Sunday, 29 January 2012

Five to watch in 2012

I thought I'd use my insignificant knowledge of cricket to predict which players will come good this year. Feel free to throw these predictions back in my face at the beginning of 2013.

Adam Wheater (Essex, Matabeleland Tuskers)
Now, this one is a little bit of a cheat to start with, because he's already played over 30 first class matches and averages over 45, but I think this could be the year that Wheater starts to deliver in all forms of the game. For a player with the talent to score runs so quickly in the first class game it seems a mystery why he's relatively poor in limited overs cricket. My theory is that he is a bit like Sehwag in that he's very good at scoring quick runs against attacking fields, but one day fields put fielders in his favourite catching zones who eventually catch him out. Hopefully this year he can learn how to rotate the strike and score boundaries in limited overs cricket, a skill which can only help his first class cricket too.

Chanaka Welegedara (Sri Lanka)
Again, this is a player who has been around for a while, but he has started to come into his own towards the end of 2011, with two five wicket hauls, agains Pakistan then South Africa. He has a strong action and a reasonable domestic record, along with an unimpressive test bowling average. However, as a left arm seamer he looks like the perfect replacement for Chaminda Vaas, and could be the man to lead Sri Lanka's pace attack for many years to come. 

Gary Ballance (Yorkshire, Mid West Rhinos)
I've never seen Ballance bat so I'm just going on figures, but they are some impressive figures. He's only 22 yet has an average of above 50 in both First-class and List A cricket. Most of the runs he's scored have been scored in Zimbabwe where he averages over 60, but his average for Yorkshire is a respectable 41. His real problem is a poor coversion rate for Yorkshire with only one of his nine hundreds occuring in england. It is worth pointing out that bowling attacks in Zimababwe probably aren't as threatening as in the County Championship, so if he maintains his current form into the English domestic season it can't be long until England and Zimbabwe start fighting over him.

Tino Mawoyo (Zimbabwe)
He's not played a lot of international cricket, so I'm basing this on the one time I've seen him and the fact that his record so far is pretty excellent. He's an old style Test match opener in the Atherton sort of mould, in that he sees his job as to blunt the new ball and allow the stroke-makers around him to flourish. Being an opener like that, his leaving of the ball is top class, and although he scores relatively slowly it does allow him to accumulate some big scores. I'm looking forward to some more of his approach, Zimbabwe could do with more solid and dependable batsmen like him.

Tom Craddock (Essex)
Young English leg-spinners generally get over-hyped the moment they arrive on the scene, but maybe it's because of the roundabout way that he got there that's kept the hype around Craddock pretty low. As a leg-spinner myself I feel pretty excited when I see a talented young leggie in the English game, and I think Craddock is under-rated. He's not a huge turner of the ball, but he's got a decent googly and a genuine slider and bowls with some guile and great control. 

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