How Australia won the Under-19 World Cup

After rolling the team that has dominated the tournament over the past decade, Hugh Weibgen’s men are expected to start filtering into senior domestic ranks

Aussie pace too hot for India in U19 World Cup final

Australia's drought-breaking Under-19 World Cup winners have been tipped to make the leap to senior international cricket as a series of tactical masterstrokes were revealed as integral to their triumph.

Mitch Marsh, the last successful Australian skipper of the ICC's pinnacle youth event in 2010, was among the national men's team stars to congratulate Hugh Weibgen's side after they rolled India, the team that has dominated the tournament for the past decade.

"It was amazing to watch," said Marsh, the current T20I captain who stayed up to the early hours of Monday morning after his team's match against West Indies in Adelaide to watch the young Aussies lift the trophy in South Africa.

"You look back on all the Under-19 teams, certainly the teams that have won it, a lot of guys have gone on to represent Australia. That's exciting for the future of Australian cricket."

Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar have been among those who have sent messages to U19 team members after their 79-run in Benoni, near Johannesburg.

It was a victory built on their star group of fast bowlers, led by player-of-the-match Mahli Beardman who shapes as one of Australian cricket's brightest pace prospects, and a shrewd tactical outlook overseen by captain Weibgen and coach Anthony Clark.

Beardman was named player of the match after taking 3-15 // Getty/ICC

Only once in seven matches did a team score over 200 against Australia, while Beardman (10 wickets at 10.50), Tom Straker (13 wickets at 11) and Callum Vidler (14 wickets at 11.71) all finished the tournament with remarkable numbers.

India boasted the tournament's three leading run scorers going into its final game, but unravelled while chasing 254 as four of their batters succumbed to short balls, including their two top scorers for the match, Adarsh Singh (47) and Murgan Abhishek (42).

Australia made the bold move to play all four of their speedsters – swing bowler Charlie Anderson also featured as a new-ball threat – in the same XI for only the second time in the tournament.

From left: Charlie Anderson, Mahli Beardman, Callum Vidler and Tom Straker // Getty/ICC

"We know we're very lucky to have four very quality fast bowlers," said Weibgen, who praised the quartet’s camaraderie and selflessness. "It was more a conditions-based decision against a team like India, we thought it was probably a good ploy."

Beardman revealed the team’s inkling that India, who have missed just one decider over the past six U19 tournaments and won half of them, were susceptible to bouncers was confirmed by their scouting of their tense two-wicket semi-final win over South Africa.

"We knew India were going to struggle with that short ball and anything back of a length with a little bit of bounce and carry," said the 18-year-old, whose Australian side only won their semi by a single wicket.

"To the subcontinental teams it was (a plan) for sure. They always struggle pulling off their face and high-up, they lose control of the pull shot a little bit.

"We saw against South Africa early on they struggled against the short ball too, so to us that was a pretty obvious decision to go short, then from there it was about attacking the stumps as much as possible if it wasn't short."

Much like Pat Cummins did in Ahmedabad in last year's ODI World Cup final against India when he shocked many by electing to bowl first, Weibgen made a similarly brave call at the coin toss at Willowmoore Park.

Both semi-finals were played at the same venue and were both won by the team batting second.

Cloudy conditions that necessitated the early use of the floodlights meant bowling first would have been the conventional move.

But Weibgen's sense that the pitch would break up in the second innings proved telling when Beardman bowled India's star No.3 Musheer Khan (the only player in the tournament to score two centuries) with one that shot low only 12 overs into India's innings in the afternoon.

"It was pretty dark (in the morning), they had the lights on and it was overcast. But we thought the pitch was hard enough," said Weibgen.

"We were basically backing ourselves to get a competitive score and back ourselves to defend that, that was the reasoning behind it.

"We thought in the afternoon it might play up a bit more, a few might start to stay low – Mahli bowled someone with one that stayed lower."

Beardman celebrates the wicket of Musheer Khan // Getty/ICC

Australia’s brains trust had another of their big calls pay off when their persistence with middle-order batter Harjas Singh paid dividends as the left-hander top scored in the decider and was the only batter from either side to pass fifty.

Singh was averaging 8.1 for the tournament and had not made more than 17, but handled India's spinners particularly well, hitting three sixes off them, on the way to a vital 55.

"He obviously struggled a little bit at the start of the tournament, but we knew he was a class player," said Weibgen, who averaged over 50 for the tournament.

"Full credit to the coaches for backing him in and all the boys were backing him in too. We knew he had runs in him, he's done it before. It was so good to see him score runs in the big game and he really stood up when we needed him most.

"He's got that swag about him when he's going well. It was good to see him up and about yesterday, he's got all the shots, he hits the ball a long way. He's a class player and I'm sure he'll go a long way."

Weibgen feels it's only a matter of time before a number of his teammates graduate to state cricket.

Beardman represented Western Australia in the Marsh One-Day Cup in November, while state teammate Marsh had already earmarked him as one to watch after facing him in the nets when the quick was only 15.

"I was really proud of him, he’s got a really bright future," Marsh said of the Dennis Lillee-tutored 18-year-old. "We mainly speak about fishing and boating, not so much the cricket side of things.

"We’ve certainly got a good bowler on our hands and if we can manage him through the next couple of years, I think he’s got a very bright future for Western Australia."

Sam Konstas is highly rated by New South Wales and is expected to resume his spot in the Blues' Sheffield Shield team upon returning to Australia having made his debut in November.

In the shortest format, Harry Dixon (Melbourne Renegades), Callum Vidler (Brisbane Heat) and Konstas (Sydney Thunder) all have BBL deals.

"They've got all the attributes to take it to the next level," said Weibgen.

"I'm sure they'll go back now and finish the season strong and have a good off-season and try to push (into) teams and squads next season.

"Everyone's goals will be to push (state) teams and squads in the next year or so."

Australia's Under 19 World Cup 2024 fixtures

Jan 22: Australia beat Namibia by four wickets

Jan 25: Australia beat Zimbabwe by 225 runs

Jan 28: Australia beat Sri Lanka by six wickets

Jan 31: Australia beat England by 110 runs (DLS)

Feb 2: No result v West Indies

Feb 8: Second semi-final, Australia beat Pakistan by one wicket

Feb 11: Final, Australia beat India by 79 runs

Full tournament fixtures can be found here

Australia squad: Lachlan Aitken, Charlie Anderson, Harkirat Bajwa, Mahli Beardman, Tom Campbell, Harry Dixon, Ryan Hicks, Sam Konstas, Rafael MacMillan, Aidan O’Connor, Oliver Peake, Harjas Singh, Tom Straker, Callum Vidler, Hugh Weibgen