CAPE TOWN – These are the five men who are worth your pay-channel subscription for they are pure box office. With the 2019 Cricket World Cup only days away now, IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams profiles the premier batsmen who will provide all the entertainment over the next six weeks.
1. Virat Kohli (India)
Matches: 227 Runs: 10 843 Ave: 59.57 100s: 41
It is inconceivable to imagine that Kohli could surpass the great Sachin Tendulkar (49) for the most ODI centuries ever by the end of this World Cup. Kohli, still only 30, is a run-machine that is rivalling Sir Viv Richards as the greatest one-day batsman of all time. He is the heartbeat of this modern-day India team that struts around with the same air of confidence as their captain. If he gets on a run, India will be hard to stop.
2. Babar Azam (Pakistan)
Matches: 64 Runs: 2739 Ave: 51.67 100s: 9
Kohli’s numbers speak for themselves, so Azam must be one fine player if Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur constantly compares his young talent to the Indian captain. Azam has certainly shown the potential at the start of his ODI career to at least be Pakistan’s finest-ever ODI batsman. Although a classical stroke-maker instead of a blaster, Azam will need to raise his strike-rate that sits at just above 80% at the moment in order to really dine at the main table.
3. Quinton de Kock (South Africa)
Matches: 106 Runs: 4602 Ave: 45.56 100s: 14
If not for the West Indies, there would be no more laid-back cricketer in the world. And just like the men from the Caribbean, “Quinny” walks out to the middle to have fun, play with flair and entertain the crowd. It has proven to be a hugely successful formula for the Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman who would much rather be out in the bush or fishing on the Vaal River than answering questions about good he really is.
4. Jos Buttler (England)
Matches: 131 Runs: 3531 Ave: 41.54 100s: 8
For spectators disappointed that AB de Villiers will not wield is magic willow at #CWC19, don’t fret because England’s talisman is the heir to De Villiers’ “Mr 360” throne. New England star Jofra Archer certainly appreciates his teammate’s talents, issuing a quiet warning to all World Cup bowlers plotting a strategy to nullify Buttler. “He can hit you straight down the ground or over the keeper’s head. I don’t think anywhere is safe with him,” Archer said. The World Cup could be Buttler’s playground.
5. Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Matches: 139 Runs: 5554 Ave: 45.90 100s: 11
Stepping into the shoes of Brendon McCullum, particularly after the former Black Caps skippers’ heroics at the 2015 World Cup, was always going to be a steep challenge. But Williamson, pictured, was always grounded enough to be his own man and not even attempt to copy “B-Mac’s” playbook. His batting is similarly understated, but hugely effective. He is simply the guy who gets the job done. Possibly New Zealand’s finest ever. Sorry, he is the Kiwis’ all-time best.@ZaahierAdams