Current stars of the cricket universe have advised youngsters set to compete in the ICC’s Under-19 World Cup in Queensland, Australia next month to use the event as a launching pad for greater things, but never lose sight of the basic tenets that guide the great game.
“You know, it’s all about playing and winning, but a lot of it is the respect. You just need to respect the badge that’s on your head and that’s over your heart. You’ve got to wear it with pride. The respect you have for where you are, where you’ve come from, and who you’re representing,” said Australia opener David Warner.
Warner played in the 2006 edition in Sri Lanka, scoring 91 runs at 30.33.
“Obviously, it was a thrill for me to play for Australia and represent Australia at a young level. I learnt a lot back then, stuff that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The event is a finishing school for elite young cricketers coming through the ranks. If I knew then what I know now, then probably it would have helped even more,” Warner said.
“As a player, I think I’ve matured into a better person and a better team player – not saying that I wasn’t a good team player, but you learn how to actually play the game as an individual and as a team player. I also think you become more knowledgeable about the game,” he added.
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla echoed Warner’s views.
“Enjoy every moment as you are incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to play the game that you love and try to make the most of it. The ICC U19 CWC is very important as it teaches you invaluable cricket and life lessons which go a long way as you try to build your career,” said Amla, who became the first South Africa batsman to score a triple century while scoring 311 not out against England at The Oval on 22 July 2012.
Amla played in the 2000 edition in New Zealand and scored 191 runs in eight matches, including 29 off 34 balls in the final against Australia which Cameron White’s side won by seven wickets.
“It (the final) was a tough match for us, Australia are never an easy team to play against, at any level. Cameron White had a fantastic tournament for Australia, it was a bitter pill to swallow losing in the final but I think our squad learnt a lot from the experience.”
Earlier, England ODI captain Alastair Cook gave the tournament a big thumbs up.
“Without a doubt the tournament is a launching pad for future stars. You can see how many people have played U19 cricket and are now playing full international cricket.”
Cook captained England in the 2004 event in Bangladesh and finished as the second most successful batsman in the tournament behind India’s Shikhar Dhawan (505) with 383 runs from seven matches with an average of just under 77.
“Us personally, we reached the semi-finals. We were disappointed that we didn’t get to the final as we had a very good team,” Cook reminisced on the 2004 edition.
“When you are playing U19 cricket for your county or state side, there is no media, there is no public interest. And suddenly, you are thrown at the world stage where people can make a name for themselves. After the matches, you have to do media interviews and you get to play in matches which are being broadcast live.
“Experiences like these can only help you develop as a player and realise what future you have, if you are lucky to play full international cricket,” said Cook.