Pick eyes New Zealand clashes
England Under-19 coach Andy Pick is excited at the prospect of seeing how his charges progress at home this summer.
The under-19s are enjoying a well-earned rest following their two-and-a-half-month tour of Sri Lanka and Malaysia which culminated in their fifth-place World Cup finish.
Like their senior counterparts, England host New Zealand this summer in two Tests and five one-day internationals following a three-day game against the touring Bangladesh A side.
The Kiwis will pose a different challenge for Pick’s side, who have almost exclusively faced Asian opposition in recent years.
Pick told ecb.co.uk: “This summer will be the first time in four or five years we have played a non-subcontinent opposition.
“We’ve played against Bangladesh a couple of times, Sri Lanka a couple of times, Pakistan were over in the summer, we went to India and India came to Malaysia last winter to play us in a series.
“They do play differently on the subcontinent and it will be interesting to see how our players deal with the challenges of playing a country who will probably play a little bit like us.
“We’ve been fairly successful at home against subcontinent countries for the same reason that the big boys are, in as much as it swings a little bit and it seams a little bit and the way they play by hitting through the line in the subcontinent - it’s not quite so easy to play that way in this country.
“It will be a different challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing how our players cope with that really.”
Pick will next gather the squad together in mid-April for a four-day game against Middlesex second XI at Radlett in Hertfordshire.
He expects to have injured World Cup captain Alex Wakely available again by then following the compressed thumb fracture he sustained in the Group D clash with Bangladesh.
The Northants batsman played in the quarter-final defeat by India but was not risked in the play-off matches against Sri Lanka and Australia.
“He got hit on the thumb and while it didn’t split the bone there was a compression and obviously it was pretty sore,” Pick added.
“He decided he was fit enough to play against India and had a fitness test on the morning of the game. I threw a few balls at him and you could tell by the way he hit the ball it wasn’t inhibiting him at all.
“It was good that he played there but obviously once we were out of the main competition there didn’t seem any point in risking him getting hit again this close to a county season.
“So more out of respect for Northants - and that he’s their player - there didn’t seem any point in playing him and risk doing any more damage, so we left him out.
“He was keen to play. To be fair to him, he desperately wanted to play but on the advice of the physio really there was very little to gain and a lot more to lose, so we left him out for those two games.”
Barring senior call-ups or injuries, Pick will be able to choose from the same group of players against New Zealand that were available to him during the winter.
The under-19 age cut-off is made on September 1 each year and players remain eligible for 12 months from that point.