Age 26; Debut 1992-93. One-day ints 52, runs 240, high score 55, ave 14.12; wkts 87, ave 21.49, best 4-19.
IF the sub-continent's pitches are likely to favour anyone, it is likely to be the leg-spinner, and in particular its greatest modern exponent, . Warne has an amazing one-day record with his wickets costing little over 20 apiece. But if his match-winning potential has always been apparent, his accuracy and prodigious spin are great containers too and the nagging threat of his sublime flipper pegs batsmen to the crease just when they need to accelerate. He is a vital cog in Australia's one-day machine and will be used in short bursts at key moments - to break a threatening partnership or to claw a climbing run rate back. The only factors against him will be the smaller grounds and the hostile reception he will receive in Pakistan, a legacy of his and several other players' allegations of bribery against the then Pakistan captain, Salim Malik.
Age 26; Debut 1990-91. One-day ints 92, runs 3,702, high score 169, ave 44.07.
The most sublime batsman on the planet and the one player opponents most fear. However, unlike Vivian Richards or Gordon Greenidge, Lara manoeuvres the ball with such nonchalance that the hapless bowler rarely feels savaged - until he glances at the scoreboard. His phenomenal scoring rate (almost a run a ball in one-day internationals) has made him crucial to his side's performances. The downside is that West Indies are over-reliant on him, a fact that has caused frictions within the camp and led to Lara's temporary alienation and last-minute withdrawal from the West Indies' recent tour of Australia. If the dressing-room rifts are patched over and his enthusiasm rekindled, he will have bowlers everywhere taking cover. A crumb of comfort for them is that Lara averages five runs less in India (38.9) than he does elsewhere. But this is still better than most other batsmen's.
Age 29; Debut 1984-85. One-day ints 193, runs 1,746, high score 86, ave 14.55; wkts 282, ave 22.30, best 5-15.
THE man whose savage swing and pace wrecked England's hopes of winning the 1992 final in Melbourne is still at the top of his game. For one who made his debut more than 10 years ago, Akram is still turning in performances that make him the greatest one-day bowler of his generation and its highest wicket-taker so far. From a short bustling run-up he can generate fire and lift as well as toe-crunching yorkers rendered lethal by late reverse swing. His batting, with its wristy explosions of power can also turn matches, as Worcestershire found to their cost in last year's Benson and Hedges semi-final at New Road, when Akram's 64 took just 47 balls. Like most Pakistanis, Akram bristles with confidence, though the twin pressures of coping with a volatile dressing-room while trying to satisfy an expectant public at home should test his captaincy to the full.
Age 22; Debut 1989-90.
One-day ints 101, runs 3,201, high score 115, ave 36.37; wkts 34, ave 51.55, best 4-34.
A prodigiously talented cricketer, who has become a revelation since moving up to open the innings in limited-over matches for his country. More classical of stroke than the West Indies' Lara - whom he rivals in the lucrative endorsement stakes - Tendulkar loves to take on the new ball in the first 15 overs, where he believes the majority of games are either won or lost. So far, each of his four one-day hundreds has come after savage assaults on the new ball. The first overseas player to play for Yorkshire, Tendulkar is also a useful bowler, sending down a variety of slow medium swingers which Graham Gooch once memorably described as "liquorice allsorts". If there is a caveat, it is that, like West Indies and Lara, India have come to rely too heavily upon his runs, and his failure is felt more palpably than it ought by such a richly talented batting side.
Age 26; Debut 1991-92. One-day ints 77, runs 2,263, high score 112, ave 35.92; wkts 54, ave 33.33, best 2-51.
AS HE demonstrated recently against England, Cronje is more suited to limited overs cricket than he is to Tests. Blessed with a fine eye for a ball, albeit with a far from watertight technique, he is a better striker of a cricket ball than he is a defender. Able to bat anywhere in the top six, he will be welcomed by a side whose batting has let them down in the past. Since becoming captain, Cronje has underemployed himself as a bowler. In a side noted more for its prowess with the ball, he perhaps feels there is little place for his nagging medium-pace, a presumption that could soon change if Allan Donald and Co start to struggle with the sluggish pitches. As captain, he shoulders the extra burden of making snap judgements and decisions not only about opponents but those within his own ranks as well. Both jobs will take their toll.
Aravinda de Silva
Age 30; Debut 1983-84. One-day ints 175, runs 4,825, high score 107*, ave 31.80; wkts 45, ave 43.00, best 3-36.
CRICKET lovers in England who saw last season's brilliant century against Lancashire in the Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lord's will know what a brilliant player de Silva can be when the mood takes him. Diminutive in stature, he packs all the power-to-size ratio of a revolver, and fielders trying to stop his ferocious pulls and cuts have often recoiled as if shot. When he is set there is little a bowler can do except hope impetuosity gets the better of him. With his off-spinning team mate Muthiah Muralitharan having been called for throwing during the tour to Australia recently, De Silva may well be asked to send down his off-breaks on a regular basis if further controversy is to be avoided. If he has a weakness it is that he does not get his feet moving early on, which makes him prone to being caught lbw when he first comes to the crease.
Age 25; Debut 1990-91. One-day ints 38, runs 820, high score 103, ave 26.57; wkts 39, ave 31.05, best 4-55.
NOW that Martin Crowe has retired, Cairns is without doubt New Zealand's most talented player, though his lack of international experience - largely because of injuries - will inevitably take its toll should New Zealand progress further than the quarter-finals. Tall, lean and athletic, Cairns has the perfect physique for a fast bowler, and his high action has always caused problems when there is bounce in the pitch, conditions he is unlikely to find anywhere other than in the marble foyers of the hotels in the region. If the conditions hamper his bowling they should be just about right for his batting, and he possesses an impressive array of strokes, the power and grace of which are rarely seen in players over 6ft tall. Powerful off front foot and back, particularly through the covers, his clean striking should be a treat for those watching, irrespective of allegiance.Reuse content