U-19 Cricket World Cup: Who Were The Top Young Talents in the West Indies?

Yash Dhull celebrates a century at the U-19 Cricket World Cup.
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The U-19 Cricket World Cup in West Indies has given the cricketing world a glimpse of who might establish themselves as mainstays at the top level of international cricket in the years to come, as well as providing no shortage of entertainment. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive young players:

U-19 Cricket World Cup: Top Young Talents

Dewald Brevis

Dewald Brevis was certainly one of  the top talents of the U-19 World Cup. Brevis ability was no secret in the lead-up to the tournament, and any player widely known as ‘Baby AB’ is bound to have the potential to be a serious cricketer. Brevis has lived up to the hype, ending the tournament as the leading run-scorer by a distance. He scored 506 runs, at an average of 84.33, which put him 126 runs clear of his nearest competition.

Brevis also tied Shubman Gills record of four consecutive half-centuries. The South African also made one century, and will no doubt have been frustrated to get out in the 90s twice. The key to Brevis’ success is his composure and the clear confidence he has in his own ability. He is willing to do the hard work and occupy the crease by facing a lot of balls before accelerating in the later stages. His aggression against spin is also notable, with the six-hitting style and power he possesses having earned him the moniker of ‘Baby AB’.

Nivethan Radhakrishnan

The story of Nivethan Radhakrishnan is unique. Born in Chennai, Radhakrishnan was a cricket fanatic at a young age, with his father always pushing him to be the best. In his childhood, his family migrated to Sydney, where he played grade cricket for Sydney University and Hawkesbury. It was at the Grade-level where his talent first came to light. Uncommonly, Radhakrishnan has the ability to bowl with both left-arm orthodox and right arm off-spin.

There is only one other active professional cricketer, Kamindu Mendis, who can do the same. But Radhakrishnan’s talents don’t end there. The Australian can also open the batting. He his abilities were such that rookie contract offers from New South Wales and Tasmania, with the Australian ultimately accepting Tasmania’s offer and moving to Kingsborough. He continued to excel in Grade cricket there, finishing as one of the highest run-scorers in the Tasmanian competition. He was also called up by Ricky Ponting and the Delhi Capitals to be a net bowler, while also featuring in the Tamil Nadu Premier League at the age of 15.

His U-19 World Cup began in great fashion, as the world was not only able to see his skill but also his resilience. The West Indies captain Akeem Auguste and keeper-batsman Rivaldo Clarke were in the middle of an onslaught, dismantling the Australian spin attack of Harkiraj Bajwa and Radhakrishnan. But Radhakrishnan did not let that assault faze him, ultimately removing Clarke and finishing with figures of 3/48 from his 10 overs. He was then involved in a crucial match-winning 75 run partnership with Teague Wyllie, contributing 31 of those runs. Radhakrishnan is certainly one to watch in the future. After all, he might just be one of the most versatile all-rounders in the game.

Teague Wyllie

Wyllie hails from the Western Australian countryside, or more specifically a town called Mandurah which is approximately 70km away from Perth. He was set for success there from an early age, with the Wyllie family is part of cricketing royalty in Mandurah. In fact, the A-grade tournament in Mandurah is named the Wyllie Cup. Wyllie played his cricket for Rockingham-Mandurah in WA Premier Cricket since the age of 10, and was coached by former BBL opener Craig Simmons.

In an interview before the tournament, Simmons said of the Australian that “Teague hits the ball really hard and has a large appetite for runs, we always knew he was going to make the top level. He reminds me a lot of Damien Martyn”. These compliments came on the back of Wyllie’s first century at the top grade coming at the age of 16. Since then, Wyllie has also been coached by Tom Schollay, who took him to India for a tour where Wyllie cut his teeth on the spinning pitches of the subcontinent.

The most encouraging part of Wyllie’s story so far has been his ability to perform on the big stage with the highest level of composure and maturity. The ‘not out’ that appears next to his name so frequently is a testament to this. In the opening match of the U-19 World Cup— Wyllie finished with 86* in a chase of 170. His side chased it down in 45 overs, the temptation to impose yourself on the game and win in fewer overs and make a century would surely been there for Wyllie, but he chose the mature option to take the game deep and ensure he saw it over the line

Ultimately, the century did come for Wyllie only two games later, as Australia chased down 240 comfortably with the major contribution coming from the talented Wyllie who finished 101* and led Australia to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals against Pakistan, rumoured to have the best bowling attack in the competition, Wyllie and opening partner Campbell Kellaway, a prospect in his own right, were unfazed by the quality of the opposition.

They blunted the new ball pressure while also punishing every bad delivery to stroll to a 86 run opening stand. Wyllie’s job wasn’t done there as he occupied the crease for close to 40 overs, finishing with 71 as Australia put up a total of 260 which eventually led them to an easy win and a date with India in the semifinals. The Australian’s came undone there, but will have faith that with Wyllie leading the way at the top of the order the future is bright for Australian cricket.

Yash Dhull

Yash Dhull came into World Cup with an ODI batting average that left much to be desired. But as soon as the tournament started he set about putting that right. What makes Dhull effective is the simplicity of his game: a slight back-and-across shimmy which ensures he is very still on impact. The other major strength to his game is his ability to rotate the strike, which complements his calm demeanour and great leadership skills.

Dhull rescued India from precarious situations twice in the tournament. In the first game- India lost both openers in Harnoor Singh and Raghuvanshi early, Dhull made it his aim to try and stitch partnerships together before accelerating at the end. The third wicket partnership was worth 70, the fourth wicket 40, fifth wicket 40 and the sixth wicket 40. Dhull scored 82 of those 190 runs, with 40 coming in either singles or doubles, highlighting his strength in taking the sting out of troublesome situations through mature batting.

The most impressive recovery came on a much bigger stage, however. India had gotten off to quite a slow start against Australia, with India reduced to 37/2 after 12 overs in the semifinals and spinner William Salzmann was threatening to spark a collapse. Enter Yash Dhull, alongside the other Indian talisman in the tournament, Shaik Rasheed. The captain and vice-captain used the same template that Dhull had in the South Africa game, they put on 40 runs in the next ten overs to build a partnership and ensure India didn’t collapse.

After that, the two started putting the foot down. It wasn’t slogging or even highly aggressive stroke play, it was ensuring that every bad ball was punished and the strike was rotated frequently. It got to a stage where they had reached a position of ascendancy that Dhull decided to accelerate fully as he reached a remarkable hundred- only the third Indian captain after Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand to make a 100 in an U-19 World Cup. To think that Dhull made large headlines in a tournament in which he missed two games due to Covid-19 is remarkable. He has a calm head, a stable technique and a wide array of shots that will leave him in good stead at the domestic, and likely international, level.

Main photo from Getty Images.