Posted by: tootingtrumpet | January 20, 2011

World Cup Squads – the men to watch

Who are the men most likely to catch the eye in the World Cup? Here’s one from each squad who might just prove to be the key man for their countries come cricket’s biggest tournament. And, even if they aren’t, it’ll be fun watching them.

Netherlands – Ryan ten Doeschate (1234 runs ave 69, sr 87; 48 wkts ave 21, econ 4.8). Been round the block for Essex in England’s non-stop county cricket whirligig, hitting the ball as hard as anyone and bowling tight, but with enough variation to keep batsmen honest. No bowler wants to see him striding to the wicket with 100 needed off 13 overs and six wickets in hand.

Sri Lanka – Angelo Mathews (666 runs ave 33, sr 81; 27 wkts ave 28, econ 4.6). Ice runs through the veins of this batting all-rounder who has all the shots in the textbook and a few that aren’t. Looks a million dollars in everything he does… well $950,000 to the Pune Warriors.

Zimbabwe – Sean Ervine (698 runs ave 28, sr 86; 41 wkts ave 38, econ 5.7). Seems to have been around forever, but is still only 28. Never looks fully fit, but on one of his rare good days, can win a match on his own with bat or ball. May not get another chance on the biggest stage, so might just deliver in a couple of matches.

India – Zaheer Khan (250 wkts ave 30, econ 4.9).  Doesn’t bat much and fields even less these days, but the man can bowl. His experience, swing and left-arm over and round angles will trouble the best batsman at the start and finish of an innings, but his trump card will surely be the motivation to win on home soil in his last World Cup. One of his team-mates has similar motivation I understand.

Australia – Shane Watson (3208 runs ave 42, sr 85; 121 wkts ave 28, econ 4.9). Loves the sub-continent with its pitches that favour his straight power-hitting and wicket-to-wicket wobblers. Knows conditions from international and IPL cricket and won’t be over-awed. In very decent nick too.

Pakistan – Abdul Razzaq (4921 runs ave 31, sr 81; 259 wkts ave 32, econ 4.7). All the experience in the world and a cool head amongst the adrenaline junkies in the green of Pakistan. Can still do a job with the ball, but his stronger suit is his ultra-clean hitting down the order. The man who can get his team from 250-7 with five overs left to 310-8 setting a target. And no chase is a write-off with him at the wicket.

South Africa – Imran Tahir. Has never played an ODI, but has bowled all over the world and taken wickets wherever he goes. Offers South Africa two qualities possessed by no other player in their squad – a surprise factor and a history that does not include the word “choke”.

Bangladesh – Tamim Iqbal (2640 runs ave 30, sr 79). Electrifying opening batsman who can make the best bowlers look like mugs. The feet aren’t always in the right place, but has Gilchristian hand-eye coordination and blinding bat-speed. Though still only 21, he is self-possessed and charming in interview and will enjoy his spell in the spotlight.

England – Eoin Morgan (1806 runs ave 40, sr 81). Everything you want in an ODI batsman, he can nurdle it around in a period of consolidation, hit boundaries to accelerate the scoring and judge a chase with Bevanesque coolness. England expects… and that might just be his biggest problem.

Ireland – Trent Johnston (552 runs ave 21, sr 98; 46 wkts ave 40, econ 4.1).  Canny with bat or ball in hand, his dibbly-dobblers may just pray on the egos of bigger stars. Will operate on the principle that “if you miss, I hit” and that’s never a bad idea on the sub-continent.

Kenya – Steve Tikolo (3377 runs ave 30, sr 76; 93 wkts ave 33, econ 4.8). The grand old man of Kenyan cricket will need all his 14 years of World Cup experience if his under-powered squad are to avoid embarrassment. Will hit the ball hard, but probably won’t run hard.

New Zealand – Jesse Ryder (695 runs ave 33, sr 92). As big a talent as there is in the game (no giggling at the back now), he doesn’t bowl much now due to injury niggles, but has a range of shot as wide as any batsman. Enjoys sub-continental pitches and will avoid too much running between the wickets by the simple expedient of hitting boundaries.

See what I mean?

West Indies – Darren Bravo (219 runs ave 37, sr 84). Looks like Brian Lara. Really. No, I mean it – he really does, in every sense. Might not be quite as good, but 75% of his illustrious distant relative’s batting is worth more than 100% of most others. Wonderful, simply wonderful, to watch – a gift of resurrection to Lara’s many admirers.


The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.


