Brisbane (Australia), July 27 (IBNS): Promising cricketers assembling in Queensland next month for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2012, to be staged from August 11-26, will have an excellent opportunity to break into international cricket if they manage to produce solid performances, said West Indies cricketer Kieron Pollard.
Pollard himself played at the ICC U19 CWC 2006 in Sri Lanka and scored 19 runs besides taking two wickets. After showing flashes of brilliance, Pollard made his ODI debut in April 2007 against South Africa.
Now, the 25-year-old Trinidadian is one of the most popular international cricketers across the globe.
“A successful ICC U19 CWC fast tracks your entry into international cricket. Once you perform on the ICC U19 CWC level, then you have the ability to do it in any international tournament. It is just the age barrier that can stop you from breaking very early in your career,” said Pollard.
“Guys who have done really well at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup have been graduated into senior teams. For example, Virat Kholi was selected in the India side after success at a very young age. The Sri Lanka event was really a good one for me."
“The ICC U19 CWC does give you the impetus to go forward when you have performed at the U19 level. Once you have an event to go to like the ICC Cricket World Cup, you always look forward to giving your best."
“Young players look forward to those sorts of things and exciting experiences, and obviously it’s a stepping stone for you in what you consider your profession. And as I said before, it gives you an insight of what international cricket will be all about,” said Pollard.
Pollard said the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup not only provided him an opportunity to break into the international scene but also helped him prepare for bigger things in cricket. “The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup gave me an opportunity to come on the international scene, do my best and feel how international tournaments are going to be."
He added, “During the course of the event, I learnt that as you grow and rise, the competition gets stiffer. It (competition) gets a lot better, so all the bad balls that you’d get in a club cricket match you don’t get in international tournament."
“It really gave me the opportunity as a player to see the world and see different cultures, and it was good for me in my preparation for bigger things in international cricket,” he concluded.
Shakib Al Hasan, a former Bangladesh captain and currently the number-one ranked ODI all-rounder, played alongside Pollard in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2006.
In fact, Shakib and Pollard came face to face in the Super League play-off semi-final at the SSC ground in Colombo where Bangladesh won comfortably by four wickets. In that game, Shakib’s contribution was two for 32 with the ball and 15 runs with the bat. In contrast, Pollard scored five off seven balls and was not required to bowl.
Shakib, reflecting on that tournament, said: “We did very well at that tournament. We had very good wins against New Zealand (by three wickets), Uganda (by 171 runs), West Indies, Sri Lanka (by 98 runs in fifth/sixth position play-off) and eventual winners Pakistan (by four wickets)."
“But we had bad memories as well because we lost against England (by five wickets in the quarter-final). Before that tournament, England came to Bangladesh to play seven or eight one-day matches against us and we won all the matches. So, we couldn’t even believe that we lost that quarter-final."
Shakib said, “That was a bad memory for us. But in the end, we did very well as a team. We were the first team from Bangladesh to play the main group matches and ended as the fifth best side in that tournament."
Shakib had a decent event by his very high standards when he scored 150 runs at an average of 25 and claimed seven wickets at nearly 21 runs per wicket with an economy rate of 3.32.
“The event definitely helped me a lot to grow up as a cricketer,” said Shakib, adding that there was tremendous interest in Bangladesh as the matches were being televised live.
“All the matches were being televised live in Bangladesh. While that put a little bit of extra pressure on the boys, it also helped us to perform better because we knew that millions of people were watching and praying for our success."
Shakib was confident that at least a couple of cricketers from the Bangladesh U19 side will be part of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. “Well, I am confident that there will be two or three players from this tournament who will be representing Bangladesh at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015."
“I think it will be very good opportunity for these youngsters to play there and earn the valuable experience that can help them perform improve their skills which, in turn, will allow them to enhance their performances."
“I think all the boys should take this tournament very seriously because most of them will be playing at the highest level in the next couple of years.”