England’s Under-19s are determined to maintain and even improve on the high fielding standards that were the talk of the World Cup after their victory over West Indies in Chittagong on Friday.
Catches by Jack Burnham, Dan Lawrence, Brad Taylor and especially Somerset’s George Bartlett were highlighted in the live TV coverage of the game, which has England on track for the quarter finals, but still needing a point from their last group fixture against Zimbabwe on Sunday – again live on Sky Sports – to be absolutely sure.
That was no flash in the pan, as the England team had gone seven consecutive matches in the build-up to the World Cup without dropping a single chance – stretching back to their tri-series against India and Sri Lanka in Colombo before Christmas.
Head coach Andy Hurry confirmed that fielding has been a high priority in England’s World Cup preparations – and revealed that the team have fallen short of the exacting standards they set for themselves.
“We put one chance down the other day, and a couple down in our first game against Fiji,” said Hurry.
“So we’re not getting carried away and saying everything has been perfect. What is important is the amount of preparation that’s gone into that side of our game to give us the best chance of being consistent out here in the tournament.
“When we take catches like the ones we did the other day it doesn’t surprise me, because the standard of this group is the highest quality that I’ve seen in the last 18 months with the England Development Programme.
“The counties should be given their share of the credit too, for the work that’s being done with these lads on a regular basis. For example Somerset have a real focus on their fielding down in Taunton and that’s the system George Bartlett has come through.”
Iain Brunnschweiler, the former Hampshire wicketkeeper and now one of the EDP coaches, travelled to Sri Lanka before Christmas with the Under-19s with a specific focus on fielding, and continued that work in the squad’s final preparations in Dubai on the way to Bangladesh.
“Brunschy has done a lot of work with the lads, because it is such an important part of the game,” Hurry added. “We came here wanting to dominate our opposition in the field, which is obviously about much more than just taking our catches. We want to keep our standards high.”
Hurry also explained why the England players will be wearing black armbands against Zimbabwe tomorrow, in memory of Matt Hobden and Tom Allin, the cricketers whose recent deaths stunned everyone involved in the domestic game.
“Cricket is a tight family, and we have players and staff in our squad who have had close relationships with both Matt and Tom,” said Hurry. “Everyone in the group felt strongly that we should carry out our own tribute to both of them. We may be a long way away from England out here in Bangladesh, but they are still in our thoughts.”