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ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup: The prodigies and where are they now

Brett Williams of Australia shows off the trophy.
Brett Williams (Australia) was the highest run-scorer in the tournament.

A few thousand miles away from mainstream media coverage, right at the heart of Middle-earth, a bunch of teenagers are toiling hard for the coveted U-19 World Championship title.

The tournament that is contested every two years, has often shown us the first glimpse of the legends-to-be.

At the same time, we have seen some of the headliners melt into mediocrity.

Let's try to find some of the names that shone brightly in the tournament over the years, and see what happened to their careers after that.

McDonald's Bicentennial Youth World Cup (1988)

The first edition of the tournament was held in Australia and was contested for by 8 teams.

The hosts pipped Pakistan by 5 wickets to lift the trophy for the very first time.

The leading scorer, Australia's Brett Williams, never really delivered on his potential and wound up playing first-class and List A games for South Australia. He stuck around for two more years before disappearing from the history altogether.

His compatriot and joint highest wicket-taker, Wayne Holdsworth had a slightly better fortune. He played for New South Wales, Hampshire, and Bankstown, amassing 251 wickets before retiring in 2001. He never received an international call-up either.

Pakistan's Mushtaq Ahmed was the other highest wicket-taker, and we all know what transpired with his career. Notably, Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Brian Lara, and Sanath Jayasuriya were also a part of the tournament.

MTN Under-19 World Cup (1998)

Chris Gayle was the highest scorer of the tournament.
Chris Gayle (West Indies) was the highest scorer of the tournament.

The tournament returned with its present form 10 years after the first edition. South Africa hosted the tournament this time and England defeated New Zealand by 7 wickets to lift the trophy.

Highest run-scorer and wicket-taker in this edition were Caribbean compatriots Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, respectively. Both of them went on to become modern-day greats. Joint highest wicket-taker, Zimbabwe's Mluleki Nkala, went on to play 10 tests and 50 ODIs for his nation, with sparing success.

This edition afforded a first look of the likes of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir (who then played for Pakistan), Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Graeme Swann, Kyle Mills, Dilhara Fernando, and Darren Ganga.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2000)

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Yuvraj Singh was a revelation with both bat and ball.

The tournament came to the subcontinent for the first time, and so did the trophy. India overcame hosts Sri Lanka by 6 wickets to obtain the bragging rights.

Graeme Smith led the batting chart this term while captaining the Proteas, foreshadowing an illustrious career ahead. Pakistan's Zahid Saeed was the highest wicket-taker. In the aftermath of the tournament, however, his potential failed to convert into success.

Apart from Man of the Tournament, Yuvraj Singh, names like Ian Bell, Mohammad Sami, Albie Morkel, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Brendon McCullum, and Tatenda Taibu were first sounded in this edition.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2002)

South Africa v England - Second Test: Day Four
Hashim Amla is the most successful product of this edition of the tournament.

Australia claimed the championship for the second time when they defeated South Africa by 7 wickets. This edition of the tournament was held in New Zealand.

In what turned out to be Australia's tournament, Cameron White was the leading run-scorer, and Xavier Doherty took 16 wickets to finish atop the bowling charts. Both these players witnessed a career akin to a sine curve and forever remained on the fringe of the national side.

Hashim Amla's South African outfit won many hearts in this edition. Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Brendon Taylor, Elton Chigumbura, Tim Bresnan, Jesse Ryder, Mohammad Ashraful, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Azhar Ali, Umar Gul, and Upul Tharanga were all seen here first.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2004)

England v Pakistan: 2nd Investec Test - Day One
Alastair Cook surpassed all expectation and became one of England's greatest.

Bangladesh hosted their first major ICC tournament this term as Pakistan beat West Indies by 25 runs to win their first title in the competition. This was the first time that the side batting first in the final won the tournament. The hosts embarrassed defending champions Australia in the plate final of the competition.

Shikhar Dhawan came to the fore in this tournament topping the batting chart by quite some distance. He has been a mainstay in the Indian side, after waiting for 6 years for his senior debut. Enamul Haque of Bangladesh routed opposition's batting lineup to amass 22 wickets in the tournament. Up until 2013, he had represented his nation in 15 tests and 10 ODIs.

Other prominent players to feature in the tournament were Eoin Morgan (who represented Ireland), Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, William Porterfield, Alastair Cook, Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara, Wahab Riaz, Vernon Philander, Angelo Mathews and Denesh Ramdin.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2006)

Australia v West Indies - 3rd Test: Day 5
This edition's inductee, David Warner is now one of the finest openers in international cricket.

Sri Lanka hosted the tournament again as arch-rivals India and Pakistan locked horns in the final of the tournament. The latter successfully defended the title overcoming India by 38 runs, bundling them within 71 runs in the process. Nepal stunned New Zealand in plate final of the tournament.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara scored the highest number of runs in the tournament and has not looked back since. Australia's Moises Henriques took 16 wickets in the tournament. His international career has been wobbly, however. Currently, he has fallen down the pecking order owing to his inconsistency.

This year's tournament introduced David Warner, Martin Guptill, Tim Southee, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, and Moeen Ali to the world.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2008)

Australia v Pakistan - 1st Test: Day 1
Steven Smith is now the second best batsman in the world ever, after Sir Don Bradman.

