Come of age? Made it big? Call it what you want. Talent to class is no mean task…

07 Jun 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Cricket

In the times of the modern era, in the advent of T20 scores of players come and go. These days national caps are distributed to easily thus lowering the sense of pride that one is supposed to wear it with. It might be easy to burst on to the scene on the international arena but hard indeed to stay there. Several players after struggle or talent have eventually come of age. Some of them are:

Australia:

Shane Watson:

Shane Watson

Shane Watson

After making his debut in the Australian summer of March way back in 2002, Shane watson’s career is one to have changed dramatically. From starting off as a fast bowler with more than lively pace who could hold the bat at number 7 his roles in the current Australian team are completely different.

Watto Watson is one of those players who is always seemed to be plagued with injuries. After several rehabilitations and becoming the perfect replacement for a certain Ian Harvey the Australian selectors finally lost hope with this talented blonde bombshell from Queensland. Shane was struggling to make his career.

Strangely, the problem with Watson was not about talent or performance it was his fitness that was an issue that deprived him of so many international years of his playing career. Watson was nowhere near being considered for a return to the Australian side. After being picked in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, Watson single handedly with both bat and ball carried the Rajasthan Royals towards the championship gold.

He ended up becoming man of the tournament with over 450 runs and a handful of wickets. The Australian selectors took note of this and immediately drafted him to the Australian side to tour the Windies. Ever since then there has been no looking back for Shane as he has made his mark in the international arena and is a feared competitor by all other nations.

Watson played the 2009 ashes and scored half centuries in what seemed like every innings. He has become fitter and has understood his role in the Australian team well. He now opens for Australia and generally bowls in the mid 130’s. A very handy cricketer as long as he stays fit. After 8 long years, Shane Watson finally seems to have come of age.

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Cameron White:

Cameron White

Cameron White

Whitey or bear as he is known by his team mates has recently become an integral part of the Australian limited Overs squad. Cameron white has always been a major performer for his state side, Victoria. He is currently the vice captain of the Australian T20 side and should be the skipper in reckoning if Michael Clarke is done away with.

For a man who was not even a part of the original Australian T20 World cup squad in 2009, white has come a long way and has established himself as the Australian number 5. White was called in after Andrew Symonds was sent back home due to off field issues. White is soon filling the huge void left by Andrew Symonds. He is a brilliant fielder and is soon becoming one of the feared hitter on the international scene.

Whitey was given a long run after Australia’s ashes defeat to England in 2009. He stepped in for ponting at number 3 and played exceptional cricket which included one fifty and a century in 3 matches. From then on in there was no looking back as he helped Australia retain the champions trophy (2009) in South Africa and played some crucial knocks on difficult conditions in India. White had a brilliant 20-20 world cup this year and ensured Australia reached the finals for the first time in this tournament.

Cameron white’s reputation is rapidly building on the world stage and the owners of the IPL franchisees are now aware of the talent that the man possesses. With the fresh IPL auction that is to take place this July, one can be certain that white could be in for some big bucks and even captaincy considering he’s captained Victoria to several big bash victories down under. White is still a young man and would be ambitious to return to the test arena once again.

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Nathan Hauritz:

Nathan Hauritz

Nathan Hauritz

Hauritz very similar to Watson made his debut for Australia way back in 2002. He was young (20) and wasn’t too successful at the international arena. He played his first test in 2004 and didn’t do too well then either. The Australian selectors weren’t too worried and dint have to look too far considering SK Warne was still in the ranks. However, the rise of Hauritz began after Warne, McGill and Hogg stepped down from international test cricket.

This left Australia with no other option but Nathan Hauritz. Hauritz wasn’t seen as a wicket taking bowler, he was more a container and this proved to be fatal for the Aussies. It was at this time only (late 2008- early 2009) that Australia began to hit rock bottom where they lost a test match series in India and went on to lose on their home turf against the mighty Proteas after 16 long years.

