Australia’s best underage cricketers will have the opportunity to showcase their skills at a national level at this summer’s Cricket Australia (CA) Underage National Championships.
Venues for the five events – Under 19 Male, Under 18 Female, Under 17 Male and Under 15 Female and Male – have now been confirmed for the CA Pathway tournaments for the 2018-19 season.
The championships provide a chance for players to test themselves against the best in the country in their age group, and press their claims for State and W/BBL contracts and playing opportunities.
Twenty-eight male players who were eligible for Pathway tournaments last summer – the Under 19 Male and Under 17 Male National Championships – are now on State contracts for 2018-19.
Among them are six players who have already played in this summer’s JLT One-Day Cup – Victoria’s Will Sutherland and Tom O’Connell, Queensland’s Max Bryant and Xavier Bartlett, Western Australia’s Cameron Green and New South Wales’ Jack Edwards.
There are also eleven female players from last year’s Pathway tournaments now on State contracts for 2018-19.
Queensland’s Josie Dooley, Tasmania’s Courtney Webb, New South Wales’ Rachel Trenaman and Victoria’s Annabel Sutherland are among those who have already played WNCL matches this summer.
This summer, the Under 19 Male National Championships returns to Adelaide, while the Under 18 Female National Championships heads to Ballarat and Bendigo.
A Cricket Australia XI side – comprising the best talent from the age group below – will again compete at Under 19 Male, Under 18 Female and Under 17 Male level.
Cricket Australia Pathway Manager Graham Manou said:
“The Male Underage Championships are a pivotal part of the Pathway for Australian cricketers, and provide an important avenue for our junior stars to play a high level of cricket and transition from underage cricket to professional careers,” Manou said.
“It’s really pleasing to see that more than one-in-six players on State lists this year played underage cricket last summer, and that talent has already started to shine through in the JLT One-Day Cup.
“We need to keep providing development opportunities for our elite junior talent. It’s exciting to be able to give the best players at this year’s Under 19 Male tournament the chance to play in an Under 19 international series in Sri Lanka later this year, and also in the T20 component of the 2018-19 Toyota Futures League competition.”
This season, the Under 18 Female tournament will be expanded to ten teams, with the addition of Victoria Country and Northern Territory teams, and the NT team to also feature a number of Queensland players.
The additional teams will see a change in competition structure, with a semi-final to be introduced into the Twenty20 competition while four T20 matches - including the final - will be played as night fixtures.
Cricket Australia Female High Performance Coach Leah Poulton said:
“It’s an exciting time in the women’s game with more opportunities than ever before afforded to the country's best up and coming talent,” Poulton said.
“The elite player pathway is evolving every year, and there’s no doubt it’s having a positive effect on the ever-growing talent pool with young players being exposed to more cricket, different conditions and experiences. It's no surprise that we’re seeing players such as Georgia Wareham and Tayla Vlaeminck, who both represented the Australia Under 19s this year, graduating from the Pathway and being picked in senior Australian sides.
“The addition of two new teams at an under-18 level is a demonstration of the increased number of girls playing cricket and the increased depth of talent. Last year’s tournaments produced plenty of highlights so I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s group of players have to offer.”
The Under 15 Female National Championships will be played in Canberra, while the Under 15 Male National Championships – formerly the School Sport Australia 15 & Under Boys Championship – will be played in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast.
Starting the Pathway summer on 1 October is the Under 17 Male National Championships, with games played in Mackay and Brisbane – including four day-night matches in Mackay.
As in recent years, two teams comprising the best male and female players will play in a curtain-raiser to both a KFC Big Bash League and rebel Women’s Big Bash League match.
The Underage Male Championships are proudly presented by Woolworths, and the Underage Female Championships by the Commonwealth Bank.
1 to 11 October – Under 17 Male National Championships (Mackay & Brisbane)
3 to 13 December – Under 19 Male National Championships (Adelaide)
14 to 24 January – Under 18 Female National Championships (Bendigo & Ballarat)
7 to 14 February – Under 15 Male National Championships (Brisbane & Sunshine Coast)
20 to 26 February – Under 15 Female National Championships (Canberra)
You can follow the tournaments by visiting www.nationalchamps.com.au.