By Shrikant Shankar
The year 2013 provided many new wonder stories in the world of cricket. From batsmen to bowlers and all-rounders, cricket saw some new and upcoming stars in the making. The potential is there in these young cricketers and with the right attitude and guidance, they can become the next heroes for young fans to celebrate. With an era in cricket ending as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis retiring, these young cricketers need to step to the plate. Let’s look at some of the players who gave enough reasons for us to believe that they are stars in the making in the coming future:
1. Mohammed Shami (India)
Mohammed Shami made his debut against Pakistan on January 6, 2013, in a One-Day International (ODI) at Delhi. India had already lost the three-match series entering the final ODI. Shami was selected for the final match and impressed with the ball helping India win a low-scoring encounter. Since then, Shami has only improved. He made his Test debut against West Indies on November 6, 2013, at Kolkata. He finished with a nine-wicket haul in the match. Shami also impressed in the recently concluded Test series in South Africa. He is a right-arm fast-medium bowler who can bowl a few surprise quick deliveries. He is only 23-years-old and can become only better in the future.
2. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s international debut was against Pakistan on December 30, 2012 at Chennai. While India lost the match, Bhuvneshwar seemed to be the positive. He bowled Mohammad Hafeez on the first ball be bowled. Unlike Shami, Bhuvneshwar is not quick, so he has to rely on his swing and seam. If conditions favour him, he can be as effective as any. So, he needs to improve on his bowling in various conditions. He is also a fine lower-order batsman. All the ingredients are there for him to be successful for India in the future.
3. Joe Root (England)
The new kid on the block for England. Joe Root made his debut in December 2012 at Nagpur against India and scored 73 which ensured that England would draw the match and win a historic Test series 2-1. After that, Root’s career only seemed to go upwards. He scored his second century against Australia at Lord’s in the 2013 Ashes and that eventually helped England in winning the series 3-0. He has had a disappointing 2013-14 Ashes series Down Under, but so have all other England players. He is a good batsman, who is quite strong off the back-foot. He is only 23-years-old and can be an ever-present in the England team for a long time to come.
4. Ben Stokes (England)
Probably England’s only shining light in the ongoing Ashes 2013-14 series. Ben Stokes is one of those rare all-rounders who can bowl at a good click and also contribute a lot with the bat. All-rounders like him are a rare breed in international cricket these days and it is refreshing to see someone like him come out of the blocks. Who would have thought that Ben Stokes would be the first and so far only England batsman to score a century in the 2013-14 Ashes? With the right guidance and maintenance, Stokes can have a long career as a genuine all-rounder.
5. James Faulkner (Australia)
Another genuine all-rounder is James Faulkner. While he is not as fast as Stokes with the ball, he can bat just as well. Faulkner has the potential to become one of the best lower-order batsmen in the coming years. He can swing the ball both ways and keep the runs in check. He can be that all-rounder that Australia have always lacked. One simply cannot just forget that one over where he struck 30 runs off Ishant Sharma!
6. Ashton Agar (Australia)
Teen sensation Ashton Agar made his debut in the first Ashes 2013 Test on July 10 at Nottingham. He was picked as a left-arm spinner, but it was his batting that made all the headlines. Batting at No 11, Agar scored 98 runs — a world record for that position. When he got out, there wasn’t any grimacing or over-the-top disappointment shown. He just smiled and waved his bat to everyone at Trent Bridge, who stood up to applaud him. He just completed 20 years of age, so, the future is his.
7. Mitchell McClenaghan (New Zealand)
Mitchell McClenaghan is not very young as he is 27-years-old, but the left-arm medium-fast bowler made his ODI debut only on January 19, 2013 against South Africa at Paarl. And what a debut he had, picking up four wickets for only 20 runs. In a total of 15 ODIs so far, McClenaghan has picked up four four-wicket hauls and one five-wicket haul. He has picked up 40 wickets in the process with an unreal average of 19.02 and a phenomenal strike-rate of 20.0. Such figures were only achieved by another Kiwi quick — Shane Bond.
8. Ahmed Shehzad (Pakistan)
Ahmed Shehzad is not new in cricket. He made his debut way back in 2009. But his most consistent run for Pakistan has come only in 2013. He is one of those batsmen who has a wide range of shots and even gets the good deliveries away. He has only played 40 ODIs, but has an improving average which is at around 33. He also has four centuries and five half-centuries. The main thing is Shehzad is only 22 years of age. Pakistan’s troubled batting line-up can put their faith in this youngster in the immediate future.
9. Quinton de Kock (South Africa)
If anyone has had a wonderful 2013, it is Quinton de Kock. The gifted wicketkeeper-batsman from South Africa has been a revelation in the world of cricket. How often do you see a batsman scoring three ODI centuries back-to-back? De Kock has managed to do so and that too against world champions, India. He is also only 21-years-old. AB de Villiers may not have to keep wickets for long in Tests as de Kock can take over the gloves.
10. Kusal Perera (Sri Lanka)
Kusal Perera has been Sri Lanka’s find from 2013. He is a wicketkeeper-batsman and has impressed so far in his short career. The Sri Lankan team has been in transition for a long time and players like Perera can help them get over it sooner rather than later. His numbers in domestic cricket are highly impressive and if he can replicate that in the international arena, then world cricket has another star to look upon.
11. Jason Holder (West Indies)
West Indies won the Twenty20 World Cup in 2012, but have not done so well in the other formats since then. The quality of players seems to be reducing every year, but there is hope and Jason Holder provides them that. He is a right-arm quick, who can be a real handful to bat against. He is only 22 years of age and it is important for the West Indies to guide him properly. His four-wicket haul against Pakistan on July 14 at Guyana was as good a bowling spell seen in 2013.
In Photos: Memorable Debuts of 2013
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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