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Six to follow at the World Cup

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Oliver Brett | 11:53 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The World Cup features the obvious stars of international cricket: performers of rare magnitude like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shahid Afridi.

But beyond these stellar names lies an intriguing layer of talented players, some of whom could see their reputation greatly enhanced in the upcoming tournament.

Here's a guide to six players you may not have heard of who are worth following at this World Cup:

Virat Kohli, Ryan ten Doeschate, Angelo Mathews, Abdur Razzak, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Adrian Barath

Virat Kohli, Ryan ten Doeschate, Angelo Mathews, Abdur Razzak, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Adrian Barath (All photos Getty Images)

Virat Kohli (India), born 5 November, 1988, batsman

Such is the strength of India's batting that despite his excellent overall statistics and recent form, this stylish young player is not quite an automatic pick.

However, the official one-day rankings make Kohli the joint-second best batsman in the world, alongside AB de Villiers and behind Hashim Amla. Surely Mahendra Dhoni will want him in the side, possibly in the pivotal number four role.

The former skipper of the victorious India team at the 2008 under-19 Cricket World Cup, Kolhi has produced a string of consistent scores, and possesses a rock-solid cover-drive that has brought him plenty of boundaries at opportune moments.

First viewed as a replacement for unfit batsmen, he has struck four match-winning centuries since his one-day international debut in August 2008 and deserves a sustained run in the side.

Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands), born 30 June, 1980, all-rounder

The Dutch may not win a game at the World Cup, but they are guaranteed six matches including their traditional "cup final" against Ireland in Kolkata on 18 March.

Their best player by a country mile, and the man I believe is the best cricketer among all the associate nations, is the South Africa-born Essex stalwart Ryan ten Doeschate.

A ruthless aggressor against modest bowlers, he can also hit pretty good balls for four and six when in his best form, but is often required to play with more caution for the Netherlands than in county cricket.

A handy seam bowler too, this may be his last chance to prove to South Africa's selectors that they are missing a trick by not picking him for their limited-overs squads.

Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka), born 2 June, 1987, all-rounder

Mathews is unquestionably one of the most exciting young players in Asia and a genuine all-rounder rated extremely highly by Sri Lanka's coaching staff.

Deliberately given his head in international cricket as a raw 21-year-old - the feeling being that he would learn quicker at the highest level than within Sri Lanka's domestic programme - he has repaid the selectors' faith with some telling contributions.

Mathews came of age as a bowler with a stunning return of 6-20 against India in 2009 and hammered a memorable match-winning 77 against Australia at the MCG last November, featuring some wonderful driving and pulling.

An intelligent cricketer, he gets the most out of his brisk medium pace, and is one of the most sought-after properties in the Indian Premier League, attracting a $950,000 contract from the new franchise, Pune.

Abdur Razzak (Bangladesh), born 15 June, 1982, slow left-arm bowler

Not to be confused with the more experienced Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, this Bangladesh spinner lives firmly in the shadow of his more gregarious captain Shakib Al Hasan.

Shakib, also a very good batsman and the only real star name in the Tigers line-up, has been outbowled of late by Razzak, who took 13 wickets in the first three ODIs against Zimbabwe last December.

Getting through his spells quickly, Razzak's left-arm angle can pin down some of international cricket's quickest-scoring batsmen and he also enjoyed success against England home and away last year.

Has been in trouble with the authorities in the past for a crooked bowling action but appears to have overcome his indiscretions. Razzak needs to bowl well if Bangladesh are to make the quarter-finals.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe (South Africa), born 7 March 1984, fast bowler

Tsotsobe has played only 19 one-day internationals, but has a healthy return of 36 wickets and had gained some decent economy rates until finding himself the victim of a rampaging Yusuf Pathan at Centurion in January.

Despite Pathan's heroic century, South Africa won the match, an important series decider, tidily - and Tsotsobe took the first and last wickets.

Known by his easier-to-pronounce middle name of "Lopsy", it is a surprise that a big, strong man with a bustling run-up fails to achieve anything like the express pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

However, the contrast could suit South Africa on the generally slow sub-continent wickets, and with few recognised spin options Tsotsobe potentially has a key role to play.

Adrian Barath (West Indies), born 14 April, 1990, opening batsman

This World Cup may come a shade too early for this exciting prospect, who had not been born when Tendulkar was taking his first steps as an international cricketer. Then again, Barath might just be ready for the big occasion.

In the short time he has had to make an impact, he has done exactly that. He crafted a Test century on debut at the Gabba and a maiden ODI century in his first innings in the sub-continent, against Sri Lanka in late January.

First impressions are a feature of Barath's game. On his Trinidad and Tobago debut, at 16, he put on a 170 runs in an opening stand with Daren Ganga, a national record in first-class cricket.

A right-hander who combines lusty lofted blows with wristy cuts and glances, he has even had a taste of the IPL and struck a promising 33 last year for the King's XI Punjab against the powerful Mumbai Indians.


  • Comment number 1.

    I would add Misbah-ul-Haq to this list, not just because he scored a hundred in the warm up today, he seems like the middle order gunslinger that will win games from precarious positions. Much like Pathan and Eoin Morgan [sadly missed, unless called up as a reserve later in the tournament] ul-Haq does the incredible and makes it look pretty simple.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is Tamim Iqbal not a star name for Bangladesh then? (More so than Shakib, I believe...)

  • Comment number 3.

    I reckon Imran Tahir for South Africa is going to have a big world cup, he's looked good in the warm-up games, and gives South Africa an attacking spinner at last.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a SA supporter, I hope you are right about Tsotsobe but the reality is he and Wayne Parnell are vying for the third seamer spot - and that's assuming SA feel they need a third seamer, depends a lot on how they plan to use Kallis. Lopsy's had better form recently, but Parnell is quicker and is probably a better reverse swing exponent.

    However I am a little baffled by your comment about "few recognised spin options". Johan Botha, Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are clear options, while Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy are pretty decent part-timers. In other words, a third of the squad are spin options, more than that if you want to include Mr Smith (please no!). Obviously we don't have the resources of an India or Sri Lanka, but I think by any sensible measure our spin options are quite decent.

    Personally, I'd have picked Tahir as the one to watch. He will play, he's a quality spinner, and he adds genuine variety to our attack. He might also not choke. That would make a nice change.

  • Comment number 5.

    Oliver seems to make the mistake of thinking that interest in a player in the IPL illustrates that players talents or deliverance of those talents in the 50 over international game.

    This is a league where Ishant Sharma once got valued at nearly $1m for 6 weeks work yet Tamim Iqbal wasn't deemed worth a bid of 1/20th that value. And where Gambhir fetched about $2.5m and Chris Gayle didn't get sold at all.

    Marketability, pressure to sign Indians and impulsive owners are far more important than talent in this league.

    Added to that, 20/20 is rather different to 50 overs.

    There are a lot of mediocre players in the IPL, happy to take the cash without performing and lots of past-it players just wanting a retirement fund, there will be far fewer of these types in the world cup.

  • Comment number 6.

    Agree, Adrian Barath is an exciting youngman with a bat in his hand! He could emerge as a superstar in this world cup!

    If he and Gayle can gel, WI could be the dark horse in this competition!

  • Comment number 7.

    in response to 5.

    Your post is both ridiculous and ignorant. The best Indian players in the IPL are always going to be bought at a premium because there is a cap on the number of foregn players in the starting 11 and there is only a handfull of top Indian players to choose from.
    They are naturally going to fetch extravagent prices. Such is the nature of supply and demand.Ishant Sharma at the time was the most exciting fast bowling prospect India had had for years after some stellar performances against Australia.
    Also the reason why Dareen Bent goes for 23 million and Andy Carrol for 35 million..

    The 20/20 and the ODI are not poles apart and the IPL auction is a decent yardstick for an international cricketers potential and prospect. If a young foreign player gets signed up for mega bucks its because he has been impressive and has the talent to be a match winner...
    If the IPL was all about marketability, then the likes of Ganguly and Brian Lara would have been snatched up. However they werent even wanted at their base prices..Chris Gayle went unsold because of unavailability.

    The IPL does have its share of mercenaries and past-it players but such is the nature of any league. But it also exposes the potential of exciting young cricketers and gives them a platform to shine on a global stage which they wouldnt have otherwise..

  • Comment number 8.

    4. I'd forgotten Peterson was there, though otherwise they are pretty reliant on Botha, given that Tahir and Du Plessis are so fresh to international cricket, and Duminy, frankly, should not worry anyone. All in all though they look better stocked than one or two other teams, eg England, so "few recognised spin options" was perhaps a little strong, but overall quality of the SA spinners might be an issue.

    5. Hang on - I make two passing references to the IPL, that's it. Anyway - it's a high-pressure environment, played on Indian wickets in frong of big crowds. Players with IPL form could do well over the next few weeks.

  • Comment number 9.

    The only issue really is whether the selectors' confidence in Imran Tahir is well-placed. If he doesn't come off, we'll be juggling a bunch of spinners who can bowl defensively, and probably we won't have enough to win.

    The gamble is that he turns our lot into a very mean proposition.

    Ps. You maybe noticed that we're braining the Aussies at the moment... not that anyone should read too much into that these days.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oliver, I usually quite like your articles but I assume this one is aimed more at the non-cricket fan, as most of your choices are all fairly well known and predictable, especially the first 3. I would suggest some lesser-known players who could do well as the Pakistan opener Ahmed Shezhad, who I doubt most British viewers will have seen before and is coming off the back of another century today; Darren Bravo, younger brother of Dwayne, looks a better bet than Adrian Barath; and Paul Stirling as a lesser-known Associate player. I agree with the SA fan that Tahir could well be key if SA are to win, however I disagree with his assumption that Tsotsobe is not a guaranteed pick over Parnell, after his series against India I'm sure he is.

  • Comment number 11.

    Two names i would like to add on will be Yusuf Pathan and MN van Wyk provided SA give him a chance to play.

  • Comment number 12.

    #2 am with you on Tamim Iqbal. Quality batsman. I think Bangladesh could do really well in this world cup.

  • Comment number 13.

    2 and 12, I think the clue is in the third line...'six players you may not have heard of who are worth following'..I think most people who watch cricket would have heard of Tamim Iqbal.

  • Comment number 14.

    To the exciting list of six, may I humbly add the name of Yusuf Pathan ? The exciting Indian all rounder is showing tremendous hunger, skill and determination with the bat and the ball.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 15.

    #13 If its going with players who people have not heard of, then at least 3, if not 4, of the players on the list are fairly well known by people who watch cricket.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13- Yes, but #2 and #12 are objecting to Oliver's description of Shakib al-Hasan as "the only real star name in the Tigers line-up"; your post in fact backs them up as Tamim can surely be regarded in that way also.

  • Comment number 17.

    Steve Smith, Tim Paine and Ajantha Mendis are all future stars in the waiting
    Smith could be the next Warne, and he can bat
    Paine could be the next Gilchrist
    Mendis could be the new Muralitharin

  • Comment number 18.

    What about Kane Williamson for the Kiwis? I'm suprised he's not been mentioned. A decent middle order batsman with some tons to his name. If you can mention Barath, then Williamson deserves a mention as well.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Who wouldn't have heard of any of these players? Some article.

  • Comment number 21.

    Very interesting list! As I live in Holland, I'm very excited by seeing TenDo on the list, though not surprised... I must admit to having very little knowledge or insight into the other Associates' squads. But I'd still add Cooper to the ones to watch. If he can handle the pressures, he could be a very interesting batsman at 3 or 4 for Holland, tying Kervezee amd TenDo together...
    I'll be watching out for Buurman and Bukhari as well. The latter is my club's most destructive bowler and has the potential to be a handy bat down the order...
    I'm still English, though... :)

  • Comment number 22.

    Unlike previous world cups, this one has no clear-cut favourite(s). It is wide open and it is anyone's to win.

    It also is great to see the Game expanding beyond the traditional 'elite' club to include the Associate nations like Canada. I trust this opportunity continues into the distant future.

    In time, a few of these nations may emerge to challenge the old=boys' club and can only augment the sport.

    One thing is possible, a few lesser-knowns will seize the stage to make a name for themselves. Let the games begin!

  • Comment number 23.

    Splendidsparrow, as much as I love the sentiment of your post, Associates have been in the world cup for quite some time. This, however, might well be the last time, as the ICC have been so caught up witht hemselves, that from the next edition on, there will be only 10 countries competing. The top 8 will qualify automatically, with the other two births being allocated through qualifiers.
    Because of the amount of cricket played by Bangladesh, West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, compared to Ireland, the Netherlands, Kenya, Scotland, Afghanistan and Canada (to name but a few), they have a huge benefit over he Associates.
    Under these circumstances, it is very unlikely for Associates to get a regular chance to break into the "old boys' club"... The ICC giveth (they're entrusted with the further development of the game) and taketh away....

  • Comment number 24.

    Tendulkar, Ponting, Muralitharan and "AFRIDI" in the same breath? While Afridi can be entertaining, surely he has not even come close to achieving what the other players in that list have consistently achieved over the last decade (or more)! And to think Jack Kallis, perhaps the greatest cricket player of all time, is not mentioned in this "esteemed" category. Other posters have already picked on the many problems with the six "players to watch" so I will not weigh in on that, but I think the very first sentence of the article reflects what kind of an "article" this piece was going to be. Disappointing.

  • Comment number 25.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 26.

    #24. Afridi has done enough to be a part of such elite club at least in the shorter form of the games. He won the T20 WC literally on his own. And whenever you talk about him then please do not forget what he brings up with his bowling. He has been perhaps the most consistent bowler for Pakistan, and also in the world, at large, in the last 6-7 years.Why people have to keep on talking about his batting only? His batting is just a bonus. I know a certain Tendulkar fan would cry about this but tell me if he ever won the world cup for India? Even this time chances are not that good.

  • Comment number 27.

    17. "Smith could be the next Warne, and he can bat... Paine could be the next Gilchrist" At this point I cryptically produce the title of a Douglas Coupland novel, Hey Nostradmus

    21. Good to hear from you! Personally, I think the Dutch are a little weaker overall than in previous years, but let's see. On the subject of the associates, did anyone see Afghan Cricket Club: Out of the Ashes? What a marvellous film that was.

  • Comment number 28.

    Thanks Oliver! You're right in thinking Holland is weaker than in previous years. In fact, I think there's a lack of consistency in the Associates' game in general. Ireland being the exception to prove the point...

    I hadn't actually heard of the film, so thanks for the tip!

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't do it, ICC!

    It would be a tragic mistake of epic proportion if the ICC goes ahead to eliminate the Associate nations from this competition.

    Why take the world out of the World Cup?

    Canada proved today that they can play with the best. You cannot deny these lads this forum to progress into the future.

    Should the ICC go ahead to exclude this element of the game, it will have been one more reason why they may appear to have become out-of-touch and insensitive to the expectations of a great many in the cricket world.

    Don't do it, ICC

  • Comment number 30.

    Possible format for next World Cup 2015. Groups, teams and matches shown as an example.

    Qualifying groups will be drawn by lots, from 5 pots of 3 teams each, which will be allocated according to World rankings.
    The host country will be placed in group A, with joint host going into group B and C as necessary. The first 2 matches would have been switched if the host is a 2nd/3rd-seeded team..
    All group matches to have a spare day allocated. All knockout matches to have 2 spare days allocated.

    Group A Group B Group C
    A1 Australia B1 Sri Lanka C1 India
    A2 Pakistan B2 England C2 South Africa
    A3 West Indies B3 New Zealand C3 Bangladesh
    A4 Netherlands B4 Zimbabwe C4 Ireland
    A5 Kenya B5 Canada C5 Afghanistan

    Group matches.
    The order of matches for each day could be switched for TV.

    Day Day/ Night
    Friday Australia A1 v A3 West Indies
    Saturday- Pakistan A2 v A5 Kenya Sri Lanka B1 v B3 New Zealand
    Sunday- England B2 v B5 Canada
    Monday- India C1 v C3 Bangladesh South Africa C2 v C5 Afghanistan
    Tuesday- Pakistan A2 v A4 Netherlands West Indies A3 v A5 Kenya
    Wednesday- England B2 v B4 Zimbabwe New Zealand B3 v B5 Canada
    Thursday- South Africa C2 v C4 Ireland Bangladesh C3 v C5 Afghanistan
    Friday- Australia A1 v A5 Kenya West Indies A3 v A4 Netherlands
    Saturday- Sri Lanka B1 v B5 Canada New Zealand B3 v B4 Zimbabwe
    Sunday- India C1 v C5 Afghanistan
    Monday- Bangladesh C3 v C4 Ireland Australia A1 v A2 Pakistan
    Tuesday- Netherlands A4 v A5 Kenya Sri Lanka B1 v B2 England
    Wednesday- Zimbabwe B4 v B5 Canada India C1 v C2 South Africa
    Thursday- Ireland C4 v C5 Afghanistan Australia A1 v A4 Netherlands
    Friday- Pakistan A2 v A3 West Indies Sri Lanka B1 v B4 Zimbabwe
    Saturday- England B2 v B3 New Zealand India C1 v C4 Ireland
    Sunday- South Africa C2 v C3 Bangladesh

    The schedule of day or day/night matches will be decided by TV.
    Group finishing order and QF rankings will be decided by this criteria:
    a) Number of points.
    b) Result of match between teams.
    c) Net run-rate.
    Rules will dictate that QF matches cannot be competed by teams from the same qualifying group:
    a) If the highest-ranked group winner are from the same group as the middle ranked third place team, the third placed teams will be switched.
    b) If the lowest ranked r-up are from the same group as the lowest ranked group winner, the lowest ranked R-up and middle ranked R-up will be switched.

    Thursday QF1- Australia Highest ranked Winner v Middle ranked 3rd New Zealand
    Friday QF2- England Highest ranked R-up v Middle ranked R-up India
    Saturday QF3- Sri Lanka Middle Winner v Highest ranked 3rd West Indies
    Sunday QF4- South Africa Lowest ranked Winner v Lowest ranked R-up Pakistan


    Tuesday- Australia QF1 v QF2 India
    Wednesday- Sri Lanka QF3 v QF4 South Africa


    Saturday Australia SF1 v SF2 Sri Lanka

    37 matches in total completed in less than 30 days.
    Can easily be adapted allow 20 teams in 4 groups with the addition of just 5 more days. QF places would be awarded to group winners and runners-up.

    Any thoughts welcome, especially if some knows how to format posts to keep the tabs and spaces! :)

  • Comment number 31.

    Totally agree with you on Kohli Oliver, he is the best of India's next generation and he makes our XI to look out for in the WC

    An XI to watch closely in the World Cup

    Good shout on Barath and Mathews too - even if the latter sounds like he should be starring in Home & Away or Neighbours rather than plying his trade as an all-rounder for Sri Lanka

  • Comment number 32.

    Splendidsparrow, there are a few Facebook groups speaking against the reduction of the world cup to 10 countries.


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