|European Under 17 (Division 2) Championship: Isle of Man, July 2008|
Ten teams with all to play for in Germany
The first ICC European Under 17 Division 2 Championship since 2004 gets under way in Germany on Saturday, in the first major European tournament to take place in that country.
Ten countries will be taking part in the event, which will see matches played on the two grounds at the British Army's base at Rheindalen, M÷nchengladbach, and in Bonn and Bochum.
The sides will be divided into two groups for the week-long tournament, with play-offs on Friday 15 August to decide the winners and the remaining rankings.
It is difficult to predict form, although performances at recent Under 15 tournaments may give some indication of how the sides may perform, and who their leading players are likely to be. A feature of the competition will also be the presence of more than 20 alumni of ICC Europe's annual Centre of Excellence programme.
The leading contenders in Group A will probably include the Isle of Man, who won the Under-15 Division 2 competition in 2005 and finished third behind Guernsey and Jersey in 2007; the two Channel Islands sides have been promoted to Division 1 this year.
The Isle of Man is led by Luke Lacey, and also has plenty of European experience in brothers Max and Alex Stokoe, Richard Foden, Alasdair Slack and Andrew Brown.
But the side will face a stiff challenge from Italy, whose skipper Ali Shakil was one of the leading wicket-takers at the 2007 under-15 tournament. Another player to look out for will be Dylan Sarnelli, a member of the Italian full squad for the recent ICC European Division 1 Championship in Dublin.
Host Germany will, of course, enjoy home advantage, and the squad includes graduates of the Centre of Excellence programme in Manishi Mathur and Mansor Mubarik.
The remaining teams in this group are France and Israel, who will be hoping that they can pull off a surprise against one or more of the more fancied sides.
Spain is led by Christian Mu˝oz-Mills, who is one of no fewer than five Centre of Excellence alumni in the squad, the others being Matthew Winter, Joel Brook, Brad Seekings and Jake Sunderland. Having finished fourth in the 2007 under-15 tournament, this side will be among the favourites this time.
Spain's strongest rivals are likely to be Belgium, led by Sebastian Shukla and including a solid core of players with lots of experience in the younger age-groups, and Gibraltar, skippered by Joss Hatcher, whose key players will include Scott Chipolina and fellow-Centre of Excellence graduates in Rahul Daswani and Karan Sadhwani.
The unknown quantities in this group are Hellas (Greece), who has not participated in a European youth tournament since finishing last in the 2005 under-15 event and includes only three of that squad this time, and Switzerland, who is making a debut in ICC youth competitions.