Guernsey and Jersey youth teams to take on Europe
Guernsey and Jersey are the two new additions to the European Under-15 and Under-17 Division One Championships for 2008. It is the first time more than four teams have battled for the title since the tournament began in 1999.
In 2007 Jersey won the Under-19 and Under-23 Division 2 Championships and were runner-up to Guernsey in the Under-15 Division 2 Championship. Both sides did not lose a single match, other than to one another, in any of the competitions.
The two championships will be the first real test of Guernsey and Jersey since their elevation to ICC Associate status.
"It is a fantastic opportunity for Guernsey's young cricketers to test themselves against the strongest nations in Europe at their own age group," David Piesing, chairman of the Guernsey Cricket Board said. "Young players can only benefit from playing against strong opposition and in the past couple of years these youngsters have acquitted themselves well in friendlies against Scotland and Holland so they will be keen to renew those acquaintances.
"Our Under-15s showed this year that they were a very strong side by winning the Division 2 tournament in La Manga. Five or six of those same players are still in the Under-15s in 2008 while the remainder of that squad will now move to the Under-17s age group.
"We are delighted that ICC Europe has recognised the playing strength of our youth sides in this way and we eagerly look forward to the challenges ahead. It will provide an additional impetus for our youngsters as they enter this winter's coaching programme."
The Under-17 Division One tournament will be held in Belfast over four days in July 2008. Six teams will form two groups of three, with each team playing two 50-over matches over the first three days. Following a coaching day, each team will play-off against its counterpart from the other group to determine the final championship standings.
The Under-15 Division two championship will take place in Jersey, also in July, and will be played to 45-over playing conditions.
Scotland host the Under19- Division One championship in August, with the same playing conditions as the Under-19 World Cup, whilst remaining a four-team competition. And Germany will host the Under-17 Division Two championship in the Northern Rhine region surrounding Düsseldorf.
Dates and precise venues of all events have yet to be finalised.
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo