New Zealand’s ultimate loss to England in the 7th place play-off continued the pattern of host countries’ lack of success in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, with no ‘home’ side winning the trophy since Australia triumphed in the inaugural competition in 1988.
Only eight teams competed that year, with Australia defeating Pakistan by five wickets at the Adelaide Oval to complete a successful home campaign.
Although that Australian side didn’t produce future international regulars, they did overcome the likes of Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain of England, Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan, Brian Lara of West Indies, and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya to be crowned champions.
But it was not a case of ‘continue as you mean to go on’, and that year was very much an anomaly in the grand scheme of things – the next best performance by a host nation being the runner-up performances of Sri Lanka and Australia, in 2000 and 2012, with both of those tournaments being won by Saturday’s finalists India.
On some occasions the home nation’s lack of success has been slightly less surprising – non-Test-playing nations Malaysia and United Arab Emirates have hosted the tournament in the last 10 years, finishing a respectable 15th and 12th respectively.
Australia will be desperate to win on Saturday in conditions which aren’t too dissimilar to those across the Tasman Sea. Indeed, on each of the other two occasions that the tournament has taken place in New Zealand, they have come up trumps, defeating South Africa in 2002 and Pakistan in 2010. An omen perhaps? India will hope not.