CHENNAI: The U-19 World Cup has been a happy hunting ground for India. Not only has the country won it a record four times, it found future stars in this competition. Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli — to name a few. In the ongoing edition in South Africa, the Indian team has reached the final, where they will play the winners of New Zealand and Bangladesh on Sunday.
Even as the love story between India and the U-19 World Cup continues, it stands out as odd that the country has never hosted the competition. Starting from 1988, the ICC has organised the biennial event 13 times including the current one. Even though it has travelled to non-regular destinations like Malaysia and UAE, it has never come to Indian shores.
New Zealand has staged the U-19 World Cup thrice. Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Africa have been the hosts twice each. It was played once each in Malaysia and UAE. With the West Indies scheduled to host the 2022 edition, India and England remain the prominent nations to have never staged it. Pakistan can be left out of the list under the existing circumstances.
For a country that promotes cricket like nobody else, this is an odd miss. The 50-over World Cup is going to be in India for the fourth time in 2023. The T20 World Cup will make a second appearance in India in 2021. The women’s World Cup has also been held thrice in India. The BCCI puts a lot of emphasis on development at the junior levels. So what prevents the board from staging U-19 World Cup in a place
unrivalled in terms of infrastructure and following?
Without saying that this is the reason BCCI doesn’t want it, it is evident that hosting the U-19 World Cup is not a profitable proposition. The ICC reserves TV rights for the tournaments it conducts. There is hardly any gate money or in-stadia advertising for U-19 matches. Countries hosting the senior World Cup can make money from the last two channels. For the U-19 World Cup, the ICC bears the operational costs, which makes sure that the host nation doesn’t incur losses. But there isn’t much for the host to look
forward to in terms of earning.
“This question should be directed to the ICC. It depends on them how they wish to host and promote the U-19 World Cup,” said former BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry. “I don’t think lack of profitability is a reason behind India not hosting it. The BCCI has been spending crores on domestic cricket, which is a non-profitable venture. The U-19 World Cup not being held in India is more of an ICC matter than the
BCCI being reluctant.”The ICC’s Executive Board takes the call on allocation of World Cups. The last time this was done was in 2014, when the cycle for 2015-2023 was announced. It appears that the BCCI never expressed willingness to host the junior event.
“I don’t think we have anything against the U-19 World Cup. Lack of revenue is not the reason. It’s just that it is still to come to India,” said former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah. “On the other hand, it has been good for our boys that they have won it in conditions they don’t encounter at home. It helps in their development. And taking it to places like Malaysia and UAE helps the promotion of the game.”