BCB officials and government officials received the players at the airport © BCB

Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Wednesday (February 12), announced that they will create an Under-21 unit in order to groom the set of players who hoisted the Under-19 World Cup trophy in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Bangladesh Under-19 scaled the summit by beating India Under-19 in the final.

The board has taken the initiative to ensure that those cricketers coming through the ranks get a platform to showcase their skills, and also help them to take the next step to fulfil their dreams of playing for the country. ''I told them not to worry about their finance(s) and just concentrate on cricket," BCB's president Nazmul Hasan made the announcement while attending the press conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

"Earlier, we used to have Under-19 members and some of them could join the HP (High Performance squad), while others would fade away in the wilderness. So, we decided that we will have an Under-21 unit. The Under-19 members will have special training for two years where they will work on their skills.

"During these two years, everyone will get TK 100,000 from the board and that hasn't been the case before. After two years, we will evaluate their performance and if we see (that) they are doing good, we will certainly renew their contract, and those who will fail to meet up to the expectations, they will be thrown out of the contract,'' he added.

Under-19 skipper, Akbar Ali welcomed the initiative taken by the board and added that the move will inspire the players. "We had only one dream in this World Cup (and that was) to win it. A big thanks to the board for helping us to prepare before the tournament. We didn't play to get anything from the board. We played for the country. But what board has announced will surely inspire us in the future. We are really happy about the supporters who have been supporting us as always," he noted

The board also hosted a huge reception for the Under-19 World Cup winners. BCB's president Nazmul along with BCB officials and government officials received the set of players at the airport. Thousands of cricket enthusiasts escorted the triumphant Under-19 side to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from the airport

A slew of fans on bikes waved national flags and followed the team. The crowd also was ecstatic as the young cricketers made their way to the ground. Akbar Ali, the skipper, also cut a cake and the celebrations ended with fireworks bursting in air. The players are also expected to have a grand reception at the Sohrawardy Uddayan next week, with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hosting the players.

The Bangladesh Under-19 captain, on his part, said the group of players should continue to work hard in order to improve their skills. ''We thought there would be some celebration, but we did not expect that it would be in this scale. We know there is a big difference between Under-19 and senior cricket (international cricket), and we must work hard to reduce the gap between us and them [other nations] when we reach the senior level.

"It is not easy to play international cricket and our first target for the next few months is to improve our mental strength and skill levels. We should not feel satisfied with our achievement. We should get ready to take our next step,'' he said.