The lack of a quality spinner was becoming a major problem and several concerns were being raised about who would play come the ashes. The Australian selection committee decided to go with Nathan Hauritz and stuck with him throughout the South African tour in both Test and one day internationals. Hauritz proved his worth and was handy. However, his success was hugely regarded to

Mitchell Johnson:

Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson

Johnson was enjoying a purple patch back then and he often broke the back bone of the South African team before Hauritz came into bowl. Nevertheless, it was the best that Australia had and they decided to go ahead with Nathan for the ashes. As soon as the news was out that Nathan would be the spinner that the Australians would be carrying with themselves to defend the ashes, comments came rushing in.

Most notable amongst these was that of former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott made a scandalized remark after Hauritz got pietersen out to an infamous sweep in the first test at Cardiff. He said “It wasn’t an off-spinner. Hauritz doesn’t look like he could bowl my mum out, then he gets the best batsman out.”

Hauritz proved all his critics wrong and slowly developed into a very fine bowler for Australia. Eventually, he proved to be the difference (Not picked on a turning track at the oval) between Australia having the ashes and not. Hauritz’s growth as a spinner continues as he remains a steady part of the Australian line up. Hauritz will have to be on his toes as the Australian selectors seemed to have taken a liking towards upcoming leggie Steve Smith.

India:

Suresh Raina:

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina is the star out of India’s huge pool of rising talents comprising the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Robin Uthappa and so on. On his debut way back in 2005 raina only managed a duck; he was trapped LBW by a Muttiah Muralidaran doosra of his first ball. Ever since then Raina has changed his game immensely. All the hard yards, extra hours of practice against spin and pace is now seen where he seems to be shining on the international stage.

This turn of events was noticed in the first edition of the Indian premier league where raina was one of the top scorers in the competition and enabled the Chennai Super Kings make the final of the tournament. He has been the most consistent performer in the IPL and is the highest scorer across all three years of the tournament with 1311 runs. Suresh raina has matured a great deal by playing under the likes of greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

He was recently included in the test squad against South Africa. Raina is now able to handle responsibilities of carrying the team forward at a tender age of 23. Raina has also been chosen as captain in the on-going series in Zimbabwe as original skipper Mahendra singh Dhoni has been given a rest. Clearly raina is seen highly by the BCCI and they would want to ensure that the young man doesn’t fall ahead of himself and continues to perform the way he has been performing in the last couple of years.

England:

Graeme Swann:

Graeme Swann

Graeme Swann

The biggest revelation in the cricketing fraternity over the last year, Graeme Swann has been labeled by fellow spin legend Shane Warne as the most improved player in recent cricket. Swann is one of the few Englishmen (literally) who has been successful over the last year considering most others have been imports from either South Africa or Ireland.

He made his debut way back in 2000 but wasn’t a regular part of the side as England’s first choice spinner at that point in time still remained Ashley Giles. Swann never really knew what his role was, whether he was a batsman who could bowl or the other way around. He found himself wanting on the international stage and soon realized it was the latter that would take him to the top rung. He worked on his game tremendously and the change was to be seen.

He had a brilliant series against the West Indies leading up to the ashes and since then there has been no looking back for the man from Northampton. Swann, often the most notorious in the team and tends to calm down the dressing room atmosphere with his pranks. The ashes that went by in 2009, was where Swann was noticed by the international audience.

From then on in he helped England reach the semi finals of the champions trophy in 2009 and eventually help the Englishmen win their first ever ICC trophy, the Twenty 20 world cup in the Caribbean a fortnight ago. Swann is soon becoming an integral part of this England line up and a major part of whether England are able to retain the ashes later this year would be subject to the way he performs.

Stuart Broad:

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad

Son of former English batsman and current commentator, Junior broad is one of the fastest improving cricketer’s going around. Stuart made his debut in 2006 and saw the up hills and down hills of international cricket. He was hit for a record six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh during the inaugural twenty 20 world cup in South Africa. However, since then a lot seems to have changed for this lanky pacer.

