Dubai, Jan.19 (ANI): England have been aiming to end their 18-year drought by claiming an easy passage along with West Indies to the Super League Stage from Group C at the expense of Zimbabwe and debutant Fiji in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016.
The biennial 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven qualifiers from the Associate and Affiliate Members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland.
Teams have been divided into four groups with the top two in each advancing to the Super League quarter-finals and the other two qualifying for the Plate Championship.
England won their last title way back in 1998 in South Africa and managed to reach the semi-finals in the United Arab Emirates two years ago.
The current side is led by off-spinning all-rounder from Hampshire Brad Taylor, who was appointed captain just ahead of the tri-series in Sri Lanka last year, which India won, and he hopes to celebrate his elevation with a good performance in Bangladesh.
“That tournament was really important for us. Conditions in Bangladesh are going to be very different from what we’re used to in England, so that allowed us to acclimatise to similar conditions and pitches. We improved with every game we played, and learned lots of lessons,” said Taylor.
Taylor also said he expected the West Indies to be the toughest opponent in the group, but refused to take victory against Zimbabwe and Fiji for granted.
“We play Fiji in our first game and we have to concentrate on winning that one first,” he said. “We won’t be taking them lightly and the same goes for Zimbabwe in our last game. They have shown at the senior level recently that they can still be challenging opponents.”
The West Indies will be captained by top-order batsman Shimron Hetmyer, who also took part in the 2014 tournament. He and fast bowler Alzarri Joseph are the only two players in the squad with first-class experience.
Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, who is now the chairman of selectors, was confident of a good performance by the teenagers.
“We have put together a group of players we believe will perform for the West Indies.We see them as future Test cricketers and this tournament is an opportunity for them to be exposed at the international level against strong opposition,” he said.
While Zimbabwe will be led by Brandon Mavuta, Fiji will make its maiden appearance in the tournament under Saimoni Tuitoga, who said his team is excited at the chance of play in a world event.
“For our families, our coaches and for us we want to make sure that we fight through to the end and at least try and win two of our three group matches. The underdog tag relieves a lot of pressure and expectation from us,” Mavuta said.
Group C action kicks off from January 27 when England play Fiji in Chittagong, while England-West Indies encounter will take place on January 29 also in Chittagong.
England squad: – Brad Taylor (capt.), George Bartlett, Jack Burnham, Mason Crane, Sam Curran, Ryan Davies, Aneurin Donald, George Garton, Ben Green, Max Holden, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Tom Moores, Callum Taylor, Jared Warner.
Coach – Andy Hurry
West Indies squad – Shimron Hetmyer (capt.), Shahid Crooks, Keacy Carty, Michael Frew, Jyd Goolie, Tevin Imlach, Alzarri Joseph, Ryan John, Kirstan Kallicharan, Obed McCoy, Gidron Pope, Keemo Paul, Odean Smith, Shamar Springer, Emmanuel Stewart.
Coach – Graeme West
Zimbabwe squad – Brandon Mavuta (capt.), Trevvor Chibvongodze, Jeremy Ives, Adam Keefe, Kundai Matigimu, William Mashinge, Wessly Madhevere, Rugare Magarira, Sydney Murombo, Ryan Murray, Richard Ngarava, Akshay Patel, Brendan Sly, Shaun Snyder, Milton Shumba.
Coach – Stephen Mangongo
Fiji squad – Saimoni Tuitoga (capt.), Josaia Baleicikoibia, Malakai Cokovaki, Petero Cabebula, Jack Charters, Jordan Dunham, Vaibhav Kapadia, Delaimatuku Maraiwai, Ledua Qionivoka, Samuel Saunokonoko, Cakacaka Tikoisuva, Peni Vuniwaqa, Sosiceni Weleilakeba, Tuwai Yabaki.
Coach – Shane Jurgensen. (ANI)