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UNDER-19 WORLD CUP: FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH IN NEW ZEALAND

The ambidextrous spinner, another Afridi and a boy who's better than Bradman

The Under-19 World Cup, which gets under way in New Zealand this week, gives cricket fans everywhere the chance to get a sneak peek at the next generation of global superstars.

So who should you look out for over the course of the next month, as 16 nations do battle to become world champions?

The Cricketer picks out five names to keep an eye on…


JASON SANGHA

Born: September 8, 1999

Country: Australia

Role: Batsman

England fans may well recognise the name… and that’s because Sangha hit a superb century for a Cricket Australia XI against the Ashes touring party in Townsville back in November.

No Australian has hit a hundred against England at a more tender age, while only Sachin Tendulkar has done so younger full stop.

The Aussie skipper - the first Baggy Green captain of Indian origin at any level - was fasttracked through the country’s Talent Pathway and has dazzled at every age-group level.

He was the first Australian since Phillip Hughes to score a century on Youth One Day International debut - against Pakistan in January 2016 - and is also the youngest player ever contracted by New South Wales.

Sangha even earned a Big Bash contract with the Sydney Thunder for the competition’s sixth edition.

As if all that isn’t enough, he also bowls tidy leg-breaks if required.

Jason Sangha scored a century against England in November

BAHIR SHAH

Born: February 1, 2000

Country: Afghanistan

Role: Batsman

This kid is better than Bradman. Well, that’s what the stats say, anyway.

Shah has had a dream introduction to life in first-class cricket, and he averages an extraordinary 121.77 from his admittedly limited career to date.

That puts him top of the averages for players with 1,000 or more first-class runs to their name, bettering The Don’s 95.14 by quite a distance.

The 18-year-old scored 256 not out in his first pro innings, the second highest debut score ever, before registering a triple-century five innings later. Only Javed Miandad reached the 300 mark at a younger age.

“It’s difficult to get the opportunity play for our domestic sides, so I’m very thankful for my family and for my friends and my head coach for their support,” he said.

“I only thought I would try my best for my side, so to get 1,000 runs was amazing.”

Bahir Shah has made a stunning start to his first-class career

SHAHEEN AFRIDI

Born: April 6, 2000

Country: Pakistan

Role: Bowler

While his name will inevitably draw comparisons with one of Pakistan’s favourites sons, Afridi has the potential to make a sizeable impact in the national team in the future.

Though much taller than his namesake, at six foot six inches, Afridi is a left-arm quick who burst into the public consciousness with figures of 8-39 for Khan Research Laboratories against Rawalpindi in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in September.

That represents the best return by any Pakistani cricketer on first-class debut. Ever.

Afridi can clock 90mph, while his action has been likened to Mohammad Amir and Mitchell Starc.

He has won himself a two-year deal with the Dhaka Dynamites in the Bangladesh Premier League, while his brother Riaz played one Test for Pakistan in 2004.

KAMINDU MENDIS

Born: September 30, 1998

Country: Sri Lanka

Role: Allrounder/captain

Sri Lanka’s skipper in New Zealand made waves at the 2016 Under 19 World Cup when he bowled both right and left-arm spin in-play against Pakistan.

The 19-year-old also bats in the middle order and will become his country’s most-capped player at Under 19 level should he feature in every game in this year’s competition.

Speaking of his ambidextrous bowling, Mendis said: “When I was young and starting cricket, I just practised both with my coaches,” he said.

“Usually I do [bowl left-arm to a right hander and vice versa] but it depends on the situation.

“I just tell the umpire and let the batsman know,” he said.

“But sometimes they look at me like, ‘what are you going to do now?’”

KAYLUM BOSHIER

Born: April 9, 1999

Country: New Zealand

Role: Allrounder/captain

The Blackcaps skipper for a home World Cup still doesn’t know if he fancies a career in rugby or cricket. But that just goes to show how talented the 18-year-old is.

Boshier, who has played age-group cricket for Central Districts, bowls right-arm medium and bats in the middle order.

He took 3-17 and hit 66 in New Zealand’s opening warm-up game against Zimbabwe.

Kaylum Boshier could take up a career in rugby

AND ONE FROM ENGLAND…

Keep a look out for Fin Trenouth. Well, actually, it’s almost impossible to miss the Somerset batsman as he towers over his team-mates.

Trenouth hit a rapid 70-odd in the recent warm-up against Ireland and has the capacity to destroy an attack - just like he did for his county in an astonishing ECB Under 17 County Championship innings against Hampshire in 2016.

The 19-year-old smacked 330 from 307 balls, with 33 fours and 13 sixes.

Ouch.

Fin Trenouth offers run potential for England

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE...

And there are two very famous names being represented in New Zealand, too.

The sons of a pair of cricketing greats get their chance to impress at the Under 19 World Cup, in the shape of Thando Ntini and Austin Waugh.

Ntini, whose dad Makhaya claimed 390 Test wickets for South Africa, is a right-arm seamer who took 5-56 on Under 19 debut.

Waugh, the son of former Australia captain Steve, will be expected to score big runs for the Aussies.

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