We are now living in an age of cricket when the quality of a batsman is also including the age as a factor for consideration. The players from yesteryears, though full of class and style, are overshadowed by the new generation players. Yes, the new guys also have talent, in their own ways. Some of them are very very talented. Let me try to list the ones who caught my eyes. Team by team.
Long term number one is tests and ODIs, now losing the mantle to others. Why? I don’t know. But I can say that they had an ageing team that kept them on the top, but a younger team isn’t able to keep up the good work. Still, there are some really promising youngsters in them.
>He is, maybe, the best after Gilly retired from international services. Tim has the abilities of an athletic keeper and a dashing opener. He is far better than his competitor Manou, who was tried and disposed. Tim seems to have satisfied the selectors, after he showed some composure in the test format as well.
After trying a few spinners, Australia may do well to settle with Steve Smith. He has the flight, and the turn that Warney had... a little less turn, but good enough nevertheless. Still very young, he can develop the varieties as the time goes by. He is more than handy with the bat too. A little unorthodox, but confident enough to middle every ball thrown at him. He may do what Warne never did – score a century..if at all he plays that many tests, I mean. Care should be taken that his batting skills do not divert him away from his bowling. We all know about Cameron White, a bowler who no longer bowls, even when he is captaining Victoria!
Well, more than 3/4th their team are less than 25 years of age. So, by their standards, the youngster to watch out is -
Very young, and pretty consistent too. He is the batsman an opponent really tries to get dealt with as quickly as possible. Once he is off, there isn’t much that can stop him. He has a variety of strokes through both sides of the fields, but is particularly strong through the covers and point region, and his icing-on-the-cake straight drive. A la Jayasurya, just that Tamim keeps the strokes to the floor more often than Sunny did.
Wanted to list out some others too, but their team is pretty young, that most of the rest would be of the same age.
Aah... England! Yooongsturs from around thee wooorld, now for Eeengland
This young Irishman has his own textbook of strokes. His reverse sweeps remind me of the Zimbabwean star, Andy Flower (who is the English coach, incidentally). He has the ability to steady an innings, play an innings the team needs, take the team to victory, accelerate, take control and others thinkable, all at the age of 24. What do you call a man who can reverse sweep Morne Morkel yorker for 4 through 3rd man?
Very young, very fast for a high arm action, and very very accurate. He was very accurate in falling off his bowling too. So much, that I thought it was a part of his bowling action. After his first test, against Bangladesh, he rectified that issue and is better off now. Against Pakistan, though he came as a first change bowler, he still got the ball to swing and seam around. 4 wickets in just as many overs are enough to trigger a collapse in any side, especially Pakistan. What I like about him is his consistency – speed, length, and movement on and off the deck. His seam position is pretty good. Though the Duke or the Kookaburra aren’t going to have that pronounced a seam when he gets the ball after Jimmy or Broad is tired, he still manages to extract some movement off the deck. 6’7” tall, bounce is always there, without I mentioning it. If he can just prevent himself from falling down that much for that extra bit of an effort, I think he will be an asset to the English side, especially during the Ashes down under.
Your turn to scrutinize me as much as you can. But these are my views, and here is my list of young guns :-
First and foremost –
Why this multiple triple-centurian, double-centurian, the highest u-19 run getter, highest WC avg, best in-form Indian is STILL out of the Indian squad baffles me... wherever he goes, he makes sure he scores big, shuts the opposition’s bowling down, atleast at one end. And the best part of his batting is his technique. He defines his offensive strokes as “an extension of my defensive shots”. What a player. If only lord BCCI could us him for Team India instead of India-A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z,A1,B1...,India emerging, Board President XI etc etc!!! As cool as one can be, this young lad has been impressing everyone but the national selector, with his array of strokes and scores at every level, in every tour, year after year, since the age of 14. If Sachin was discovered at that age, why not Pujara?
To be a spinner, you need to have a big heart. Ojha does have a big heart. He can bowl hours and hours together, waiting for his reward. He has the tweak, the turn and the loop. He is improving on the loop now, which is the most important. When he tries to vary his loop, he has the tendency to stray down the leg side, once that is rectified, I am sure we can see the Bedi of 21st Century.
Tall, hefty lad from Madras, but like is the trend now a days, is a spinner. (O boy, how would it have been to see him be a paceman?) High arm action, and a good turner of the ball, which surprises the batsman. Yes, since he has that height, he does get the bounce too. He has been very consistent amongst the wickets. Now, he has an able partner in an even younger spinner, Aushik Srinivas. This very young teenage (16 yrs) sensation, groomed and protected by the watchful eyes of TN coach W.V. Raman is such a miser when it comes to bowling. He would go through spells of 30 overs with an economy rate of less than 2 runs an over. Back to Ashwin now... Ashwin, is also good with the bat and has good captaincy qualities too, having led Tamil Nadu to victories in various forms of the game
the only name that comes to my mind is
I was fortunate enough to be watching u-19 WC , or unfortunate enough to have fallen sick to be lying at home, but watching the action nevertheless. Tim was that one man who could’ve led his team to victory over India in the semi-final. He bowled his heart out in the tournament. He could hit 140 kph against India, whose fastest bowler would go only as far as 130 kph. And Tim, the boy, was able to move the ball, the overcast conditions helped him. But NZ lost the match after the target was reset due to spells of rain. Soon after, Tim, the man, was there in the Kiwi line up. NZ has been one of the most unsettled team since the departure of many biggies – Stephen, Nash, Harris, Cairns amongst others. Tim was in the team for a while as a permanent fellow, but is now a part of the mix, tried once in a while. He has lost his pace a bit. I am sure he can regain it back, as I saw earlier this year, against Pakistan in the Kiwi Isles. He is a good long-term find NZ should rather try to develop, than look beyond.
