Australia miss the boys' party

Stephen Brenkley finds no Down Under team in junior world cup

Perhaps the most pertinent feature of the Under-15 World Cricket Challenge is that it is not quite what it claims to be. Whoever finish as the best of the eight countries can look optimistically to the future, but what will niggle them, probably beyond their teenage years and into their dotage, is that they will never truly be seen as world champions.

Perhaps the most pertinent feature of the Under-15 World Cricket Challenge is that it is not quite what it claims to be. Whoever finish as the best of the eight countries can look optimistically to the future, but what will niggle them, probably beyond their teenage years and into their dotage, is that they will never truly be seen as world champions.

That is for the simple reason that Australia have not entered a team. New Zealand are absent as well, but it is the lack of the Aussies that really matters, and the suspicion is that their non-participating 15-year-olds in 2000 will be lining up as 25-year-olds in 2010 ready to darken English souls, as well as those of most other cricketers around the world.

There are two interpretations being put on the decision of the Antipodean boys to stay at home when the competition, sponsored by Costcutter (and well done to them), is launched with an opening ceremony at Lord's on Saturday. The first is that their coaching of youngsters is disorganised, the second is that they are not entirely convinced of the benefits of hard-nosed competitive cricket at such a tender age.

There is credence to botharguments, but if the experience of the inaugural Under-15 championship four years ago is used as a yardstick the benefits are clear. Australia may not ultimately regret deciding against sending a team, but there can surely be no question that their cricketers would have learned by being here.

"It is an opportunity for boys from different countries to come together, to learn about each other's cricket certainly, but also about each other's cultures," said England's coach, Paul Farbrace. "Visits to St James's Palace and attending Lord's are both important for their development."

There is no doubt that England have made enormous strides in coaching young cricketers, especially those of genuine promise. Gone (largely) are the mix-and-match days of several schools organisations, none working in unison, often, it appeared, acting as rivals.

Nor have the England selectors taken the short-term view of picking simply the most formidable current squad, containing the biggest, strongest 15-year-olds. That would have been the easy way, it would not have been visionary (to this extent, perhaps the senior selectors can learn something).

"We are not saying in any way that we don't want to win the competition," said Farbrace. "Of course we do, and we've got a chance with some talented young players, but this is also about having a look at players who are promising and have potential, maybe some who aren't as big or as strong but who we think are going to have what it takes."

It is likely that England will struggle to win the Challenge. Four years ago they reached the semi-finals (unlike Australia, who were eliminated in the group stages having pitched up with a squad containing two players from each state) but the outstanding sides were India and Pakistan. They rightly contested the final at Lord's, which witnessed three pitch invasions as India won by four wickets.

England's performance will not provoke such passions, but it will be disappointing if several of this bunch do not emerge to play first-class cricket. It is dangerous to name names. So much can happen when a player joins a county at 17 or 18 - like not being given a proper opportunity for a start.

But take James Beaumont from Cleveland. He is a right- hand bat, an off-break bowler, a genuine all-rounder, and when he is 16 will probably sign for one of the several top football clubs seeking his talents.

Of the rest, Farbrace had words for Tom New, the wicketkeeper, a left-handed batsman of growing maturity and a captain with acumen. He also mentioned Samit Patel of Nottinghamshire as a potentially outstanding batsman and slow left-arm spinner. The latter has to be good news because it demonstrates, at last, that there is a will to attract young players from ethnic communities.

Farbrace's role is not based largely on honing their techniques, which they are being taught regularly back in their home regions. He is concerned with teaching them what he calls "nous". Little things such as backing up with the bat in the correct hand, walking in from the boundary - little things that must become second nature.

The likelihood is that this England team will acquit themselves well, as other teenagers have done before. So what happens next? "If only I knew the answer to that," said Farbrace. The final is at Lord's on Thursday 10 August.

England squad: Tom New (capt), Samit Patel (both Nottinghamshire); James Chervak, Andrew Parkin Coates, Dan Broadbent, Tim Bresnan, David Stiff (all Yorkshire); Adam Harrison, Nick Swetman (Glamorgan); Tim Rees (Lancashire); Alastair Cook (Essex); James Beaumont (Cleveland); James Hildreth (Somerset); Chris Goode (Northamptonshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot