Dubai, Jan 15: With 30 days to go to before the start of the 10th edition of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, former stars of the tournament India's Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh have hailed it as the best platform for budding cricketers.
The U-19 World Cup is scheduled to take place across seven venues in the UAE, and will feature the 16 leading Under 19 teams.
Kaif, who led India to the U-19 World Cup title in 2000, said: "Our winning the crown changed the landscape of age-group cricket in India forever, and for the best."
Reflecting on the impact of that success on cricket in India, he said: "We were recognised much more thanks to the media coverage, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) started investing a lot more in youth cricket by sending youngsters to foreign academies and giving budding cricketers much more international exposure at all levels. It also started a proper youth development programme after the ICC U19 CWC 2000, the results of which India is reaping now.
"Making it to even the Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy team was very difficult in those days, so I would never have played first class or international cricket so quickly had we not won the tournament. And that says it all, really."
Yuvraj Singh, who was the Player of the Tournament of the 2000 edition, agreed with Kaif, adding: "The ICC CWC 2000 was a tremendous stepping stone in my career. It gave me the confidence to do well in future global ICC tournaments such as the ICC World Twenty20 2007 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, in which I contributed to India's title-triumphs. I had been there, done that.
"Beating Australia in the semi-finals was one of my happiest memories from the ICC U19 CWC 2000. And what a happy coincidence it is, that in 2007 we managed to beat Australia in the semi-finals and in 2011 we got past them in the quarter-finals!"
The U-19 World Cup UAE 2014 will be staged across seven venues from 14 February to 1 March 2014. A total of 48 matches will be played, with India looking to defend the title it won in Australia in 2012.