Tuesday, 13 March 2007

The Young Pretenders

With the World XI complete we now have an excellent idea of who exactly will be the main danger men at the World Cup. We now look at the up-and-coming youngsters in World cricket who are looking to make their mark in the Caribbean.

Mitchell Johnson (Australia)

At 25, Johnson is perhaps not quite so young, but he is fresh to international cricket after finally overcoming years of injury problems. Possibly the most hyped Australian bowler of the last decade, his fast left arm bowling style is in contrast to that of team mate Nathan Bracken, who is more of a swing bowler. Johnson of course accounted for Kevin Pietersen at the recent ICC Champions Trophy with a splendid one two set-up and he has also taken the prized wickets of Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. Yet to play a Test match, 2007 is surely his breakthrough year. With an ODI average of 27.88 and strike rate of 31.38 at an economy of 5.33, he is a very promising package indeed.

Shahriar Nafees (Bangladesh)

A left handed opening batsman who debuted at the tender age of 19, he has quickly established himself as an international class player. Now 21, he is a typically aggressive batsman who is renowned for his audacious sweep shots. Averaging 33.50 in Test matches and 40.40 in ODI’s, he has a very bright future ahead of him, as he displayed in making his maiden Test match century against none other than Australia. Yet to score a century in ODI’s against one of the big boys, he will be looking to do precisely that in the Caribbean.

Liam Plunkett (England)

A surprise call up for the post-Ashes winter tours of Pakistan and India after injury to Chris Tremlett, Plunkett has gone from strength to strength, especially since the latest Ashes series. He is a typical Duncan Fletcher player, capable of fifties with the bat, good work in the field and of course, match winning spells of seam and swing bowling, at lively medium-fast pace. His 3-43 against Australia in the deciding second final of the recent CB series may just earn him a starting birth ahead of Jon Lewis. His Test batting average is nothing special at a mere 8.62, but his ODI average of 23.45 is indicative of a player who can bat. A Test bowling average of 37.56 and strike rate of 62.75 is proof that Plunkett is still learning, but in ODIs his performances have improved markedly and he is better than his average of 35.82, at a strike rate of 36.89, with a declining economy rate of 5.82 suggest. He has the potential to match Irfan Pathan’s best performances.

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (India)

At just 24, he seems to have established himself as India’s best pace bowler. A very aggressive “in your face” type of bowler, he enjoys bowling controlled outswing at a good fast-medium pace. His Test match bowling average of 25.97 and strike rate of 46.18 provide early evidence of his class. Though he can be expensive at times, with an ODI economy rate of 5.75, he is also a wicket taker and will be key to India’s challenge in the West Indies. He is still developing as an ODI bowler, but an average of 36.11 and strike rate of 37.62 is still nothing to ashamed of. Also capable of the odd heave ho with the bat.

Ross Taylor (New Zealand)

At 23 Taylor looks to have established himself in the Kiwi middle order for a long time to come. An athletic fielder and handy off spinner, this aggressive young right handed middle order batsman is highly reminiscent of Kevin Pietersen, with his preference for leg side shots, which can be his downfall when the ball strikes his pads. However, his timing is such that this is a rare event and he is a powerful batsman who adds impetus to New Zealand’s top order, with lusty blows over deep mid-wicket a favourite. Averaging 39.93 in ODIs, including fantastic hundreds against the Aussies and Sri Lankans, a Test call will surely follow later in the year.

AB de Villiers (South Africa)

A real team player, A.B. seems to have been around for ages. Still only just turned 23, he has yet to settle down into a regular batting position. He currently opens in the ODI side, though he has also batted throughout the rest of the order in both ODI and Test match cricket. A wicket keeper batsman, he unsurprisingly makes a superb outfielder with his customary acrobatics. Whilst not yet spectacular, his batting averages of 35.14 in Tests and 34.00 in ODI’s are indicative of a man still searching for the position which he can make his own. Watch out for his aggressive style of batting, which in conjunction with Graeme Smiths', can be a real pleasure to behold.

Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)

One of the “variety” bowlers within the varied Sri Lankan attack, his round-arm action can be extremely difficult for opposing batsmen to pick up, especially when the ball is spearing into their toes at 95mph. An exceptionally fast and aggressive bowler, a large number of his victims are bowled, because of his unique bowling style. He holds an ODI average of 26.97 and strike rate of 33.82, at a surprisingly low economy rate of 4.78 for a strike bowler. It is in Test cricket where his figures truly are remarkable for a 23 year old though. Possessing an average of 31.57, he has an outstanding strike rate of just 49.45. Quip “Malinga the slinger” at your peril.

Jerome Taylor (West Indies)

The spearhead of the West Indian attack at just 22, this genuinely fast bowler has a very bright future ahead of him. Though it took him two years to recover from being pushed into the Test team far too early, at just 18 years of age, he is now a much stronger character. His Test figures are recovering, with an average of 33.19 and strike rate of 57.61. He has though excelled in ODI’s, with a bowling average of 26.72 and strike rate of 32.83 at an economy of 4.88 and he already has an ODI hat-trick to his name against Australia in the recent ICC Champions Trophy. Possesses a deadly Yorker, which Darren Gough would be proud of.

Chris Pallett


Tim said...

Great piece. Nafees is certainly one to look out for; if he plays a big innings then - who knows - Bangladesh may even cause an upset.

Chrispy said...

Yeah Tim and Mortaza too. So many more young players could have featured, but I decided to stick to one per nationa and the reason Pakistan don't feature in this compilation is because they have no recent newcomers below 25 years of age, with Asif out of the running. I should though have mentioned Sean Williams who has a lot of potential.