  1. Excellent picks. Although I can’t agree with your estimation of Jesse Ryder just yet…unless you meant “big” talent in a Ricky Gervais vein. Not nice!

    A few names I’m keen to watch:
    Harbhajan Singh – near the top of his game with ball, bat and mind
    Yousuf Pathan – Just as dangerous as Razzaq in current form. Great self-belief.
    Lee – His last WC too. Wants to prove a point to those who think he’s over the hill.
    Ponting – Ditto as Lee. And wants to continue as captain…so as motivated as ever.
    Combo of Tait+Lee+Johnson – will they destroy the opposition, or Aus?
    Combo of Steyn+Morkel – in prime form & fitness…can have an impact in India too.
    Swann – will be fascinating to watch him against India, SL and Pakistan…Sehwag, Razzaq, Pathan, et al will go after him…challenge as well as opportunity
    Andersen – Zaheer and Steyn have more experience and more laurels in Asia…will Anderson match up? (not that he’s lacking in class or skill)

    Open tournament…and delicious contests!

    • I do have a little fun at Ryder’s expense, but I do rate him as a batsman too.

      Bhaji is at the top of his game, but he’s as likely to flop as to soar. He won’t be boring, that’s for sure. Yusuf is a clean hitter too, but Razzaq is such a cool head amongst the firebrands. If Lee and Punter do well, then good on them, but I feel their time as matchwinners has passed. Steyn is good enough to take wickets anywhere, but I think the pitches will emasculate the quicks, Swanny needs more than ten overs to work his plans through, though he’s a handful. Anderson is good, but in ODIs he still has a lot of learning to do – he’ll be too full too often.

      Very open indeed!! Most open since 1996 at least.

  2. Nice trick turning Bravo into a left-hander and I presume you’re having a chuckle comparing him to the Prince.

    One West Indian that should be watched is Kieron Pollard. He may only be playing T20 in Australia but he is in tremendous form and at 23 is still improving.

    One aspect that has been on show during the Big Bash is his aggression. He’s been sledging and imposing his massive frame on opponents and he has the knack of getting under the skin of batsmen and bowlers alike putting them off their game.

    He’s developing into a proud and confident individual and there’s a bit of Sir Vivian’s swagger about him these days and it wouldn’t surprise to see him win a few matches on his own.

    When he is at the crease anything is possible and with Gayle, Bravo, Sarwan, Chanderpaul, Benn and Roach in the team the West Indies will be a team worth watching.

    Interestingly, the WICB have named Darren Sammy as skipper. He’ll have some big names and egos to manage but if the team falls in behind him they could surprise many.

    • The Windies are, pun unintended, dark horses, stacked with the kind of mercurial matchwinners that have fuelled Pakistan’s one day cricket for years.

      If you haven’t seen young Bravo, you’ll do a double-take at his stance, pick-up and finish. He is the Prince reborn!

      The photo was too good to resist!

    • whatchu talkin about, nestaquin?? darren bravo is a left hander (you must be confused with dwayne bravo)..and i agree that he has got lara-like gotta see him bat!
      as for pollard, i agree…i believe this world cup will feature a lot of match winning performances from the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Pollard and Razzaq…big hitters are gonna love this tourney….apart from an ice cool temperament, these players have oodles of confidence and strong forearms…

      • Thanks for the heads up, mate. I really should wait till after breakfast before reading or commenting here or anywhere else. A preface like “Dwayne’s little brother, Darren” would be nice for those of us with bloodshot eyes and muggy minds, Toots!

  3. No Canada? Tut tut.

    Ashish Bagai is their best batsman, but Rizwan Cheema will be the most entertaining, if he gets going.

    Some other associate players to keep an eye out for: classy Netherlands bat Alex Kervezee (Worcs) although South Australian Tom Cooper may be their most dangerous player. Plus Ireland’s spinner Dockrell (Somerset) who impressed a lot in the World T20, and the Jesse Ryder like Paul Stirling (Middlesex).

    I don’t think the Dutch bowling is good enough to defend the runs they can make, but I have high hopes Ireland can push most sides, though it is extremely hard for them to make the quarters.

    • Russ – Canada’s squad isn’t on cricifo yet. Thanks for reminding me – I’ll add a player once it appears.

      George Dockrell is a lovely old-fashioned bowler. It might be tough for him, but I’d love to see him on a fifth day wicket.

      • I would too, but only if he’s playing for Ireland.

    • Rizwan Cheema is one of the Pakistan-born players having trouble getting a visa, last I heard.

