The biennial 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven Associate and Affiliate members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland. On the opening day, defending champion South Africa will take on host Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, while at the MA Aziz Stadium, also in Chittagong, 1998 winner England will play Fiji.
“Many Test and one-day teams are going through a transition phase and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup will enable them to take a look at the young players. We have seen so many young boys become men after this tournament,” added Dev, now one of the most respected commentators who took 434 and 253 wickets in 131 Tests and 225 One-Day Internationals respectively.
Dev mentioned the likes of Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, who have come through the ICC Cricket U19 World Cup. “They are today the biggest inspiration for young cricketers,” he said.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said he still remembered his time at the inaugural ICC U19 World Cup in 1988. “The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a breeding ground for budding cricketers,” the former Sri Lanka Test player said. “Memories of 1988 are still fresh in my mind. So many great cricketers came though from that World Cup like Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq and our own Sanath Jayasuriya.
“The opportunity to test yourself against all these players was special. When you are young, you don’t feel any pressure and you just enjoy the moment.
“Most of the players in the current Bangladesh side like Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and a few others have come into the limelight after playing in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. It is the best stage to showcase your talent.”
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson wished the junior Kiwi team good luck and said he will be watching their performance closely.
“On behalf of the BlackCaps, I want to wish good luck to the New Zealand side at the ICC Under19 Cricket World Cup,” said Hesson. “Make sure you enjoy the experience and use what is a great opportunity to test yourself against the best in the world.
“We’ll all be keeping a close eye on how you get on. All the best.”
Pace bowling great and Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis urged players to enjoy the tournament and serve as ambassadors of their respective nations.
“The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a platform for youngsters to showcase their talent in the big arena,” said the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer. “In the modern cricket era, the tournament has gained in stature. Thanks to the ICC’s endeavours, it has emerged as a dream event with every young cricketer aspiring to be a part of it.
“My best wishes to all participants. And my advice to those playing this tournament, especially to Team Pakistan, is ‘give it your all, and enjoy the event and the pedestal it affords you’.
“Remember you are ambassadors of your country, so it’s important to have pride in your performances on and off the field.”
“Good luck boys! This could be the beginning of a great career. A lot of top cricketers have come through the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup,” said Whatmore.
“The competition will be stiff and will bring out the best in you as players. So go ahead, enjoy the experience and do your country proud!”
Scotland’s coach Grant Bradburn also wished the participants well.
“All the very best to all the players and teams competing at this year’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh,” said Bradburn. “May you all realise your dreams and skills, and step forward onto the world stage during this amazing tournament.
“I was fortunate to play for New Zealand in three consecutive years at the U19 level and also privileged to coach the New Zealand U19 side at the previous World Cup in Dubai.
“The opportunities that are in front of you are many and so exciting. Go and grab every opportunity on and off the field in Bangladesh, embrace the challenge and enjoy every minute of this wonderful global event.”
Ireland’s head coach John Bracewell said the tournament will be a “fantastic experience” for the young Irish players, who are drawn with India, New Zealand and Nepal in Group D.
“It will be a fantastic experience for the Irish lads to test themselves against their peers on the international stage,” said Bracewell. “It’s a great opportunity for the players to show what they can do against countries of the calibre of India and New Zealand, with the added bonus for them that the game against India will be televised.
“This is the first major step for the squad on their international careers. The majority of the current Irish squad came to the attention of the senior selectors at previous ICC U19 Cricket World Cups, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on their performances.
“I’d like to wish not only the Ireland squad and backroom staff, but all the participating teams the very best for the tournament in Bangladesh, which has such a strong cricketing support.
“I’m sure there will be an amazing atmosphere at the grounds in the competition. I’d encourage all the players to be strong and grasp this chance to show the world exactly what they're capable of.”