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20 Cricketers to Watch - Part 1

After the success of the '20 to Watch' in tennis, DW on Sport, through our new guest cricket writer James Fenn (@JamesTigerGib), turns its eye to a group of twenty cricketers from around the globe that are expected to push on to big things in the coming twelve months.

1. Abul Hasan (BAN)

Age : 20
Role : Bowling all-rounder

His talent came to light off the back of a remarkable 113 batting at number 10 against a rampaging West Indian attack. He demonstrated flowing shots, without the usual ‘long handle’ associated with lower order batsmen, and tremendous fight to help Bangladesh post a score that they were at least able to bowl against. Hasan opened the bowling and, despite going wicketless, showed signs of a young seamer being able to swing the ball both ways with accuracy.

All he really needs is experience, maybe a yard more pace and a stint playing first class cricket abroad to turn him into the star all-rounder of an exciting Bangladesh test side.

2. Ben Cutting (AUS)

Age: 25
Role: Fast-Medium Bowler

A player who is just starting to get the recognition he deserves, he has the slap and tickle Big Bash to thank for this and his performances in it are putting him in line for Australian honours. A little sad that it has taken this long for someone, who possesses the coveted stat of a higher first class batting average than bowling average.

I will not be delusional and say that he will make the Ashes, but I can certainly see him touring and playing the short form. An IPL contract should be inevitable, and with so many excellent opportunities available around the globe, a possible career playing T20 competitions, making money and sipping cocktails in the Caribbean sounds like an ideal path. I would just like to see him judged as a class cricketer in the other forms as well.

3. Simon Kerrigan (ENG)

Age: 23
Role: Slow left-arm

A County Championship winner, having taken the final wicket with less than five agonising minutes left, who is a prodigious talent that has seemingly been leapfrogged by other very good spinners into the England team. However, I see it as more a situation of keeping him to replace Graeme Swann in the test arena when the time comes. Swann was a gifted youngster too, but years on the County circuit taught him how to take wickets the hard way. This is exactly what I see with Kerrigan.

Watch this space; he will become England’s premier twirler of destruction. He delivers on the big stage, he has now felt Championship winning joy and bitter relegation, so mentally I would say he is prepared for the big stage. England have included him in the Performance Programme in India over Christmas, where he has had some joy, and I fully expect him to be one of the top wicket takers in the Championship this year.

An outside chance of going to Australia with the test squad this year? Absolutely.

4. Ben Foakes (ENG)

Age: 19
Role: Wicketkeeper Batsman

My belief is England have their favourites. By that I mean there are people the selectors have maybe watched for years, banked on them becoming as good as they think they will without really giving much thought elsewhere. For me we have two in the wicketkeeping department, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.

However I believe Ben Foakes is the superior keeper. At the Under 19’s World Cup, Foakes was keeping to arguably the fastest bowlers in the tournament on fast and swinging Australian pitches, and was completely at ease. Foakes was also England’s best batsman and looked polished in his shot making, striking the ball as cleanly as anyone in the tournament.  All I would suggest is that he improves his shot selection, but with experience, which he should get, I think he is all but certain for a run in the Essex side this season and I wouldn’t put it past him being their top scorer in at least one format of the game. 

5. Adam Zampa

Age: 20
Role: Leg Spinner

I really hope this kid has a big future. A big spinning, fearless, blonde Aussie leg spinner. Sound familiar? Of course it would be ludicrous to put him in the same bracket and quite honestly I cannot stand articles that do that. However, this rule will be broken once and only once, as it is true.

I have watched every single innings he has bowled in FC, Ryobi and T20 cricket and, quite frankly, he is a future test bowler. Test star? Possibly. The simple fact is he has stood up with the best in the world and come out with a very much enhanced reputation. For me, it revolves around the fact he has, like every leggy , taken a battering, but what makes Zampa different is his unwillingness to recede and just bowl singles.

He is more accurate than he is given credit for and uses this to attack relentlessly. You club him for six and feel great about yourself, fine. Next ball, he spins it past the bat and you are stumped. Job done. This has happened twice in his first Big Bash, as well as a very close to match winning spell against a Hobart team full of top Test batsman who could not get him away.

Some delivery variations need to be learnt for his full potential to blossom, but with the lack of spinners at Australia’s disposal right now, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he gets an international call up this year for the short form.

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