Under-19 World Cup 2012

Australia Under-19s get ready for final

After two days of relaxation, Australia's young cricketers got back to full-intensity training in a quiet setting ahead of the big final on Sunday against India

George Binoy in Townsville

August 24, 2012

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Australia Under-19 team group photograph, Thuringowa, August 24, 2012
The players had a couple of days off after the semifinal to take their minds off the high-pressure match coming up © George Binoy
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Series/Tournaments: ICC Under-19 World Cup
Teams: Australia

The venue for Australia's last full net session ahead of the final of the Under-19 World Cup was only a five-minute drive from Tony Ireland Stadium, but its setting was far removed from the goldfish bowl they'll be in on Sunday. The Brothers Cricket Club, nestled in the quiet suburb of Thuringowa, has a huge, lush field bordered by a white picket fence. Stand in its middle and, apart from the birds, the only sounds are from groups of excited Under-19 cricketers, having a net on the centre wickets and practicing their fielding in preparation for the biggest match of their lives.

Australia played their semi-final against South Africa on August 21, which means they had four days until the title clash. They didn't even know who their opponent was until last evening. India, it turned out.

Their players had a couple of days off after the semifinal to take their minds off the high-pressure match coming up. William Bosisto, the captain, played some golf, as did Travis Head, the allrounder who bowls offspin.

"After the game we did our normal recovery, came to the pool," Bosisto said. "I had a hit of golf yesterday, so that was quite relaxing, I love my golf. That's a great way to take your mind off cricket, relax and enjoy life kind of thing. Today we had a net session - that was our big, main session before Sunday. Tomorrow we'll have an optional session at Tony Ireland, just a short little hit."

Head, who said he was a "pretty relaxed person," went down to Tony Ireland on Thursday to see bits of the India-New Zealand semi-final too. "I just couldn't watch, got back to the hotel and the air conditioning, it was a bit hot," he said. "Just got a bit itchy watching ... just wanted to get out there. I think we're pretty relaxed and the team's not too nervous. It's good to know we're playing India now, we can plan for that and look forward to Sunday."

Gurinder Sandhu, the fast bowler, said there hadn't been much talk about the final over the last two days, with most of the team unwinding about Townsville.

Their coach Stuart Law said the down time was important in such a high-profile tournament. "You can only do so much practice," he said. "Players in this day and age are probably getting it wrong. They think you can improve at practice, you don't. You improve in a game; you maintain a practice. You shouldn't be batting for four hours each day in the nets. It's not going to do you much good at all.

"We had a similar sort of break between our quarter and our semi, so we did basically the same thing as we had done then - two days off, the boys have got family up here, so spent a bit of time with them. They go fishing, they play golf, just keep them relaxed, keep them occupied, among doing gym sessions and whatever. They knew they had to come back today to start the hard work again."

The practice was extensive and the spirits high. Among other things, the national talent manager Greg Chappell had a long chat with Bosisto after a net, watched the offspinner Ashton Turner bowl closely and gave Kurtis Patterson some catching practice. Sandhu was among the most vocal and enthusiastic while catching skiers from Craig McDermott.


Greg Chappell oversees Australia Under-19 practice, Thuringowa, August 24, 2012
Greg Chappell oversaw the cricketers during practice © George Binoy
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"Don't really have any words to explain it to be honest, the boys are pretty pumped, especially with India," Sandhu said, when asked about the excitement ahead of the final. "Everyone's positive, 5-0 at the moment, haven't lost a game, the momentum is on our side I guess. Just get out there."

The tournament could not have had a more high-profile final. Australia against India is a promoter's dream, drawing in the local support for both teams, and the television audiences from cricket's biggest market. The competitors have pedigree too. Australia are undefeated in this World Cup; while India have had the most success among Under-19 sides over the last 12 months, winning two quadrangular tournaments and sharing the Asia Cup. Both those quadrangulars involved Australia and they recognise that having to face India in the finale is a fitting test of which is the best side.

"Coming into the World Cup we were expecting India to be a really tough opponent and we thought that there was a fair chance they'd probably end up in the final, so look it's no surprise to see that they've done a great job," Bosisto said. "They have been successful over the last 12 months. Hopefully we can produce the right game of cricket on Sunday."

Head said: "We've got to play the best to win this sort of championship and to play against the best is what we want to do in a final. We're always expecting to play a really good, strong team in the final if we made it. Obviously we've won all our games and we're coming in confident."

These Australian Under-19 players have not been together as long as India's have, nor have they played in as many finals, but Law said the role their "grit and determination" will play on Sunday should not be underestimated.

Australia's practice on Saturday will also be in the suburb of Thuringowa, but it won't be at an obscure little cricket club. They'll be at Tony Ireland Stadium, on the eve of the biggest match of their cricket careers.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by zenboomerang on (August 25, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

Top game coming up, with India favorites after dominating recent series... Good luck to both teams & hope it is a close & enthralling match... Will be watching with interest...

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (August 25, 2012, 7:30 GMT)

Good luck to both teams, looking forward to a great fluctuating game and watiching the stars of 2morrow handle the pressure. Hope its played in the right spirit and this sows the seeds of friendly, fierce but fair rivalry in the future. Whoever wins, I hope we comment/discuss on the game in the spirit, savour the game we love and donot crow, condescend or bag the opposition supporters...Cheerio :)

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 25, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Should be a walk in the park for Australia, because we easily have the best depth in World Cricket.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (August 25, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

It was a wonder that India reached the final. The fought hard against the bouncy pitches and alien conditions. Even if the bowlers did well, batsmen yet to click even if that's the case of all batsmen played in that pitch. Anyway, lets hope our batsmen will click on final and we will win it.

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
Tournament Results
Aust U19 v India U19 at Townsville - Aug 26, 2012
India U19 won by 6 wickets (with 14 balls remaining)
NZ U19 v S Africa U19 at Townsville - Aug 25, 2012
S Africa U19 won by 8 wickets (with 212 balls remaining)
Afghan U19 v S Lanka U19 at Brisbane - Aug 24, 2012
S Lanka U19 won by 7 wickets (with 66 balls remaining)
B'desh U19 v Pakistan U19 at Townsville - Aug 24, 2012
B'desh U19 won by 5 wickets (with 22 balls remaining)
England U19 v W Indies U19 at Townsville - Aug 24, 2012
England U19 won by 13 runs
Ireland U19 v Scot U19 at Brisbane - Aug 24, 2012
Scot U19 won by 5 wickets (with 50 balls remaining)
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