2015 World Cup: Vivian Richards picks top 10 players to watch out for
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be a competitive and intriguing tournament, showcasing the world’s best cricketing talent in Australia and New Zealand. The fans will get to enjoy a wide range of batting and bowling styles.
In no particular order then, these are my players to watch out for in this coming tournament.
I have to begin with AB de Villiers, who has just re-written the record books with the fastest ODI century. The more I watch him, the more it feels like I am watching myself bat. He looks very comfortable at the crease. I like his style and he is one player who is very hard to leave out of any ODI team.
The other batsman I am looking forward to seeing in the coming weeks is Virat Kohli. At such a young age he has twice the number of ODI centuries than in Tests and he is such a confident player in limited-overs. It is not to say he isn’t so in the longer format, but I really like his aggressive style in ODI cricket. Look at the way he started his career, and the batsman he has already become today, he is simply magnificent in whatever little time he has played so far. He is only going to get better and better, and add to his list of achievements.
Any talk of aggressive batsmen is incomplete without mentioning Chris Gayle. On his day, he can be very destructive, a bowlers’ nightmare. He can be a match-winner in any environment and in any match conditions. If he is on song, then the opposition can lose the match in the blink of an eye, that’s how destructive he can be.
Among one of the top batsmen in the world today is Steve Smith. He is not the most orthodox player, yet in the last couple years he has improved by leaps and bounds, unlike anyone else recently. Just look at his record after becoming Australia’s Test captain this past summer. He is almost tireless, picks gaps with ease and has a wonderful hand-eye co-ordination. He will be playing at home and will only make that advantage work in his favour in the World Cup.
Staying with the Australian team, it also boasts of Glenn Maxwell in its ranks. He is an enormously talented player, but he hasn’t done enough justice to his ability. This is because we don’t know what he will bring to the field on a particular day.
Another such dynamic batsman is New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum. He has been quite consistent off late, certainly more than Maxwell. He is a dynamic batsman and as such I am also curious about what he can do while he is also leading the side. In home conditions, he will have to rely on his local knowledge as well as garner immense support from the crowds. This might be his last chance at getting the world champions’ crown.
Kumar Sangakkara will also be playing in his last ICC Cricket World Cup. Over the last few years, no other batsman has lit up the international cricketing scene the way he has. He has scored heavily in both Tests as well as limited-overs. I have been an avid follower of Sri Lanka cricket and I believe the experience Sangakkara has, he can inspire his team to deliver a good showing at the World Cup.
Looking at the bowlers now, the first name is that of Dale Steyn obviously. In my opinion, he is the best fast bowler in the world and has been so for a few years now. He is just so consistent and aggressive, and his ability as a pace bowler is second to none. In the limited-overs arena too, he never looks to contain runs. Steyn’s bowling is based on pace and aggression, and he will get wickets for you irrespective of the format and that puts South Africa in a formidable position. In this coming World Cup, he has an opportunity to do something special for his team and make it a memorable showing for the Proteas after a long time.
The seven-foot tall Mohammad Irfan should be another fast bowler to watch out for. Because of his height, the bounce of hard Australia wickets will be very useful for him and he will trouble the batsmen with it. Moreover, he is a left-arm bowler and that angle can create problems as well. If he stays fit throughout the tournament, Pakistan will have a wonderful bowler at its disposal.
*This column first appeared on www.icc-cricket.com