For the first time Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) will host the U-17 Cricket Independence Cup this year. The week-long inaugural tournament will run from 25-30 September 2017 at BCA Oval Grounds as part of the 51st independence celebrations. However, the aim of the tournament – according to BCA Chief Executive Officer Girish Ramakrishna – is to further push the development of young players. Ramakrishna said development remains a major priority for the association. BCA, which has one of the most robust developmental strategies in the country, has seen a great growth of the game of cricket locally. To continue the growth, Ramakrishna said the tournament will be used as a path way to selection of 35 players who will be groomed for upper national teams like the U-19 and the senior national team. The selected players will also be training to compete for selection to represent the country at the next ICC Division 2 U-19 qualifiers. “The selected players will be put into an academy where they will be further trained for future teams and competitions,” he said. The tournament will be played by four teams of 16 players on each side. The players making up the teams have been selected from around the country to make it inclusive. Ramakrishna said the players have been drawn from both the northern and the southern regions. He, however, said the players have been mixed in order to have proper competition. The games will be played in a 50-overs format which will give the players enough time to show their skills. The 50 overs provide a good test for the coaches and officials to see the players’ strengths as their skills, endurance, patience and determination will be put under scrutiny. Ramakrishna called on Batswana to come in large numbers to support these young players as well as BCA. Four companies have already pledged to support the formed teams. These companies include Yarona Motors, Autobase, Vaseline and Shield.