He seems to have become physically fitter, has worked on his batting and more importantly he is no more the bowler who would just run in. There is a plan, a methodology on how to go about things that is seen. He is seen as a replacement to Freddie Flintoff who retired a year or so ago. A lot is expected from Stuart and he is still just 23 years of age and has a good number of tests and one day internationals behind him and seems to understand the game better with every passing day.

He still tends to concede a bit too much when it comes to runs per over but he is a wicket taker and that’s what it comes down to in the end. A very handy cricketer and one to certainly watch out for in the future, as he seems to be improving very quickly.

Pakistan:

Saeed Ajmal:

Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistani off spinner has captivated international cricket ever since he burst onto the international arena. More than coming of age Saeed has been one of those late bloomers in international cricket where in which the team regrets the fact that they couldn’t go on a bit longer. Ajmal is very similar to Michael Hussey in this regard.

(Talking about Hussey the duo have a bit of a history after this year’s world T20 in the Windies). Ajmal albeit at the age of 30 made his debut and turned out to be a replica of spin legend and the ‘doosra’ inventor Saqlain Mushtaq. Ajmal is able to disguise and bowl the doosra with similar effect and has always managed to keep the wood on the batsman.

Ever since Akmal joined the Pakistani team they have made it to two semi finals and one championship victory in the three ICC events to have taken place. In spite of all the unpredictability that Pakistan have to offer, Ajmal seems to have brought a bit of sense in the spin bowling department and he along with fellow spinner Shahid Afridi now form a formidable pair and curtail the batsman from scoring freely in the middle Overs of a limited over international.

Ajmal was turning out to be the star for Pakistan in the recent twenty 20 world cup that was held in the West Indies. However, Australia’s Michael Hussey had different ideas. He went on to slaughter Saeed Ajmal in the semi final which enabled the Aussies get to the final for the first time. The match which was being labeled as the best Twenty 20 match had already seen loads of thrills and spills before Ajmal came on to bowl.

Ajmal had brilliant figures up to his 3 over mark and was turning out to be the difference between the two sides but the last over where in which Michael hussey hammered three sixes changed the course of the match. Nevertheless, Ajmal remains a key armoury that Pakistan possess and how he develops in the next six months could be critical for Pakistan’s chances in the world cup which is to be played in the Indian subcontinent (barring Pakistan) where in which the pitches are low and slow.

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Shahid Afridi:

Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi has been around since an age now and he’s still just over 30 years of age with a trunk load of experience behind him. Shahid Afridi made his debut way back in 1996 and its amazing in spite of being a member of the team for such a long time he comes under this category.

For a long period of time Shahid Afridi did not really know where his forte lied, in other words he never really knew his role in the team; whether it was to go and bludgeon the bowlers and chip in with a couple of tidy Overs or be a mainstream spinner thus providing perfect foil to the fast bowling greats of yesteryears.

However, only recently has Shahid Afridi grown, he has become one of the most difficult bowlers to get away in the middle Overs in limited Overs cricket. He seems to have cemented his place as a bowling all rounder. Ever since becoming vice captain and now captain in all forms of cricket Afridi has taken the extra mantle of responsibility on himself and this seems to be helping not just him but Pakistan cricket as well. Afridi recently came out of his retirement from test cricket and was made captain.

It will be interesting to see how he goes in the longer form of the game as his quick balls at 120 kmphs will not be as big an issue as it is in other forms of cricket. Shahid Afridi finally seems to have found his game and if he works on his batting, he could become one of the best spin bowling all rounder to have played the game (only in the shorter formats).

South Africa:

AB De Villiers:

AB De Villiers

AB De Villiers

Most AB fans wouldn’t agree me placing Abraham in this list and might find it a little harsh. But it’d be better to agree to disagree. This 26 year old South African made his debut in the 2004/2005 season and only recently that is ever since 2008/09 has he become one of South Africa’s mainstays in the middle over. He is a very talented cricketer and on his day could tear apart any attack put in front of him.

