ICC Under-19 World Cup 2012

Tough, competitive, and memorable

The difference in the quality of teams was lesser and the pitches were testing, resulting in a tournament that left players with invaluable lessons learnt

George Binoy in Townsville

August 27, 2012

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Ben Foakes is bowled, Australia v England, ICC U-19 World Cup 2012, Townsville, August 11, 2012
The Under-19 World Cup was a bowler's tournament from the first day itself, when Australia bowled England out for 143 © ICC/Getty
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It's the day after the Under-19 World Cup final and Townsville feels different. Flinders Street bears no sign of the Indian party the night before, and the cafés on Palmer are missing the groups of young cricketers who've been ever-present over the last two weeks. For the 240 players who've left the city, the fortnight gone by has been probably the most revealing, instructive and emotional of their teenage lives.

The 2012 Under-19 World Cup has felt like a bowler's tournament; perhaps it was the imprint left by the first day, when England were dismissed for 143 by Australia after which Reece Topley broke Jimmy Peirson's middle stump and Jamie Overton let rip at scary speeds for someone so young.

However, though it might not have felt like it when Pakistan collapsed for 136 and India lost nine wickets in a successful chase, the batsmen of the class of 2012 have surpassed those of both 2010 and 2008 by a striking distance. In those previous two tournaments, you could have counted the number of centurions on one hand; you'll need three for 2012. In fact, there were as many hundreds - three - scored on the pitches at Tony Ireland Stadium, the venue where the bowlers had it best, as they were in the whole of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia.

The abundance of runs in international cricket over the last few years has raised expectations of batsmen but the kids in Queensland seem to have met those high standards. The 15 centuries scored in the 2012 tournament are the most for the Under-19 World Cup, and the run aggregate and average also compare favorably to most other World Cups. On the other hand, the average per wicket for bowlers was 25 in 2012, which is smack in the middle when compared to other tournaments.

The competition was tough too, in 2012. Unlike in 2008, when India won all their matches, there was no undefeated team in Queensland. Like in 2010, when Australia, South Africa and Pakistan won five out of six games, there were three teams with similar records in 2012. India lost only their first game, to West Indies; Australia lost only the final, to India; and South Africa were beaten in the semi-final by Australia and won their third-place playoff. South Africa, always strong contenders at this level, had the best stats in the tournament but failed to win it once again.

The smaller gap in quality between the sides is perhaps due to an increasing investment in youth cricket. While India, England and Pakistan always had elaborate preparations for their Under-19 sides, other countries have tried to follow suit. Australia, who are increasingly on the hunt for young talent these days, and West Indies have stepped up their Under-19 programmes; Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have had tours as well, though Sri Lanka failed to make it through the toughest group. Only cash-strapped New Zealand came in from the cold of their winter, and credit to them for finishing fourth.

The finalists were perhaps the best prepared sides and their success a vindication of the investment made. India gave their players exposure by going on two tours, to Malaysia and Townsville, and hosting a quadrangular series. Their players had been tested by foreign conditions and demanding situations several times before they faced the pressures of the World Cup. The Indians also had an elaborate camp at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore where, apart from their cricket skills, the players worked on intangible factors such as building trust and team spirit.

 
 
For a lot of the players coming to Australia for the first time, the adjustment to culture, cuisine, technology and the difference in daily life from the way it is back home has been a transformative experience
 

The Australians went to India last year and hosted a quadrangular series as well. They also invited Pakistan for three one-dayers in the week before the World Cup. And, in addition to the significant advantage of playing at home, their cricketers also had the expertise of Stuart Law, Greg Chappell and Craig McDermott in their management group. Law said often that at this age-group, the more competitive matches a team plays, the better it becomes.

The on-field lessons have been numerous and invaluable. The batsmen were challenged by the bounce of Australian pitches and the speed of Ronsford Beaton and Reece Topley, the strangling accuracy of George Dockrell, the guile of Harmeet Singh, and the swing of Sandeep Sharma, to name the best in their disciplines. They've learned the importance of leaving the ball, of giving the first hour to the bowler if necessary, of making a start count once the hard work's been done.

The bowlers learned from not getting carried away on helpful pitches, from bowling at batsmen whose strengths are unique to their part of the world, from being unable to dismiss William Bosisto. Topley spoke of the instructive value of bowling on a large ground, where the gaps between fielders are larger for a batsman to knock an inaccurate delivery into. Their patience has been tested, because wickets haven't been as forthcoming as they have been in age-cricket at home.

For a lot of the players coming to Australia for the first time, the adjustment to culture, cuisine, technology and the difference in daily life from the way it is back home has been a transformative experience. They have striven to overcome unfamiliarity so that their on-field performances are unaffected.

The players who were in Queensland will now follow different paths and traverse them at different speeds. Those from most of the Associates and Affiliates will find a relatively unblocked route into their national teams because of a lack of competition for places from outside the age-group structure. Those from the Full Members will attempt to break into their first-class teams and apply the lessons learned in a much tougher environment of men. Their senior-team caps will not be easily earned.

The 2012 Under-19 World Cup was the time of Reece Topley and Anamul Haque, of William Bosisto and Unmukt Chand, the stars of a stage protected by age. Whether it is they, or someone who was hidden in obscurity during the last two weeks, who will succeed in greater arenas, it is much too early to tell. Most of the cricketers who came to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Townsville will never return again, but perhaps the time they spent here will be the making of some of them.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by i_amVIVA on (August 30, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@Shubham Bajpai: i see your point, anyone but ind is a fluke, your rebuttals brings nothing new, you just can't see a player as a player, you have to level it to the particular group before you can appreciate his/ her performance, and that's your sportmanship; and i and many rational indians may entertain a more matured view in such an endevour.

Posted by Haleos on (August 30, 2012, 10:41 GMT)

@ Third_Gear, et all (Whatever) - Champions are champions, rest all are flukes and sour grapes.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

@i_amVIVA nope the reasoning is not pathetic, its the reality but you will not accept it. indian seniors in asia cup, perhaps anamul is more like to meet the fate of all other previous and current bd players. this what i meant one win in asia cup and you think you have achieved it all. no wonder you guys are under achievers. and your saying they faced pace and bounce...haha of who pakistan and SL?? who dont have pace or bounce. if anamul would have scored century against SA/AUS/ENG it would have made sense. it sad that your incapable of understanding the concept and i have to repeat myself. lol no one gets lucky, only religious radicals believe in luck. strong people make there own luck, ind beat pak cos they held their nerve were more prepared and mentally stronger. the last period of 10 over is probably the best application i have seen in cricket. something that senior cricketer should derive confidence from to find ur inner ability to succeed when chips are down. thats SPORTSMANSHIP

Posted by i_amVIVA on (August 29, 2012, 15:15 GMT)

more @Shubham Bajpai : furthermore, the asian batsmen like anamul were challenged by the bounce, speed & swing of Australian pitches...considering these facts and being the sub continental player, who was completely stranger & unfamiliar with the condition, the performance & heroics of Anamul Haque are just superb, significant & amazing, who scored the highest run, and the only batsman who scored 2 centuries and 300 plus runs facing the top teams like S.A, Aus, Eng, Pak, SL on his way!!! So many congrats to Anamul! Also, why we forget the another amazing performer of Bangladesh, Liton Das, who scored 250 plus runs with 1 century & 2 half centuries and got the 7th position in the batting chart? the only reason these players could be deminished would be that they are from bd, not ind!

Posted by i_amVIVA on (August 29, 2012, 15:13 GMT)

@Shubham Bajpai : your logic of making centuries is pathetic at the least. look who ind faced this wc. lost to a strong wi team. ind got lucky to catch stronger aus on a bad day to win wc. ind got this much closer to be beaten by pak. got lucky they didnt face bd, otherwise they may very well faced the same fate as the ind senior team in asia cup.....

Posted by   on (August 29, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

@Anwar Chowdhury no he didnt score 100 against england aus or sa. he scored again SL and PAK. thats like scoring against zim and kenya and asking for praise. i am sure he is a good batsman but he has to score against good attacks in pressure situation. not when they are already out of the cup final. i think you guys need to set higher benchmarks, then only you will improve. being satisfied by victories that have no value makes no sense.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2012, 6:52 GMT)

@ George Binoy of Cricinfo: U wrote on this article, "...The 2012 Under-19 World Cup has felt like a bowler's tournament...The batsmen were challenged by the bounce of Australian pitches and the speed of Ronsford Beaton and Reece Topley, the strangling accuracy of George Dockrell, the guile of Harmeet Singh, and the swing of Sandeep Sharma, to name the best in their disciplines...from bowling at batsmen whose strengths are unique to their part of the world, from being unable to dismiss William Bosisto. Topley spoke of the instructive value of bowling on a large ground..." So, Mr. Binoy, considering these bowling friendly pitches, are there any words or a line in your article for the heroics and amazing performance of Anamul, who scored the highest run, the only batsman who scored 2 centuries and 300 plus runs facing the top teams like S. A, Aus, Eng, Pak, SL on his way being the bottom ranked & sub continental player? If not, then why?

Posted by   on (August 29, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

@FOTO ur right....anamul who scored centuries against SL who didnt cross group stage and pakistan who came 8th is better than unmukt chand who scored his century against australia in the finals, did i mention TWICE?. also Anamul has lower FC average than Unmukt, Anamul playing in Bangla First class and Unmukt in Indian FC. playing against weaker opposition and attacks and lower average are certainly the criteria of a better player. So i guess ur right Anamul is better than unmukt in all those department, hence a better cricket right?? or is he?

Posted by   on (August 29, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

@ Afridynamite love your explanation for Pakistan's loss..could be true..who can say for sure

Posted by   on (August 29, 2012, 0:17 GMT)

@FOTO yes and 7th place position is well deserved for Bangladesh.They are not in top 8 in senior's cricket..so getting to 7 would be sweet I believe

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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)
More results »
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