Under-19 World Cup 2003-04 January 15, 2004

Alastair Cook to lead England Under-19s

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Alastair Cook, the promising Essex batsman, has been named as England's captain for next month's Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Cook, who turned 19 last month, played three first-class matches for Essex last season, and impressed in scoring three half-centuries. He told the Essex website that he was thrilled with the offer of the captaincy: "I was asked on Friday while I was at a training camp at Loughborough whether I would want to be captain of the Under-19s for the World Cup," he said. "Of course I said yes, and I'm looking forward to it."

But Cook nearly didn't get the position, as Nottinghamshire's Samit Patel had originally been named to lead the side before a change of coach brought about Cook's elevation. Andy Pick replaced Paul Farbrace, and he plumped for Cook as captain. "A change of management led to a change of ideas, with it being thought that Samit would already have enough on his plate as a batsman and bowler without the captaincy on top," explained Cook. "So the change means he can concentrate solely on his cricket, which will be better for the team."

It is an opportunity for Cook to broaden his captaincy experience, which until now has been limited mainly to school cricket. "I captained for two years at Bedford School and have done a little bit for Essex at Under-15 level," he said. "So I've not done too much, but I think by looking and learning from the likes of Ronnie Irani, Barry Hyam and Andy Flower you get a feel for captaincy, and hopefully that will reflect on me.

"To represent your country is an honour, but to lead it is fantastic and I'm just looking forward to the challenge. It was a surprise, but obviously I'm delighted and am looking forward to going out there to win the World Cup."

Cook is also relishing the opportunity of making his mark on the rest of the squad. "I'm quite good at getting other people's opinions - I try to use the support of the rest of the team - but I will ultimately go my own way," he said. "If I can lead from the front then people will hopefully follow what I do, and we should be OK."

The tournament begins on February 15: England's first match is against Nepal the same day.

Squad Alastair Cook (capt), Samit Patel, Ravinder Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Dan Broadbent, Steven Davies, Adam Harrison, James Hildreth, Mark Lawson, Tom New (wk), Liam Plunkett, David Stiff, Mark Turner, Luke Wright.