‘The Next Generation XI’

With many great and legendary players retiring in the recent times, one could wonder if cricket has talented youngsters to fill in the boots of these masters of the business.
Israr Hashmi
November 11, 2013
Junaid Khan has been a terrific find and can serve Pakistan on long term basis.

Junaid Khan has been a terrific find and can serve Pakistan on long term basis.

With many great and legendary players retiring in the recent times, one could wonder if cricket has talented youngsters to fill in the boots of these masters of the business. An era has passed. Without any Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Mohammad Yousuf, Bret Lee, Shoaib Akhtar, Anil Kumble and Muralitharan here is a list named ‘The Next Generation XI’ whom I think could be the future of cricket.

Shikhar Dhawan (India)

Had Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir been in best of their forms, India wouldn’t have found a gem worth millions. A naturally aggressive batsman with all the strokes in his book, Shikhar Dhawan first made to the international level in an ODI vs Australia but collected only a Duck in his first match. After that, he was left-out and re-called in 2011 vs WI. Here again, he could scored only 1 half-century in the whole series. His best time came when he was selected for the Champions Trophy 2013 in England and he smashed two centuries and a half-century earning the man-of-the-series award. Since then he has been a regular part of the Indian side averaging 46 in the ODIs and scoring the fastest Test century, that too on his debut, in process.

Ahmed Shehzad (Pakistan)

It was a tie between Ahmed Shehzad and Rohit Sharma but Shehzad is selected because of his immense talent and current form. Rohit Sharma made it to the headlines mainly in 2013 after he was promoted to the top by MS Dhoni but Shehzad is something wow.  Be it for U-19s or for Pakistan, Shehzad has given struggling Pakistan that was badly needed, an opener. Shehzad idolizes Ricky Ponting and aims to be just like him one day. A cool and calm head that can be aggressive when needed, Shehzad has the capability of scoring quick runs in the opening power-play overs. His temperament and ability to hold one end up earned him a Test call vs. South Africa but he is yet to get a game. Shehzad has till now two ODI hundreds and a 98* vs. Zimbabwe in a T20 game, which is the highest individual score by a Pakistani in T20Is.

Virat Kohli (India)

They say Sachin Tendulkar can’t be replaced, I say India has already found a Tendulkar-quality player. If Virat Kohli can do some adjustments in his attitude, 7/10 would say Kohli >> Tendulkar. An average of over 41 in tests and 52 in ODIs is enough to speak of his talent. Virat Kohli plays his game aggressively, bares his emotions loudly in public, yet retains the element of maturity that forms an integral part of every good and great player. Having made his first international appearance in 2008, Kohli is now recognised for his growing maturity, and, more importantly, for his superb skills with bat in hand. Even in the presence, or absence, of any prolific partners, Kohli has become one of the most dependable batsmen in the Indian middle order. He can play his strokes in every corner of the ground, especially through the leg-side he is a sight to watch. An impressive century in WC 2011’s opener and other useful contributions in the WC including a 35 in the WC final, made Kohli not only India’s but the World’s Hero. Then came the tour to Australia later that year, when he truly proved he belonged at the highest levels in both forms of the game. On a tour in which India’s senior batsmen struggled throughout, Kohli stood out, scoring India’s only Test hundred – a mature, composed innings in Adelaide. And with India almost out of the CB Series, Kohli uncorked his best with an astonishing 86-ball unbeaten 133 to help India chase down 321 inside 40 overs. He was rewarded a Test cap after the retirement of VVS Laxman and he has re-paid it with four 100s and six 50s in 16 matches.

Joe Root (England)

A stylish Yorkshire batsman who doesn’t sell his wicket for cheap, Joe Root is termed as the commander of England’s next generation of batsmen. The amount of pressure he absorbed during his debut innings of 73 off 229 balls vs. India at Nagpur in 2012 clearly showed his talent, temperament and technique. Root is an opening batsman for England in Tests but can fit well anywhere in the middle-order and can play according to the situation. He may not have a long list of shots in his book but his ability to rotate the strike and snug the ball in the corners for ones and twos has made him regular pick in any side. Root averages 40 in both Tests and ODIs.  His best came when he scored 180 off 338 balls in the 2nd Ashes Test at Lords. Adding to his qualities, he can be a very good bowler in the middle overs of the game.

Nasir Hossain (Bangladesh)

If someone asks me who the best player is, Bangladesh has produced after Shakib Al Hassan; I would call-up for ‘Nasir Hossain’- without any doubt. His potential was seen in his first international game, when he scored 63 against Zimbabwe, the highest by a Bangladeshi on ODI debut. Nasir is an all-rounder, more a batsman who can bowl some handy off-spins. Bangladesh badly needed a finisher in their middle-order and Shakib, their prime player, was experiencing a tough period of his career. Someone had to step-out and break the shackles for Bangladesh. One man did. He was Nasir Hossain. Such is the talent of this guy that he can make large totals small. He gave BD a belief that they can chase any target. His partnerships with Shakib in the Asia Cup 2012 took BD just inches away from their first premier title but they surrendered to a strong bowling unit of Pakistan in the Final. To add to his finishing ability, he averages 117 in successful chases only bettered by Virat Kohli, Eoin Morgan and AB de Villiers since his debut.