  4. Good selection, Toots, though I would have picked Yusuf Pathan instead of Zaheer as the player to watch out for India.

    In the one match he has played so far, I am impressed with Du Plessis of SA too.Looks quite a cool customer, and I bet he has the shots too.Also, he is a leg spinner ! I would go with him as the player to watch than Imran Tahir.

    Razzak – hasn’t he been playing forever? An amazing talent, and if he were to be born in Eng/Aus/SA, would have become a great all rounder in Test Cricket. But this is 2011, and I am not sure if he has enough gas left in the tank.My favorite current Pakistani player.

    Mr.Tendulkar’s boys face a tricky first match at Mirpur against Bangladesh.Zaheer has to take out Tamim Iqbal early. But though Tamim is as dangerous as the best hitters, it is Shakib I will be watching.

    I rate England’s chances well, but looking at the 15, I am trying to find a power hitter. At least one of the openers have to score at close to 100 strike rate in sub-continental conditions.Pietersen should stay till the batting power play and ensure Eng scores 35-40 runs in those 5 overs.So, my player/s to watch for Eng would be Stuart Broad and/or Luke Wright. For Eng to reach the semis, the performances have to come from players like Broad.

    Australia – Shane Watson could make this his world cup. But their batting looks weak if Mike Hussey can not recover on time. They too have a tricky encounter with Ireland.Lee, Tait and Johnson firing on all cylinders together would probably rank as the most exciting spectacle for me.

    West Indies will need Chanderpaul and Sarwan to play anchors while the likes of Bravo right and Bravo left, Pollard and Gayle hit the glory shots.

    The field looks so open, with every team having proven match winners, that I am just not confident about Mr.Tendulkar’s boys lifting the cup.They should’ve done it in 1996 and they messed it up. 2003 could have happened, but the bowlers got overawed, Punter made it count, and McGrath did the rest.Dhoni will try his best but his job will be done if he gets the team to the semis.From there on, every body and his grand ma will expect Tendulkar to do it for the country.It is just not fair. He has never called it his final ambition or whatever but the media made it so.

    So, bring it on !

  5. Thanks for some very perceptive stuff below the line,

    I went for ZK partly because the list was becoming so batsman / hitter heavy. That’s partly the balance of power in the game and partly conditions, but surely a bowler or two will have a good Cup? I can’t see the raw pacemen doing it, so I’ve gone for the smart experience of ZK and Trent Johnston.

  6. toots…actually I rate Ryder quite highly too…was disagreeing with your “as big a talent as any” compliment…don’t think he’s shown enough to warrant that just yet. As for guys like Lee, Ponting, Tait, Johnson…I’m just keen to watch how they go…not saying they’re my MVP candidates.

    nesta…so glad to finally find someone who hasn’t written off Pollard as a non-cricketer! I second your sentiments all the way! For my money, this “kid” will make a lot of experts (Holding & co.) eat their words in years to come.

    kumar…c’mon man…it’s Dhoni’s boys! (Not Tendulkar’s) But I completely agree with you on unfair expecatations of Tendulkar…the man has twice top-scored in the WC (’96 and ’03)…I mean not even a Maradona or a Ronaldo has won the Golden Boot twice! He was instrumental in driving India into the Semis in ’96 and the Finals in ’03. And over the last 20 years, no 1 man has contributed more to his team’s cause in WCs than Tendulkar. So win or lose…he will remain a champion.

    Lastly, as tracer said…isn’t it brilliant to have 3 lower-order powerhouses who could potentially do a Klusener this time?! Razzaq, Pathan, Pollard! Poor cricket balls! (I guess Australia too have White…but wonder what no. he’ll bat at?)

    • BP,

      Of course these are Dhoni’s boys ! I deliberately used the phrase “Mr.Tendulkar’s boys” (first and only time I addressed Sachin that way in 21 years !) just to show the unfairness of a bunch of 20 some things expecting a 37 year old veteran to win it for the nation and for him self, as if the whole idea of staging a world cup in India is to give Sachin a farewell gift of sorts. You expressed my sentiments very well in your comment above.

  7. Great to see 13 of the Irish 15 are full time cricketers. Oh and Ed is back. If the Irish cart can get rolling against Bangladesh, the second game against England will be interesting. Especially as it comes so close after England play India at Eden Gardens

  8. Dangerous customers the Irish – T’was ever thus though!

  9. I’m also thinking young Dockrell is the Irish one to watch, but I do love Trent. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that Morgan will disappoint this time.

  10. Injuries may well turn out to be the only selector Australia can trust

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: