Under-19 cricket is the first stepping stone for a young cricketer and the Under-19 World Cup is the first major tournament where they can showcase their talent. A lot of cricketers tend to lose their way after playing U-19 cricket but it is still a significant platform.
There have been quite a few instances when a player represents one country in the U-19 World Cup and goes on to play senior international cricket for another nation.
The Business Standard (TBS) looks at five famous cricketers who played for different countries in U-19 cricket and international cricket.
Imran Tahir (Pakistan and South Africa)
Protea leg-spinner Imran Tahir played the 1998 U-19 World Cup for Pakistan which was held in South Africa, the country he would later represent in senior international cricket. Tahir continued to play domestic cricket in Pakistan till 2006 but failed to make his way into the national team. Tahir married Sumayya Dildar, a South African woman whom he first met during the 1998 U-19 World Cup. He settled in South Africa and became eligible to play for them after meeting the requirement of four-year residence. Tahir is one of very few cricketers who made their international debut in World Cups. He has been a prolific performer with the ball for South Africa since then, especially in white-ball cricket.
Jonathan Trott (South Africa and England)
Former England batter Jonathan Trott represented South Africa in the 2000 edition of the U-19 World Cup. Trott scored centuries in both his first-class and Test debuts. Trott was a fine top-order batter, averaging 44 in Tests and 51 in ODIs. The South Africa-born player retired from international cricket in 2015. He had, earlier, taken a break from cricket citing stress and anxiety. Interestingly, Trott's half brother Kenny Jackson played for Western Province of South Africa and went to represent the Netherlands later. Trott has nine Test and four ODI hundreds to his name.
Grant Elliott (South Africa and New Zealand)
Grant Elliott's finest performance in international cricket was undoubtedly in the semifinal of the 2015 World Cup when he guided New Zealand to the final. His terrific performance knocked South Africa out of the tournament, the country where Elliott was born and brought up. Elliott played the 1998 ICC U-19 World Cup for South Africa alongside the likes of Jacques Rudolph and Morne Van Wyk. Interestingly, Michael Lumb, one of Elliott's teammates in that tournament, went on to represent England in international cricket. Elliott was a handy batting all-rounder, especially in 50-over cricket. Elliott now works as a commentator. His ODI shirt number (88) has now passed to Devon Conway, another South Africa-born New Zealand cricketer.
Colin de Grandhomme (Zimbabwe and New Zealand)
Colin de Grandhomme is now a key member of the New Zealand side across formats. A big hitter and an excellent medium pacer, de Grandhomme bagged a five-wicket haul in his Test debut against Pakistan. The all-rounder represented Zimbabwe in the 2004 U-19 World Cup and later played for Zimbabwe A as well. He played alongside leading Zimbabwe players- Brendan Taylor, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine and Prosper Utseya. His father Laurence de Grandhomme was also a first-class cricketer.
Craig Kieswetter (South Africa and England)
Craig Kieswetter was a superb wicketkeeper batter who represented South Africa in the 2006 U-19 World Cup. Kieswetter qualified to play for England on the basis of a British passport via his Scottish mother. The then Protea skipper Graeme Smith said that he wanted Kieswetter to return to South Africa. But he repeatedly expressed his desire to play for England.
Kieswetter was a part of England's successful 2010 ICC World T20 campaign and his performance with the bat was one of the reasons why England lifted the title.
In 2014, he suffered a broken nose and a fractured cheekbone while batting. He underwent facial surgery but was having vision problems. He could never recover completely and retired from professional cricket a year later.