Whilst the world’s attention is currently focused on an obscure international tournament currently occurring in Team GB (a country, we must admit, we had not heard of till last week), another, far more glamorous, event has just got underway on the other side of the world. For the next month such storied venues as the Buderim and Townsville cricket grounds in Queensland, Australia, will play host to the U/19 Cricket World Cup.
Of course, in keeping with the spirit of that other international event currently taking place, in the U/19 World Cup it’s not winning that counts as much as taking part. Second place is equally as important as first. In fact it may even be moreso, as coming first implies the nation in question is probably taking it all a bit too seriously and missing the point entirely. Needless to say, we here at 51allout are not so easily caught up in mindless jingoism, and our preview of the upcoming World Cup is suitably lacking in the crass nationalistic triumphalism that citizens of Team GB have given themselves over to recently. Instead we have chosen to focus on the players themselves, the real stars of the show, and got our crack team of staff writers together to highlight who, in our opinion, are the ones to watch over the next few weeks.
It’s fair to say that 51allout is not easily taken in by hype and hyperbole. If the site had been around in the days of the 2005 Ashes series (at the time we were unaware the internet could be used for anything other than looking at humorous cat pictures), our series review would probably have described it as ‘drab’ and ‘lacking in the sort of compelling drama that could easily be found in your typical C & G Trophy fixture’. However this Kurtis Patterson chap has us singing a slightly different tune. It is typical to describe promising Australian batsmen as the ‘new Don Bradman’. We go one better than that and believe Patterson is on course to be better than Bradman. A simple look at their respective First-class averages, 95.14 for the Don and 163 for Patterson, tell the tale. Sure, Patterson only has the one First-class appearance to his name, but such squabbling over minor details reflects poorly on everyone really.
The success of the grownup England side over the last few years has been built around a core of right arm fast-medium bowlers who are, to be frank, devilishly handsome. Were they not running in and chucking a ball around for a living, the likes of Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn would presumably be gracing the catwalks of Milan, strutting around in designer jeans with disturbingly large holes in them while Tim Bresnan would probably be the hunky one in the Castleford branch of B&Q. Reece Topley might be the next young bowler in line but he’s a very different animal. He’s a left-armer for a start.
At 6′ 7″ Topley’s not exactly hard to spot and he made a strong impact last year for Essex, picking up 25 wickets in seven County Championship matches before retreating from the limelight to do more typical teenager things, such as revising for exams and failing to talk to girls. Although full international recognition is probably still a couple of years away, we have high hopes for him down under. For a start, he reminds us of Chris Tremlett and he didn’t exactly flounder on his last visit to Australia…
It was at the U/19 World Cup in 2008 that Virat Kohli first came to prominence, captaining India to the title and scoring a heap of runs in the process. It’s no surprise, therefore, that comparisons are already being made with Unmukt Chand, the captain of the current Under 19 side. Also hailing from Delhi, Chand bats in a similar fashion, and his record at this age level suggests the same hunger for runs that Kohli is currently displaying on the international stage. He showed promise at the IPL without getting any huge scores, but it’s his success as Indian captain in recent tournaments such as a quadrangular in Australia and the Asia Cup that stand out. Hailing from the same school as Gautam Gambhir and yours truly, it’s safe to say that Chand is destined for greatness.
It’s no secret that we like a good laugh at the Kiwis expense here at 51allout. But it is not meant to be mocking, instead we see ourselves as hopefully being able to goad New Zealand cricketers (Jesse Ryder is a frequent visitor to this corner of the internet, we are sure) into better performances than what they currently seem able to achieve. Because who would honestly not want to see a competitive New Zealand outfit in world cricket?
The Kiwis have been able to unearth some decent bowling talent in U/19 World Cup’s past (Doug Bracewell for one), but its their batting stocks that are most in need of reinforcements right now. No real outstanding prospects stand out in their U/19 squad, so that means a certain degree of pressure will be placed on the shoulders of captain Will Young. Young’s domestic performances to date are hardly earth shattering, but the Kiwis desperately need someone to stand up, and if it’s not their U/19 captain, then who else?
Pakistan have been churning out class spinners for decades now, to the extent that they never really felt the need to actually play the world’s second best spinner (behind Nathan Lyon of course), Saeed Ajmal, till only a few years ago. Competition for spots is so tight that any advantage over your competitors must be sorely sought after. Being able to claim your dad is one of your nations all-time greats (Abdul Qadir no less), probably counts as a decent advantage.
Qadir’s legspin played a prominent role in containing the Australian batsman as Pakistan eased to a 2-1 pre-tournament series win, and his form is one good reason behind Pakistan being considered one of the tournament favourites.