Cricket Australia’s Underage National Championships will feature two major additions in 2017-18, including the first-ever Under 19 male day-night matches and an additional Twenty20 Cup for Australia’s most talented Under 18 females.
The Under 19 Male National Championships will return to Tasmania for the first time since 2013-14, with both Hobart and Launceston to host matches from 4-15 December.
The Championships will also feature day-night matches at Launceston’s UTAS Stadium and Hobart’s Blundstone Arena as well as a day-night Grand Final at the home of the Hobart Hurricanes, as Australia’s best young male cricketers vie for selection in Australia’s 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup squad.
The Under 18 Female National Championships in Canberra will see Australia’s best up and coming women cricketers vie for Twenty20 and 50-over glory for the first time having previously competed across both formats in a combined competition.
These changes follow the launch of Australian Cricket’s new five-year strategy yesterday in which one of the key pillars is creating the best high-performance system for its cricketers.
Thirty-eight players from last year’s Championships received rookie or senior state contracts this summer, highlighting these tournaments as a crucial step in in the Australian Cricket Pathway.
Twenty players from last summer’s Under 17 and Under 19 National Championships, including seven who represented Australia's Under 19 side in their series victory against Sri Lanka's Under 19s in April, have earned contracts.
Player of the Under 19 Championships, Will Pucovski, picked up a full contract with the Victoria Bushrangers, Player of the Final Cameron Green was upgraded to a full contract by the Western Warriors and Australia Under 19s stars Will Sutherland (Victoria), Param Uppal (New South Wales) and Lloyd Pope (South Australia) won rookie deals.
Another 18 players from last year’s Under 15 and Under 18 Championships have earned state contracts this year, with the VicSpirit handing five youngsters their first full senior contract.
NSW’s Rachel Trenaman, 16, represented the Governor-General’s XI last summer prior to the Under 18 Championships and is in line to make her Women’s National Cricket League debut alongside first-time contract recipients and Rebel WBBL|02 contracted players Carly Leeson (Sydney Sixers), Annabel Sutherland and Georgia Wareham (Melbourne Renegades).
Cricket Australia’s National Talent Manager Greg Chappell said:
“It’s exciting to be able to play four day-night fixtures at this year’s Under 19 National Championships and to be able to play matches at UTAS Stadium and Blundstone Arena, which will only serve to add to the Championships experience for our players.”
“It’s a big year in particular for our under-19 cricketers, with a squad to be named to represent to Australia at the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
“The Pathways Program and these championships are crucial components in producing future Australian stars. To have 20 players from last year’s male underage championships on state lists this summer highlights the quality of players that this program is helping produce.
“The likes of Will Pucovski from Victoria and Cameron Green from Western Australia made Sheffield Shield debuts last summer after starring at the Under 19 Championships. This only goes to show how close some of these players are to competing alongside Australia’s best – and why we need to keep providing our best young talent with the best possible cricketing experiences.”
Cricket Australia Female High Performance Coach Leah Poulton said:
“The addition of a Twenty20 competition will provide a terrific opportunity for the best players under the age of 18 across the country to continue to develop their skills in the shortest form of the game, with T20 cricket now a critical element of the women’s game.”
“We’ve already seen some of last year’s group of players go on to make their WBBL debuts and to see so many receiving state contracts this year shows that the system is working.
“It’s exciting to see the depth of talented players continuing to increase and it’s vital that we continue to advance a system that will allow them to develop into future Australian players.”
The Under 17 Male National Championships will kick-start the Pathways summer, again being played on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane, from 25 September to 5 October.
To round out the summer in January, the Under 15 Female National Championships will be played in Adelaide, from 17-23 January.
September 25 to October 5 – Under 17 Male National Championships (Sunshine Coast and Brisbane)
November 27 to December 7 – Under 18 Female National Championships (Canberra)
December 4 to 15 – Under 19 Male National Championships (Hobart and Launceston)
January 17 to 23 – Under 15 Female National Championships (Adelaide)
The full list of fixtures for each competition can be found at www.nationalchamps.com.au