England v Sri Lanka, Under-19 World Cup, Dubai February 16, 2014

Tattersall earns his runs the hard way

Jonathan Tattersall humbly admitted that he didn't have the physique to muscle the ball over the ropes at will. Though he managed a couple of sixes during the course of his 95, he covered plenty of ground between the wickets

Jonathan Tattersall doesn't strike you as someone who can bludgeon the ball several rows over the boundary. If you had not watched him bat, the 19-year-old England Under-19 batsman might remind you of Joe Root, purely by his appearance and slim build. While it's a coincidence that both batsmen hail from the same county, Yorkshire, the other common characteristic is the ability to graft.

Tattersall learnt it the hard way in Dubai. The outfield dimensions were big enough to test even seasoned pros. The boundary ropes were pushed back close to the fences and it was as if the challenge was thrown open to the juniors - if you wanted runs, you simply had to earn it. Tattersall humbly admitted that he didn't have the physique to muscle the ball over the ropes at will. Though he managed a couple of sixes during the course of his 95 against Sri Lanka Under-19s, he covered plenty of ground between the wickets. And it's something he is accustomed to.

"I am not the biggest of the guys to find the boundaries regularly," Tattersall said. "So, I am all for running between the wickets, which can help us win games. I have always been a technically correct player throughout my childhood."

Keeping the scoreboard moving wasn't the only challenge thrown to Tattersall. He walked in with his side in a problematic situation at 37 for 2, which soon became 43 for 4 in the next seven deliveries. It meant that England had to start all over with two fresh batsmen. With the lower order for company, Tattersall started the steady build with three half-century partnerships.

Greg Chappell, the former Australia captain who is now managing the Australian U-19 team, said at the start of the tournament that a young batsman will have to be prepared to be "boring" at times and focus on building partnerships, staying at the crease. A large part of England's recovery may have been far from electric, but from a purist's point of view, it was engaging in its own right.

"It was a hard graft to start with. It's not an ideal situation to be at 40 for 4," Tattersall said. "We had to rebuild and bat all the way through. The situation meant that we did not have to take many chances and, instead, build the innings with ones and twos."

Tattersall's presence as England's mainstay allowed his partners to bat with more freedom. England had accelerated enough to post 230 for 9, which on a slow pitch and long boundaries was bound to test Sri Lanka. Only 24 of his runs came off boundaries and it led to a last-minute scramble to get to three figures. He fell five short, holing out to a brilliant catch at long-on off the penultimate ball of the innings. Given the number of shots he played to the longest boundary, in hindsight, he would have scored a century on any other ground. He admitted he was disappointed at missing out, but he walked back looking content with his rescue effort.   

The Harrogate-born Tattersall is a pupil of King James School, Knaresborough. The town's close proximity to Leeds was beneficial to his cricket. He was coached by his father Richard, who has also been a regular on the club-cricket circuit in Knaresborough. Tattersall began as a legspinner as he grew up admiring Shane Warne but his focus has since shifted. He still sees a role for himself as an allrounder. Having finished school last year, he bagged a two-year contract with Yorkshire and has since played one Yorkshire Bank 40 game for them, in 2013.

Tattersall was busy establishing himself in the U-19 squad through the year. He made his U-19 debut during the tour of South Africa, played the tri-series at home featuring Pakistan and Bangladesh and toured the UAE for a tri-series in December. His 95 against Sri Lanka was his fourth fifty and also his highest score.

He has opened the batting for England U-19 and while he admits it's his preferred position, he is flexible to the team's needs. "I would love to open the innings, to be honest," he said. "With the team we had today, I was told to drop down to No. 4. I see myself as very adaptable. I have batted at No.6 in the past in South Africa for the England U-19s. I can see myself batting all round."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo