The Under-19 World Cup begins in South Africa on Friday and for many fans, it’s an opportunity to take a closer look at the next generation of players.
The U19 World Cup has given the game some real gems. The likes of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Kagiso Rabada all made their mark at the tournament.
With the cricketing world hoping to see the rise of the next big star, we take a look at some who could make an impact.
Yashasvi Jaiswal (IND)
The left-handed batsman has already caught the eye of IPL scouts, which landed him a contract of 24 million rupees (Dh1.2m) with the Rajasthan Royals last month. The opener has grown into a power hitter, cracking 25 maximums in six List A matches last season. The 18-year-old has already made his first-class. Incredibly, he has scored a double century in 50-over cricket.
The left-hand batsman came from a humble background; Jaiswal used to sell pani puris (an Indian street food) to make a living as an 11-year-old. He has come a long way since.
Rohail Nazir (PAK)
The Pakistan captain is a wicketkeeper batsman and enters the tournament on the back of a brilliant 2019. He scored fifty or more in five of his last seven innings – in 50 over and four-day games. He saved his best for the biggest stage when he hit a match-winning century against Bangladesh in the final of the Emerging Teams Cup in Dhaka in November.
Nazir, 18, will be a leading a team that lost its main bowler – pacer Naseem Shah – to the senior side. He will be hoping to emulate Sarfaraz Ahmed who won the 2006 U19 World Cup.
Gerald Coetzee (SA)
The 19-year-old will be featuring in his second U19 World Cup. He featured in the previous edition in 2018 in New Zealand, where he took eight wickets in four matches. Coetzee is an express quick bowler and a handy batsman as well.
He has taken 17 wickets in four first-class games, and has also scored a fifty. He has picked up the wickets of South Africa international Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan, which should fill him with confidence.
Ben Charlesworth (ENG)
He is just 19 but Charlesworth knows what pressure is all about. The England all-rounder played a major role in helping his domestic side Gloucestershire earn promotion in county cricket in September. He scored an unbeaten fifty against Northants to secure their passage to Division One.
Charlesworth is a handy seam bowling all-rounder and should be on the senior team selectors’ radar in South Africa.
Japan play cricket and they have an U19 team at the World Cup. Yes, that’s correct. Until three years ago, they didn’t even have an U19 team. They are led by Marcus Thurgate, who is their captain, wicketkeeper and main batsman.
Admittedly, the Japanese squad has more than its fair share of players of South Asian descent but the speed with which Japan have made it to the world stage is a remarkable tale and bodes well for the future.