New Delhi, Jan 9 () Former South African captain Graeme Smith feels that a junior World Cup serves as a terrific platform for a youngster to assess where they stand as a cricketer ahead of the start of the inaugural edition of U19 Women’s T20 World Cup from January 14.
“A junior World Cup is such a terrific platform to assess where you are as a cricketer with aspirations for the future. It is very exciting to represent your country, at any level, and I am sure there have been goosebumps across all the teams who are flying in for the Under19 Women’s T20 World Cup.”
“It’s incredible to think that rivalries that will play out for years will be established at this tournament, as well as friendships that will last a lifetime,” said Smith in an official statement by the ICC.
A junior women’s T20 World Cup is a critical addition to the global game. The birth of this tournament was delayed by the global Covid-19 pandemic but will now finally provide future stars of the women’s game with the same platform as their male counterparts.
Smith, recognised as one of the game’s great leaders after taking part in the 2000 Men’s U19 World Cup, added that it was very encouraging to see new countries enter into the fold for the U19 Women’s T20 World Cup.
“The health of the game is in its diversity. To see so many countries building a cricket culture is exciting for anyone involved in the game because it reiterates the welcome that this sport provides to all who show an interest in it. Talent can come from any corner, as long as access to opportunity is provided.”
Former India women’s fast-bowler Snehal Pradhan believes the U19 Women’s T20 World Cup serves as an incredible and well-deserved opportunity for junior female players. “It can’t be overstated what a great opportunity this is to experience a global event in their teens.”
“They are getting exposure which they deserve, and this will provide a great step to progress to senior cricket. That is a massive statement in itself, and we must commend the ICC and the different boards around the world for taking the growth of the game so seriously.”
Snehal, also the newly appointed ICC Women’s Cricket Manager, added that a 16-team tournament for U19 Women’s T20 World Cup is a progressive step.
“We must commend the ICC Women’s Committee for making this a 16-team event. It takes bravery to invite countries that may not otherwise be at a World Cup. That allows the game to grow markets where, traditionally, cricket is not a big sport.”
“There are several heart-warming stories already emerging from the make-up of the teams assembled in South Africa. This inaugural Women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup truly is a global representation of the game and its future. Indonesia and Rwanda are playing a global event for the first time. Already, that is a success story before a ball has been bowled.”
All 41 games will be played in Benoni and Potchefstroom, from January 14-29. There has never been a better time to be involved in cricket for women, feels Snehal. “The commercialization of the women’s game now makes business sense. It is a huge growth area. Women deserve equal opportunity because this sport has huge popularity.”