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Buck thrives on the Village Green

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Nathan Buck & Azeem Rafiq

As they did against Hong Kong, new-ball strikes from Nathan Buck, second left, and David Payne did for Afghanistan © ICC

Nathan Buck has become a reassuring carrier of the new ball for England Under-19s, and his early burst again set them on their way to a resounding victory in the World Cup group stage.

A second successive nine-wicket win for England, this time over Afghanistan at the Village Green in Christchurch, ensures the 1998 World Cup winners a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament in New Zealand.

And Buck, the Leicestershire seamer, is beginning to earn rewards for sticking to his guns through a tough winter, often on unresponsive tracks in Bangladesh.

“I’ve stuck largely to the same formula,” Buck told ecb.co.uk. “I’ve bowled similar lengths as I did in Bangladesh, but the difference here is that you get a little bit more assistance from the track.

“David Payne and myself have used the new ball quite well. In the first match against Hong Kong, we looked at each other and were just so pleased to see a wicket that was doing a bit.

“In Bangladesh the wickets aren’t very nice to bowl on for us seamers. It’s been really nice to get wickets early doors.”

A 5-2 one-day series defeat to Bangladesh before Christmas exposed a few areas for England's youngsters to work on.

Buck reports that this group of players have succeeded in tackling the value of partnerships - not just with the bat, but in pace and spin bowling too.

In today's second match, spinners Danny Briggs and Azeem Rafiq conceded just 44 runs in their collective 20 overs, while removing five Afghan batsmen.

“We’ve worked well at bowling in partnerships here,” he explained.

“Against the lesser teams, if you tie them down with dot balls, the big shot comes, and that’s how we’ve been getting a lot of our wickets.

Mark Chapman & Danny Briggs

Danny Briggs, seen here bowling against Hong Kong, took the astounding figures of 3-15 from 10 overs in Christchurch © ICC

“The spinners have been bowling economically, conceding at just ones, twos threes an over. That’s encouraging going into the latter part of the tournament.”

It could be argued that England have been handed ideal preparation for what is sure to be a more arduous knockout stage.

Rafiq’s team meet India in their final Group A match in Lincoln on Thursday, a clash which will decide the winner of the group and a potentially favourable quarter-final tie.

Unsurprisingly, India’s Group A record almost exactly mirrors England’s, with eight and nine-wicket wins over the two minnows.

Buck assured that a lot of preliminary work has gone into the match: “We’ve watched them on video a fair bit.

“I’d say their spin bowling should be good. They have a couple of powerful hitters to exploit the powerplays.

“We seem to have got similar results to them, which tells us that we need to perform well under pressure to beat them.”

And what of Afghanistan’s next generation? The senior team of this war-torn country has astounded the cricketing world by rising rapidly through the ICC World Cricket League tables, earning one-day international status until 2013, and only just missing out on a place in the 2011 World Cup.

“There’s definitely something there,” said Buck. “They had a good defence and hit the ball quite hard.

“We were quite open-minded as to how they would be. But they did well and put in a good performance.”

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