De Villiers, a very under estimated cricketer on the international stage is set to take over the gloves once Mark Boucher decides to call it quits. However, de Villiers seems quite reluctant to take up the job as he not only enjoys his fielding but is also worried that it would affect his batting adversely. De Villiers is proving to be a wonderful find for the proteas and is becoming ever so reliable with consistent performances in the last year or two.

He is ready to carry the mantle forward and could become South Africa’s Jacques Kallis once the latter decides to put up his feet. All this could be very soon as Kallis and boucher both are very likely to step down from limited Overs cricket after the 2011 world cup which is to be played in the Indian subcontinent.

Like all other players mentioned above AB de Villiers too holds the key to South Africa’s chances in the upcoming 50 over world cup. He seems to be the man for the occasion as he’s had a lot of experience here and has tasted success on very similar wickets.

Sri Lanka:

Angelo Mathews:

Angelo Mathews

Angelo Mathews

Young Sri Lankan all rounder has cemented his place in the team’s One day international and test teams ever since he made his debuts in the formats. He has never had to face the axe, which is very rare for a young cricketer especially in the early goings in his career.

The young 23 Year old all rounder has replaced Chaminda Vaas to very good effect. The only difference between the two being that Mathews is more of a batsman than a bowler which was not the case with Vaas. When I mean come of age it doesn’t necessarily mean people who have spend a lot of time in cricket and have eventually found their spot.

It basically refers to those cricketers who have/are now matured enough to carry the mantle forward. In his short career Mathews has already established himself on the world stage. This could be seen when he was picked up by Kolkata Knight riders (one of the IPL franchisees) to participate in the league. The only worry remains his bowling, more so in test cricket as it doesn’t seem to have that nip or extra bit of pace that could either facilitate him to get the ball go past the bat or trouble them with speed.

His variations help him get through the limited Overs format quite adequately. His batting and fielding are of top notch and is a very good sign for things to come in all three forms of the game. Mathews could also be the captain in standing once current skipper Kumar Sangakkara retires.

The only other real prospect seems Dilshan, but his temper and his age (wrong side of 30) lowers his prospects of becoming skipper. As a result of this Mathews could be well groomed under experienced players like Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. This lad has sure already made a name for himself in international cricket. One bloke to certainly look out for in the future!

Bangladesh:

Shakib Al Hasan:

Shakib Al Hasan

Shakib Al Hasan

Current Bangladeshi skipper, Shakib Al Hasan made his debut against Zimbabwe at the Harare sports club. His debut itself marked the sign of things to come in his career. He impressed one and all with his performance as he made an impressive 30 not out and bowled his quota of 10 Overs under four an over with a wicket against his name. However, he seemed to have fizzed out a bit only to have redeemed himself in recent months.

He has come back strongly and for a long time now has been right on top of the all rounder charts in one day cricket. He was soon appointed captain and he seems to be taking Bangladeshi cricket to newer heights unseen before. The man is just 23 and has a lot to promise. The Bangladeshi cricket board need to nurture their talent and ensure that their players don’t fizz out and become an Ashraful.

Certain teams namely West Indies and New Zealand don’t have players featuring on this left. With west indies their trunk load of players just aren’t able to convert it big to the international level thus underlining their poor performance in world cricket in recent years. As far as the Kiwis are concerned they don’t seem to have enough of resources.

Hence, their players don’t seem to feature even in the list of players who have promised but not delivered. Getting players to grow and mature at the world stage is highly dependent on how the national board of the respecting country helps nurture and groom young players so as to convert them to international starts. This is very similar to the business concept of converting Problem child who have the talent and potential to Stars and eventually cash cows.
Indeed, the responsibility does lie with the boards…

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