Ireland had mixed fortunes at the 2018 ICC Under 19 World Cup, winning three of their six games to record a 13th place finish in New Zealand.
Lost to Sri Lanka by 7 wickets
Lost to Pakistan by 9 wickets
Beat Afghanistan by 4 runs
Lost to Windies by 4 wickets
13th place play-off semi-final
Beat Papua New Guinea by 3 wickets
13th place play-off
Beat Namibia by 102 runs
Positives to take home?
Ireland had appeared in seven ICC U19 CWC tournaments before the 2018 edition. They had a mixed tournament, recording an impressive win over eventual semi-finalists Afghanistan as well as victories over Papua New Guinea and Namibia. But they failed to replicate their highest finish of 10th at an U19 World Cup, which came in New Zealand in 2010.
Their win over Afghanistan was certainly a high point of the competition. After heavy losses to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Ireland played positively at Whangarei, racking up 225/8 from their 50 overs thanks to contributions from Harry Tector (36), Jamie Grassi (32), Neil Rock (35) and Graham Kennedy (37). The bowlers then worked well together, bowling Afghanistan out for 221 to complete a thrilling victory to end the group stages.
All-rounder Josh Little, who has already represented Ireland in two T20Is, continued to develop. He chipped in with useful runs, including 27 off 20 balls against Afghanistan and 28 from 22 in the final win over Namibia. The 18-year-old also took 2/40 from his 10 overs in that match and 2/18 versus PNG.
Opening batsman Grassi also did well, scoring 206 runs in six innings, at an average of 34.33. His 75 in the opening game against Sri Lanka got his side off to a good solid start in the competition.
Last minute drama as Ireland beat Afghanistan by 4 runs
Areas for improvement?
While generally promising, Ireland were comfortably beaten by Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Windies. A gigantic partnership of 157 between Sri Lankan pair Dhananjaya Lakshan (101*) and Kamindu Mendis (74*) did for Ireland in the opener, while Pakistan's tall left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi destroyed them with an aggressive spell of 6/15 and the Windies held their nerve to chase Ireland's 278/8.
The differing nature of their defeats makes it difficult to pinpoint a specific weakness. However, playing on the biggest stage Ireland were outdone in the crucial moments. With more experience they will improve in that regard.
Shaheen Afridi's 6/15 against Ireland at U19CWC
Captain Harry Tector was excellent across the board, taking eight wickets, including 3/32 against Papua New Guinea, and scoring 216 runs in six innings across the tournament at an average of 36. He finished the competition with 101 from 113, including 10 fours, against Namibia – an innings which featured a mixture reverse-sweeps, ramp shots and more conventional cover drives.
His leadership, middle-order batting and more than handy off-spin makes the 18-year-old a real prospect for the future.
Harry Tector hits 101 to leads Ireland U19s to 288 aganist Namibia