Young cricket stars take centre stage in Canterbury

Canterbury will host more games than any other region when the Under-19 Cricket World Cup starts on Saturday. Sports reporter Gordon Findlater previews the World Cup and gives an insight into some of the key matches and players to look out for over the three-week tournament

History would suggest that over the next three weeks we will be lucky enough to get an early glimpse at some of cricket’s next superstars.

You only need to look back to the last time New Zealand hosted the tournament in 2010.

Back then, Christchurch hosted a match between New Zealand and England.

The New Zealand team featured now established internationals Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Doug Bracewell and recent test debutant Tom Blundell.

The England team on that day also had a few names you may recognise in the form of Joe Root and Ben Stokes.

We have the best opportunity to enjoy the tournament with 26 of the 48 matches taking place across Hagley Oval, Lincoln University and Rangiora Oval. Possibly the best news of all is that entry to every game is free.

Christchurch will also play a major role at the business end of the tournament. Both semi-finals will be held at Hagley Oval on January 29 and 30.

New Zealand will be looking to win the tournament for the first time. Don’t count them out – home conditions will work in their favour. The major nations are expected to rise to the top. Only Australia (3), India (3), Pakistan (2), England, South Africa, and the West Indies have won the tournament which has been running since 1988.

One team worth keeping an eye on will be Afghanistan. Their squad features two players who already have experience in their nation’s senior team. They recently won the Under-19 Asia Cup, defeating Pakistan in the final. Afghanistan also made an impression in the 2016 World Cup where they won the plate final.