Bell leads youth brigade into Test battle

To lose your captain (and wicket-keeper) on the eve of an important one-day international series is not exactly ideal preparation, but England Under-19 have had to shrug off the setback.

To lose your captain (and wicket-keeper) on the eve of an important one-day international series is not exactly ideal preparation, but England Under-19 have had to shrug off the setback.

However inauspicious the start of the England Under-19s' summer they have to get on with it, like the budding professionals they all aspire to be. Mark Wallace sustained a broken thumb in a practice match on Wednesday and is expected to be out for at least three weeks, making the Glamorgan youngster at best a doubt for the first Test of the three- match series beginning at Trent Bridge on 15 August.

Wallace, who has been replaced by the Somerset wicketkeeper, Carl Gazzard, with the captaincy passing to the hugely talented batsman Ian Bell, will now be reduced to the role of frustrated spectator instead of leading out the team on his home ground in what is for many young players one of the most critical stages of their burgeoning professional careers.

Since the early 1970s, when the Under-19 level was introduced, an impressive 59 players out of 232 who played in Tests for their age group, have gone on to play Test cricket for the full England side.

With coaches themselves being coached as well, to ensure more consistency in spotting the talent in the first place and then bringing out the best in them, as well as improved techniques and more opportunity for exposure with the Under-19 World Cup and so on, there is no reason why that success rate of 21 per cent should not increase steadily.

All that suggests that Under-19 cricket is crucial in the preparation of future international stars. The coach, Tim Boon, has no doubts about the role Under-19 cricket plays. "At this stage in a young guy's career we look for the necessary attitude, aptitude and athleticism and the flair to go on to succeed at the top level," he explains.

"We are looking at boys who have the basis on which we can build. What we are looking to do here is develop the players, and boys develop at different stages. There are young players who do not make it into this age group and emerge later.

"We work closely with the counties. We only have the boys for a short time, but while they are with us they are exposed to the highest level of the game in that age group. They have an opportunity to match their skills against the best around the world."

Their most recent opportunity was in the World Cup last winter, when they got to the Super League stage before falling disappointingly short of expectations.

For the one-day series against Sri Lanka six changes, for various reasons, have been made to the squad, which certainly shows some imagination, since among the chosen few is a Northamptonshire left-arm spinner with a great future.

Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, mercifully known as Monty, is just 18 and is determined to become a Test cricketer. And an England Test cricketer at that. Monty does not suffer from the clash of cultures that seems to afflict so many young Asians, who are exposed to Western ways at school but return to tradition when they step over the threshold of their home.

"I definitely want to play for England," said Monty. "I was born here, I learned my cricket here. My family are broad-minded, I have been brought up in the Sikh tradition and they know I am not going to forget my roots. I like to have an open mind about these things. I enjoy communicating with other cultures."

If Panesar is anyone to go by then this crop of youngsters should already have adopted a work ethic. In one match for Bedfordshire last season he bowled 61 overs taking three Hertfordshire wickets for 120 runs.

"I bowl as much as I can," he says, gesticulating with his remarkably lengthy fingers. His hands indeed seem to have a life of their own, the long hands seemingly lacing together his words as he speaks. "I do not set myself any number of overs to bowl when I practise, he says. I just bowl as much as I can. I would bowl all day if I could. It is important that I become as fit as I can."

Bell, Panesar's captain, is considered by many to be another tremendous prospect. Today and for the rest of this brief series though, he has the prospect of captaining his country.

Although the responsibility was thrust upon him at the last minute Bell did not seem in the least bit worried. "I am not too bothered by it," he said. "I have captained other sides in the past, so it is not exactly a new experience for me."

He is a sportoholic, having been to Coventry City Football Club's school of excellence before deciding that cricket was where his future lay. He is on Warwickshire's books and any thoughts of further education have been put on hold as he concentrates on making the grade.

He will be leading a team packed with talented players all eager to make their mark. On the batting front, James Dalrymple of Middlesex promises much, while Nicky Peng of Durham has already impressed against Surrey earlier this season when he scored 98.

Michael Carberry is one of two Surrey players in the squad, the other being the pace bowler Tim Murtagh. Carberry is regarded as a another batsman of promise. Murtagh is part of a useful looking attack which also features Kabir Ali, who has had a remarkable impact on Worcestershire's season.

However grim their World Cup might have been there is still the impression that this might be the best crop of Under-19s yet. If so, that figure of 59 is likely to undergo some significant changes in the not too distant future.

England under-19s

SQUAD (One-day series v Sri Lanka)

I Bell (Warwickshire, capt), J E Bishop (Essex), M Carberry, T Murtagh (both Surrey), M Davies, D Harrison (Glamorgan), I Pattison, N Peng, G Pratt (all Durham), J Sadler (Yorkshire), M S Panesar (Northamptonshire), K Ali (Worcestershire), P Trego, C Gazzard (wicketkeeper) (both Somerset), J Dalrymple (Middlesex).

ITINERARY

One-day internationals: Today: at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff; Tomorrow: at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff; Monday, 31 July: Hove (day/night); The first and third one-day internationals are live on Sky television.

Tests* (all matches four days): 15 August: Trent Bridge; 21 August: Northampton; 29 August: Worcester.

*Test squad will be announced at the end of the one-day series.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015