England Under-19s coach Andy Hurry admitted that he and the players still had an empty feeling today, 24 hours after their sudden World Cup exit at the hands of Sri Lanka.
But Hurry has urged his team to shake off their disappointment and sign off from Bangladesh with two more wins in the Play-Off competition that will determine who finishes fifth in the rankings, and which also has a major impact on seedings for the next ICC Under-19 World Cup due to be held in New Zealand in 2018.
England face Namibia in Fatullah on Wednesday, and a victory there would take them to the Play-Off final against the winners of tomorrow’s game between Pakistan and Nepal.
Pakistan were surprisingly beaten by West Indies in the last quarter-final today, a result which adds greater substance to England’s convincing win against West Indies in the group stages.
Zimbabwe, another of the teams England beat to reach the quarter-finals, also claimed an impressive win against South Africa in the plate competition.
But that comes as zero consolation to an England squad who had set their sights on World Cup glory, and were convinced in their ability to match or surpass the success of the team who reached the semi-finals of the last ICC Under-19 competition two years ago.
“I’m feeling like everybody here, it’s a huge disappointment, and I feel quite empty actually,” said Hurry.
“We’ve worked so hard preparing for this tournament, played some really good cricket, and there really was a belief we could go a long way.
“We went into the quarter-final with a lot of confidence, but we let ourselves down – and that is the greatest disappointment.
“We’d had some fantastic individual batting performances in the competition, and that led to the decision to bat first against Sri Lanka, backing what had gone so well for us previously and trying to put them under pressure.
“We knew it was going to be tough early on, as it had been in all the games, but we backed ourselves to overcome that.”
In the event England struggled to 184 all out and Sri Lanka breezed past their total with six wickets and almost 15 overs to spare.
There is no attempt by Hurry to disguise the disappointment, but he still believes the World Cup experience has been highly beneficial to the England players.
“I said before the game against Sri Lanka that we’d come a very long way since our tri-series in Sri Lanka before Christmas in terms of approaching the game in these sub-continental conditions,” he said.
“That’s why we took so much confidence into the game, and again, that’s why it was so disappointing.
“But the important thing for the players now is to analyse what happened, and to remember it when opportunities present themselves in domestic or international cricket in the future.
“We gave the players today off but we’ll be back training tomorrow, and the play-off competition gives us the opportunity to finish on a real high.”
Three of England’s 15-man squad have yet to play in the tournament – Yorkshire’s Jared Warner, George Garton of Sussex and the Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Moores – while Glamorgan’s Aneurin Donald will also be hoping for another chance after making a single appearance in the victory over Zimbabwe when George Bartlett was ill.