10 batting stars who are set to rule world cricket in the years ahead

Suvajit Mustafi lists 10 young batsmen who are likely to hold centrestage in world cricket.

1. Virat Kohli (India) | Age: 26

Virat Kohli is already India’s Test captain. And in One-Day International cricket, he’s already a legend. His tally of 22 ODI hundreds is just behind Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara. The 22 hundreds came in 158 ODIs. Compare the 22 hundreds Sourav Ganguly scored in a career spanning 311 ODIs and you can appreciate the awesomeness of Kohli. As per the latest ICC Cricket Rankings for batsmen, Kohli is placed at 12 in Tests, third in ODIs and first T20Is. In 33 Tests, Kohli has scored 10 hundreds at an average of 46.3, while ODIs he averages 51.5 at a strike-rate of 89.7. Even in T20Is, he averages 46.3 and his strike-rate shoots to 131.7.

2. Steve Smith (Australia) | Age: 25

Starting as a promising leg-spinner and a talented batsman, Smith has blossomed to be the side’s best batsman in recent times. He has been a run-machine in recent months and has played a pivotal role in Australia lifting the World Cup last year. Smith has eight hundreds in 22 Tests at an average of 52.4, while he has four tons in ODIs at an average of 40.8. In the ICC players’ rankings, he is the No 4-ranked Test batsman. Adding to the pile of runs that he scores, Smith also has 58 international wickets. Smith is highly rated for his cricketing mind and is set to take over Michael Clarke. When he got the opportunity to step-in for the injury Clarke, he led the side to a series win against India in the Test series earlier this year.

3. Kane Williamson (New Zealand) | Age: 24

The Williamson led under-19 New Zealand side met Kohli’s men in the semi-final of the under-19 World Cup in 2008. The New Zealand skipper was dismissed by his opposite number, who also went on to win the tournament. Little they knew then that in years to come they would be vying for the No 1 batting spot.

Making it to the national side as a 20-year-old, Williamson showed enough promise at the beginning. He bagged all major batting awards in the New Zealand cricket awards this year and is already tipped to be the next captain. When he gets going, he makes it count and has every potential to be the greatest New Zealand batsman of all-time. According to the ICC rankings, he is ranked at No 6 in Tests and No 7 in ODIs. His occasional off-spin bowling comes in handy as well.

4. Joe Root (England) | Age: 24

It’s not very often that we see English batsmen mature early. By the time he made his Test debut in late 2012, it already seemed that England hasn’t just found an ideal batsman but also someone who can lead them in future. Root averages over 50 and though he is a middle-order batsman, he has also opened to add to the side’s balance. He has the ability to shift gears at will, which also makes him ideal for ODIs, where he averages over 40. Root is a name, we will hear a lot in the times to come.

5. Quinton de Kock (South Africa) | Age: 22

He is still very young and has quickly become one of the key members of the South African unit —both, in front and behind the wickets. In just 44 ODIs, he has hit six hundreds. And in Test cricket, he is beginning to make his mark. The baby-faced South African cricketer, who averages 37.7 in Tests and 38.8 in ODIs, is extremely gifted and will only get better with experience.

6. Ajinkya Rahane (India) | Age: 26

He has been around for some time now and has shown plenty of class which can’t be ignored. Rahane is a floater who can bat at any number and has the technique and temperament for all conditions. He averages 44.9 in Tests and with his ability to shift gears at will, he is key to India’s plans across formats.

7. Darren Bravo (West Indies) | Age: 26

When he gets going, he is the most attractive out of the lot. Though Bravo has had a good start to his Test career, his limited-overs numbers don’t really justify his talent. If he performs to his abilities, he can be the torchbearer for West Indies cricket.

8. Glenn Maxwell (Australia) | Age: 26

In ODI cricket, he averages just touch above 35 with the bat and at a strike-rate of close to 127, the numbers are indicative of the amount of explosives he brings in to the Australian side. Maxwell is a modern cricketer, who is destructive with the bat, effective with the ball and exceptional on the field. In days to come, we are bound to hear more of him especially in limited-overs cricket. In First-Class cricket, he averages a touch above 40 and there is no reason why he can’t do well in the longest format too. He hasn’t done great in the three Tests he has played, but it’s a matter of time that he will make it to the Test side as well.

9. Dinesh Chandimal (Sri Lanka) | Age: 25

He is already key to the Lankan Test side and has shown his hunger for runs. His leadership skills too have drawn praises after he was named Sri Lanka’s T20 skipper. Consistency has been an issue with him and knowing that most Sri Lankan greats have been late bloomers, Chandimal may blossom into a better cricketer with more responsibilities, in absence of the likes of Sangakkara and Jayawardene.

10. Lahiru Thirimanne (Sri Lanka) | Age: 25

Much like Chandimal, Thirimanne too is rated very highly and both are expected to fill the large shoes of Sangakkara and Jayawardene. Though Thirimanne has had a slow start to his international career, he is looking better by the day. No doubt, he has the talent; it’s just a matter of making it count by delivering with consistency. Even the greats — Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene — had slow starts to their international career and once they picked up, there was no u-turn.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)