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Wallace, who has been replaced by the Somerset wicketkeeper, Carl Gazzard, with the captaincy passing to the hugely talented batsman Ian Bell, will now be reduced to the role of frustrated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?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit