Bangalore, Jul 30: The ICC Under-19 World Cup received a big thumbs-up from England's One-Day International captain Alastair Cook who said the event was undoubtedly a launching pad for future stars.
With 13 days to go before the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2012 kicks-off in Queensland, Australia, on August 11, the elegant left-handed opener advised players appearing in this event to play with "no regrets".
"Without a doubt the ICC U19 CWC is a launching pad for future stars. You can see how many people have played U19 cricket and are now playing full international cricket," said Cook in a media release issued by ICC.
He added: "It is not a guarantee or anything but it's just a start to people's careers rather than a pinnacle. But it was a really good experience for me, one I look back with fond memories and I really think it helped my career."
Cook captained England in the ICC U19 CWC 2004 in Bangladesh and finished as the second most successful batsman in the tournament behind India's Shikhar Dhawan (505) with 383 runs from seven matches with an average of just under 77. England reached the semi-final of the Super League where it lost to the West Indies by 94 runs. In that match, Cook was his side's second best batsman after Tim Bresnan (41) with 33 runs.
Reflecting on the tournament and his time in Bangladesh eight years ago, Cook said: "Us personally, we reached the semi-finals. We were disappointed that we didn't get to the final as we had a very good team.
"What is really good value is it gives you some exposure to conditions outside your country. Our World Cup was in Bangladesh and it was my first tour to the sub-continent. So, the tour gave me the opportunity to experience what pitches are like and also a different way of life. As a whole, the learning curve and experience was fantastic.
"When you are playing U19 cricket for your county or state side, there is no media, there is no public interest. And suddenly, you are thrown at the world stage where people can make a name for themselves. After the matches, you have to do media interviews and you get to play in matches which are being broadcast live.
"Experiences like these can only help you develop as a player and realise what future you have, if you are lucky to play full international cricket," said Cook.
The 27-year-old Essex batsman advised the teenagers to enjoy their cricket in Australia and play with no regrets. "Well certainly, they have to enjoy it, without a doubt. Obviously, it is a very important time of their lives. They should enjoy competing against other people of their age and try to find out how good they are, both individually and as a side.
"Certainly enjoy cricket, as cricket should be enjoyed no matter what level you are playing at and play with no regrets."