Pool of rising under-19 talent from seven years now vital cogs in McCullum’s squad

Kane Williamson was the batting kingpin, Corey Anderson provided thrust from the middle order and a "heavy" ball as a seamer, while Tim Southee and Trent Boult swung it happily with the new ball.

It sounds familiar, but these words are not about New Zealand's 2015 World Cup campaign, but an overview of New Zealand's strengths at the 2008 under-19 World Cup.

It is easy to be cynical about the value of age-group cricket, with many believing the theory of "self-perpetuation". That is, these guys are given too big a leg up and others just as or even more talented kids fall by the wayside because they don't get the same access to good coaching and facilities as these few chosen ones.

That will remain an argument for another day, but what we can reflect on now as the World Cup rolls on into its fourth week, is the remarkable pool of talent that gathered in Malaysia in February of 2008.

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Not surprisingly, the bulk of New Zealand's runs in difficult conditions came from Anderson (162 runs at 40.5) and Williamson (124 at 31), who were the only two whose aggregates passed three figures.

This was, generally speaking, a bowlers' tournament, and Southee and Boult cashed in. Southee took a remarkable 17 wickets at an average of 6.64, while Boult was second with 11 wickets at 10.9.

While it didn't take long for Williamson, Boult and Southee to graduate to full national honours, Anderson needed a little more nurturing and a move from Canterbury to Northern Districts (the home association of the other three) to make it happen. All are now vital cogs in Brendon McCullum's World Cup machine.

But it was not just New Zealand that has benefited from what we can call the Class of '08.

They were eventually beaten in the semifinal by eventual winners India. The inspiration behind India's successful Duckworth-Lewis chase was Virat Kohli, the brightest star in the batting galaxy, who scored 43 from 53 balls. India beat South Africa, who numbered Rilee Rossouw and Wayne Parnell among them, in the final.

Interestingly, Australia fell way back in the field despite having a side containing World Cup squad members Steve Smith, James Faulkner and Josh Hazlewood (and the late Phil Hughes).

They ended up playing for fifth and sixth against an England team that included Chris Woakes, James Taylor and Steven Finn. Five of those six guys met on the opening day of this World Cup, with Faulkner not considered because of injury.

Two teams that have supplied few players to this tournament were the West Indian and Zimbabwe teams of '08. Just Darren Bravo from the West Indies and Solomon Mire from Zimbabwe. Kyle Jarvis surely would have been an important piece of Zimbabwe's armoury had he not quit international cricket after a dispute with the board two years ago.

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Perhaps never before has an age group tournament been such an indicator of future stardom, even in the unlikely surrounds of the Malay Peninsula. The scary thing is that they are no older than 25, so there might be many more to come.

That New Zealand team also provided a few guys who have become stalwarts on the provincial scene. George Worker has scored consistently for Central Districts and Canterbury since that tournament, Michael Bracewell is an Otago staple, as was spinner Nick Beard before he started having problems with the legality of his action.

Class of '08 at the World Cup

New Zealand: Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Australia: Steve Smith, James Faulkner, Josh Hazlewood.
England: James Taylor, Steven Finn, Chris Woakes.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera.
West Indies: Darren Bravo.
South Africa: Rilee Rossouw, Wayne Parnell.
India: Virat Kohli, Ravi Jadeja.
Pakistan: Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Junaid Khan (withdrew).
Ireland: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie.
Bangladesh: Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain.
Zimbabwe: Solomon Mire.

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