Cricket’s brightest young talents are counting down the days until they take on the world’s best after the Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2020 officially launched in South Africa. Photo: @OfficialCSA via Twitter

JOHANNESBURG  Cricket’s brightest young talents are counting down the days until they take on the world’s best after the Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2020 officially launched in South Africa.

Sixteen nations from five continents are set to contest the 13th edition of the tournament starting on January 17, with South Africa playing host for the first time since 1998. 

International Cricket Council (ICC|) general manager Geoff Allardice, and Jacques Faul, Cricket South Africa acting CEO, were among those in attendance for a function ahead the tournament, ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2020 tournament director Sivuyile Mqingwana, as was Proteas fast bowling legend Makhaya Ntini, who was officially announced as the Under-19 Cricket World Cup ambassador.

Current internationals Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson are just a handful of those who made their name in the global showcase across the years, with new stars looking to shine bright and follow in the footsteps of the game’s biggest heroes.

ICC Chief Executive, Manu Sawhney said: "The ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup is special for so many reasons. It gives the future stars of our game an unrivalled experience of global events and the opportunity to contest for a World Cup.

“So many past and present stars have come through the Under-19s since its inception in 1988. Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson all made their mark in Under-19 Cricket World Cups, highlighting the importance of the very best in Under-19 in the world playing against one another on the big stage.

“We are delighted that this event will be hosted in South Africa, showcasing the next generation of superstars of our game.

“I wish all the teams the very best of luck in preparations for the tournament and to Cricket South Africa in organising the event, as we look to successfully kick off the first of three ICC World Cups in 2020.”

Tournament Ambassador Ntini took more than 600 wickets for South Africa in a career spanning more than a decade, with some of his earliest international memories coming as part of his country’s Under-19 squad. His experience of top age-group honours hasn’t ended there, either, with son Thando proudly selected for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand almost two years ago.

Ntini said: “I am so excited and honoured to see the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup come to South Africa. The event, which is a celebration of cricket, gives the game’s future stars the opportunity to experience global events and a real flavour of international cricket at senior level.

“I have very fond memories of my son’s U19 Cricket World Cup experience and am delighted that the people of South Africa can experience the event at first-hand.

“The event is a real celebration of the game and to bring the ultimate cricket experience to the communities of Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, Benoni and Kimberley and to fans across South Africa is an incredible opportunity for the country to embrace and enjoy an exhilarating cricket World Cup.”

South Africa 2020 continues a proud tradition of global competition for the world’s leading teenage cricketers, with 27 current cricket-playing nations being represented since the first tournament in 1988. The upcoming edition will see Japan and Nigeria take part for the first time, two of 15 teams looking to stop India from defending the title they won in Mount Maunganui in 2018.

India are among the six former champions looking to reach the February 9 final in Potchefstroom, the exciting culmination of 48 matches held in venues spread across the country. 

African News Agency (ANA)