Warwickshire all-rounder Jake Bethell was among the runs as England warmed up for the Under 19s World Cup with a 281-run victory over Papua New Guinea at Basseterre.
Bethell scored 72 (62 balls, eight fours, two sixes) in an opening partnership of 151 in 22 overs with Somerset’s George Thomas. That launched England towards to a hefty 359 for seven before PNG were skittled for 78.
It was an emphatic statement of intent, albeit against moderate opposition, by England ahead of the tournament opener against Bangladesh on Sunday. That is the first of their three group games, with Canada to follow on Tuesday and United Arab Emirates on Thursday – and 18-year-old Bears product Bethell, vice-captain of the side, will be at the heart of his country’s bid for glory.
“We’ve won two warm-up games, including one against the UAE from being in quite a tough situation which is a good thing to have done going into the group,” he said. “We were lucky to get a practice game against UAE who are in our group, so have got to know them a little bit.
“Bangladesh on Sunday will probably be our biggest fixture. If we can kick off with a win against them I think everyone in the camp will be feeling good going into the next two games.Jacob Bethell
“But we will be taking nothing for granted because playing for a big team like England, you know everyone is trying to knock you off your perch. Everyone puts their best game up against you so we have to respond and hopefully we will come out with three wins and then head to Antigua for the next stage. You don’t come to a tournament like this and not try to win it.”
Bethell was delighted to get some runs under his belt in the warm-up against PNG yesterday. The tournament in the Caribbean is the latest stage of a diverse winter itinerary which saw him playing in Sri Lanka with England Under 19s for a month before Christmas.
“I’d been to Sri Lanka a couple of times before so knew what I was up against, but we played against a strong side out there so it was really good practice,” he said. “Now here it’s another different set of conditions to adjust to and it was good to get some time in the middle. It’s nice to be outside the whole winter and a bit more fun than being stuck in the Indoor Centre at Edgbaston!”
Bethell’s short-term mission is to be in Antigua with England for the World Cup final on February 5 (rather that than in Tarouba for the 15th/16th place play-off on January 30). Then it will be back to England and all about the Bears and adding to his first-team appearances after making his debut in all three formats last season.
“Last year was a really good year for me,” he said. “I was very pleased with the way it turned out with me getting a few chances in the Bears first team. Now I’ll just try to do as well as I can in this tournament and then hopefully break my way into Warwickshire’s team a bit earlier than I did last year.
“That won’t be easy because of the strength of the squad but I’ve just got to put my case forward with lots of runs in second-team cricket. It will be a hard team to get into because we have a lot of good players but I have to try to break my way in somehow.”
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