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When a young Stephen Peters powered England U19 to World Cup glory

Stephen Peters
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Stephen Peters, England’s young batting sensation during the late Nineties, starred with the bat in the 1998 Under-19 World Cup final against New Zealand at the Wanderers, to help England win a major international silverware for the first time ever.

Twelve years ago, England’s under 19s took part in what was the first junior World Cup for 10 years. The tournament, held in South Africa, saw England beat New Zealand to take the title.

England’s victory in the final owed much to the batting of future Essex, Worcestershire and Northants opener, Stephen Peters. His classy 107 from 125 balls saw his side to within 30 of New Zealand’s 241-6, and the middle order did the rest, with the captain, Owais Shah, seeing the team home.

The innings signposted what many good judges thought would be a glittering international career. At the time, Peters was the most highly rated member of a star-studded England line-up, a list that boasted future full internationals in Rob Key, Shah, Chris Schofield, Graeme Swann, and Paul Franks.

It was Peters’ first hundred at this level and England’s only three-figure score of an unusual event. Ramnaresh Sarwan’s leg-breaks(!) made him the competition’s top wicket-taker, while Christopher Gayle, as he was then known, was the competition’s highest run-getter. Yet despite boasting the top batsman and bowler, the West Indies still failed to make the quarter-finals.

The favourites, Australia, had already beaten India and Pakistan and were seemingly nailed-on to reach the final at the expense of England – especially when only a massive defeat against the Old Enemy could deny them. Bang on cue, in front of a 6,000-strong crowd at Newlands, Australia were bowled out for 147. England knew that if they could knock the runs off inside 33 overs they would overhaul Allan Border’s charges on mathematical count-back. A smash-and-grab from Franks and Peters took them home with nearly four overs to spare.

In the final, a 100-run partnership for England’s first wicket broke the back of their run chase. Peters was named man of the match for arguably the most important innings of what has become a solid professional career. Few are granted such days in the sunshine as Peters was in the winter of 1998. On that day, at that time, he was the best in the world.

First published in 2009

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