The latest - 14th - edition of the Under-19 World Cup is upon us. It will be played in the Caribbean. Here's a look at all the info around it, to get you started.
When does it start?
The 14th edition of the Under-19 World Cup, a one-day competition, will begin on January 14 with a double-header, both matches in Guyana. The first game will be played between hosts West Indies and Australia in Providence, while Sri Lanka take on Scotland in Georgetown. There will be 48 matches overall, with the final slotted for February 5.
How many teams are taking part?
Sixteen. Group A has Bangladesh, Canada, England and United Arab Emirates; Group B has India, Ireland, South Africa and Uganda; Group C has Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe; Group D has Australia, Scotland, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Why aren't New Zealand participating?
New Zealand decided to withdraw from the tournament owing to "extensive mandatory quarantine restrictions for minors on their return home", because of Covid-19. Scotland, who had fallen short in the Europe qualifiers, were included as the 16th team in New Zealand's absence.
Where are the matches being played?
In the Caribbean, for the first time, with a total of ten venues across four islands being used. The main - Super League - quarter-finals will be held in North Sound and Coolidge, and the final will also be in North Sound, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
What's the format?
The teams are divided into four groups of four each, and they will play each other once apiece. Like in past editions, the top two from each group will progress to the Super League knockouts, but those who don't qualify will earn crucial playing time in the Plate competition to compete for positions nine to 16, which will run concurrently with the main tournament. It means every team will play the same number of games.
Will DRS be in use?
There will be no DRS. Since only a select set of games will be broadcast, the camera set-up will not be the same across all venues.
Will there be strict bubbles for all teams?
The bubbles will be managed in such a way that the wellbeing of the young players - both physical and mental wellbeing - is taken care of. The ICC is taking cognisance of the fact that it is a long tournament, added with the fact that the young players have not been in such situations before. There will also be mental-health professionals available to the teams as it was during the men's T20 World Cup last year.
Can games be rescheduled if Covid-19 affects a team in a major way?
That's what the ICC plans to do if the need arises. The intention is to be fluid and flexible to deal with unforeseen developments.
Have any schedule changes already taken place?
Yes. Visa glitches delayed Afghanistan's arrival in the Caribbean. As a result of the delay and the quarantine requirements for the tournament, their first game was moved from January 16 - they were supposed to take on Zimbabwe - to January 18, when they will play Papua New Guinea. Games on January 20 and 22 follow, against Pakistan and Zimbabwe respectively. All the sides in Group C have had games rescheduled to deal with the change. And Afghanistan's two warm-up games, against England on January 10 and UAE on January 12, were cancelled.
Does the ICC verify the age of the players?
The ICC left it to the individual cricket boards to verify the ages of their cricketers.
How did the teams qualify?
Ten of the 16 teams advanced directly for the global event. After missing out on a place outright initially, Scotland replaced New Zealand. The last five spots went to the sides that won their respective regional qualifying events. Canada qualified from the Americas, pipping the USA, Argentina and Bermuda. Papua New Guinea, who couldn't participate in the previous edition after missing their 2019 regional qualifier final over disciplinary issues, advanced from East Asia-Pacific, Uganda went through from Africa, Ireland from Europe, and UAE qualified from Asia.
Who are the defending champions?
Bangladesh beat India to win the Under-19 World Cup in 2020. It was their first World Cup win at any level.
Which have been the most successful teams over the years?
India, they have won the title four times - in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018 - and have a win percentage of 76.83. Australia have won the tournament thrice, in 1988, 2002 and 2010, while Pakistan have clinched the title twice, in 2004 and 2006. Bangladesh (2020), South Africa (2014), West Indies (2016) and England (1998) have won the tournament once each.
The last decade saw two teams dominate - India and Australia. Between them, they won three of the six titles and finished runners-up four times between them. Pakistan were the only other side to make it to more than one final in the decade, twice falling short at the last step.
No, the last edition had Japan and Nigeria making their maiden appearances in the Under-19 World Cup. There are no newbies this time, though Uganda will be featuring after a gap of 16 years. They have taken part only twice - in 2004 and 2006 - before this World Cup.
Are spectators allowed at the venues?
Guyana, Antigua and St Kitts and Nevis will allow only fully vaccinated people to come in, while Trinidad & Tobago will not allow any spectators.
Where to watch?
Local broadcasters around the world will telecast the matches. It will also be streamed on icc.tv.