Paul Franks and Graeme Swann have called on England’s young lions – including Nottinghamshire’s Joey Evison – to have faith in their abilities as they make their final preparations for the ICC U19 World Cup.
The duo were part of the last England U19 outfit to triumph on the world stage, having done so in the 1998 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
The competition is returning to the Rainbow Nation this month – an occasion which has brought back fond memories for Franks.
“To win a World Cup was special,” he said.
“We played against some fantastic cricketers along the way. I got a bit overwhelmed in the final and didn’t bowl well, but we always felt we had enough match-winners.
“It sits right up there among my career highlights.
“I just hope they [this year’s squad] embrace it. There is a danger of trying too hard but just look to immerse yourself in everything and get as much out of it as you can.”
Swann, who went on to enjoy a storied career at international level after signing for Notts in 2005, echoed Franks’ sentiments.
“You have to have the utmost belief in yourself and the system that you have come from,” he said.
“People talk about Australian grade cricket or the South African public school system but the English system is just as good. So if you believe in yourselves, you have a chance.”
Franks was a key performer in England’s run to the 1998 showpiece, starring with bat and ball in the final group game against Australia.
It was a result which Swann admitted came as a surprise.
“We’d been hammered by an India side with Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh in it and Australia had smashed everybody,” he said.
“But we rolled them for next to nothing (147 all out in 47.2 overs). Richard Logan, Paul Franks and, ahem, myself bowled like geniuses.”
England’s passage to the final depended on them reaching their target inside 33 overs, with run-rate playing a crucial factor in the final group table.
It was an innings which needed impetus – which it duly received from pinch-hitter Franks.
“Franksy came in at No 3 and when he started smashing it around [ultimately scoring 41 from 34 balls] we had a chance,” said teammate Rob Key.
“Clearly the Aussies didn’t realise and they thought they could beat us by keeping the field up and forcing us to slog a few in the air.”
England would go on to secure the title with a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in Johannesburg – an achievement Evison and co. will be hoping to emulate over the next three weeks.
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