ICC U19 World Cup: Four England U19 cricketers to watch out for in future
Tom Prest and his squad will play India in the U19 final with many hoping to one day play in the senior ICC World Cup
This tournament has been an extraordinary exhibition of young talent from the England camp as the young Lions have breezed their way to the final stage with relatively little conflict.
In their group stage, England beat Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Canada before facing South Africa in the Super League stage and Afghanistan in the semi-finals.
Afghanistan posed the biggest threat to England’s journey but a late surge of fine bowling from Rehan Ahmed and Joshua Boyden ensured that Tom Prest and his squad would be playing in Friday’s match against either India or Australia.
The youth World Cup has provided many opportunities for cricketing talents to showcase their abilities on an international scale before reaching the senior squad.
Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan are prime examples of U19 achievements and how their experience at a younger level has enabled them to go on to perform to such a high standard that we see today.
To this date, Eoin Morgan is the most successful run scorer at the tournament with 606 runs to his name, while Zimbabwean cricketer Wesley Madhevere - who made his ODI debut for the senior squad in 2020 and Test debut in 2021 - is the highest wicket taker having taken 28 wickets.
The success that the England camp have created at this year’s event therefore begs the question on who could soon be up and playing alongside Joe Root and Jos Buttler in the near future.
The current Captain of the U19 England cricket squad has led from the front at every occasion during the competition.
A current Hampshire batting all-rounder, Prest made his biggest impression for his county after he scored a triple-hundred for the seconds and then went on to win a Player of the Match award for his unbeaten 59 in a T20 Blast game against Gloucestershire.
Prest is the highest-scorer for England in the competition and the second highest of the tournament altogether.
He has scored 292 runs with a highest score of 154 not out.
The ICC instagram and twitter accounts posted a photo shortly after England’s triumphs showing Tom Prest comforting a devastated Afghan player with the caption “The future of cricket is in strong hands.”
The image had strong resemblances to the famous photo of Freddie Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after the 2005 Ashes.
With a strike rate of 103.91 and a bowling average of 24.40 it would not be too surprising if the 18-year-old soon found himself batting away with the likes of Haseeb Hameed and Jonny Bairstow.
The 17-year-old from Leicestershire has suddenly stormed on the scene in the U19 World Cup and has had exceptional spells, stealing the game away from the opposition.
The young star was impressing fans before the tournament started when an almost impossible googly against the West Indies went viral.
Ahmed has taken 12 wickets in his three appearances - taking four in each. His most notable came in England’s recent win over Afghanistan when Ahmed bounced back from an indifferent opening spell to take three wickets in the penultimate over of the match and handed England back the victory.
Historically England are not always known for their leg-spinners but it may not be long before Ahmed is playing alongside a fellow leg-spinner, Adil Rashid, in the senior squad if he continues bowling such wonders.
Another batting all-rounder, the 18-year-old Bethell is the tournament’s fastest batter to score 50. It took just 20 balls for Bethell to rack up his half-century as he then went on to make 88 off 42 against South Africa in the quarter-final.
The Warwickshire player has already made 12 appearances across all three county formats as a 17-year-old in 2021.
The left-arm spinner has also taken five wickets at an average of 26.40 in the tournament with his 10 overs in the semi-final costing just 26 runs.
One of the best talents in the young England camp, Jacob Bethell’s talent will not be contained for much longer and his name is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.
The 17-year-old seamer has the best figures at the 2022 tournament for an Englishman. In the opening match against Bangladesh, Boyden showed he was here to stay taking four wickets for just 17 runs.
He has been a consistent success for England and his death bowling is something the senior squad could really use just about now.
During the semi final against India, the Lancashire left-arm seamer conceded just six runs in his final 12 balls. Boyden and Ahmed held the nerve right to the end and sent their team through to the first final at the competition since 1998.
Unfortunately for England, it may not be long before fellow Lancashire seamer player James Anderson announces his retirement from the game but with such impressive young talent coming up through the ranks, fans need not fear.
England U19s will play India U19s in the final on Friday 4 February 2022 at 1pm GMT at the Sir Vivian Richard Stadium, Antigua and Barbuda.
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