An all-star XI who can put shine back on one-day game
Never mind the England-Australia series – as the Champions Trophy begins in South Africa today, Stephen Brenkley highlights 11 players who can restore the fizz to 50-over cricket
Tuesday 22 September 2009
1. Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka
The improbable star of the World Twenty20 in England this summer with a ferociously exciting blend of big shots. The so-called "Dilscoop", a flick over his head off one knee, became all the rage. Being promoted to opener appears to have transformed his career and he should be a joy to watch.
2. Joe Denly, England
Perhaps too much should not be expected too soon. But why not? He has been kept waiting for international cricket until the selectors thought he was ready, so now is the time. In his five matches he has looked the part too, swashbuckling and undaunted. England may have found a player.
3. A B De Villiers, South Africa
Electrifying fielder and accomplished batsman who is always in the game. Born to be a professional sportsman – rugby and tennis vied for his attention – and at 25 is reaching his peak. Prominent in South Africa's one-day dominance of Australia earlier this year and could be the star of this tournament. May have to be for South Africa to lose chokers' tag.
4. Yuvraj Singh, India
Both wonderful to watch and extremely capable of needling opposition members. He knows how and where to hit a cricket ball and annoy bowlers and fielders at the same time. Arrogance backed up with immense ability. Has passed 50 six times in 15 innings this year.
5. Darren Sammy, West Indies
After the latest bust-up between players and the board over who knows what (basically, both sides loathe each other and are giving industrial disputes a bad name), West Indies have sent what is virtually a third team. Sammy is just about the only legitimate international cricketer in the squad and will have to be a magician with bat and ball for them to hold their own.
6. M S Dhoni, India
Perhaps the best one-day cricketer in the world: wicketkeeper, batsman and captain of the highest class all rolled into one. He made his name by being explosive with the bat but has become much more measured and the more dangerous for it.
7. Brett Lee, Australia
What a sight he is, pawing the ground and steaming in irrepressibly and bowling at the speed of light. His toothpaste smile also transmits his delight in doing what he does and he makes the game worth watching. Has just transfixed England's batsmen and may do the same to the rest of the world's in the next fortnight.
8. Nuwan Kulasekara, Sri Lanka
Not many people know this but this chap is the No 1 ranked one-day bowler in the world. The reason is his 29 wickets in 18 matches at 23 runs apiece. He bowls a tight line at tidy pace, achieves reverse swing and despite his elevated ranking is happy to live in the shadow of illustrious counterparts Malinga and Murali.
9. Johan Botha, South Africa
Off-spinner who sprang to wider attention after being reported for a suspect action in his second Test. He was again reported earlier this year and his doosra, it seems, is well outside the scope of legality. But it is his response to such a plight that is what counts. He is one tough customer, with a sharp cricket brain.
10. Mohammad Asif, Pakistan
Quite what Asif is doing in Pakistan's squad is a mystery. He will miss the first match because his year-long ban for taking a performance-enhancing drug expires the day after. Kicked out of the last Champions Trophy for his first failed drug test, then banged up in Dubai for carrying cocaine, a year hardly seemed long enough. But a real handful, with pace and swing.
11. Shane Bond, New Zealand
Welcome back to the other Shane, New Zealand's own. Out of the game for two years because he joined the supposedly rebel Twenty20 Indian Cricket League. The sides have now kissed and made up and Bond's genuinely hostile pace could be the difference for the Kiwis.
Champions Trophy: The groups, teams, and their chances
Australia Holders, have just trounced England, never to be underestimated, but not as crack as they once were.
India Probably the most complete side in the world and much better away from home than they were. Second-favourites but could win.
Pakistan Depending on which Pakistan turn up on any given day, a match for anyone as they showed by winning the World Twenty20.
West Indies Absolute no-hopers because their first team is at home in dispute with the board – this is no better than a third-string team.
England In some disarray after home one-day series defeat and difficult to see them progressing.
New Zealand As usual, dark horses but should be too weak in this group, despite the return of Shane Bond.
South Africa Hosts and hot favourites but we have been here before and their most arduous task will be to shed their deserved reputation as chokers.
Sri Lanka Smart bowling and innovative batting may make them a match for anybody despite inconsistent form of late.
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