Edwards impresses in U19 opener

A disappointing start to Australia's U19 World Cup campaign but plenty to like about young NSW allrounder

On a disappointing day for Australia Under 19s, allrounder Jack Edwards enhanced his reputation as one of the country's most talented young cricketers.

The youngest member of Australia's starting XI against India at just 17, Edwards joined the rare club of players to score a half-century and claim four wickets in an ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup match.

Young guns fall to India in U19 WC opener

Hailing from the Manly-Warringah CC in Sydney, Edwards has already proven in his short career that he steps up on the big occasions.

On his Australia Under 19s debut against Sri Lanka in Hobart last year, the then 16-year-old plundered a century. This summer, he smashed a blistering ton to lead NSW Metro to victory in the Under 19 National Championships final.

But in Mount Maunganui, his efforts with the ball at the death – claiming 4-65 to help restrict India to 7-328 after they looked set to go beyond 350 – followed by a composed 73 at the top of the order underlined why the young star is rated so highly.

"I was pretty confident that I could play well, I just wanted to play my role for the team," Edwards said after play.

"I didn't think I was out of my depth going out there … it was a pleasing performance (individually) but in the end we didn't get the win and that's what matters."

As wickets fell around him, Edwards marshalled the Australian run chase against an Indian attack featuring two quicks bowling in excess of 140 kilometres per hour.

Just as he looked set to launch at the back-end of the innings, Edwards was bowled by a ball that stayed slightly low, ending Australia's chances of reeling in the huge total.

Edwards also starred with the ball, taking 4-65 // Getty
Edwards also starred with the ball, taking 4-65 // Getty

"Facing it, I knew it was pretty sharp," Edwards said.

"I didn't realise it was 145 (kilometres) until one of the boys told me. They bowled not only quick, but they were accurate and pretty tough to get away.

"It was a good experience facing someone that quick, and I didn't feel too uncomfortable against them.

"I felt towards the middle overs of our innings, when we were two down if we could have batted that partnership another 10 overs, we probably could have had a strong chance to really go hard in the last 10 overs and get close to that total."

A calm, collected cricketer, Edwards believes one of his main strengths is being flexible to the demands of the game.

In the past 12 months, he has scored an international under-19 century in the middle order in a three-day game, a half-century on his World Cup debut, and hammered an unbeaten 99 in a T20 match at the Gabba featuring two teams of Australia's best under-19 cricketers.

Edwards ton leads NSW Metro to U19s title

"I think a strength of my game is being able to adapt to the situation, whether I have to go hard or whether I have to graft an innings," he said.

"Today there was different times when I needed to go hard and needed to graft.

"I couldn't have picked a worse time to get out really, I needed to keep batting."

He's also had a taste of a professional environment as the Sydney Sixers development for rookie, learning from the likes of his older brother Mickey and Moises Henriques, another member of the 50-runs-four-wickets club at an Under 19 World Cup.

And in that professional manner, he knows his team can't dwell on the India result and must now look ahead to must-win games against Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea if they want to avoid crashing out in the group stages.

"We'll certainly talk about the game, the areas where it wrong and the areas we were good in," Edwards said.

"With a tournament like this, you don't have much time in between games so you've just got to move on and look forward to the next game and perform as well as you can."

Australia's next match is Wednesday against Zimbabwe in Lincoln.

Australia U19 squad: Jason Sangha (NSW, captain), Will Sutherland (VIC, vice captain), Xavier Bartlett (QLD), Max Bryant (QLD), Jack Edwards (NSW), Zak Evans (VIC), Jarrod Freeman (TAS), Ryan Hadley (NSW), Baxter Holt (NSW), Nathan McSweeney (QLD), Jonathan Merlo (VIC), Lloyd Pope (SA), Jason Ralston (NSW), Param Uppal (NSW), Austin Waugh (NSW).