that includes Denver’s sweep in last season’s Western Conference finals.

The Lakers, led by the 32 points and 11 rebounds of Anthony Davis, were in control for most of the night, pushing a 59-44 halftime lead to 20 points early in the third quarter.

James scored 26 points and handed out 12 assists, but the Nuggets kept chipping away and tied it at 95-95 on Michael Porter Jr’s basket with 1:15 remaining.

James put the Lakers up 99-97 with a driving layup but Murray tied it again with a step-back jumper with 30 seconds remaining.

After James missed a three-point attempt, Murray rose over Davis and connected on a fall-away jumper with four-tenths of a second left.

“I told my teammates when I was struggling, I’m gonna look for y’all,” Murray told broadcaster TNT. “And every single one of them told me to keep shooting, keep shooting.

“They just told me to stay aggressive and keep looking for it, keep hunting it. I had the ball with a few seconds left and I knew once I made a couple, the next one should go down as well.

“I just beat him to my spot and elevated, went through my shot,” he said. “I’m thankful enough that that was one of the few that went down for me.

It was a similar story in New York, where the Knicks took the lead over the Sixers for the first time in the third quarter.

Philadelphia’s NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid was clearly hindered late by pain in his surgically repaired left knee, but the Sixers appeared to have regained control when Tyrese Maxey, fed by Embiid, made a three-pointer with 1:09 to play that put the Sixers up 100-96.

But Jalen Brunson’s three-pointer with 27.4 seconds left pulled the Knicks within two points and after Josh Hart came up with a steal, Donte DiVincenzo capped a chaotic possession with a three-pointer — after missing his first attempt — to put the Knicks up 102-101.

OG Anunoby sealed it at an ecstatic Madison Square Garden with a pair of free throws.

It was a crushing defeat for Philadelphia, who were up by five with less than a minute to play.

The 76ers were furious that officials failed to respond to their calls for a time-out in the critical seconds, Embiid adding a jab over missed foul calls.

“That’s unacceptable to put us in that situation,” Embiid said. “Everybody on the floor was trying to call time-out... but they didn’t give it to us.

“But forget about the time-out, there’s a bunch of fouls .... that’s unacceptable.

“We’re going to win this series,” he added. “We’re the better team and we’re going to keep fighting.”

Brunson finished with 24 points despite connecting on just eight of 29 shots from the field. He added eight rebounds and six assists and Hart added 21 points and 15 rebounds for New York.

The series shifts to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Maxey, who skipped the Sixers’ morning shoot-around because of illness, finished with 35 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Embiid added 34 points and 10 rebounds but missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers cruised to a 96-86 victory over the Orlando Magic, their second straight wire-to-wire victory giving them a 2-0 series lead.

Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen added 16 points and 20 rebounds for the Cavs.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando’s scoring with 21 points and Franz Wagner added 18. The youthful Magic will be hoping to turn things around when the series shifts to Orlando.


Saudi Arabia lose to Iraq as both teams progress to quarterfinals of 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia lose to Iraq as both teams progress to quarterfinals of 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup
Updated 23 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia lose to Iraq as both teams progress to quarterfinals of 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia lose to Iraq as both teams progress to quarterfinals of 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup
  • The 2-1 reverse sees the Green Falcons finish second in Group C of tournament that is also a qualifying competition for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris

DOHA: Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Monday night at Khalifa International Stadium in Al-Rayyan as both teams secured their spots in the last eight of the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

Saudi Arabia entered the match as leaders of Group C with a maximum of six points from two matches. But the reverse sees them drop to second in the final standings, with Iraq — also on six points — taking top spot with a superior head-to-head record.

With three points apiece, Tajikistan and Thailand finished third and fourth respectively and were eliminated from the competition.

The tournament, which runs until May 3, provides a pathway to the men’s football competition at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Iraq took the lead one minute into first-half stoppage time through an Ali Jasim penalty but there was still time for Saudi Arabia to equalize nine minutes later with a spot kick converted by Ahmed Al-Ghamdi.

Iraq secured the win thanks to Mustafa Saadoun’s winner on 63 minutes.

Monday also saw the conclusion of Group B with South Korea beating Japan 1-0 and China overcoming the UAE 2-1.

South Korea and Japan had qualified from the group ahead of the final round of matches.

Tuesday will see the final round of Group D matches, with Uzbekistan and Vietnam already guaranteeing their progress to the last eight as they sit on six points apiece.

The tournament has 16 nations split into four groups, with the top two from each progressing to the quarterfinals. The winners of the two semifinals secure automatic qualification to the Olympic Games.

The two losing semifinalists will contest third place, with the winners also booking a place in Paris, while the fourth-place finishers have a final chance with a playoff against an African qualifier.


