Dinesh Chandimal and Hamilton Masakadza reflect and advise on how to thrive at an ICC U19 Cricket World Cup
The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup has seen more than its fair share of future stars deliver sensational moments over the years.
From the emergence of India’s Yuvraj Singh and his all-round exploits in 2000, to his countryman Shikhar Dhawan’s 505 runs four years later, and the recent discoveries of Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman and Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi in 2018, the tournament has never been found lacking for stardust.
Sri Lankan batsman, and former captain, Dinesh Chandimal is another to have dazzled at a young age on the world stage as he produced some magic behind the stumps in Malaysia in 2008 – a moment which particularly stands out in his mind.
For, despite Sri Lanka ultimately finishing eighth, Chandimal enjoyed a memorable tournament thanks to his exploits in a Group C match with an Australia side featuring Steve Smith and Phil Hughes where he was involved in seven dismissals.
Subsequently, despite only scoring six runs with the bat, he was named Player of the Match – a remarkable feat solely judged on his nimble work in claiming four catches, two run outs and a stumping.
“We played a match against Australia and I was a wicketkeeper-batsman in the team,” Chandimal said.
“I could only get six runs in that match, however, I was able to contribute by being involved in claiming seven victims as a wicketkeeper.
“For that reason I was given the Player of the Match award. It might have been the first time in history that the Player of the Match award was given solely on wicketkeeping performance.
“It is something which made my U19 Cricket World Cup experience so memorable.”
Another man who has fond memories of the tournament, having featured in both the 2000 and 2002 editions, is former Zimbabwean batsman Hamilton Masakadza, while he is expecting more memorable moments with the Chevrons squad featuring two veterans of the competition this time round.
“Playing in two Under-19 World Cups are some of my fondest memories – but watch out for two of our boys who are playing their third this time round [Milton Shumba and Wesley Madhevere],” Masakadza said.
“Winning the plate championship in 2002 in New Zealand, which was my second and last appearance at the tournament, was particularly special.
“Playing in the Under-19 World Cup was huge for my career, as it pitted me against some of the best players in the world for the first time and helped me realise how much work I needed to put in and what I needed to do if I was ever to dream about playing and surviving at the highest level.
“It is also a springboard to the national team and a huge opportunity to showcase what you can do at the world stage.
“You meet and play against some of your ‘lifetime’ competitors for the first time and a lot of career-long rivalries are birthed here.
“Lifelong friendships also start here, which for me is a very big part of playing this game.”
This year’s competition, where 16 teams from five continents are set to compete across 48 matches in South Africa, is now rolling into view and a new crop of cricketers will create fresh memories.
But while the pressure will be on for all those competing for the chance to be called world champions, Chandimal believes just getting picked to play at the event is a huge achievement in itself.
He added: “I must say it’s really an honour to play and represent your country.
“I think if you play at under-19 level, it’s a big achievement in your cricketing career, because it’s the starting step of competitive international cricket.
“A World Cup is a big event for any player, as you learn how to step up and cope with the pressure and play in certain situations, at a young age too. It is a great opportunity to step up to international cricket.
“It’s a very big opportunity, because there are lots of things to learn as a professional cricketer.
“The important thing is the experience that you have gained. If you are performing well at U19 level, it’s a bonus when you enter full international level as it gives you extra confidence and boosts you to improve your skills and abilities.”
And as the next generation of young stars gear up to show what they can do and, they hope, begin to forge a legacy for themselves, Chandimal has some advice for how these youngsters should prepare for the competition and, crucially, learn from their experiences during it.
“You need to practice hard and play harder for your country,” he added.
“At the same time you have to maintain your discipline and your character on and off the field, gain experience and make sure, whether winning or losing, that you pick the positives out of every performance to develop your cricketing career.”
And Masakadza, who played 38 Test matches and 209 One-Day Internationals for his country, also offered some words of wisdom to those competing this year in a tournament he holds so dear.
He added: “Go out and represent your countries with pride, embrace and enjoy the moment.
“It is a big achievement to have made it this far. Play hard, play to win but it’s not about winning at all costs.