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Robinson believes U19s are first class

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Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson expects to face several of the England Under-19s in his role as Sussex cricket manager this summer

Outgoing England Under-19 coach Mark Robinson is optimistic his young charges will gain first-class experience this summer following their mixed World Cup campaign.

Robinson now resumes his role as Sussex cricket manager but expects to come up against many of the players he worked with later this year.

England beat defending champions India to top Group A, but were knocked out of the main competition by West Indies at the quarter-final stage, losing by 18 runs in a rain-reduced game.

And their tournament ended on a disappointing note with defeats to India, in a fifth place play-off semi-final, and to New Zealand in the seventh place play-off.

Robinson identified batsman James Vince, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with Hampshire in 2009, along with captain Azeem Rafiq, who has made a handful of appearances for Yorkshire, Gloucestershire left-arm seamer David Payne and Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes to cope with the first-class game.

“Obviously Vince is quite experienced,” Robinson told ecb.co.uk. “But he’s somebody who would look to get more opportunities on the back of what happened to him last summer and the experience of being abroad.

“Rafiq is an outstanding captain and led the team really, really well and is a fierce competitor. He needs more exposure in an ideal world to first-team cricket now.

“Payne was the most consistent bowler throughout the tournament on the English team and again I’d expect him to get exposure in the first team. Stokes’ batting was exciting as an all-rounder.”

Despite maintaining they would hope to beat West Indies “nine times out of 10”, Robinson conceded hosts New Zealand looked physically stronger than his side.

That physicality was a trait he noticed in several of the Southern Hemisphere teams, particularly the rugby-playing nations.

Azeem Rafiq & Saurabh Netravalkar

Robinson revealed Azeem Rafiq was "an outstanding captain and led the team really, really well and is a fierce competitor"

“The South African team to look at - we didn’t play against them - and the New Zealand team we did play against were physically stronger than us, physically more developed, and looked a more powerful team.

“The West Indian team didn’t particularly (look stronger). We would beat the West Indian team nine times out of 10, but just the pressure of the chase cost us the game.

“It was the same with all the teams, they’ve got a group of 18-19-year-olds, you have players of different maturity both experience-wise and also physically.

“And that’s just a natural thing as some people catch up and go past some of the stronger ones now.”

He added: “We probably looked a little bit inferior physically to the Southern Hemisphere. I think that’s because the rugby side of the game, which they play as their winter sport.”

Robinson reiterated his praise for Rafiq and the skipper’s deputy Vince, plus Leicestershire paceman Nathan Buck, who led England’s attack.

“Rafiq and Vince, as captain and vice-captain did fantastically well in trying to fulfil those roles,” said Robinson, who was supported by Sussex batsman Carl Hopkinson among others.

“Myself and Carl Hopkinson tried to give Vince and Rafiq, and Nathan Buck as well as senior bowler, as much responsibility as we could to try and help them fulfil their senior roles and position in the team.”

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