The tournament saw a new venue after a long time in Malaysia, as South Africa were once again denied the title, this time by India. In the rain-marred final, India won by 12 runs. This was the historic tournament that predicted both Steven Smith and Virat Kohli's meteoric rise.

Indian southpaw, Tanmay Srivastava top scored in the tournament but has since found himself on the fringes of domestic cricket. He currently plays for Uttar Pradesh and has never really been a real contender of international cricket. Highest wicket-taker, Wayne Parnell made rapid progress in the aftermath of the tournament, making an international appearance for South Africa. He has since been haunted by injuries, substance abuse, and inconsistent performances.

A number of future stars featured in the tournament, including the late Phillip Hughes, Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Umar Akmal, Steven Finn, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, and Corey Anderson.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2010)

England v West Indies - 3rd Investec Test: Day One
The world caught their first glimpse of Ben Stokes in this year's competition.

Familiar hosts, familiar foes, and familiar champions. New Zealand hosted this year's tournament as Australia grabbed their third title, defeating Pakistan by 25 runs.

The South African batsman, DA Hendricks top scored in this edition of the tournament. However, his international career is yet to materialize, given the dip in his form soon after the competition. He's currently seen plying his trade in the domestic circuit. Papua New Guinea's Raymond Haoda awed the world with 15 scalps in the tournament. He has regularly represented his nation since.

Big names like Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Vince, KL Rahul, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Babar Azam, Jason Holder, and Evin Lewis also featured in the competition.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2012)

3rd Sunfoil Test: South Africa v India, Day 2
Quinton de Kock has cemented his place in the Proteas ranks since this edition of the tournament.

The tournament shifted westwards and settled in Queensland, this term. The hosts remained unbeaten in the tournament, only to lose to Unmukt Chand's India by 6 wickets in the final. Afghanistan shocked the world by advancing to the plate final.

Anamul Haque of Bangladesh was the highest run-getter of the tournament. He received his national Test and ODI call-up soon after the tournament, but could only hold on to the latter position. English slow bowler, Reece Topley, was the highest wicket-taker. He debuted for England in ODI and T20I in the later part of 2015, but couldn't cement his place. However, he has maintained a healthy bowling record in the domestic circuit and could be set for a return.

Present day international names like Quinton de Kock, Cameron Bancroft, Craig Overton, Niroshan Dickwella, Ish Sodhi, and Taskin Ahmed were first seen in this tournament.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2014)

Australia v Bangladesh - ICC Champions Trophy
Mustafizur Rahman now spearheads Bangladesh's pace attack.

UAE hosted the showcase event this term as fan favourites Pakistan squared off against the infamous chokers, South Africa in the final. Riding on their captain Aiden Markram's innings, the Proteas overcame Pakistan and the crowd to lift the trophy.

Bangladesh's Shadman Islam topped the batting charts in the tournament. He is yet to make an appearance for the senior side but has shown some promise plating for Bangladesh A team. Sri Lankan medium fast bowler Anuk Fernando took the most number of wickets in the tournament. He hasn't yet appeared on the international scene since.

Success stories from this year's tournament include Mustafizur Rahman, Mehedi Hassan, Kuldeep Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Kusal Mendis.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2016)

Mosman v Western Suburbs
Nepal's Sandeep Lamichhane caught the attention of Michael Clarke and IPL outfit Delhi Daredevils.

Bangladesh hosted this year's competition that saw West Indies take on India in the final. The former triumphed by 5 wickets as India managed to drag the game to the last over even after setting a target of just 146. Afghanistan won the plate championship after knocking on the doors for a few years.

England's Jack Burnham scored 3 centuries in the tournament to climb to the top of the runs chart. Since then, consistency has eluded him. He currently plies his trade with Durham. Namibia's Fritz Coetzee took 15 wickets throughout the tournament and remains to be his national side's cornerstone player.

Second highest wicket-taker, Sandeep Lamichhane became the first Nepalese player to play in the Indian Premier League, when he was picked up by Delhi Daredevils in the 2018 player auction. Other youngsters who have already grabbed headlines are Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, Sarfaraz Khan, Mason Crane, Rashid Khan, Alzarri Joseph, Lahiru Kumara, and Jhye Richardson.

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup (2018)

Alick Athanaze smashes one out of the park.
Alick Athanaze dominated the runs chart for most of the tournament and is surely one to look out for.

This year's tournament returned to New Zealand, as 16 of the top under-19 sides locked horns in the picturesque backdrop of the beautiful country. Sri Lanka overcame West Indies by 3 wickets in the plate final of the tournament. Here are some of the brightest prospects from the tournament so far:

Indian pace duo, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti bowled at lightning quick pace and look all set to become hot international properties. Shubman Gill showcased exemplary consistency with the bat.

Sri Lankan all-rounder Hasitha Boyagoda scored 191 runs from 152 balls against Kenya in the plate quarterfinals and seems like a utility limited over option.

Afghan slow bowler Qais Ahmed spun a web around every other batsman in the tournament and is looking to follow compatriot Rashid Khan's footsteps.

Australian spinner Lloyd Pope had an insane quarterfinal against England as he scalped 8 wickets for just 35 runs. He needs to work on his consistency to proceed to the next level.

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Edited by Tanya Rudra
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