England’s Under-19s jetted out yesterday on a journey they hope will end in the World Cup final in Bangladesh on Valentine’s Day.
Brad Taylor’s flew to Dubai for a final training camp, including a warm-up game against the reigning champions South Africa next Monday, before they head further east to Chittagong which is their base for the group phase of the tournament.
They have been drawn in a group with West Indies, Zimbabwe and newcomers Fiji, who will be their first opponents on January 27.
All of England’s other matches in the tournament, starting against West Indies on January 29, will be shown live on Sky Sports, as they aim to emulate the unexpected success of a Yorkshire-dominated team led by Will Rhodes in the last ICC Under-19 World Cup, in Dubai in early 2014 when they stunned India in the quarter-finals and ended up finishing third.
That was England’s best performance in the tournament, which was first staged in 1988, since a team led by Owais Shah and including the likes of Rob Key, Paul Franks and Graeme Swann recovered from a slow start to be crowned world champions in 1998.
Here is a guide to the 15 teenagers aiming to impress – including nine who have already played senior county cricket.
Brad Taylor (Hampshire, captain)
Off-spinning all-rounder who became Hampshire’s youngest first-team player since 1867 when he made his debut in a televised 40-over match against Lancashire in August 2013. Has been a regular for England Under-19s since the following summer, and was appointed captain after impressing with bat and ball in the Royal London One-Day Series against Australia last August.
Dan Lawrence (Essex, vice captain)
Tall opener who shot to prominence early in the 2015 season with an innings of 167 for Essex in their LV= CountyChampionship match against a star-studded Surrey side at the Kia Oval. It was only his second senior appearance and at the age of 17 years 290 days, he became Essex’s youngest ever centurion, and the third youngest in Championship history. He followed that with a pair of match-winning centuries at Derby and Worcester as England Under-19s drew the Royal London One-Day series against Australia later in the summer, and added two half-centuries in the triangular tournament against Sri Lanka and India in Colombo before Christmas. Started playing cricket at the Chingford club, where his father was the groundsman.
George Bartlett (Somerset)
The bolter in the squad, Bartlett received his first under-19s selection for the triangular series in Sri Lanka before Christmas on the back of an impressive summer for MillfieldSchool, Somerset and especially in the Super 4s competition for the country’s best under-17 players as captain of the South West. In his first match at the higher age bracket, a warm-up game at the R Premadasa Stadium, he top-scored with 94, and he added 70 against the strong India team later in the tournament.
Jack Burnham (Durham)
A tall, hard-hitting batsman who also bowls some off-spin, Burnham showed the competitive nature that is one of his greatest strengths when he was handed a baptism of fire by Durham last summer, making his senior debut against the county champions Yorkshire at Scarborough. After being bowled for a duck by Liam Plunkett in the first innings, Burnham relished the challenge presented by Plunkett later in the match, battling to Durham’s only half-century against bowling that was generally regarded as some of the fastest seen in England in 2015. He made his England Under-19s debut a few days later on home territory at South Northumberland CC in a Royal London One-Day International against Australia, and after a few games to find his feet he struck an important 50 when the series was squared at Worcester.
Mason Crane (Hampshire)
A leg-spinner whose partnership with Hampshire team-mate Brad Taylor could be crucial to England’s hopes in Bangladesh, Crane underlined his exciting potential by ripping through Warwickshire’s upper order in a Championship match at the Ageas Bowl last August, when he took 5-35 in only his second first-class appearance. He has actually played more senior cricket with white ball than red so far, and was a regular wicket-taker in England’s triangular tournament in Sri Lanka before Christmas. Originally from Shoreham in Sussex, where he was a schoolboy team-mate of George Garton, Crane was spotted by the former Hampshire spinner Rajesh Maru.
Sam Curran (Surrey)
The youngest member of the squad and probably also the best-known, after a stunning breakthrough season with Surrey in 2015 alongside his elder brother Tom. Sam made his debut in a NatWest T20 Blast game against Kent at the Kia Oval only 16 days after his 17th birthday, and has had to take time away from his A-level studies at WellingtonCollege in Berkshire to play for England Under-19s this winter. He took 22 wickets in six first-class appearances at an average of 26 with his left-arm swing bowling, including five on his Championship debut – also against Kent at the Oval – and also impressed with the bat, especially in the Royal London Cup final against Gloucestershire at Lord’s. He was born in England when his father, the former Zimbabwe all-rounder Kevin, was playing for Northamptonshire, and returned from Cape Town to complete his education after Kevin’s tragically early death in 2012.
