Bangalore, Jul 13: Some of the biggest and most respected modern day cricketers in Michael Atherton of England, Aminul Islam of Bangladesh, Lee Germon of New Zealand and Australia's Stuart Law take a trip down the memory lane and reflect on their experience of playing in the inaugural event of Under-19 World Cup which took place in South Australia in February-March 1988.
This year's Under-19 World Cup will kick off next month in Australia.
These four cricketers, about a quarter of a century ago, wore their national colours as teenage rookies. But today, history remembers them as one of the icons of the game and role models for millions across the globe after having served the game with distinction, respect and honour.
Atherton, who captained England in the ICC U-19 CWC 1988 and scored 197 runs with two half-centuries, said in a ICC media release on Friday, "I am grateful that we had the opportunity to play in the first one. We had a good team actually and a lot of England cricketers in that U19 team went on to represent England.
"I think it is a very important thing to expose young cricketers to competition at that level, take them out from the comfort zone and expose them to different conditions.
"I was certainly very grateful for the opportunity which helped me develop as a cricketer.
"And also playing against all the best players of your age group, so you can realise where you are, how good or not good you are when compared to the players around you.
"We played against Narendra Hirwani after he had taken 16 wickets on his Test debut against the West Indies. So, we got a chance to play against somebody who had actually played Test cricket. So, it made you feel that actually it might not be that far away as well."
Aminul, who represented the ICC Associates side in the tournament and scored 88 runs in the tournament, attributed his success at the Test level to the experience he gained by playing against the best players of his age group in the 1988 event. "I do believe that my confidence of playing and serving my nation as a cricketer for a long time was raised from that tournament," he said.
Germon, now Chief Executive of Canterbury Cricket Association, said: "The ICC U19 CWC 1988 was a very big event for us in New Zealand as we did not play many fixtures against international teams in those days. I remember being particularly excited and nervous as it was the first ICC U19 CWC."
Germon also recalled the first time he played against Brian Lara who scored 64 in the match. "I remember with great clarity playing against Brian Lara," he said, adding: "We had Chris Cairns in our side who was very fast for that age group. We saw a slight left-handed batsman take guard against Chris with no helmet on and Chris bowling with a strong wind behind him. Chris bowled a number of short-pitched deliveries and you can imagine our great surprise when he hooked and pulled with great courage and skill.
"It was a great pleasure to play against some of the great names in world cricket and it was amazing that many of the players I played against at the ICC U19 CWC, I would also play against at the senior international level, such as Michael Atherton, Brian Lara, Nasser Hussain and Stuart Law."
Law was one of the most consistent performers in the ICC U19 CWC when he scored 17 vs West Indies, 72 not out v India, 30 vs Sri Lanka, 89 vs England, 67 vs New Zealand, 22 vs Pakistan, 11 vs England (in the semi-final) and 44 vs Pakistan (in the final). Remembering that event, he said: "Well, being the first one, it was something new to all of us.
"It was the first opportunity as a young player to gain experience in a world tournament. To play against young Sanath Jayasuriyas, Nasser Hussains and Brian Laras was an amazing experience. It was something that stands fondly in my memory."