Six to watch in 2009
Over the years at the BBC Sport website we have had a go at predicting players on the cusp of making an impact on the international cricket scene.
The tradition is to go for one player from each of the two teams touring England in the summer, three up-and-coming players on the county scene attempting to break into the national senior side, and a member from the England women's team.
No player can be selected if they have already appeared on our "six to follow".
We have had some success over the years, with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Smith, James Anderson and - last year - Dale Steyn all confidently tipped for the top. Inevitably, there have also been one or two players who have not quite lived up to expectation.
Have a look at our selections from 12 months ago if you like - you can also link from there to many of the previous picks - and most importantly have a go yourself.
I'll be back on the blog later to compile a "popular choice" selection if there are enough replies!
Mitchell Johnson - age 27, born Townsville, Queensland, left-arm fast-medium bowler
For Australia to retain the Ashes, someone will need to step into the shoes of the retired Glenn McGrath and that man could be Johnson.
Not afraid to seek a full length in an effort to get the ball to swing - and with that happy knack of taking wickets with so-so deliveries - he bowls at a lively pace and is learning fast on the international stage.
After a slightly disappointing first year in Test cricket, he was one of the few bright spots on the tough tour of India. Having survived that examination, he picked up easier wickets against New Zealand in the home series and took 11 more in a single Test against South Africa in Perth.
Xavier Marshall - age 22, born Jamaica, right-hand batsman
The West Indies selectors seem, for the time being, determined to keep giving Marshall chances since many are convinced this man has so much raw talent that one day he must succeed.
He has a truly dreadful record in one-day cricket - in 19 completed innings he has suffered 13 dismissals while still in single figures. And while he managed to smash an unbeaten 157 against Canada, his next best score is 35.
And yet, far from banish him to regional cricket, the selectors put him back in the Test side in June, and an innings of 85 in the fourth innings in Barbados showed him at his best. There is something there - he must now channel emotions which can get the better of him and he could yet emerge as a talent on the world stage.
His ability to strike the ball cleanly may make him one to watch at the ICC World Twenty20 in June - especially as he would have had the chance to get used to English conditions by then.
Mark Davies - age 28, born Stockton-on-Tees, right-arm seam bowler
The conveyor belt of fast bowlers from the north-east appeared to have left Davies behind when others like Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions gained England recognition, while he did not.
Davies's handicap was his fitness. He took 97 wickets between 2004 and 2005, and yet was injured for periods of both of those summers before spending three months in a body brace in 2006.
He began to recover in 2007 and took 39 wickets in 11 matches in the Championship-winning squad last summer. That haul included a stunning spell on a flat deck at Old Trafford, when he had Andrew Flintoff caught at slip first ball after seeing off Mark Chilton, Mohammad Yousuf and Mal Loye.
Davies's career bowling average of 21.17 is very good indeed and he could be approaching his best years now.
Robbie Joseph - age 26, born Antigua, right-arm fast bowler
Hailing from the Caribbean, Joseph was cleared to play for Kent in 2004 after arriving in the UK as a schoolboy aged 15. But he found himself very much a fringe figure at Canterbury for a number of seasons.
That all changed in 2008, however, when he emerged as one of the best English-qualified one-day bowlers in the country with some dazzling spells in pressure situations, and some handy returns in the Championship too.
He removed Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook in consecutive deliveries in the Friends Provident Trophy final, where he demonstrated his natural ability to run the ball away from the right-handers.Those in the know say he has also added a few crucial yards of pace, and the ECB have taken note by including him in their most recent performance squad.
Will Smith - age 26, born Luton, right-hand batsman
Durham University has already provided four top-order batsmen who went on to play for their country in Nasser Hussain, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Fowler and John Stephenson. Will Smith, who will captain the county champions this summer, could be the next.
Always a name to look out for in scorecards featuring the university sides between 2002 and 2005, sheer weight of runs forced his inclusion in Nottinghamshire's Twenty20 side in the fourth of those summers.
Quite how Notts let him go at the end of 2006 - they essentially swapped him for the Essex giant Will Jefferson - is a bit of a mystery. And in his second season at Durham he racked up 952 Championship runs from 12 matches to be the club's player of the year - no mean feat in that particular side.
Laura Marsh - age 22, born Pembury, Kent, right-arm seam bowler
Having tipped the likes of Isa Guha and Sarah Taylor long before they made a major impact, women's cricket is an area we have some confidence in. Marsh is an interesting performer who has switched from seaming the ball to spinning it under the tutelage of Jack Birkenshaw.
I must admit I was tempted to go for Lydia Greenway, the batsman who has been in the team for a while, but in this area I defer to my colleague Paul Grunill, who knows much more about women's cricket than me.
So good luck to Marsh and the rest of the England team as they travel to the World Cup in Australia in March, and then defend the Ashes in the summer (following the World Twenty20, also in England). It will be a very busy year for them but after a great summer in 2008 they have a decent chance of success in both tournaments.