Speed opens World Cup

The opening ceremony of the ICC under 19 Cricket World Cup has taken place at the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo, with all 16 of the participating nations in attendance.

The 2006 tournament is the sixth time it has been played, with reigning champions Pakistan out to defend their 2004 victory over the West Indies in Bangladesh.

In all, 44 matches will be played over 15 days at five different venues in Sri Lanka, with the final to be held on Febuary 19.

ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed officially opened the 2006 U/19 CWC, and declared that the event is an integral part of developing the future leaders of cricket playing nations.

"When it was last held in Sri Lanka, in 2000, two of the stars of the tournament were Yuvraj Singh of India and South Africa's Graeme Smith," Speed said.

"Six years on and this week Yuvraj scored a hundred in the white-hot atmosphere of a Pakistan-India Test match while Graeme has been captaining his country in Australia.

"There are plenty more examples of players who have done well in the ICC U/19 CWC before going on to success at Test and ODI level and that illustrates how important this tournament is to the future of the game."

Speed also added that the tournament has come a long way from its beginnings in 1988, and explained that broadcasting right will continue to promote it well into the future.

"From humble beginnings in 1988 when it took place, for the most part, in country areas of Australia and involved just eight teams, through a ten year hiatus before the concept was revived in South Africa in 1998, this tournament has come a long way.

"It is now an established part of the global cricket calendar taking place every two years and when the ICC comes to sell television rights for all its events up to 2015 later this year it will form part of the package available to broadcasters."

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