Contrasting travel schedules, matches on alternate days and little downtime between games against Australia and India have hampered Zimbabwe’s preparation at the Under-19 World Cup, according to their coach. In the only rest day they had between “two of our biggest games in the tournament”, the team had to fly out from Christchurch to Tauranga and then watch their only training session called off because of rain.
India, meanwhile, have had the luxury of being based in Tauranga for the group stages. Having taken little more than three hours to beat Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, the side has enjoyed plenty of rest. They have had an opportunity to climb the Mount, indulge in shopping, watch the Indian hockey team beat Japan in a four-nation tournament, have light pool sessions and even enjoy a day out at the cricket: they were at Bay Oval to watch South Africa take on West Indies.
Zimbabwe Under-19 coach Stephen Mangongo felt this contrasting schedule of the two sides was hard on his team. Zimbabwe aside, only Namibia and Canada have had games scheduled on alternate days in different cities. “It is a very tough scenario,” he said. “We play a game, we recover, we travel, we have team meetings and before you know it, we are at a game next day.”
Terming the situation “unfair”, Mangongo called for a level playing field in such a world tournament. “No team is bigger than the other, they’re all youth cricketers at the end of the day,” Mangongo said. “Definitely, we believe that in a tournament of this nature, there should be an even playing field. If it’s a two-day break, it should be a two-day break for everyone. If it’s a three-day break, it should be a three-day break for everyone. In our instance, we played yesterday, we traveled the next day, the same traveling day is the training day, and the next day is the match.
“We believe it’s unfair, absolutely unfair. India have been resting, they’re ready. We would definitely raise that with our MD (managing director), our board, and when they go back to ICC, these anomalies have to be sorted out. There’s no team that is bigger than the other. We’re all Under-19 youth cricketers and we must be treated equally.”
India aren’t the only team to enjoy the luxury of training and playing at one single venue in the group stages. England, Kenya, Ireland, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka too have had all their group matches scheduled at a single venue.