RevSportz Exclusive II Sourav Ganguly explains why India have never hosted the U-19 World Cup

Uday Saharan and Sourav Ganguly
Uday Saharan and Sourav Ganguly (Source: X)

Winners of the Under-19 World Cup a record five times, India have never hosted the event. The men’s competition has been held four times and the women’s version thrice. The men’s and women’s T20 World Cups took place in 2016. The country not staging even one of the 15 editions of the junior event — from which many became stars in the senior team — looks like an anomaly.

India is not the only aberration. Held first in Australia in 1988 and a biennial occurrence since 1998, the U-19 World Cup has not travelled to England or Pakistan either. But being the champion of cricket like none other and also the country which makes the game a roaring commercial success, India never being the destination is different from it not going to other places.

The perception is that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not interested in the tournament because it has no business value. The hosting fee given by the International Cricket Council (ICC) may mean something for other boards, but it means nothing to the richest one. But that is wrong. This World Cup is a loss-making event for even for the ICC. The staging boards make little, if anything.

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“There is no particular reason to it (India not hosting the U-19 World Cup),” Sourav Ganguly, former India captain and BCCI president, told RevSportz. “The other World Cups are played in India. What’s wrong if this one is played in places where the senior World Cups don’t take place that often? It’s one way of taking the game to other countries.”

The U-19 World Cup has been held thrice in South Africa and New Zealand, twice in Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and once in the West Indies. Malaysia and UAE are the Associate members of the ICC to stage it once each. The next edition in 2026 is scheduled for Zimbabwe and Namibia.

“You can say it’s a loss-making tournament,” said Ganguly, who was part of the ICC Board which approves the Future Tour Program (FTP). “Most World Cups not featuring the senior men’s teams are non-profit. But that’s not the reason the U-19 World Cup hasn’t been played in India. And I think it’s going to be held in India.” However, the 2024-31 FTP doesn’t yet mention the venues for U-19 World Cups after 2026.

Sachin Dhas and Uday Saharan in U-19 WC, 2024
Sachin Dhas and Uday Saharan in U-19 WC, 2024 (Source: BCCI)

Most of the ICC’s earnings come from men’s World Cups. It saves the world body operational cost to stage the U-19 one in other countries. The hosting fee is comparatively less. Managing logistics is hassle-free. It also helps spread the game. ICC sources reckon that other than in the West Indies, which involved extensive travel, the junior event has usually been a smooth affair.

India’s packed domestic calendar featuring nearly 2,000 matches across age groups in men’s and women’s sections, plus an annual IPL window, also means there is little room to squeeze in an international tournament, prepare pitches and grounds for it. Exceptions are made for senior World Cups because the dynamics are different for those.

So, for the ICC and other stakeholders, logistical and other considerations make it convenient to have the U-19 World Cup in countries where cricket may not be the most popular game. That is the determining factor, not the BCCI’s reluctance to host it because it’s not a money-spinner.

Also Read: “U-19 boys must enjoy the moment”: Shreevats Goswami, 2008 Winner

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