Lahore [Pakistan], December 24 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday invited 31 teenagers at the National High-Performance Centre (NHPC) in Lahore from January 4, 2021, to begin preparations for the ICC 2022 U19 World Cup West Indies.
These 29 off the 31 players have been selected following their impressive performances in the recently-concluded PCB U19 three-day and one-day tournaments and, more importantly, keeping in mind the ICC's age criteria for the World Cup, which only allows players born on or after September 1, 2002, to be eligible to participate in the 14th edition of the competition.
Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Qasim Akram missed the U19 events as they were participating in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that ran concurrently with the age-group competitions. In the second XI Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Abdul Wahid scored 229 runs in five matches, while Qasim Akram has scored 234 runs in six first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches to date.
Due to the ICC's age eligibility criteria, some of the star performers from this season's PCB U19 three-day and one-day tournaments, including Mohammad Huraira, Mubashir Nawaz, Mubasir Khan and Saim Ayub, have been aged-out for the West Indies event. Nevertheless, the two age-group events have proved to be a stepping-stone for these talented cricketers to graduate to the senior competitions.
"Unlike in the past, when we used to assemble our junior squads in the lead up to a global event, we have made a strategic decision to start our preparations, at least, 12 months in advance and that too under the supervision of the best available coaches at the National High-Performance Centre," Chairman of the Junior Selection Committee, Saleem Jaffar said in a release.
"While it will ensure our leading U19 cricketers get sufficient time to prepare for the World Cup, this fits perfectly with our strategy that revolves around identifying the best available talent at the grassroots level and providing them with an environment where they can develop and get ready for the bigger stage.
"This is an ongoing process and outstanding performers from next year's PCB U19 three-day and one-day tournaments will be added to the mix before we pick the best possible squad for the Caribbean event," he added.
As per the PCB Covid-19 protocols, the 31 players will undergo tests at their respective bases. Those returning negative will report at the NHPC on December 31, where they will undergo a second round of testing. Following the second negative tests, the players will be allowed to integrate with the wider group and participate in the camp from January 4 under the watchful and experienced eyes of the NHPC coaches, including Atiq-uz-Zaman, Mohammad Yousuf, Saqlain Mushtaq and Umar Rashid.
Pakistan junior head coach Ijaz Ahmed will assume charge of the camp when he returns from New Zealand with the Pakistan Shaheens' squad.
The six-week camp is the first of a series of training and preparation camps that will be staged throughout the year at various High-Performance Centres across the country. The objective to set up the camp 12 months prior to the event proper is to ensure the Pakistan U19 cricket team is fully prepared and ready for the competition, which they last won in 2006. (ANI)