Bosisto mature beyond his years
William Bosisto, the Australia Under-19 captain, was facing Bangladesh's Soumya Sarkar in the quarter-final of the World Cup, when he saw the bowler 'mankad' the non-striker Jimmy Peirson, who was backing up earlier than he should have been. The next few minutes were fraught with confusion and tension as Bosisto spoke to Anamul Haque, to see if the Bangladesh captain would withdraw the appeal. He did not, and Australia were 33 for 4 chasing 172, their position worsened by an unconventional dismissal that is within the rules but perhaps not in the spirit of cricket.
The Australian fans watching at Endeavour Park did not like it and voiced their displeasure. In a tinderbox of a quarter-final, it would have been natural for a teenager to get worked up and play a shot in anger. Bosisto said he did get worked up, but he did not do anything rash. Instead, the incident steeled his focus and Bosisto's maturity came through during his conversation with the new batsman Travis Head.
"Nothing different to what I would have told him if it had been caught behind or any other dismissal," Bosisto said, when asked what he had told Head after the mankad. "Just about playing straight and bat for a period of time and establish a partnership."
Head scored 44 out of the 67-run stand but it was Bosisto who battled 134 balls for an unbeaten 71 to put Australia in the semi-final. That Man-of-the-Match performance was his fourth unbeaten innings in as many games this World Cup. Two of the first three were also compiled after Australia had lost early wickets during a chase. Bosisto was dismissed for the first time in the tournament by South Africa, run out for 40 with Australia four runs away from a place in the final and plenty of resources to get there.
Bosisto's batting is more gritty than it is aesthetically attractive, characterised by punches down the ground and shots square of the wicket played with economical movement. Among batsmen who've scored more than 150 runs in the World Cup, his strike-rate of 50.40 for an aggregate of 189 is the lowest. Bosisto is not fussed by it. He comes across as a level-headed cricketer who at quite an impressionable age is showing remarkable awareness of the strengths and limitations of his game and playing within those boundaries to lead his team to success in Townsville.
"When you're playing out in the middle, you want to be reasonably within your limitations," Bosisto said. "I think at this World Cup, I haven't really had to try too much audacious stroke play. I've just been required to be not out at the end and do it that way."
Despite having grown up during an age of aggressive Australian batsmanship at Test level, Bosisto's not tried to over-reach himself too early and knows that there will be opportunities to develop his repertoire in the future. "Maybe growing up I've always tried to be a technical player, maybe my aggressive stroke play hasn't come on like some of the younger generations that are brought up now, playing so freely right from the first ball kind of thing, like a David Warner kind of player," Bosisto said. "But that's certainly something that I need to work on over the next five-ten years to expand my repertoire, I suppose.
"I know I've heard people speak about Justin Langer and Mike Hussey, two of my sort of idols. You know when they were 17 and 18, they were probably not far off, they just worked the ball around and maybe didn't score as quickly as what they have when they've become older. They've just developed their stroke play, and as they got bigger and stronger it became easier to score more quickly."
His coach Stuart Law is firmly in Bosisto's corner. "He plays within his limitations and there's plenty of batsmen out there who get pretty 20s and 30s. That won't get you too far, it might go alright in the IPL, but won't go too far in Test cricket, don't forget we're producing cricketers here to play cricket for Australia at Test level," Law said. "And Will, as he progresses, will become a better one-day player and a better Twenty20 player as well, if he becomes a really good four-day player."
Law also rated Bosisto's captaincy highly and if he had to pick out one criticism, it would be that it was over-aggressive at times, which was "a great thing" actually. "He's got us over the line a lot of times, when we seemed to be in a bit of trouble," Law said. "He's just got a cool head under pressure. He's been a gem to be around, he trains hard, one of the hardest trainers going around. He plays hard and that's the way you should always play. It's pleasing for me and Greg Chappell that we put our faith in him to lead this side and he's led it with more than enough distinction."
Bosisto hasn't been captain of Australia Under-19 for very long either, unlike his counterpart in Sunday's World Cup final, Unmukt Chand, who's led India since September 2011 and has 20 matches of international experience to date. Australia only settled on their captain two to three weeks before the tournament. In international matches before that, they tried Kurtis Patterson, Cameron Bancroft and Ashton Turner as captain.
"It's something that I love doing and I think it's a good way to impose yourself on a game," Bosisto said. "As a cricketer in the field, it's sometimes hard to dominate I suppose, but as a captain you really get a chance to stamp your authority on the game with the way you go about your bowling changes and field placements.
"There's a number of leaders out on the field, Kurtis Patterson is one that you can go to, and we tend to bounce ideas off each other. I make the final calls but it's great being able to bounce ideas off people. The more people throwing out ideas the more chances you've got of reaching the right outcome.
"It's good being able to captain such a strong side, often it makes your job easier when you've got such talented players who can execute the plans you ask them to. Often you don't have to do a hell of a lot really. I suppose that's the job of a captain, your role comes into play maybe when the things aren't going so great, and you've got to try different things or keep the side up."
Bosisto's earliest memories of cricket are of playing with his father at Jasper Green Reserve, a park down the road from his house in Perth, every morning before school. He's on the opposite coast of Australia at the moment, preparing for the most significant match of his nascent career. Irrespective of Sunday's result, Bosisto is in a great place for someone of his age, because being self-aware is half the battle. He needs to develop a few more gears but there's time for that. Another calm, unbeaten innings at a strike-rate of 50 during a chase could be enough to win the World Cup.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo