World Cup winning captains Mohammad Kaif of India and Australia's Cameron White have stressed on the importance of the ICC U19 Cricket world Cup which, according to them, plays a huge role in the development and growth of talented youngsters.
In 2002, Mohammad Kaif became only the third captain overall and first Indian to lift the coveted trophy when his side defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the 2000 event in Colombo. Two years later, White put his hands on the trophy in New Zealand when his side outsmarted South Africa by seven wickets in Lincoln..
Kaif, reflecting on his side's success, said: "When we came back, most of the players got selected for the Challenger Trophy (domestic one-day tournament) and were playing with or against the likes of Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble etc.
"It was like a big exposure for all Yuvraj Singh, Ajay Ratra, Reetinder Singh Sodhi and me. Luckily for me, I had a good Challenger when I made a couple of 90s and immediately I got picked for the Test against play South Africa.
"The ICC U19 CWC 2000 was, therefore, the biggest platform of my life."
White said: "It's a great experience for someone to go and play in an ICC U19 World Cup.
"It's the biggest tournament you can play before playing senior cricket. Playing against the best U19 players in the world, is the closest thing to getting you ready for the next step in your cricketing career."
Kaif was also a member of the India U19 side which had played in the ICC U19 CWC in South Africa two years earlier. That side had also included Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Laxmi Ratan Shukla. "Harbhajan, Sehwag and Shukla, soon after the South Africa tournament, went onto play for India and did really well. That was a better squad, but somehow we did not win the World Cup. We lost one or two crucial matches in the league stage and could not qualify for the knock-out."
White's side remained unbeaten in New Zealand in 2004 when it rolled over Kenya by 430 runs, West Indies by 42 runs, Scotland by 229 runs, New Zealand by seven wickets, South Africa by five wickets, England by 116 runs and the West Indies in the final by 93 runs.
Apart from White, Dan Christian, George Bailey, Xavier Doherty and Shaun Marsh have gone on to represented Australia at the international level.
White, who was the tournament's leading run-getter with 423 runs with a century and two half-centuries, reflecting on the tournament, said: "Looking back, we had a great team. Almost all of the team has gone on to play first-class cricket and many have played for Australia. It was a lucky year to have so many good players in the same under-19 team.
"I just remember it as a great time. We had played very well throughout the tournament without losing a game, so there was some pressure going into the final. We played well and were fortunate enough to win," said White who has also captained Australia in the shorter versions of the game."