Under-19 World Cup 2012 August 9, 2012

Giant leap on road from boys to men

The Under-19 World Cup will be a stepping stone for some, the pinnacle for others; this tournament is not so much about winning the trophy as it is about developing as as players and as people
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In the lead-up to the 2012 Under-19 World Cup, Alastair Cook, captain of the England team in the 2004 tournament and now leading their one-day international side, said the competition would be "just a start to people's careers rather than a pinnacle". He was both right and wrong.

There are 240 players from 16 countries spread out over three cities in Queensland. For most of them, irrespective of whether they are Indian or Nepalese, English or Namibian, this will be the grandest stage they play on. Most are unlikely to be part of another global tournament, to have exposure to the ICC's policies - on issues as diverse as racism and bat sticker size - and their education on corruption and doping, to have the opportunity of playing in front of a global audience, to be contenders for a World Cup. For many of these boys being in Australia's sunshine state will be the pinnacle of their cricket careers.

That, however, is no mean achievement. From the far corners of the world they have travelled to a storied cricket country at such a formative age. Several of the Zimbabweans, for example, are so young they could play the next Under-19 World Cup in 2014. What was your most determining adventure at 17?

"A lot of these boys haven't ever been away from their parents," says Zimbabwe's coach, Chris Harris, of his team. "In this environment they get what we call 'meal money' or allowances, and they get to buy their own lunches and dinners. So even those little things are great experiences for people who haven't done it before. And I guess it shows you, at a pretty important age, how the real world works."

The players will experience life in a high-pressure global event, without the comforting support of family and friends, away from the familiar surroundings of their home countries, where one does not have to think about how to use the transport system or the self-checkout at the supermarket. They will interact with and learn from cultures they haven't even read about, and begin lasting friendships with people they would have otherwise never met. Not many of us knew about life in Port Moresby or Port Elizabeth at 19, or had a friend from Kabul or Wellington at that age. Walking the streets of Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Townsville, these boys will have the experience of a lifetime. As people on the cusp of their adult lives, they are starting from the pinnacle of their cricket careers. It will help give them perspective for a life outside the game.

"It's a fantastic experience and already we've seen the players interacting from knowing each other from previous tours," says England coach Tim Boon. "We wholly encourage our players to integrate, we think it broadens their horizons and they make life-long friendships."

There will of course be cricketers for whom this is not the pinnacle of their sporting lives, those who will go on to have successful first-class and international careers, or even just extremely well-paid Twenty20 gigs. They could even be the ones reminiscing before the tournament in 2020 about how instructive and seminal such an experience was. They may or may not be the success stories of this World Cup: runs, wickets and a trophy now, or a lack of them, is no guarantee of success, or failure, over the next five years.

"We wholly encourage our players to integrate, we think it broadens their horizons and they make life-long friendships."
England Under-19s coach Tim Boon

"There's a huge difference between the maturity of an 18-year old and a 22-year old," says New Zealand coach Matt Horne. "And along that journey other things do come along. There are guys at U-19 level who don't cut the mustard at a higher level. There are others who miss this team but catch up and overtake."

The winners of the future, though, are likely to be the ones who take most out of today. "They are the kids who stand up, they are the ones who learn, they might listen a bit more," says Stuart Law, Australia's coach. The ones who were most attentive at an ICC seminar about what substances to not put in your body and whom not to speak to. The ones who picked up skills by watching the Australians play bounce, the English handle swing, the Indians use their feet to spin, the Pakistan and Sri Lankan spinners flight the ball, and the joy with which the West Indians play. The ones who made a note of what sort of food to eat, of doing the right exercises at the right time, and of how much sleep to get. The ones who leave Queensland having assessed their games in comparison to others and are determined to bridge or extend the gap. The ones who can deal with triumph and failure, and treat them the same.

Without undermining the achievement of winning the Under-19 World Cup, true success here is revealed later, depending on how many of these cricketers have lasting careers in cricket. The coaches drive the point home: this tournament is all about development of their charges, as players and as people. Most would gladly choose producing a greater number of future international cricketers over winning the trophy.

"My job is to produce Proteas cricketers," says South Africa coach Ray Jennings. "Winning World Cups at this level is important, but not as important as producing future Proteas cricketers."

