AS birthdays go, George Hill’s forthcoming 19th could be pretty memorable.

The fledgling Yorkshire batting all-rounder has flown to South Africa to be part of England Under 19s' World Cup campaign, which begins on January 18. and February 9.

Hill, born in Keighley, celebrates his birthday on January 24, sandwiched the day in between group games against Australia and Nigeria in Kimberley.

So, needless to say, immediate celebrations will be put on ice.

However, securing silverware a couple of weeks later would be one heck of a belated gift.

“That would be the best present ever!” said Hill, just before boarding his flight late last week.

A product of the Sedbergh School system, Hill has been named as England’s vice captain for the tournament. Lancashire’s George Balderson is the skipper.

“I never thought I’d get the opportunity to go to a World Cup, so it’s unbelievable,” said Hill. “I’m really excited.

“We have a really good squad with a lot of players who have already played first-class cricket. It’s a good squad on paper, but going out there and performing on the pitch is another thing.

“We have been preparing for this tournament for a year now, and we’re a tight knit bunch.

“It’s probably one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in in a cricket team. Everybody gets on really well, which is massive for something like this.”

It has been a busy few months for Hill and his team-mates, with them playing a warm-up tri-series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in Antigua just before Christmas.

They were beaten finalists by the Sri Lankans, with Hill scoring 29 runs from five matches and going wicketless with his seamers.

“Antigua was a great trip away for us. Being honest, it didn’t go as well as I would have liked personally. But that’s cricket isn’t it,” he continued. “It’s been nice to get home and recharge the batteries over Christmas, so I’m ready to go.

“We have quite a few warm-up games as well as training, so there’s loads of time to fine tune things.”

After the programme of warm-up games in South Africa, England’s opening game is another meeting with the West Indies on January 20.

They are in Group B for the 16-team tournament, with all of their games played in Kimberley.

Along with minnows Nigeria, who are in England’s group, the likes of Japan, Scotland, Canada and the UAE will all feature in a tournament last won by India in 2018.

That 2018 edition was held in New Zealand, and Harry Brook captained England to a seventh-placed finish, where they were beaten in the quarter-finals by Australia.

“Having shared a flat with him, I’ve spoken a bit to Brooky about what to expect,” said Hill, who describes himself as “quite an orthodox player”.

England beat world champions India in two home one-day internationals in the summer before winning four matches in Antigua last month.

They are far from favourites for the competition, though Hill said: “We are quietly confident we can go all the way.”

The event will be televised live on Sky Sports, so there are plenty of opportunities to watch the future stars of world cricket in action.

In 2019, Hill scored 907 runs and took 13 wickets from 37 matches across all cricket, for the Under 19s and the Yorkshire Academy and Second XI teams. His efforts saw him scoop Yorkshire's Academy Player of the Year award in October.

His standout innings was an early season 122 in a winning Yorkshire Premier League draw against Sessay at Weetwood in May.

And looking forward, he is hoping to further impress Yorkshire's Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon in 2020, saying: “When I get home, I’ll be looking to score as many runs as possible in the twos and then hopefully get a shot in the ones. That’s a big goal for me.

“It’s nice to know that if you do perform in the twos, Galey is prepared to give you a chance. It definitely gives you a boost in confidence.”