One of the most unlucky sides in the world for many many reasons. Some come from inside, some from outside. But that doesn’t deter them from bringing up new talents, new young talents!
Brother of Kamran Akmal, this kid, is not living under his shadows. Umar is a dasher when you need him, and a steady watcher, when you gravely need someone to keep one end steady. A pocket size dynamo, he made his debut in such a wonderful style. In one test, he showed both the sides of the coin. First innings was a breezy, fast century(129), sharing a huge partnership with his brother. Not caring for who was bowling at him, not caring to respect Dan Vettori, he would deposit anyone over the fence as and when he liked, flawlessly. In the second innings, when Pakistan in deep trouble, wanting someone to stay put at one end, there he was, Umar Akmal, to hold fort for a watchful 75. But his wicket triggered a collapse and Pakistan were to lose a well contested match, by very few runs. He is the future of Pakistani top order or middle order, as you like it. But, must improve on patience, must the young lad.
No praise is enough to sing for this young fast bowler! Emerged as an unheard bloke out of nowhere to the ones watching the T20 WC, Aamer took the opportunity with both hands. He had the pace. Then he developed the swing, into the left hander. Then, he developed the one that swings away from the left hander, at the same pace (this is what Mitchell Johnson tried and failed). Now he is a threat to any top order. Especially, in the tests. The tests in swinging and bouncing tracks are his favourites. By the time you try to read the swing off his hands, the ball may have gone past you, or if it’s his slower ball, you’re reading it too fast. He can be a handy lower order batsman too. He has the range of shots, a little more beautiful than a pro-lower order (Murali?). and he can hang in there as well, if required, like always.
South Africa, even after exporting so many players to England, do have their own pool of great players.
Express. But, as is obvious needs some fine tuning. He does go wayward. On his own, he can be very destructive, especially to left handers, with that ripping pace and bounce that he can extract. His demolition of Australia in just his 2nd ODI showed what he is capable of. He hasn’t repeated the feat many times after that, though. If he can keep his pace going, and someone tunes his radar properly, then he will be a handy bowler for SA
Young, but not too young, Morne has been a regular in the SA test side. He has the huge, tall frame that gives his the extra yard of pace and the bounce. There are some similarities between him and Andre Nel, especially the bowling action. Morkel can do all that Nel did without that much of an effort, because of the height. In tests, he has the heart to run in over after over, just to plug one end economically and draw the batsman into playing a stroke at the short-of-length balls. His line is always probing one, to a right hander.
Lanka has always been a country knows to throw the cricketing world a heap full of surprises. Mendis, Malinga, Murali – all are unorthodox and too good for themselves! Not youngsters though. So, here he is :-
Just 23 years of age, he is now a permanent feature of any Lankan side. His all-round qualities come to the fore every now and then. He has performed in at least one department in every match. An under-rated bowler, maybe because of the other power houses in the bowling line up, he bowls his heart out and reaps success for his hard work. A dashing batsman too. Very hard to dislodge. His strength is a bonus, when it comes to disposing the ball. A simple flick is all he needs to easily clear the field. A very well developed product, he can only get better
Another team that is not always at the best end of the result most of the time. Look at it, look at their fire power – Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Shiv, Sarwan, Nash, Pollard, Sammy, Taylor, Benn... but still, it’s not a bowler’s day when the batsmen shine and vice-versa! Young talents?
Looks and bats like Brian Lara. Enough said!
Tiny though he may be, he is super fast! Ask Ricky Ponting! Raw pace, can extract bounce on many pitches, though handicapped by the height. His in-swingers come too fast to be handled with ease. He took the opportunity that was presented to him when WI cricketers went on strike, and is one of the fortunate few to have cemented their place in the side even after the end of the strike. There have been the likes of Fidel Edwards (who took a wicket in his first ever ball in an ODI) who have been express and erratic. Kemar Roach, if kept under good watchful eyes, I bet there are 1000+ good eyes of fast bowlers in the Caribbean Isles, he can become more accurate. He is one of those unique ones who can generate 93+ mph easily with high arm action, without the jerky motion (Steyn, Lee, Bond).
So? Your picks on talents to be groomed, or going to impress the world?
Comments and suggestions welcome!