CAPE TOWN – IOL Sport's cricket scribe Zaahier Adams highlights some of the young guns to keep an eye on at the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
Jonny Bairstow (England)
Matches: 63 Runs: 2329 HS: 141* Ave: 47.53 100s: 7
At 29, Bairstow, pictured above, will be making a rather late appearance at his maiden World Cup after initially being handed an ODI debut eight years ago. But partially due to limited opportunities batting lower down the order, and England’s previously muddled attitude towards one-day cricket, it took a long time for the ginger-haired right-hander to cement a place at the World Cup.
However, since a maiden century against the Windies in 2017 due to a promotion up the order, the Yorkshireman has not looked back. He is currently in a rich vein of form, too, having struck an impressive 445 runs in just 10 IPL games, averaging more than 50.
Aiden Markram (South Africa)
Matches: 18 Runs: 503 HS: 67* Ave: 29.58 100s: 0
Such is the stature that young Markram is held within the Proteas dressing room that he was handed the ODI captaincy after just two limited-overs matches. However, the extra responsibility seemed to weigh too heavily on Markram’s slight shoulders as he failed to convert his prolific Test form in the white-ball arena.
Sent back to his domestic franchise, the Titans, Markram plundered away in the Momentum 1-Day Cup to remind the selectors he still desperately wanted to go to the World Cup. He still remains the only South African captain to raise an ICC World Cup trophy after leading the SA U-19s to glory in 2014.
Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)
Matches: 36 Runs: 1642 HS: 210* Ave: 51.3 100s: 4
The Pakistani opener has transformed himself into a cult hero in his homeland. The dashing left-hander burst on to the scene in England two years ago in the ICC Champions Trophy. A blitzkrieg century against arch-rivals India in the final at The Oval set up the most unlikely tournament victory.
He has since showed it was no fluke by becoming the first Pakistani batsman to strike an ODI double-century.
Hardik Pandya (India)
Matches: 45 Runs: 731 HS: 83 Ave: 29.2
A flamboyant all-rounder who plays the game like a West Indian. Pandya, pictured, hits the ball hard and far, bowls at a rapid pace and catches anything that comes his way. A game-changer who doesn’t stop trying even when the match seems to be drifting away.
He also enjoyed a crackerjack ICC Champions Trophy final two years ago - albeit in a losing cause.
Oshane Thomas (Windies)
Matches: 9 Wickets: 15 BB: 5/21 Ave: 27.53
There has not been a fast bowling prodigy who has got everyone talking as much as Oshane Thomas in the Caribbean since the 1980s. Thomas is quick, real quick. He clocks in at 150km/* and has played against some of the top batsmen in the world at the IPL.
At 22 years of age he is still a baby, but he is like an up-and-coming heavyweight boxer making his way through the ranks, desperate to prove himself.@ZaahierAdams