Five U-19 performers to watch
In his young career Kurtis Patterson has already made two notable headlines. The first was for a startling century in his first match for New South Wales, an innings of 157 against Western Australia at the SCG that made him the youngest centurion in the history of the Sheffield Shield. The second was for a decision he made soon after, ignoring a Twenty20 contract offer in the BBL to concentrate on the lead-up to the World Cup with the Australia Under-19 team. It was a moment just as significant as the century in outlining his intentions.
First, the century. Patterson's inclusion to face the Warriors in November was a rare highlight in a dreadful summer for the Blues, and members of the team were known to be excited at his arrival as a first-class player after some of his displays in Sydney grade cricket - still the most exacting club competition in the country. Granted a match situation in which he could play aggressively, arriving at the crease with the hosts 4 for 184 in reply to WA's 150, Patterson gave full vent to his array of left-hand strokes. He reached his 50 in 86 balls, 100 in 163, and 150 in a breathless 184 deliveries. Keeping him company was Simon Katich, the safest possible hand at the tiller while Patterson flourished.
That innings drew plenty of attention, not least from BBL recruiters in Sydney ahead of the inaugural edition of the competition. When the Sydney Thunder had a spot on their list made available by Phil Hughes' decision to concentrate on repairing his long-format game after losing his Test place, they offered it to Patterson. He declined, preferring to continue his Under-19s play for NSW and Australia. Since then he has battled injury at times, but enters the World Cup as Australia's vice-captain and a batsman with much expected of him.
- Daniel Brettig
Since he was only assigned to carry drinks during the senior team's Asia Cup campaign, Anamul Haque used the free time to think up witty newspaper headlines. When Bangladesh neared Pakistan's total in the first match, he decided that one of those headlines could be a play on his nickname, Bijoy (which means victory in Bangla). Apart from his wit, the age-group coaches admire Haque for his calmness, as much as for his run-making abilities.
Though it was assumed that he had crossed the age-group stage of his career after making the senior team for the Twenty20 tri-series in Zimbabwe in June, Anamul was hurriedly made the captain for the World Cup after the junior team failed to progress from the group stages in their Asia Cup campaign. This may be a backward step for the youngster, but the BCB wanted to put the progress he has made as a cricketer to what they believe is good use.
Having spent much of his childhood at the renowned BKSP school, Anamul got his first break when he was selected for an Under-16 tour to India. Subsequently, he quickly made a mark in the 50-overs Dhaka Premier League, but the form wasn't converted into first-class runs. An ordinary 2010 U-19s World Cup campaign could have stalled his career, but two eye-catching centuries in the 2010-11 National Cricket League (the domestic first-class competition) put him right back in the game. In the 2011-12 season, he finished as the NCL's top run-scorer.
Anamul would want emulate one of his predecessors - Mushfiqur Rahim - and avoid the fate of many of the others who had captained Bangladesh U-19s: Al Shahriar, Hannan Sarkar and Nafees Iqbal were promising cricketers who had short international careers. Suhrawadi Shuvo hasn't shown the skills required to remain at the top level, while Mahmudul Hasan hasn't broken through. Ashiqur Rahman, the medium-pacer who led in the 2004 edition at home, has quit the game altogether. Anamul, though, is considered to be smart enough to avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of being called upon to head the team.
- Mohammad Isam
As with a number of English cricketers, Reece Topley has followed his father Don - who played for Essex between 1985 and 1994 - into the game. A tall, gangly, left-arm pace bowler, Topley, 18, is already on the radar of the England selectors above the Under-19 level. David Saker, the England bowling coach, has spoken of their attack missing a left-arm quick. They have proved especially effective in Twenty20 cricket, and in that format Topley has taken 17 wickets in nine matches with an economy rate of 7.68.
He will be expected to lead England's attack at the Under-19 World Cup, alongside the Overton twins from Somerset, and his professional experience will come in handy - in 10 first-class matches Topley has claimed 37 wickets at 23.54. He has also already made his mark against international opposition. Playing against the touring Sri Lankans for Essex, he took six wickets in the match, and against the Australians in 2012 he took 4 for 46 in a one-day encounter. One of the traits that has impressed in the early stages of his career is the swing he generates, with the crucial ability to bring the ball back into right-hand batsmen.
Topley's other claim to fame came as a 15-year-old, when he was a net bowling during an England training session and was cracked on the head by a straight drive from Kevin Pietersen. He required stitches but was also given a signed bat for his troubles. Now he's a player signing autographs.
- Andrew McGlashan
Baba Aparajith, an allrounder who bowls offspin, is one of four cricketers to have played all 15 matches since this India Under-19 team began its competitive run in Visakhapatnam in September and October 2011. During that tournament, which also involved teams from Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies, he took 22 wickets at an average of 10.68; he had two five-wicket hauls in seven matches. Aparajith also made 140 runs in five innings at an average of 46. His wicket-taking wasn't as prolific in the quadrangular in Australia and the Asia Cup - eight wickets in eight ODIs - but he made useful contributions with the bat, including a 90 in the tied Asia Cup final against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.
He began the U-19 World Cup warm-ups with a duck against Sri Lanka but made 83 against Afghanistan. Both his ten-over spells were economical - 2 for 30 and 1 for 36. As someone who can bat in the top half of the order and bowl ten overs, Aparajith gives this side balance. He's one of several Indian players with first-class experience, having played four Ranji Trophy matches for Tamil Nadu in 2011-12.
Having played for St Bede's Anglo Indian High School in Chennai, an institution renowned for its quality cricket teams, Aparajith is a product of age-group cricket in Tamil Nadu. He represented the state at U-15 and U-16 level in 2007 and 2008.
- George Binoy
A tall, sharp, right-arm quick from Southland, Jacob Duffy made his Twenty20 and first-class debut for Otago at 17 this year, and is tipped to secure a contract with the provincial side for the upcoming season. Still in his final year of school at Southland Boys' High School in Invercargill, Duffy operates from an easy, open-chested action and a high arm release capable of creating steepling bounce, particularly on the sorts of pitches he is likely to encounter in Australia. He's added outswing to his armoury in recent months, to complement the one that moves off the seam.
His improving repertoire made one of the few bright spots for New Zealand in an otherwise disappointing quadrangular series in Australia in April. Duffy bagged six wickets at 20.83 in that tournament (his first for a national U-19 side), with three of those wickets coming against Australia in the semi-final. He would perhaps benefit from time in a professional cricketing outfit - his action collapses slightly in the delivery stride, and a bit of work in the gym might boost his pace - but in build, talent and attitude, Duffy promises to be a bright prospect for New Zealand cricket.
- Andrew Fernando