Test skipper Alastair Cook is among several England players past and present to send their best wishes to Brad Taylor‘s Under-19s ahead of their opening game of the 2016 World Cup against Fiji in Bangladesh tomorrow.
Cook, who has played in 126 Test matches and is 36 runs shy of 10,000 format runs, served notice of his potential in the 2004 edition when he scored 383 runs in seven innings at an average of 76.60.
“Wishing Brad and Andy (Hurry) all the best for the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh,” England’s leading Test run-scorer told ecb.co.uk.
“In 2004 I went to Bangladesh to play in the World Cup, we unfortunately lost in the semi-finals. I hope your hotel is better than the Punani hotel we stayed in, which wasn’t even built yet!
“I’m sure you will have a great tour, enjoy it. If in doubt, take the positive option. You get rewarded in 50-over cricket now for being brave.
“Good luck to you guys and hopefully you can bring the cup back.”
One of Cook’s predecessors as England captain Michael Atherton was one of a host of youngsters – including Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mushtaq Ahmed – who used the 1988 edition as a platform for long and successful careers in senior international cricket.
“Just to wish you guys all the best in the tournament,” the Sky Sports commentator said. “It should be a fantastic tournament.
“I can remember going to the first youth World Cup way back in 1988 in Australia. It was a magnificent opportunity to develop yourself as a player but also as a young person as well.
“The experiences and opportunities that you will have are just fantastic, so make the most of it. Good luck. Try and win it!”
England, containing the likes of former internationals Graeme Swann and Owais Shah, were victorious in the 1998 World Cup, beating New Zealand in the final.
And ex-skipper Michael Vaughan has urged this group to follow in their footsteps.
“All the best in the World Cup. Great opportunities,” he said. “A real special time for you young players looking to aspire to be on this level, out here in Centurion, in a few years time.
“Just go back to the nineties when England won that World Cup – Owais Shah, Rob Key. The big lad from Kent went on to represent England. This is just a stepping stone to where you all want to end up.
“Bangladesh is a tough tour, you know the kind of conditions, you know the kind of wickets, you know the kind of cricket to be playing.
“Be brave and take on risks. You don’t win any World Cups without trying to take those risks on. Be brave and be bold.
“Have a good time, enjoy it and remember this is where you want to end up. All the best.”
Sir Ian Botham also offered some words of wisdom, saying: “Good luck lads. The Under-19s – what a great time that is in your life playing in the World Cup.
“This side is used to winning and I am sure you guys will enjoy winning more than losing. All the very best, go out there and win it for England.”
Paul Farbrace is hoping to get the opportunity to coach some of Andy Hurry’s squad at senior level in the future.
The England Assistant Coach said: “Wishing you all the best in the Under-19 World Cup. It is a huge achievement to be selected in the England squad, any England squad you get selected in is a fantastic achievement.
“I know you will make the most of it, I know you have got some brilliant coaches and support staff around you. It is a brilliant occasion, make sure you enjoy it.
“As you can see from the one-day squad here in South Africa, there is a lot of talented young cricketers who have made it in.
“Someone from your group, and hopefully more than one, are going to progress into this side at some stage in the future. Make sure it is you, and make sure you enjoy this Under-19 World Cup. It is a fantastic occasion for you. Good luck!”
Director, England Cricket Andrew Strauss has urged Taylor’s squad to put all their hard work into practice in Bangladesh.
The former England skipper said: “Best of luck to Andy and Mo and all the rest of the lads. You have done all the hard work, the prep is done.
“Now is time for a calm, relaxed dressing room, and some players who are willing to take the game to the opposition under pressure.”
Middlesex and England paceman Steven Finn knows how beneficial representing the under-19s was at the early stages of his career.
The 26-year-old said: “Wishing you all the best of luck from all the guys here in the England team, especially you Max (Middlesex batsman Holden). You have worked hard for this.
“I very much remember my Under-19 World Cup when I was your age. It was a very special experience, lots of the players I played against in that World Cup have gone on to play for their full international teams.
“I’m hoping many of you will do that and join us in the main England team, we will all be keeping an eye on it. Best of luck and I hope you do everyone proud.”
His international team-mate Joe Root added: “I just want to wish you a fantastic tournament. It’s a great opportunity for you all to show the rest of the world what you can do on the biggest stage for an under-19.
“Go out there, show your skills and your talent and hopefully you can come away and achieve something really special as a group of players. Good luck lad. Go on!”