We finalise our brief look at the top eleven up and coming talented youngsters who will be on display in county cricket over the English summer. The qualifiers are all under the age of 23 and are looking to establish themselves in their respective county sides this season.
Moeen Ali (20) – Worcestershire – Left Hand Top Order Batsman / Right Arm Offbreak Bowler
Ali is an explosive and exciting player who likes to dominate the opposition. He once smashed a century off just 56 balls against Sri Lanka U19’s and he is a confident leader. He has mainly been used at the top of the order in limited overs cricket to date, where he has plundered a century and four fifties in just 19 innings. He will be hoping for more first class action this year and with his talent he should get it. Ali is also a good offspin bowler, which makes him a formidable allround player. Brother, Kadeer, plays for Gloucestershire, whilst cousin, Kabir, is also based at New Road and the early signs are that Moeen can outshine them both.
Alex Wakely (19) – Northants – Right Hand Middle Order Batsman / Right Arm Medium-Fast Bowler
Wakely captained England U19’s at the 2008 World Cup and has performed admirably at that level. He has yet to translate his undoubted ability and performances at U19 level into first team county cricket however, although he has notched up two fifties in the County Championship to date. He possesses every shot in the book and is also a capable support bowler. However, he needs to improve under pressure, when the going isn’t so good. This will be a big year for him.
The IX Young Pretenders for 2008
NB: Gary Wilson and Tom Burrows are the wicket keepers to watch but they are unlikely to gain as much exposure to first team cricket this time out. Craig Kieswetter meanwhile has already made his breakthrough and it will be interesting to see how he fairs in division one.