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CRICKET: Hammond ready to take on the world
Oxfordshire teenager Miles Hammond says England are in confident mood as they go for glory in the ICC Under 19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The off-spinner, who lives in Oxford and plays club cricket for Aston Rowant, is in a squad of 15, who flew out last Friday for the 16-nation tournament, which gets under way on February 14.
England start their bid on the opening day against the UAE in Group D at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
They then move to the Dubai International Cricket Stadium where they will face Sri Lanka on Saturday, February 16 and New Zealand on Tuesday, February 18, with both games to be shown live on Sky Sports.
Before then, the Three Lions have warm-up games against Scotland in Dubai on February 10 and Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on February 12.
Since returning from the UAE for a triangular tournament against the hosts and Pakistan before Christmas, Hammond has been involved in a series of training camps at the ECB’s National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough University and at Malvern College.
“It has gone really well,” said the St Edward’s School pupil. “The training has been really worthwhile and from the team’s perspective, we’ve got a new team dynamic.
“We are very clear on what we are supposed to be doing and we are very confident.”
The UAE are familiar opponents, with England winning their first two games against the hosts in December, before suffering a surprise defeat in the third, but New Zealand and Sri Lanka represent fresh tests.
Hammond, who made his first-class debut for Gloucestershire last season, added: “I don’t know much about them, but it should be a good challenge playing new teams for the first time and it should be exciting.
“We have just got to concentrate on getting out of the pool.
“That is the first challenge and look at going into the quarter-finals.”
Hammond, who learnt of his selection from the ECB’s David Graveney on his 18th birthday last month, believes the experience England gained from their pre-Christmas tour will stand them in good stead.
“I think we learned a lot about the conditions,” he said. “They vary quite a lot from the various places we go to.
“Abu Dhabi always seems quite green because they water so much and Sharjah is completely different, it’s more of a dust bowl.”
If England, who are captained by Yorkshire’s Will Rhodes, finish in the top two in their group they are likely to face old adversaries Pakistan, who have held the upper hand in their recent meetings, or India in the last eight.