The Cricket Australia Youth Selection Panel (YSP) today announced the final 15-player squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup which will be held in Queensland in August, as well as an 18-player squad.
The 2012 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad will be out to retain the crown won by the Mitchell Marsh led team in New Zealand two years ago, aiming to make it Australia's fourth title as the pinnacle event for youth cricket.
It will be the second time Australia has hosted the tournament, since the inaugural event in 1988, with the 2012 competition to be held in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Townsville with Australia's campaign officially getting underway against rival England on 11 August.
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Commenting on the squad, National Talent Manager Greg Chappell said; "The YSP has been monitoring players closely and I believe we have a squad that has the talent to go well in a tournament that brings together the best underage cricket talent from around the world.
"We've closely scrutinised recent National Championships and have held a number of series against international competition in recent times to get a good look at the group of players we have been monitoring before finalising the group of 15 for the World Cup.
"Seb Gotch, Josh McClelland and Alex Gregory have been included in an 18-player squad for the pre-tournament camp and for the series against Pakistan later this month and each can consider themself unlucky not to make the final 15.
"They were difficult phone calls to make as I know the effort, practice and commitment each player has made in a bid to make that final squad of 15.
"Overall, I think we've got a squad that's pretty well balanced with good batting depth, a variety of bowling options which includes good pace bowlers and a couple of excellent developing spinners.
"Playing at home in Queensland will always place more of a spotlight and expectation on this team to do well in front of a home crowd and in familiar conditions, but we know this is going to be a fierce challenge against quality opposition.
"We played Pakistan in the 2010 final in Christchurch two years before that India won the title so we know the subcontinent teams are always very strong and that is no different whether we play them away or at home.
"We also saw a very good West Indies outfit last year in Dubai and in the Quad Series this year we saw first-hand an attacking England outfit and a talented New Zealand line-up, along with the Indian side.
"There is no doubt this is going to be huge challenge for our team but we've had some very good preparation and we'll continue that right up to the World Cup by playing Pakistan on the Gold Coast later this month," Chappell said.
Stuart Law, who will coach the team under his new role as High Performance Coach at the CA Centre of Excellence, said he was looking forward to taking Australia's next young stars onto the global stage.
"The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is the pinnacle for players at this age level," Law said.
"You only have to look back at the last couple of tournaments to see the quick progress some players have made.
"India's 2008 captain Virat Kohli is now established at international level, while we've seen 2010 Australian representatives Mitch Marsh and Josh Hazlewood quickly advance to an opportunity within the Australian team in limited overs cricket.
"There's no bigger challenge than playing against the best players from around the world and the U19 World Cup provides that opportunity for players of this age.
"We know it's going to be challenge and playing at home only lifts that expectation but we're certainly looking forward to the tournament."
The ICC Under-19 World will be held in Queensland in August with the first matches getting underway on 11 August when Australia will take on rival England at Tony Ireland Stadium (TIS) in Townsville.
Australia's other group matches are against Nepal (13 August at TIS) and Ireland (14 August at Endeavour Park) before the competition enters the Super League and secondary Plate Championship stage.
The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final will be played on 26 August at Tony Ireland Stadium.
Prior to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, Australia will play Pakistan in a head-to-head series on the Gold Coast.