Proper execution of a long-term plan from the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) game development committee, led by former captain and BCB director Khaled Mahmud, played a vital role as the Bangladesh Under-19 team tasted World Cup glory in early 2020.
The Under-19 World Cup victory raised the benchmark for the next generation and gave Bangladesh recognition as a competitive unit from the cricketing world.
One of the factors in the long-term plan was an emphasis on age-group selectors to nurture and hone specific skills among cricketers during training camps.
Another aspect that worked immensely in Akbar Ali and his troops' favour was the number of matches that the young Tigers played as a unit against tough opponents in different conditions ahead of the start of the World Cup in South Africa. The team won 22 of the 31 matches played in England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh between September 2018 and November 2019.
The game development committee had chalked out similar plans for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup, which will be held in the West Indies next year. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country March last year halted proceedings.
Since last year, the new batch of cricketers that make up the Bangladesh Under-19 team have undergone 110 days of intensive training under head coach Naveed Nawaz. Nawaz has been working alongside strength and conditioning coach Richard Stonier, who was part of the U-19 World Cup-winning staff, and local coaches Talha Jubair, Mehrab Hossain Opee and Mohammad Selim.
The U-19 team will begin preparations for the upcoming Under-19 World Cup by facing off against their Pakistani counterparts, who are scheduled to arrive on April 17 and take part in a four-day and game and five youth ODIs.
"We are world champions so we need to have better preparation. I don't want to say that we won the World Cup by fluke and I want to prove that. So the upcoming series against Pakistan is very important and our boys will be able to prepare themselves well. The upcoming Pakistan series will be the first series for this new batch so I am looking forward to it," Khaled Mahmud said.
The BCB's game development committee is also committed to arranging at least 25 matches in different conditions ahead of the Under-19 team before the World Cup.
The Under-19 Asia Cup, which was scheduled for November last year in UAE and postponed due to the pandemic, is also expected to take place this year. That will add more matches to the Tigers' preparation ahead of the World Cup.
"Despite the pandemic, we can say that Bangladesh are among the first few teams who have already started preparing for the upcoming Under-19 World Cup. We are planning to play a lot of matches as we did before ahead of the World Cup in the West Indies. We are emphasising on playing in different conditions and would like Bangladesh to conduct a short training camp in the West Indies ahead of the World Cup campaign. We will also try to arrange a few warm-up matches and official warm-up matches before the tournament begins," said BCB game development manager Abu Emam Mohammad Kawsar.