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Under-19s bidding to book their passage to New Zealand

 

By Ian Callender

Iy is eight years since an Ireland under-19 team won a World Cup qualifying tournament but that's what they must do over the next week in Jersey when they take on Scotland, Denmark and the hosts for a place in next year's World Cup finals in New Zealand.

Only the winners will make it to the 16-team event and while Ireland is now a full member, automatic qualification will only kick in with a place in the 2020 finals, unless that is changed.

Ireland have appeared in two U19 World Cups since qualifying for the 2010 event, which was also held in New Zealand - a good omen - with a third place finish on home soil enough to make the 2012 finals in Queensland, and although they failed to qualify for last year's tournament, they accepted the late offer to replace Australia, who refused to travel to Bangladesh.

Harry Tector, brother of Jack who captained the Ireland Wolves in their match against Gloucestershire II this month, leads the 14-man squad which includes three North West players but only one from the NCU, Waringstown's Morgan Topping.

Coleraine's Varun Chopra, one of three survivors from last year's World Cup final squad, Reece Kelly from Bready and Ballyspallen's Graham Kennedy are the other Ulster players who play their opening match today.

The team enjoyed a successful warm-up tour in England with wins against both Worcestershire and Warwickshire academies.

In the first match they defended 225-6, which included 55 by Topping, to win by five runs, and against Warwickshire they chased 216 with five wickets and five overs to spare, Kennedy scoring a quick 33 to back up half centuries by Tector and wicket keeper Sam Murphy.

"All in all the tour couldn't have gone much better and the boys will go into the tournament with confidence," said head coach Ryan Eagleson. "We've played very competitive cricket and it will stand us in good stead going into the qualifiers.

"All the bowlers have got overs under their belts on good pitches and the batsmen have all spent time in the middle. There is a good balance to the squad with a number of all-rounders and no fewer than four spinners. The batters are in good form and hopefully they will enjoy batting on the Jersey pitches which are usually good cricket tracks."

Ireland squad: H Tector (capt), I Anders, A Cawley, V Chopra, M Donegan, JJ Garth J Grassi, R Kelly, G Kennedy, J Little, S Murphy, M Neville, N Rock, M Topping.

Fixtures: Today: v Jersey, tomorrow v Denmark, Thursday v Scotland, Friday v Jersey, Sunday v Denmark, Monday 31 v Scotland.

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