BRISBANE – Some of the world’s best Under-19 cricketers are set to showcase their talents in the 2012 Under-19 World Cup in Australia.
There are 240 players from 16 countries spread out over three cities in Queensland. For most of them, irrespective of whether they are Indian or Nepalese, English or Namibian, this will be the grandest stage they play on.
Most are unlikely to be part of another global tournament, to have exposure to the ICC’s policies – on issues as diverse as racism and bat sticker size – and their education on corruption and doping, to have the opportunity of playing in front of a global audience, to be contenders for a World Cup. For many of these boys being in Australia’s sunshine state will be the pinnacle of their cricket careers.
That, however, is no mean achievement. From the far corners of the world they have travelled to a storied cricket country at such a formative age. Several of the Zimbabweans, for example, are so young they could play the next Under-19 World Cup in 2014.
“A lot of these boys haven’t ever been away from their parents,” says Zimbabwe’s coach, Chris Harris, of his team. “In this environment they get what we call ‘meal money’ or allowances, and they get to buy their own lunches and dinners. So even those little things are great experiences for people who haven’t done it before. And I guess it shows you, at a pretty important age, how the real world works.”
“It’s a fantastic experience and already we’ve seen the players interacting from knowing each other from previous tours,” says England coach Tim Boon. “We wholly encourage our players to integrate, we think it broadens their horizons and they make life-long friendships.”