Stacked fight card set for PFL Europe Newcastle

Stacked fight card set for PFL Europe Newcastle
Updated 23 April 2024
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Stacked fight card set for PFL Europe Newcastle

Stacked fight card set for PFL Europe Newcastle
  • Path to Greatness’ event by Saudi Arabia-backed brand takes place June 8 at Utilita Arena with bantamweight and flyweights competing
  • Boxing world champion Savannah Marshall makes her PFL SmartCage debut in her hometown of Newcastle against Brazil’s Mirela Vargas

NEW YORK: The Professional Fighters League has announced a stacked card for its PFL Europe Newcastle event on June 8, featuring bantamweights and flyweights looking to secure spots in the playoffs this September.

 

The “Path to Greatness” event has prize money of $100,000.

 

Local hero Savannah Marshall makes her cage debut against Brazil’s Mirela Vargas.

 

Dan Hardy, head of fighter operations for PFL Europe, said: “We can’t wait to come back to Newcastle on June 8th, where PFL Europe officially launched in 2023. Our bantamweight and women’s flyweight rosters are packed with quality and represent the best that the elite European MMA scene has to offer. And with the Regular Season format all of these fighters know what’s at the end of the line — the European title, $100k and a pathway to our Global Season.

 

“But it wouldn’t be a PFL Europe event without a stacked evening of showcase bouts, and we have a great selection of future stars, simmering tensions and a local hero in Savannah Marshall making her MMA debut.”

 

Marshall has 10 victories by knockout as a boxer. She joins the deepest female combat sports roster in the world, which includes a familiar foe in Claressa Shields. Her first test in the cage comes in the form of Vargas, a three-fight professional.

 

With the winners progressing and the losers going home, the stakes could not be higher for the bantamweights. England’s highly regarded Scouser Dean Garnett (12-2-1), who is on a four-fight win streak, faces Belgium’s Ayton De Paepe (12-4) as both step into the PFL SmartCage for the first time.

 

Also at bantamweight, last year’s finalist, Ireland’s Frans Mlambo (15-6) looks to return to winning ways against Scotland’s “The Apocalypse” Luke Shanks (10-4). Meanwhile, returning champion Khurshed Kakhorov (12-1) defends his PFL Europe title against Georgian Kikadze Bondo (8-3-1) who dominated striking expert Dom Wooding last time out.

 

Rounding off the bantamweights, Alexander Luster (7-1), who has lit up the German MMA scene with all seven of his professional wins coming inside the first two rounds, faces Alperen Karabulut (10-3-0, 1 no-contest), the first Turkiye fighter to compete inside the PFL SmartCage.

 

In the women’s flyweight division, one of the most highly regarded female prospects in the world, Shanelle “The Nightmare” Dyer (4-0), will make her PFL Europe Season debut against Georgian submission specialist Mariam Torchinava (9-2). Also on the card Dyer’s bitter rival and viral sensation, Sammy-Jo Luxton (2-0), makes her long awaited PFL Europe debut versus the returning Dutch talent Lizzy Gevers (3-1).

 

Also competing in the flyweight division, 2023 finalist Valentina Scatizzi (2-2) from Italy will face France’s experienced 43-year-old Marie Loiseau (6-4), and Ireland’s Dee Begley (4-5) faces Poland’s Paulina Wisniewska (2-0).

 

There will be one additional welterweight fight, with Jack Grant (19-8) facing Charlie Leary (17-13-1), with a chance to proceed to the playoffs and join the semifinalists who were victorious in Paris.

 

The 2024 PFL Europe Season began last month with a sold-out show in Paris. After Newcastle, the action moves to Glasgow’s OVO Hydro on Sept. 28. The season will conclude at a venue to be announced later.

 

PFL Europe Newcastle Main Card:

 

Main Event: Savannah Marshall (debut) vs Mirela Vargas (1-2)

 

Lightweight Showcase Bout: Kane Mousah (14-6) vs Dylan Tuke (7-4)

 

Welterweight Season Bout: Jack Grant (19-8) vs Charlie Leary (17-13-1)

 

Bantamweight Season Bout: Dean Garnett (12-2-1) vs Ayton De Paepe (12-4)

 

Women’s Flyweight Season Bout: Shanelle Dyer (4-0) vs Mariam Torchinava (9-2)

Featherweight Showcase Bout: Ibragim Ibragimov (6-0) vs Josh Reed (13-8)

 

Bantamweight Season Bout: Frans Mlambo (15-6) vs Luke Shanks (10-4)

 

Women’s Flyweight Season Bout: Lizzy Gevers (3-1) vs Sammy-Jo Luxton (2-0)

 

Lightweight Showcase Bout: Mark Ewen (5-0) vs Mathias Poiron (7-1)

 

Bantamweight Season Bout: Khurshed Kakhorov (12-1) vs Bondo Kikadze (8-3-1)

 

Women’s Flyweight Season Bout: Valentina Scatizzi (2-2) vs Marie Loiseau (6-4)

 

Featherweight Showcase Bout: Ben Woolliss (2-0) vs Maher Belkhadir (1-1)

 

Bantamweight Bout: Alexander Luster (7-1) vs Alperen Karabulut (10-3-0, 1 NC)

 

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Dee Begley (4-5) vs Paulina Wisniewska (2-0)