India’s World Cup winning off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes India has benefitted from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup as a number of top performers from the event.
"India has been lucky to find some very good and talented cricketers from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cups. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan and Virat Kohli have come through these World Cups.
"I am sure this time too we will be able to find some cricketers from the tournament. Who knows maybe in 2015, someone from the India U19 side will be a key member of the senior team at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. It is a tournament of immense importance for cricket in general and Indian cricket in particular," said Harbhajan who played in the ICC U19 CWC 1998 in South Africa
India failed to reach the final of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 1998 after losing out to eventual winner England and Australia in Group A on net run-rate. The 32-year-old from Jalandhar, who has taken 406 Test and 259 ODI wickets, returned figures of one for 52 against Australia, one for 29 against England and one for 26 against Pakistan in the three matches 14 years ago.
"I remember a lot about the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 1998. Even though we didn't win the tournament, there were some happy memories from the event. I still remember we played some sides in the tournament like England, Australia and it was a good experience.
"It was the first time I was representing India at any level. The biggest learning for me from the tournament was the fact that I played in a tournament of 50-over matches. Before the tournament, I had played only four-day matches for Punjab U19.
"This tournament was definitely a stepping stone for me in my international career, because shortly thereafter I played for India," added the champion off-spinner.
Harbhajan urged the players to give it their best shot when they participate in the event which will be staged from 11-26 August in Queensland, Australia. "I would only tell the players playing this time to go there to win the title. Only participating in the tournament is of no use. Go to win and that will pay rich dividends in your career.
"My advice is simple, make the most of this opportunity and enjoy the opportunity you are getting at this early stage in your career. Imagine getting to play in Australia at such a tender age, there is nothing better than that for a young a cricketer starting out in his career."
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor captained his country's U19 side when the event was staged in New Zealand in 2002.
Reflecting on that event, Taylor said: "I think the ICC U19 CWC 2002 gave me the exposure and a chance to play in a world tournament, something which most of the other sports don't offer at that young age. It was nice to have that exposure and the experience and to play in your country, in front of your family was extra special."
Taylor scored 85 runs in five innings of six matches as New Zealand failed to qualify for the Super League semi-finals after managing just one victory against England following losses to Australia and South Africa in Group 2.
Taylor is one of the 15 players to have captained their countries in the ICC U19 CWCs and also at the highest level.
"I have a come a long way since then," said Taylor, adding: "It was a privilege obviously to captain your country at the age group in a World Cup. And with the event taking place in our country, it was extra special.
"But captaining the national team was dream come true, something I never thought would happen. So, I am very happy and learning a lot along the way.
"I think I learnt a lot from the 2002 event and I am now a totally different player and leader. You learn a lot from your mistakes and am sure this is what I have done so far."
Talking about tips to future stars, Taylor said: "I think you need to have the motivation and sacrifice to be a cricketer and play cricket for a living, the discipline and all the parts comes together itself and takes care of the rest.
"My first and foremost advice will be to enjoy yourself as a lot of time you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself. Of course, try to adjust to the conditions as quickly as possible, try to play as a team, learn from your mistakes and have fun. If you do all those things, your team will be competitive."
Taylor also had a word of encouragement for the New Zealand U19 side as well. "Good luck. Enjoy the moment, enjoy representing New Zealand and I wish the team all the best and look forward to seeing the results."