Blog by: Alagappan
AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Shaun Marsh, Saeed Ajmal, Brendon McCullum, MS Dhoni. Enough said! You know what you are in for this season.
This edition of Champions League T20 is going to be a cricket fan’s delight, a statement that would offend the purists. How could it be a cricket fan’s delight if it is not in whites? Where is the competition between the bat and the ball? The purists would ask.
Well, it’s a balance. The trick lies in looking this as a totally different ball game. It has its specialties and most importantly, with the kind of regional polarization it has created among fans and brought in an entirely new fan base, courtesy of Indian Premier League, it is here to stay. Say what may, this is indeed a cricket festival. So, let us move on.
The players in focus in this article may not set the stage alight in this tournament, but I can assure you will see the glimpses of their talent at the very least. If used properly and with the help of supportive conditions, you might even witness them making significant contributions consistently.
If we are fortunate enough, we can entertain the possibility of them doing a Pollard or a Sunil Narine or a Chris Morris or a Ravichandran Ashwin- all of them do have the potential to scale similar or even greater heights.
Certain restrictions are used while selecting the entries for the list. I would like to put them forward right before you get to know them so that it can help avoid questions like why so and so were not included despite possessing the same ability.
The players who meet the following criteria are considered ineligible for an entry (The reason being there is no use in writing something so obvious and that readers know of):
• Players who are still new to international cricket, but have already created an identity for themselves based on their talent which makes them quite popular to Indian cricket fraternity. For example: Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, Mohit Sharma, Hamish Rutherford, Neil Wagner etc.
• Almost all players from Indian Premier League, as avid watchers of the tournament we do know the players in and out, which rules out any chances of being taken aback by their performances. For example, even if Sanju Samson, Kevon Cooper or Karan Sharma etc. plays a match winning role, none of us will be left open-mouthed.
• Players who have underachieved or been underutilised despite possessing the skill-set to succeed at the international level. For example, we would not be caught off guard if one of Adam Voges, Gulam Bodi, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Henry Davids etc. produce a match winning performance.
• Veteran T20 players – Alfonso Thomas, Roelof van der Merwe, Neil McKenzie (As surprising as it may sound – Yes, Neil McKenzie!) etc.
So, here is the list of players, who could take the cricketing world by storm in years to come. If they wish, they can even make this tournament the stage to announce their arrival! Will they? (Players from the same team are grouped together)
1. Ehsan Adil and Asad Ali (Faisalabad Wolves):
With the qualifiers scheduled in Mohali and group stage matches in Rajasthan and Delhi, pace bowlers can breathe a sigh of relief as the pitches are expected to aid fast bowling more than other grounds in India. It is indeed a welcome news if you are a Faisalabad Wolves fan.
Ehsan Adil, a 20-year-old tall right-arm fast bowler, with a nice high arm action, already has a Test cap. He claimed South African captain Graeme Smith’s wicket off only his third delivery in international cricket, one of his two Test victims. Although, there’s nothing more to add to his international exploits.
He is, just like most other Pakistani fast bowlers, capable of swinging the ball both ways. Adil, who concentrates on bowling at good length, has not developed his death bowling skills so far. But he could still be a potent threat up front.
Asad Ali, with a slightly round arm action, is quite the opposite of Ehsan Adil. He’s neither tall nor has a Test cap. He has represented Pakistan in ODIs and T20s though. To further complement each other, the 24-year-old specialises in death bowling besides being able to swing the ball both ways.
He played for Pakistan in the 2013 Champions Trophy warm up match vs South Africa, picking up three wickets, including AB de Villiers with a delightful outswinger, a match which his team eventually went on to win.
Add Saeed Ajmal to the mix, it will help you understand why they are here ahead of Sialkot Stallions.
2. Jimmy Neesham and Jacob Duffy (Otago Volts):
Jimmy Neesham, who’ll turn 23 when CLT20 kicks off, is known for his clean hitting abilities. He can also bowl right-arm medium pace. The stylish southpaw, despite playing three ODIs and three T20s for New Zealand has not contributed anything significant in international arena thus far.
But it’ll be wrong to underestimate him. He could give the ball a real whack and is a brilliant fielder too. With the pitches not expected to be spinner friendly and him batting as a finisher, expect him to terrorise the fast bowlers. He has a strike rate of 156.28 in domestic T20s.
Jacob Duffy is just 19 years old. Besides having the much coveted outswinger as his potent weapon, the lanky paceman hits the deck hard and generates good bounce at a fairly faster pace.
Mohali and Rajasthan (should Otago Volts qualify) would help his style of bowling and with batsmen looking to go after him in the powerplays, he has the ability to come out on top. Duffy however, cannot be expected to bowl at death.
3. Joe Burns, Chris Lynn and Alister McDermott (Brisbane Heat):
The fact that Joe Burns, the Australian batsman, has won the Bradman young cricketer of the year award already should say a lot about him. Known for his levelheadedness in handling tough situations, the 24-year-old also has the second gear to his game when needed. The Queensland player, who is in the radar of Australian selectors, scored 114 runs in a game for Australia A against England Lions.
Chris Lynn is a 23-year-old attacking right hand batsman. With a strike rate of 138.51, he can give the bowlers a hard time with his big hitting. Despite not making an international appearance, the player, a member of Sunrisers Hyderabad, has caught the attention of IPL teams already. The challenge for both these Brisbane batsmen will be to tackle spin while pace bowling should not be an issue.
Alister McDermott, son of legendary Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott, is reaping the benefits of being under the right guidance. The 22-year-old is not express fast but has a strong and smooth action, just like his father. Being able to swing the ball both ways, he would relish the possibility of bowling up front. Though he’s not as effective at death as his lengths could be hittable.
4. Burt Cockley (Perth Scorchers):
Burt Cockley, a tall sturdy right arm fast bowler has the advantage of raw pace. The 27-year-old has struggled to make it to the top level, pegged back by recurring injuries. However, he has been fit of late and expect him to send shivers down the spine for the batsmen, if picked.
5. Nicolas Pooran and Shannon Gabriel (Trinidad and Tobago):
Just 17 years old, the left hand batsman has already become the darling of Trinidad and Tobago fans. On his T20 debut, Pooran took Guyana Amazon Warriors, a team that had Sunil Narine and Mohammad Hafeez in its ranks, to cleaners, scoring 54 off just 24 deliveries.
However, his effort was for a losing cause as the rest of the team faltered in their chase of 156. He was under-utilized by the team, which batted him too low for the rest of the season. If used higher up the order, you better watch out for this youngster who pulled out some breathtaking strokes on his debut.
Shannon Gabriel, aged 25, has already made his Test and T20 debut for West Indies. The tall muscular fast bowler is capable of generating serious pace and with the variety in attack T&T boast off, Gabriel could prove to be a menace for any opposition on any type of pitch. As they say, there is no substitute for pace.
6. Dwaine Pretorius and Jean Symes (Highveld Lions):
With their top four consisting of Alviro Petersen, Gulam Bodi and Neil McKenzie, Lions do need some big hitters down the order. In Pretorius and Symes, they have players who can turn the match on its head. Pretorius, 24, and Symes, 26, will have additional responsibilities this time with Chris Morris preferring to play for Chennai Super Kings.
It’s a role which can be expected to be successfully fulfilled by these two talented batsmen who have performed such feats prior to this tournament, most notably in the previous edition of CLT20.
As a neutral fan, I really wish we do get to witness the precocious talent of the aforementioned players on this magnificent stage. The sooner, the better!