Ryan Davies (Somerset)
Wicketkeeper-batsman who made eight senior appearances for his native Kent last summer, when Sam Billings was called away by the senior England team, but will start next season with Somerset after signing a three-year contract with the Division One county. Davies has played 11 50-over matches for the England Under-19s with a top score of 81, and made a half-century in each of his two four-day matches against Australia, in Perth and Durham. A keen supporter of Charlton Athletic.
Aneurin Donald (Glamorgan)
Welsh batsman who was a good enough rugby player to earn a place in the Ospreys junior teams, but opted instead for cricket as a member of the England Development Programme. He made his senior debut for Glamorgan as a 17-year-old in September 2014, scoring 59 against a Hampshire attack including Imran Tahir, and came agonisingly close to a maiden century against Gloucestershire in Bristol last September when he was dismissed for 98. He had captained England Under-19s in their Royal London One-Day Series against Australia in August and although he was not selected for the triangular series in Sri Lanka in December, he has been recalled for the World Cup after spending some time at the DarrenLehmannAcademy in Adelaide. Named after the famous Labour politician Aneurin Bevan, and known, as he was, as Nye.
George Garton (Sussex)
Left-arm seamer who made his debut for the under-19s against Australia last summer, and earned his World Cup place after showing his ability to move the ball in Asian conditions in the triangular series against India and Sri Lanka in Colombo before Christmas.
Ben Green (Somerset)
Seam-bowling all-rounder from Exeter who has been a regular in Minor Counties cricket for Devon for the past two summers, even though he did not turn 18 until September. He is the third Somerset player in the squad, making them the best-represented county, and has been an under-19s regular since last winter’s tour of Australia.
Max Holden (Middlesex)
Left-handed opening batsman, originally from Cambridge, who turned 18 just before Christmas. He captained England’s Under-17s against Pakistan in the UAE last winter and was fast-tracked into the under-19 set-up for the tour of Australia that followed. He is also a promising off-spinner. Still to make his senior debut for Middlesex, but they showed how highly they rate him by awarding him a four-year contract late last year.
Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire)
Bustling seamer from Rochdale who made three T20 appearances for Lancashire last summer, only to suffer a finger injury in the televised Under-19 international at Derby which scuppered his chances of playing on Finals Day at Edgbaston. He made his national under-19 debut in 2014 alongside Brad Taylor against South Africa at Northampton, taking 3-12 in the first innings. He was named England Development Programme player of the year in the spring of 2015, and although he was frustrated by several injuries in the summer, he will be a key figure in the World Cup attack.
Tom Moores (Nottinghamshire)
Made his England Under-19 debut in the last match of last summer’s Royal London One-Day Series against Australia in Worcester, when Ryan Davies was called away for first team duty by Kent. A wicketkeeper like his father Peter, the former England coach, he is also a hard-hitting batsman. Having attended MillfieldSchool, like George Bartlett, he joined Nottinghamshire from Leicestershire at the end of the 2014 season.
Callum Taylor (Essex)
Seam-bowling all-rounder from Norfolk who is one of two Essex players in the squad with Dan Lawrence, and made three senior appearances for them last summer – one in the County Championship against Glamorgan in Cardiff, and the other two in the NatWest T20 Blast. He has been an England Under-19s regular for the last year, and his 72 played a key part in salvaging a draw in the four-day match in Perth.
Jared Warner (Yorkshire)
Pace bowler from Wakefield who has former a regular new-ball partnership for England Under-19s with Saqib Mahmood since last winter’s tour of Australia, and who signed a junior professional contract with Yorkshire in December.
V South Africa, Jan 18 (Dubai)
V Namibia, Jan 23 (Chittagong)
V Bangladesh, Jan 25 (Chittagong)
V Fiji, Jan 27 (MA Aziz Stadium, Chittagong)
V West Indies, Jan 29 (Zahur Ahmed Choudhury Stadium, Chittagong) – live on Sky Sports
V Zimbabwe, Jan 31 (Zahur Ahmed Choudhury Stadium, Chittagong) – live on Sky Sports
Feb 5-8 (Fatullah / Mirpur)
Feb 9-10 (Mirpur / Fatullah)
Feb 14 (Mirpur)