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Start 'em young!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Mar 11, 2006
Piyush Chawla making his debut at the age of 17 years and 75 days only emphasis the trend among Asian cricketers to throw their cricketers in at the deep end at an early age.

Some learn to swim pretty fast, Sachin Tendulkar of course being the prime example, others sink like a stone. One such glaring case was leg spinner L. Sivaramakrishan, the youngest debutant after Tendulkar before his record was overtaken in the ongoing Mohali Test by Chawla, also a 'leggie.'

In Siva's case fame and fortune went to his head and within a couple of years he had faded out, not though before winning a Test against England in 1984 and helping India clinch the World Championship of Cricket title in Australia. Now of course Siva has reinvented himself as a successful TV commentator.

It is quite amazing really that of the 20 youngest players to make their Test debut all but one come from Asia--that is India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Just one Englishman has played for his country while still in his teens and that was Brian Close over 57 years ago.

Traditionally, England and Australia have been wary of blooding youngsters, going for experience over youth. The Under-19 World Cup launched a few years ago by the ICC has also proved a fertile breeding ground for precious talent who have often taken the short route straight from the U-19 Indian team to the senior national side.

This was the case with Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif and more recently, Irfan Pathan and Chawla himself who was Player of the Tournament in last month's Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in which India lost in the final to Pakistan.

The various age-group tournaments conducted by the BCCI also help to spot talent at an early age. The experiment has generally worked for India and Pakistan with more players than not coming good at a young age.

The following is the list of youngest players in Test cricket. A point to note though is that the ages of many Pakistani players are in doubt. Imran Khan is on record as stating that all cricketers from his country, with the exception of Imran himself, have falsified their ages.

14y 227d: Hasan Raza (Pakistan)

15y 124d: Mushtaq Mohammad (Pakistan)

15y 128d Mohammad Sharif (Bangladesh)

16y 189d: Aaqib Javed (Pakistan)

16y 205d: SR Tendulkar (India)

16y 221d: Aftab Baloch (Pakistan)

16y 223d: Talha Jubair (Bangladesh)

16y 248d: Nasim-ul-Ghani (Pakistan)

16y 267d: Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)

16y 320d: Enamul Haque jnr (Bangladesh)

16y 352d: Khalid Hasan (Bangladesh)

17y 5d: Zahid Fazal (Pakistan)

17y 61d: Mohammad Ashraful (Bangladesh)

17y 68d: Ata-ur-Rehman(Pakistan)

17y 73d: Nazmul Hossain (Bangladesh)

17 y. 75 days: Piyush Chawla (India)

17y 78d: Imran Nazir (Pakistan)

17y 118d: L Sivaramakrishnan (India)

17y 122d: JED Sealy (West Indies)

17y 129d: Fazl-e-Akbar (Pakistan)

 
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