It's a common goal and to achieve that most of the Under-19 sides go through the same pre-match, post-match and off-day drills that a senior team would. "You're trying to prepare them for a professional life in cricket," says Roddy Estwick, who's been involved in West Indies' youth programme for three World Cups. "Once you do the right things here, it helps them in the long run. So when they break into the senior team, it's nothing new, they are accustomed to the set-up, they are accustomed to the regime."

In a couple of years, a few of these Under-19 players will have given up cricket, fewer will have broken into their national sides, and most will be striving towards their international debut. The hope is that several of the boys competing for this trophy will be back in Australia as young men for the real deal in 2015.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ejsiddiqui on August 10, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    All the best everyone, especially Pakistan they Just beat Aus 2-1 in the series.

  • AK_25 on August 10, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    The ones who picked up skills by watching the Australians play bounce, the English handle swing, the Indians use their feet to spin, the Pakistan and Sri Lankan spinners flight the ball, and the joy with which the West Indians play.......its tell the all story..........

  • gtzshotta on August 10, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    West Indies have a strong team as well. The captain has already played a bunch of tests.

  • KiwiRocker- on August 10, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    India needs to win this tournament...They have lost 15-0 in England And Australia, but it does not matter even if India wins as Sehwag, Tendulya and co AKA non performers are not going to retire and no youngster will ever get a chance to play for indian senior side...

  • Meety on August 9, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    @huttse96 - I want Oz to win, but would be stoked if the Kumuls got up!

  • on August 9, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    Great words by Jennings....this is probably the only world cup these kids play where winning should not be the ultimate goal. Its about experience, growing and developing not only as a cricketer, but also as a human being.

  • Pratchett on August 9, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    @ Halios - Wow! I'm surprised to hear Jayasuria is about 150 years old! Who won that u/19 tournament in 1887?

  • on August 9, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Wish you all the best Pakistan!

  • on August 9, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    Pak will win INSHAALLAH.

  • on August 9, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Come on Nepal !!!! I seriously doubt whether we will be able to watch you live at action but that does not mean you do not have our blessings.

  • ejsiddiqui on August 10, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    All the best everyone, especially Pakistan they Just beat Aus 2-1 in the series.

  • AK_25 on August 10, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    The ones who picked up skills by watching the Australians play bounce, the English handle swing, the Indians use their feet to spin, the Pakistan and Sri Lankan spinners flight the ball, and the joy with which the West Indians play.......its tell the all story..........

  • gtzshotta on August 10, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    West Indies have a strong team as well. The captain has already played a bunch of tests.

  • KiwiRocker- on August 10, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    India needs to win this tournament...They have lost 15-0 in England And Australia, but it does not matter even if India wins as Sehwag, Tendulya and co AKA non performers are not going to retire and no youngster will ever get a chance to play for indian senior side...

  • Meety on August 9, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    @huttse96 - I want Oz to win, but would be stoked if the Kumuls got up!

  • on August 9, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    Great words by Jennings....this is probably the only world cup these kids play where winning should not be the ultimate goal. Its about experience, growing and developing not only as a cricketer, but also as a human being.

  • Pratchett on August 9, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    @ Halios - Wow! I'm surprised to hear Jayasuria is about 150 years old! Who won that u/19 tournament in 1887?

  • on August 9, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Wish you all the best Pakistan!

  • on August 9, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    Pak will win INSHAALLAH.

  • on August 9, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Come on Nepal !!!! I seriously doubt whether we will be able to watch you live at action but that does not mean you do not have our blessings.

  • US_Indian on August 9, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    It would have been nice if other than listing players names who played in the U19 worldcup and also there was a list of U19 players who represented their countries without having been fortunate enough to have played the worldcup but who made it big and some even very big, I hope that list will give some encouragements to the younger players not to lose heart and keep those idols in their young minds and find motivation to reach those heights. I am sure there will a big list. I have played at the under 19 level but didnt reach those hieghts but i know some players who were with me or played against me have achieved success and shone on the horizon of cricket with a long and distinguieshed career.

  • on August 9, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    This tournament is vast more energetic then the original .but we will not be able to watch all matches live due to telecast will be at 430 am .=( but hope so pak will win it again .

