The clock is ticking down towards the start of the biggest ODI cricket event in the world – ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup. All ten teams go into the event with high hopes and at least eight of them are aiming for the ultimate glory of bringing the trophy home.
But World Cups aren't just about the team that ends up winning it. They also given an opportunity for talented players to perform on the biggest stage and prove their worthiness to the entire cricket fraternity. While we can expect the likes of Virat Kohli and Joe Root to perform well, there will also be the possibility of witnessing other capable players rising to the occasion and establishing themselves as future greats.
If we look back at history, Sachin Tendulkar cemented his growing reputation with his 1996 World Cup performance while Andrew Symonds became a leading member of the Australian ODI side after his hundred against Pakistan in Australia's opening match of the 2003 edition. Lance Klusener's exploits made him a superstar after the 1999 event while Aravinda d'Silva attainted immortality with his performances in the semi-final and Final of 1996 World Cup.
So, who is it going to be this time? Which young batsmen is going to use the stage in England to place himself among the best in the world? Here are the names of 5 batsmen who could be the answer. Keep an eye on them as they can make this tournament a portal to greatness.
If one is going by form, Shai Hope should have a great time in this 10-team competition. His twin hundreds against England at Headingley in 2017 that led to a historic win for West Indies was seen as the turning point of his career. But his performance since then in the longest format has been rather disappointing. But in the ODI circuit, he has struck a purple patch. Since the 5-match ODI series in India last year, Hope has been incredibly consistent and has become the fastest to 1000 ODI runs for Windies in ODI cricket as well as the only player from his region to score five centuries in his first 50 matches. Anyone who has watched him bat knows that he is exceptionally talented and has every ingredient needed for success. This World Cup may well be the time when Hope rises to the expectations and becomes the leading player in the world.
Rassie van der Dussen
This 30-year old cricketer made his debut earlier this year against Pakistan in a home series and looked, not just ready, but efficient from the word go. A stylish right-hander, van der Dussen has all the traits of a good South African batsman. He seems to be comfortable against pace bowling and decent against spin. Van der Dussen also seems to have a wide range of strokes and good temperament. The maturity and calmness that he showed on his debut match – where he just missed a hundred – suggests years of experience at domestic level has worked in his favour. With a good technique and penchant for scoring runs, Rassie may be the man to watch out for in the event that begins on May 30.
Incredibly prolific but yet to play a knock that is stunning, Babar has established himself as a big hope for future. After scoring three hundreds in a row in 2016 against West Indies in UAE, Babar has been a consistent performer and already possesses 8 ODI tons. This World Cup could see him emerge as a superstar in the same way a young Inzamam-ul-Haq did in 1992. But for that, the 24-year old has to remove the only flaw in his batting - the pace of his innings. In the modern era, scoring at run-a-ball, at least, is considered absolutely necessary and Azam is often short of that. But he has shown the ability to score fast. World Cup could well be the event where his talent turns into greatness.
Shimron Hetmyer is another incredibly talented batsman who has the experience of winning a World Cup – under-19 event in 2016. While he is stylish and elegant, there is also a streak of brutality towards bowlers in him. He has the great knack of hitting big sixes, especially over deep midwicket. It won't be an exaggeration to say that he is among the most adept when it comes to clearing the ropes. While he may not have the power of a Chris Gayle or Andre Russell but he has the gift of timing. The only thing he needs is control of his aggression. Often, in attempts to continue his six-hitting spree, he gives away his wicket. If he can fight that impulsiveness, sky is the limit for the young left-hander. World Cup is the best place to start.
Kusal Mendis has been around for a while and has achieved considerable success in Test arena. But in ODIs, he has not been very prominent. Perhaps, the 2019 World Cup is just the stage where he is going to take the bull by the horns in the shorter formats. The middle-order batsman is considered the future of Sri Lankan batting and is going to have to lead the way in coming years. Having lost his form in late 2017, he was dropped from the team. Since his comeback though, he has been in superb form. Perhaps, this tournament would see him emerge as a leading player in ODIs also. With his smooth technique and elegant stroke-making skills, there is no reason for him not to come good in this format also.