Australia face Namibia in their opening clash of this year’s under-19s cricket World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, following two losses in warm-up matches.
Australia’s current crop of young cricketers are hoping to do what Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke couldn’t 14 years ago – win an under-19s World Cup.
But it won’t be an easy task.
The side head into Saturday’s opening clash of the tournament with Namibia on the back of two losses in warm-up matches against Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
“They are talented players, but up until now we haven’t seen the best of them,” said Australia’s under-19 coach Graeme Hick.
This weekend’s clash will be the first of three pool matches, with games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh to follow on Monday and Wednesday.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, to be staged in Dubai.
“It’s a crucial match for us at the start of the tournament,” Hick said.
“It’s a game we should win, but I’ve heard they’ve put inn a couple of good performances in their warm-up game, so it’s a potential banana skin and we’ll have to play well.”
Hick has demanded a better performance from his batsmen following poor showings in their warm-up fixtures.
“We’ve had a lot of 20s and 30s from a lot of our batters, but that doesn’t win you anything.
“We’re looking for our batters to spend more time at the crease and having one or two good partnerships, and that gets you there.”
Australia has won the under-19s World Cup three times – in 1988, 2002 and 2010 – and lost the final to India in the last tournament held in Queensland in 2012.
The biennial event has been a proving ground for some of Australia’s greats – including Johnson and Clarke, who represented Australia in 2000 and played against a swag of future opponents, most notably South African skipper Graeme Smith.