  • on August 9, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    I don't like the U19 category in cricket. In most other games, it is U16 and then you are out in the open world. SRT debut-ed at 16, Miandad at 17. In fact, by the time he was 20, SRT had already scored 4 Test Centuries for India (119 v ENG, Manchester, 1992; 148 v AUS, Sydney, 1992; 114 v AUS, Perth, 1992; 111 v SA at Johannesberg, 1992). U19 players are not kids. They need to play in the big leagues. So, stop mollycoddling them.

  • on August 9, 2012, 15:47 GMT

    pak will wim the wc n nepal will win the playoff champion ship............gud luck for all the team...................

  • MunafAhmed811 on August 9, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    England is fav IMO. Everybody hyping about Ind and Pak will need to eat humble pie. Eng has balanced side.

  • on August 9, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    Afghanistan will beat New Zealand and Scotland to reach the Quarterfinals.

  • ExplicitPlatinum on August 9, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Just hoping for Zia-ul-haq to come back to form along with Babar Azam.

  • on August 9, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    Go Nepal go! We will love to see England & Australia as a looser when they will play against Nepal! You guys are capable to o it. Is Nepal Vs Australia match will telecast live from Star Cricket? I am confused about this.

  • cricfreak2012 on August 9, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Good luck to Champs from all Countries...I am sure this will help them enormously, both professionally and personally...Make your Country and Cricket proud, kiddos....

  • on August 9, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    India will surely win the tournament, judging by the form of their players and the team in all the recently concluded matches! Go India Go! And i am sure , we have a new Virat Kohli in the making in the Form of Unmukt Chand !

  • Haleos on August 9, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    Sanath Jayasurya indeed play in 1887. He was last on the list of most runs scored. Scored 70 in 6 innings but we all know what he eventually achieved.

  • Sakthiivel on August 9, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    India vs Pakistan Final once again..

  • on August 9, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    come on india and nepal give your best and hope so any of u win it................pak is one one the most dangerous team and u both can win the !!!-------------BEST OF LUCK-----------------!!! !!!-------------BEST OF LUCK-----------------!!! !!!-------------BEST OF LUCK-----------------!!! !!!-------------BEST OF LUCK-----------------!!!

  • shaileshacharya123 on August 9, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    NEPAL best of all..........................................

  • on August 9, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Good luck for young BD Tigers!!!

  • on August 9, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Cmon NEPAL prove that u r DARK HORSES of the tournament.....

  • on August 9, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    PAK will rock...IA they just need to focus bit more on their bowling.... <3

  • on August 9, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    this will be more good if it includes some of the statements from India and Pakistan teams because they are the favorite contenders for the world cup so the writer skips them decrease its write up worth .

  • on August 9, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Nice Articel, it wud be good if we can have an article, about the players from previous editions who made it big in international cricket. I believe Sanath Jayasuriya played in the first such tournament in 1987?

  • Professor.Biscuit.Khan on August 9, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Pakistan's Sami Aslam and India's Unmukt Chand - Watch out for these 2 guys. They both are run machines !

  • QaisarJaan on August 9, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Good luck Pakistan ......

  • enok on August 9, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Good for Cricket. virat koli, Angelo Mathews, they came with u 19 world up.. cheers

  • on August 9, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Come on Nepal. Show our worth to 'em all!! Best wishes!!

  • huttse96 on August 9, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    Go papua new guinea do us proud!!!

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  • huttse96 on August 9, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    Go papua new guinea do us proud!!!

  • on August 9, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Come on Nepal. Show our worth to 'em all!! Best wishes!!

  • enok on August 9, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Good for Cricket. virat koli, Angelo Mathews, they came with u 19 world up.. cheers

  • QaisarJaan on August 9, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Good luck Pakistan ......

  • Professor.Biscuit.Khan on August 9, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Pakistan's Sami Aslam and India's Unmukt Chand - Watch out for these 2 guys. They both are run machines !

  • on August 9, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Nice Articel, it wud be good if we can have an article, about the players from previous editions who made it big in international cricket. I believe Sanath Jayasuriya played in the first such tournament in 1987?

  • on August 9, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    this will be more good if it includes some of the statements from India and Pakistan teams because they are the favorite contenders for the world cup so the writer skips them decrease its write up worth .

  • on August 9, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    PAK will rock...IA they just need to focus bit more on their bowling.... <3

  • on August 9, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Cmon NEPAL prove that u r DARK HORSES of the tournament.....

  • on August 9, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Good luck for young BD Tigers!!!