Dubai: Flamboyant Australia opener David Warner has advised all teenagers assembling in Queensland next month for the ninth edition of the ICC Under-19 cricket World Cup to make optimum use of the opportunity without compromising on the honour and respect they will be earning by representing their countries in a global event.
Warner, who played in the ICC U19 CWC 2006 in Sri Lanka and scored 91 runs at 30.33, said: “You know, it’s all about playing and winning, but a lot of it is the respect.
“You just need to respect the badge that’s on your head and that’s over your heart. You’ve got to wear it with pride. The respect you have for where you are, where you’ve come from, and who you’re representing.”
Along with ICC’s 10 Full members, the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012, being supported by Events Queensland, will see six qualifiers – Afghanistan, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Scotland – taking part in Brisbane, Townsville and the Sunshine Coast from 11-26 August.
Reflecting on his experience of playing at the ICC U19 CWC 2006, Warner said: “Obviously, it was a thrill for me to play for Australia and represent Australia at a young level in the ICC U19 CWC.
“I learnt a lot back then, stuff that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The ICC U19 CWC is a finishing school for elite young cricketers coming through the ranks. If I knew then what I know now, then probably it would have helped even more.
“When I started back then, I think cricket was unbelievable. It was played at a level that I never would have thought cricket would have been at. I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing back then, and it made me more determined to play for Australia at the highest level.”
Warner said the ICC U19 CWC 2006 helped him re-organise his game and helped him become a better and more mature cricketer.
“It’s funny, I batted in the middle-order back then, and now I am opening the batting. I can see where I have come from in respect to changing my game to be the best I can,” he said, adding: “Everyone’s got to start somewhere, and for me it was batting in the middle-order and bowling a little bit of leg spin.
“As a player, I think I’ve matured into a better person and a better team player – not saying that I wasn’t a good team player, but you learn how to actually play the game as an individual and as a team player. I also think you become more knowledgeable about the game.”
Warner said players appearing in Queensland next month must back themselves to return to Australia for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
“I think each individual who will be appearing in the ICC U19 CWC 2012 needs to have goals of returning here for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, because if you are good enough to be where you are today, you have to be good enough to be in that squad and that environment in 2015,” he said.
“So, if they keep backing themselves, scoring runs, taking wickets, et cetera, they could have a good ride in.”
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla echoed Warner’s views and advised the players to enjoy their time in Australia and try to cash in on the opportunity: “Enjoy every moment as you are incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to play the game that you love and try to make the most of it.
“The ICC U19 CWC is very important as it teaches you invaluable cricket and life lessons which go a long way as you try to build your career,” said Amla, who became the first South Africa batsman to score a triple century while scoring 311 not out against England at The Oval on 22 July 2012.
Amla played in the ICC U19 CWC 2000 in New Zealand and scored 191 runs in eight matches, including 29 off 34 balls in the final against Australia, which Cameron White’s side won by seven wickets.
Reflecting on the final against Australia, Amla said: “It was a tough match for us, Australia are never an easy team to play against, at any level. Cameron White had a fantastic tournament for Australia, it was a bitter pill to swallow losing in the final, but I think our squad learnt a lot from the experience.”
Remembering his experience of playing in the ICC U19 CWC, Amla said: “I remember being very excited to visit New Zealand, it was a fantastic opportunity to see another country while being able to play cricket. It was a tough tournament, the playing field was very competitive but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“The ICC U19 CWC is a great platform to launch your international career. Look at Wayne Parnell who had a great tournament for South Africa at the event in 2008 and a year later, he was making his international debut. The challenge for the youngsters is how they manage themselves after they have made their debuts at such an early age.”