In Abu Dhabi, the 2014 ICC Under 19 World Cup is approaching its final stages. England’s youngsters performed admirably, impressing throughout before missing out to Pakistan in the semi-final.
Nottinghamshire’s Paul Franks was a member of the England team who secured the Under 19 World Cup trophy in 1998, a fond memory even today.
“That tournament was a fantastic place to cut your teeth as a young player,” he said.
“To be playing abroad at that age was excellent experience, and it gave the players in the side chance to prove themselves in a larger arena.
“We were a very hit and miss side back then. We went into the world cup on the back of a fairly poor tour of South Africa.
“We were aware of our potential but maybe lacked effective management. Once the coaching staff understood our games, our talents, we were a much better team and the results started to show.”
As well as Franks, Rob Key and Owais Shah also represented the Under 19s in the tournament, the latter captaining the side. Also in the team was a fresh-faced spinner by the name of Graeme Swann.
“The Swanny of 1998 wasn’t too dissimilar to the man we see today,” said Franks
“He showed all the signs of the self-confidence and ability that we’ve seen through his career even at a young age.”
“Owais was hugely talented, and went on to rightly win all sorts of batting accolades.
“He was a great batsman, with the ability to score quickly at the crease and most importantly for us in that tournament, he was a great leader.”
“It was a very diverse group, with a lot of characters at a young age, and we just needed a little something extra to get the best out of us.
England performed excellently through the tournament, registering early wins against Namibia and their eventual final opponents New Zealand, their only defeat coming against Bangladesh.
After brushing aside Australia, only New Zealand stood between England and the trophy. Graham Napier and Giles Haywood impressed in the first innings, taking five wickets between them before Franks’ bowling accounted for the dangerous Peter McGlashan.
A century from Stephen Peters effectively ended the contest, England claiming the silverware almost at a canter.
“We were full of confidence after beating Australia heavily in the semi-final, but it was nothing compared to going to Johannesburg for the final,” said Franks.
“We almost considered it a celebration of reaching the final.
“We had already beaten New Zealand in the tournament, we were confident but it wasn’t ever going to be a foregone conclusion.”
From then, Franks has forged an excellent cricketing career. He appeared in an England ODI in 200, and has been a mainstay in the Nottinghamshire side for the last fifteen years. He affirmed that his early experiences were instrumental in forging such a career.
Prior to the tournament I had already played some first class cricket with Notts, I had already experienced exposure, and I benefitted from it,” said Franks.
“It was a great push ahead of the tournament, and one that was shared with a few of the other lads playing then. I think that’s one thing the side who took part in this year’s tournament is missing.
“It got us all on the radar, it was great exposure and really showed what we can do.”