England to announce Under-18 squad
England will announce an Under-18 squad soon in a bid to improve on their performance at the last Under-19 World Cup.
The players will be chosen alongside this summer's Under-19 squad, so that their coach Andy Pick can keep an eye on their development as candidates for the World Cup in Malaysia in February 2008. The squad is to be picked now, rather than September, with a view to looking ahead - and players can be drafted in or removed at any point.
At this stage the idea is, says Pick, "very, very general, not too specific", but the players will undergo coaching on role identification and look at how to lay the foundations for groundwork for one-day cricket. Players may be part of both squads simultaneously.
With regard to the Under-19s, the new England coach Peter Moores is going to be more hands-on than his predecessor Duncan Fletcher. "That's not a bad thing," says Pick. "I'm looking forward to it." The pair have played against each other before, and have already worked with the England youth last year, before Pick's year-long sabbatical looking after Canada during their World Cup campaign.
Pick has already built on his time with Canada, and this month he will bring them together with an England Select XI - a squad of players around the age of 20 - for a two-day match in Loughborough. This will give Canada practice ahead of their ICC Intercontinental Cup final against Ireland, and also give Pick the chance to catch up with the youth players' development.
England Under-19s made the semi-finals of the last World Cup, in Sri Lanka in 2004, before being crushed by India.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo