Johannesburg, January 1: Former South Africa pacer Makhaya Ntini feels the seeds of Virat Kohli's stardom were sown at the U-19 World Cup back in 2008 when he captained the Indian team to the title.
"If you look at players like Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada, they all started playing U-19 cricket and representing their country in the U-19 World Cup, and look where they are today," Ntini wrote in a column for the ICC.
"A lot of the big players now started in the U-19 World Cup, and that is where you can get noticed and be seen by the world," he said.
The next edition will be held in South Africa from January 17 to February 9. "Cricket is one of the biggest games in South Africa, especially when it comes to the young fellows. They have got their heroes you're talking about the likes of Quinton de Kock and Rabada," said Ntini.
"These guys have not been picked from nowhere they played in the U19 World Cup. The key for the guys playing at South Africa 2020 is to look at them and how far they've gone, and where they are now.
"Without a doubt, the U19 World Cup helps develop young players as people as well as just cricketers. At the age of 19 or younger, you're still trying to understand how you can learn about the game, and the U19 World Cup helps them develop and learn to stand up for themselves," he wrote.
Ntini's son Thando also played in the 2018 edition of the U-19 World Cup. "I've got very fond memories of watching my son, Thando, play U-19 international cricket, and I was part of that age-group as well.
"The experience was certainly a delight, and it's great that players can express themselves and become the heroes of the future for the countries they are representing.
"I think that experience is so important for them," added Ntini, who played 101 Tests and 173 ODIs, taking 390 and 266 wickets respectively.