ICC Under-19 WC: Juniors Who Went On to Become Star Seniors
The under-19 cricket World Cup has always been the breeding ground for cricketers who not only went onto represent their country at the senior level but also turned out to be star performers.
In 1988, as part of the Australian bicentenary celebrations, the first under-19 cricket World Cup was organised which at that time was known as the Bicentennial Youth World Cup.
After a gap of ten years, in 1998, the second edition of the event was organised in South Africa and since then it has been held every two years.
The last edition of the event was held in 2016 in Bangladesh which saw the West Indies going home with the trophy.
Over the years the tournament has served as launch pad for international cricketers who made a smooth transition from junior cricket to the international level.
Let’s take a look at some of the players who have made it big in the international circuit after playing the under-19 World Cup.
1. Virat Kohli (India)
After guiding the under-19 Indian side to victory in 2008 in Malaysia, current Indian captain Virat Kohli graduated to the senior ODI side in the same year itself.
Kohli, who also captained the under-19 side, has already made a mark for himself in international cricket. Since his debut in 2008, he has not only gone on to captain the senior side in all formats but has also won a senior World Cup and scored over 9,000 runs and 32 centuries in 202 ODIs.
In Tests, too, Kohli has done very well for himself. He has scored over 5,200 runs in 63 Tests, including 20 centuries. Under Kohli, the side is currently ranked number one in Tests.
Kohli, who has already been hailed as one of the modern greats of the game, might end up breaking almost all existing batting records in the game.
2. Hashim Amla (South Africa)
Amla was the captain of the under-19 South African Team that lost the final to Australia in 2002 in New Zealand. Unlike Kohli, Amla took some time to break into the senior side but once there, he didn’t take much time to show his pedigree.
Amla, who for a long time was believed to be a player best suited for Tests, broke that myth in 2010 when he scored over 1,000 runs for his country in both Tests and ODIs.
At an average of 51.25, Amla has scored more than 7,000 runs in 158 ODIs, including 26 centuries. In Tests, he has scored 8,590 runs in 111 matches. Apart from 28 centuries, Amla has a 311 not out to his credit against England in 2012. Lasting 13 hours and 10 minutes, this innings from Amla at The Oval can be counted as one of the finest Test innings of our times.
Amla, who has also led the side, is surely on his way to become not only a South African legend but also of the game.
3. Brian Lara (West Indies)
The name is Brian Charles Lara and he needs no introduction.
The Prince of Trinidad has to be the most high profile cricketer to have graduated from the junior world cup to the senior one. Lara was the captain of the under-19 West Indian side that played the inaugural under-19 World Cup in Australia.
After making his debut for the senior side in 1990, Lara was one of those batsmen who used to make massive scores in the longer format at will. In 1994, he scored 375 and 501, within a span of two months, to break the world records for the highest Test and first-class scores.
After Matthew Hayden broke his record for highest Test score in 2003 against Zimbabwe, Lara responded in the way only he can. The record was reclaimed by him within six months after he scored an astonishing 400 not out against England.
Lara is the seventh highest run-getter in Tests with 11,953 runs in 131 Tests at an average of over 50. He has scored 34 centuries in his Test career.
Lara’s ODI career was no less glamourous. In 299 matches, he scored 10,405 runs, including 19 centuries.
4. Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka)
Sanath Jayasuriya’s name alone used to send shivers down the spine of bowlers during his playing days.
The Matara Marauder, also from the class of ‘88, was one of the earliest innovators in the game. He along with his Sri Lankan opening partner, Romesh Kaluwitharana, kind of introduced pinch hitting to the world in the 1996 World Cup.
Jayasuriya was a prolific one day player, making contributions in all departments for his team. Playing a mammoth 445 ODIs, he scored 13,430 runs, including 28 hundreds and picked up 323 wickets, while bowling his slow left armers.
A known nemesis of India, Jayasuriya had a fairly decent outing in the Tests too, scoring 6,973 runs in 110 Tests.
Playing till the age of 42, Jayasuriya served as the perfect ambassador not only for the island nation of Sri Lanka but also for the game.
5. Yuvraj Singh (India)
India’s first under-19 star, Yuvraj Singh was a member of the Indian squad that won the 2000 under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. Under the leadership of Mohammad Kaif, this was India’s maiden success at the junior level. Yuvraj was declared the Player of the series at the end of the tournament.
Yuvraj’s success at the junior-level catapulted him to senior team in the very next year. The first big moment in his still early playing career was at the Natwest Trophy in England in 2002. After India were down to 146/5 while chasing 326 in the final, when young guns Yuvraj and Kaif decided to win it for India. Yuvraj played a match-winning knock of 69.
World Cups have always been special for Yuvraj. After winning the under-19 World Cup, he took the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 in South Africa by storm. In the quarter final against England, he hit Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over. India went onto win the World Cup but Yuvraj taking Broad to the cleaners was the most memorable sight of the tournament.
Yuvraj continued his romance with big tournaments in 2011 World Cup where he emulated his under-19 heroics and again won the Player of the series. This time he excelled with both the bat and the bowl. He scored 419 runs and picked up 15 wickets in the tournament, helping India to win their second World Cup after 27 years.
6. Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pakistan)
Another one from the class of ‘88, Inzamam was ‘The Gentle Giant’ in the Pakistan team who transformed into something monstrous once he had the willow in his hand.
Inzamam is infamous for his running between the wickets but that doesn’t downplay his knack of playing pulls and lofted drives. A very wristy customer, Inzi, as he is fondly called, on his day would win matches single-handedly for his team.
Inzaman made his debut for the senior one day side in 1991 against West Indies. He is the leading run-getter for Pakistan in ODIs, scoring 11,739 runs in 378 games, which included 10 centuries.
With 25 centuries, Inzamam has scored the second highest number of centuries in Tests for Pakistan. In the process he amassed around 9,000 runs for Pakistan in 120 Tests. He scored 329 against New Zealand in 2001-02 in Lahore, which is the second highest Test score by a Pakistani cricketer.
7. Alastair Cook (England)
Alastair Cook was part of English under-19 squad which participated in the 2004 event in Bangladesh. The English campaign came to a halt in the semi-final but Cook had a successful outing and went onto become the second highest run-scorer in the tournament.
Cook had to wait for two years before making his debut for the senior side. In 2016, he played his first test for England against India in Nagpur. His Test records can be a thing of envy for a lot of batsmen, even those who have a list of records against their name.
In Tests, Cook has scored 12,005 runs and 32 centuries in 152 matches. He is the highest run-scorer for England in Tests. Cook could never replicate his Test form in the limited over format. His ODI record doesn’t justify the actual stature of Alastair Cook, the cricketer. He scored only 3,204 runs and five centuries in as many as 92 ODIs.
At 33 years, Cook still has a lot of cricket left in him and if his appetite for scoring runs remain he can be a serious contender to topple Sachin Tendulkar as the highest run-getter in Test matches.