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Ball primed for World Cup opener

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England captain Adam Ball believes April’s success in Australia could give his side the edge when they open the ICC Under-19 World Cup against the tournament hosts tomorrow.

Ball’s side claimed a three-wicket win over Australia at the Quadrangular Under-19 Series in Townsville, where they also enjoyed success against India and New Zealand.

The sense that southern hemisphere cricket suits this England group was added to by week’s resounding warm-up wins over Pakistan and Zimbabwe, results that mean Ball is understandably eager to start the competition proper.

“Preparation has been very good and we’re ready for tomorrow,” he told ecb.co.uk.

“It’s brilliant to get off to a winning start and to beat the Pakistanis as well as we did sends a massive message to the rest of the teams in the tournament that England are a decent team and there’ll be no walkovers.

Adam Ball

Adam Ball's England Under-19 side approach the World Cup in confident fashion having won six of seven matches Down Under over recent months

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to play them (Australia) in the first game. It will be a great opening to the World Cup and hopefully we can be a great advertisement to the rest of the world for what Under-19 cricket is about

“We’ve already got one over on them from winning in April so hopefully we can make it two out of two tomorrow.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes struck a superb 133 to set up a comfortable five-wicket triumph on Tuesday after a combination of Jamie Overton and Ball kept Pakistan’s innings in check.

A day later England were in trouble on 104 for seven, but a half-century from Brett Hutton helped them rally to 220 before the Nottinghamshire paceman led a ruthless assault that ended with Zimbabwe being dismissed for 89.

On both occasions Ball was happy to see his team-mates’ attributes shining through on the type of hard and fast surfaces that come as a culture shock to many touring sides in Australia.

He said: “The wickets definitely have more bounce in them than they do in England, but I think our games are pretty much suited to that in terms of the fast bowlers that we’ve got.

“And for the batters the ball probably comes onto the bat a bit nicer than it does in England. The wickets have got a bit more pace in them.

“We won four out of five out here in April and we’ve won our first two over here so far so I feel we’ve adapted to the conditions pretty well.”

Essex batsman Owais Shah was the last man to lead England to Under-19 World Cup glory in South Africa 14 years ago, captaining a side featuring fellow future Test caps Graeme Swann and Rob Key.

Ball believes the current crop are more than equipped to last the course and is bullish over his team’s prospects.

“Obviously there’s no point turning up for a competition if you don’t back yourselves to win it,” he stated.

“We’ve got a great bunch of lads who have come together very well. There’s a great team spirit and there’s a lot of talent in the team, so if we perform to our potential we can go all the way.”

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