Warwickshire’s three Young Lions believe they can help England bring back the Under-19s World Cup when the tournament gets underway later this month.
Tazeem Ali, Hamza Shaikh and Theo Wylie are part of a 15-player squad selected for the 50-over competition that starts on 13 January in South Africa.
It’s the first time three teenagers hailing from Warwickshire’s Academy have been selected in an U19s World Cup squad.
England have been drawn in Group B alongside the hosts, West Indies and Scotland.
And Hamza Shaikh – who top scored in the recent Under-19s ODI quadrangular series in India – is confident of England’s prospects of progressing to the knockout stage and potentially claiming the silverware.
“We’ve got a really strong team,” said the 17-year-old, “and I reckon we’ve got as good a chance as anyone to bring the trophy home.
“It’s a brilliant feeling to be selected for your country. Playing the series in India (where Shaikh amassed 464 runs in seven games) was an amazing experience but the World Cup is the next level for us.
“It will be a chance to test ourselves against the best young cricketers in the game and to face some players who will no doubt go on to be first team internationals.”
“Hopefully this will be a platform for us to perform well and make everyone proud.”
Wylie was recruited into Warwickshire’s Academy ahead of the 2023 season and was part of the Bears Metro Bank One Day Cup squad.
He said the World Cup call-up rounded off a breathless breakthrough year.
“It’s been an explosive few months,” said Theo, who hit the second-highest score (118) in the Quadrangular series. “Things have come thick and fast but it’s been great fun and I can’t wait to play in a World Cup.
“We’re following some big names from Warwickshire who’ve played in the Under-19s World Cup (Woakes, Bell, Mousley, Bethell).
“Hamza and Taz have been with the Club since they were nine years old so that’s incredible for their family to see them progress, develop and go on to play for England.
“It’s a massive achievement for the Warwickshire Pathway and shows the talent we have in the junior teams. We all want to represent the Bear well in South Africa.”
Leg spinner Tazeem, who made his senior Bears debut last season, said he’s become accustomed to managing the demands of college studies, training and representing his country.
He added: “It can be hard staying on top of college work but most of it is online now, we don’t need to carry many books around, so we can study in between training and matches as we did in India.
“Our schools have been really flexible and understand we’re pursuing our dream of playing professional cricket. It’s also helpful to have Theo and Hamza on tour and the three of us together support each other while we’re away.
“I didn’t have too much time off over Christmas, I tried spending as much time as possible at the indoor centre working on my game and fitness. We all want to be in the best possible shape as this opportunity won’t come around again.”
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