Glenn Maxwell (Australia)

After Andrew Symonds retirement, Australia badly struggled for a batting all-rounder. Though, they had Shane Watson in the side but someone who can bat in the lower middle-order was badly missed. Cool-n-calm as well as aggressive Maxwell is the new Boom-Boom of the modern cricket. He is just different from Pakistan’s Boom-Boom Shahid Afridi because he can use the area between his ears in a tough match situation. He knows when to play aggressively and when to be defensive. He has the ability to carry the team between the 35-45 overs and in process, hit the bad balls out of the park. 42 fours and 27 sixes in just 19 ODI innings is something special and even more special when you bat at no. 6. Plus he can bowl his off-spins without giving many runs.

Jos Butler (England)

Butler made it to the final XI beating his fellow country-man Johnny Bairstow and Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal because of his better wicket-keeping and the ability to hit some lusty blows at the end of the innings. Many would have selected Chandimal over Butler but Chandimal is usually a top-order player and not that impressive wicket-keeper. Butler was first introduced in the T20s but he made his way to the ODI squad with his impressive batting for England Lions vs. Sri Lanka. Averaging 24 in the ODIs and 23 in the T20Is, Butler is yet to make an impact but he is rated higher by many ex-England players and cricket pundits.

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

Ravi Ashwin is one of many players India found through the IPL. Extraordinary performances in the T20 format earned him a call-up to the national side, ODI firsts and inevitably the Tests in 2011-12. He was a part of the WC winning squad in the 2011, but rarely got a chance ahead of Harbhajan. The senior offspinner soon provided him with more opportunities courtesy his lean patch of form and Ashwin kept on building his reputation as the lead spinner of India. He took nine wickets in his maiden Test, the second-highest by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani’s 16, and won the Man-of-the-Match award. With 97 wickets and nine five-fors in 17 Tests, Ashwin is very much in contention to break Erapalli Prasanna’s Indian record of 100 wickets in 20 Tests.

James Faulkner (Australia)

A highly talented bowling all-rounder James Faulkner made to Australia’s national side after winning three consecutive Ricky Ponting medals for Tasmania and an impressive show for Rajasthan Royals in IPL-6. As a bowler, Faulkner can move the ball both ways and can be very deceptive with his slower ball. 25 wickets in 18 ODI matches don’t speak of his ability as a bowler but he has played most of the times on flat pitches that suit the batsmen more than the bowlers. As a batsman, he did nothing special until Australia vs. India at Mohali, where he smashed 64 off 29 balls (including 30 off Ishant Sharma’s over) clinching victory from the jaws of India. Later in the series, he scored 116 off 73 balls scoring 100 in 57 balls, which is the fastest century for Australia in ODIs.

Junaid Khan (Pakistan)

Junaid Khan was unknown to the world till he was announced as a replacement for injured Sohail Tanvir in Pakistan’s world cup 2011 squad. Hailing from Matra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwah, Junaid Khan has the ability to move the ball both ways. He came at a time when Pakistanis were bruised by Mohammed Aamir because of his involvement in Spot-Fixing. It wouldn’t be untrue that Junaid has helped Paksitan pull itself together after the loss of his two prime bowlers. After a not-so-good debut, Junaid impressed in the Test series vs. Sri Lanka taking 14 wickets at an impressive average of 21.78. He then troubled Indian batsmen on Indian pitches late in December 2012 taking in-form Virat Kohli’s wicket 3 out of 3 times in just 20 odd balls. After Umar Gul being injured, young Junaid Khan was given the opportunity to lead Pakistan’s bowling attack and he has lived up to his potential till now.

MJ McClenaghan (New Zealand)

Isn’t it enough to say that McClenaghan has 31 wickets in 12 ODI matches including 4 four-fors at an average of 19.19 and strike rate of 21 balls per wicket. If it anything for the current New Zealand side to boost about, it must be McClenaghan. He made his first-class debut with Central Districts, but his career took off when he moved to Auckland in the 2011-12 season. 16 wickets in six List A matches that season (including two 5-fors), and 35 in ten first-class games. His reward was a place in the New Zealand squad on the tour to South Africa in 2012-13, and in his first ODI he returned excellent figures of 4 for 20, becoming only the second New Zealander, after Dayle Hadlee, to take four wickets on ODI debut. McClenaghan is currently the leading wicket-taker for New Zealand in 2013.


Israr Hashmi is a cricket enthusiast based in Lahore and he tweets at @IamIsrarHashmi.

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