Tazeem Ali: “The U19s World Cup was a great experience.”

Fresh off the plane from South Africa, Warwickshire’s 17-year-old leg spinner is looking forward to a big year ahead.

Tazeem Ali says England’s next generation will learn so much from their ICC Men’s U19 Cricket World Cup campaign in South Africa – despite just missing out on a semi-final spot.

“It was a great experience and a fantastic team to be part of,” said Ali. “We were disappointed not to get through to the last four but, overall, it was a positive trip.

“There’s obviously a bit of frustration that we didn’t go further in the competition. But if we look at the big picture, then we looked like a proper team in the World Cup, beating both South Africa and Scotland.

“I was pretty confident ahead of our match with Scotland, but South Africa was a really big game that we were all desperate to do well in. Getting that win really gave us lots of confidence going into the next couple of games against West Indies and Australia.”

England ultimately fell short in those two clashes, losing to West Indies by two wickets and to Australia by 110 runs (DLS method). But Ali says he and his team-mates will improve as a result of their experience.

“On a personal level, I was really satisfied with the way I bowled,” he said. “I felt I did my job well in the middle overs, picking up wickets along the way.

“Against West Indies and Australia, we learned as a batting unit that we’ve got to be a bit more composed and to try not to play any rash shots. We’ve got to just play our game and go through our processes. In a couple of years’ time, those players from West Indies and Australia are going to be trying to play for their senior sides so, if we can learn something about them now, that should help in the future.”

He added: “At the really elite level, it’s 100% about keeping clear in your head about what you’re trying to do. Learning from this experience is going to be so important, with all the crowds, TV, and media commitments. It’s a great experience for all of us.”

Ali produced a Player of the Match performance in England’s last World Cup fixture against Zimbabwe, eventually finishing with 7-29 after an utterly devastating spell. It was the kind of impact that attracts huge attention and makes a big statement about Ali’s potential. But his mind remains focused on his immediate challenges.

He said: “There are always some nerves, especially in a World Cup with big crowds and TV coverage. You obviously want to give your best and perform at 100% in those type of games. But once you start getting into the action, the cricket takes over and you’re able to block out all the other noise. You just get on with your business.

“For now, though, my focus goes back to Warwickshire. Hopefully I’ll be training with the pros and then I’d like to try to contribute to the team winning games this year. There’s also a two-match series against India U19s to look forward to. It should be a great year.”