Photo feature

The kids are all right

Under-19 players who made it to the big league

Nishi Narayanan  |  

India's junior class of 2003

India's junior class of 2003 KM Chaudary / © Associated Press

Age-group cricket is an established path to the senior game, with performances here occasionally getting more attention than those on the first-class circuit. Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Sarfraz Ahmed, Hashim Amla, Michael Clarke, Cameron White and Denesh Ramdin are some of those who shone in junior cricket and went on to captain their countries in top-level cricket.

The photo above, from the Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Tournament in Pakistan in 2003, has seven players who went on to play for India: (from left) Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu and VRV Singh.

Their coach, Robin Singh, (centre, back) himself played national U-19 cricket - for Trinidad & Tobago - before moving to make a career in India.

Tony Lewis / © Getty Images

Nineteen-year-old Michael Clarke, then Australia's U-19 captain, poses for a photo with visiting academy students from India in 2000. On Clarke's right is 24-year-old left-arm spinner Sridharan Sriram, who made his India debut that year. Sriram, who played eight ODIs and finished his first class-career with an average of 53, recently made headlines when he became Australia's spin bowling consultant ahead of their tour of India in 2017. After Steve O'Keefe took 12 for 70 in a big win for Australia in Pune, he said Sriram was "a big influence, who knows how to bowl in these conditions". On Clarke's left is Mohammad Kaif, who was part of the U-19 World Cup-winning Indian side earlier that year.

Nigel Marple / © Getty Images

Australia lost to India in the semi-final of that junior World Cup (Clarke didn't play that game), but won the title two years later, in New Zealand, under Cameron White, seen here running Hashim Amla out for 29 in the final.

Nigel Marple / © Getty Images

In the same match, Amla (far right) comes up to celebrate with his team-mates after Shaun Marsh (on the ground) was run out for 35 when he collided with his partner, Jarrad Burke.

Farjana K Godhuly / © AFP/Getty Images

And here's O'Keefe himself (third from left, holding a bottle), with his Australian team-mates, including Tim Paine (right, holding two bottles) and Moises Henriques (back, second from left) at the 2004 U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Stanley Chou / © Getty Images

Young people, I'm told, spend a lot of time doing lots of things to their hair - Ravindra Jadeja goes with the straightened look during the 2008 U-19 World Cup, which India won after beating South Africa by 12 runs in the final in Kuala Lumpur.

Vino John / © AFP/Getty Images

Wayne Parnell was South Africa's captain in that World Cup and also the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, with 18 at 8.38 from six games.

Arif Ali / © AFP/Getty Images

Jadeja and Kohli were also part of India's U-19 side in 2006, visiting Pakistan for a bilateral tour in which India won all six matches. Kohli showed his talent early, making three half-centuries on the trip. On the extreme right, next to Jadeja, towering over all his team-mates then (as well as now) is Ishant Sharma. Holding the trophy is legspinner Piyush Chawla, who made a century and took 12 wickets in two four-day games. Cheteshwar Pujara (not in the picture) was also on the tour and made 85 as an opener in a Youth Test.

Phil Walter / © Getty Images

Also towering above his team-mates from his youth was Jason Holder, who took 5 for 19 in the quarter-final against England in the 2010 U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Celebrating with him is his current team-mate Jermaine Blackwood (capless).

Eranga Jayawardena / © Associated Press

Jadeja and Pujara both played the 2006 U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. Here, Pujara shows typical focus while batting in the nets before the final. India lost to Pakistan but Pujara was the Player of the Series, making 349 runs at an average of 116.33 in six games.

Neal Simpson / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Marcus Trescothick captained the England U-19s against a visiting South African U-19 side in 1995 and averaged 71.6 in three Tests, making 136, 88 and 98 against an attack that included Makhaya Ntini.

Matthew Lewis / © Getty Images

Plenty of future internationals in this Pakistan U-19 squad touring England in 2007: Usman Salahuddin, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan (back row, third, fourth and fifth from left), Umar Amin, Ahmed Shehzad, Imad Wasim and Shan Masood (front row, first, second, fourth and sixth from left). Shehzad made 167 in Pakistan's successful chase of 342 in the second Test, in Derby. Amir was the joint highest wicket-taker in the ODIs with Steven Finn, taking eight at 16.37 from five games.

Farjana K Godhuly / © AFP/Getty Images

Brendan Taylor keeps to Graeme Cremer (who bowls to Khalid Latif) during the 2004 U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo