England’s Under-19s World Cup squad have been coming to terms with a new level of media attention as a result of their success in reaching the quarter-finals.
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood made his debut on BBC Test Match Special during the interval of England’s first one-day victory in South Africa on Tuesday.
Sam Curran, the Surrey all-rounder who came into the tournament as England’s most widely recognised player after his remarkable first-team progress as a sixth-former last summer, has also appeared on Sky Sports News with his elder brother Tom.
The pair were both in Dubai last month – Sam during the Under-19s pre-World Cup preparations, and Tom with the England Lions.
Somerset’s George Bartlett has been filing a diary for All Out Cricket, and there should be more interest than ever in the live coverage of England’s quarter-final against Sri Lanka from 3am on Sunday morning on Sky Sports – who will be showing every match in the tournament from now on.
There has also been considerable local media interest in Bangladesh, and the England players are receiving plenty of support from their regional media at home – with Glamorgan’s Aneurin Donald featuring prominently in Wales, and Durham’s Jack Burnham in the north east.
“It’s the first time I’ve been involved on such a big stage,” Mahmood told BBC’s Simon Mann.
“There’s a lot of media and other things surrounding it, and I’ve really enjoyed it.
“Personally I think it’s a big stepping stone in my career because it shows where I am compared to other teams in the world. It can be a bit of an eye-opener and show you how good you are compared to everyone else. I see it as a big part in my development, and obviously I’m looking forward to carrying it on at home.
“I definitely want to play for England. That’s every young cricketer’s dream – not just me, but everyone in the squad.”
Mahmood, who was the leading wicket-taker in the group stages of the competition with 11 from three matches, revealed that he is taking his new-ball combination with Curran back to the team hotel.
“I’ve tried to stick to what I do at home – attack with the new ball and look to take early wickets,” he added.
“Opening the bowling with Sam, he’s done the same, and we’ve been able to put teams under pressure.
“It’s good talking to Sam. He’s my room-mate so we have good chats back at the hotel as well as out in the middle. He’s doing really well with the ball and even with the bat in the middle order he’s been getting valuable runs which change the momentum towards the end of the innings.”
England now know that if they beat Sri Lanka in Sunday’s quarter-final they will face the hosts in the semis next Tuesday. Bangladesh became the first team to reach the last four this morning, but only after being given a big fright by the underdogs Nepal.
Today – Bangladesh beat Nepal by 6 wickets
Tomorrow – India v Namibia (Fatullah)
Sunday – England v Sri Lanka (Mirpur)
Monday – Pakistan v West Indies (Fatullah)
Tuesday – England or Sri Lanka v Bangladesh (Mirpur)
Thursday – India or Namibia v Pakistan or West Indies (Mirpur)
Final – Sunday February 14