It’s exciting to see some young, up & coming stars of the game performing at both International and domestic level in 2018. Some have been more publicized than others, and understandably so. With so much discussion and speculation surrounding these future superstars of the game and what they’re capable of achieving, we’ve decided to run through some of the key names to keep an eye on in 2019.
With the talent starting to blossom right in front of our eyes featuring some relatively-fresh faces from around the globe, there are two names that tower over the rest at this point in time. It’s not hard to guess the first individuals name, he’s basically revolutionised cricket in Afghanistan since debuting at just 17-years of age and has since gone onto play in some of the biggest twenty20 leagues around the world. Now at 20-years of age, Afghani leg-spinner Rashid Khan is just about bamboozling every batsman he comes across. His googly has caused havoc, it’s been a key components in his game along with those subtle variations. Khan is widely regarded as the best spinner in just about every franchise he represents, best known for representing Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and the Adelaide Strikes in the BBL in Australia. A staggering statistic is that Khan has already played 134 T20 matches and 52 ODI’s at just 20-years of age and has taken a combined 318 wickets on top of that!
If it wasn’t for Rashid Khan, this Pakistani leg-spinner would be one of the most talked about bowlers going around in world cricket today. Like Rashid, Shadab Khan is also just 20-years of age with a bright future ahead of him. Shadab’s ability to bowl the wrong’un catches opposition batsmen by surprise (not dissimilar to Rashid Khan) which has definitely made him a much more difficult prospect to handle, he’s also very hard to score off when he’s continuously throwing in that deceptive wide ball that comes back into the batsman. The Pakistani spinner enjoyed another successful stint in the T20I series against Australia where he collected six wickets from three outings. Another similar trademark the Afghani & Pakistani spinners have in common is their ability to bat in the lower order, they could almost pass as all-rounders if it wasn’t for their prodigious bowling talent.
Prithvi Shaw (18 years old) India
The Indian teenager is almost a certainty to become one of the countries long-term test selections in the future after he was given his opportunity to show his worth against the West Indies on debut just recently. Shaw’s willingness to play his strokes paid off big time at Rajkot where he scored his maiden century in just his first test for India, it was a dream come true in many ways. One of the first things you notice about the 18-year-old when you first see him bat is how pure his timing is, anything pitched up Shaw was quick to pounce on. With a test average of 118.50, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be seeing plenty more of Prithvi Shaw in years to come.
Lloyd Pope (18 years old) Australia
Picking up figures of 7/87 in just his second first-class match for South Australia, teenage-sensation Lloyd Pope is already receiving high praise from former Australian greats of the game. The red-headed leg-spinner found himself in the spotlight after claiming ridiculous bowling figures of 8/35 against England in the Under-19 World Cup at the start of the year, now he’s starting to make his presence felt in the Sheffield Shield after a dominant first innings bowling display against Queensland. It was always going to be a tough ask finding another Shane Warne, but all of a sudden Pope has come out and bamboozled an entire team reminiscent of Warnie back in the day. He’ll need some time to develop his craft just like Warne, but the signs look promising.
Shimron Hetmyer (21 years old) West Indies
Hands down the Windies best young batsman in the side, 21-year-old Shimron Hetmyer has shown plenty of promise in 2018. His batting approach in test cricket is questionable, but his style certainly suits one-day and T20 cricket. The adventurous top order batsman struck 440 runs in this year’s Caribbean Premiere League, third overall in the tournament averaging a perfect 40. Hetmyer’s ODI numbers are even more impressive, the left-hander is averaging 45.56 from 16 matches including three hundreds. When the 21-year-old hits a ball, it stays hit! His attacking stroke play could prompt an IPL contract for next season.
Sam Curran (20 years old) England
A really handy addition to the England test side against India, Curran’s medium-fast bowling was an added luxury along with his lower order batting where he averaged 38.85 for the series. The 20-year-old also picked up 11 wickets bowling alongside the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad who led the way for England with the new ball. Sam’s younger brother Tom is a more than handy limited-overs bowler for England with his subtle changes in pace, the pair may be regulars in this future side. That test series against India certainly showed that Sam offers plenty to this England side as a specialist all-rounder, although it looks as if the selectors are trialling him more as a bowler.
Glenn Phillips (21 years old) New Zealand
The South African-born wicketkeeper-batsman has been a dominant force in T20 competitions such as the Super Smash and Caribbean Premiere League. Phillips had an impressive CPL campaign for the Jamaica Tallawahs this year finishing the tournament on 457 runs which included a century in his last match against the Patriots. The 21-year-old hasn’t made an overly-impressive start to his International career averaging just 16.16 for New Zealand in T20 cricket, but there’s still plenty of time to turn that around and potentially break into the ODI side where he’s impressed in domestic List A cricket. An aggressive mindset at the crease should keep Phillips in contention to represent the Black Caps in the shortest format of the game despite a slow start.
Imam-ul-Haq (22 years old) Pakistan
The 22-year-old Pakistani joins the cricketers who’ve played in spectacles club alongside Narendra Hirwani, David Steele and Daniel Vettori. More importantly, Imam-ul-Haq has slotted into Pakistan’s ODI side like a glove as he continues to lay claim to that opening position. Nephew of the great Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imam is showing where he got his batting-pedigree from with an average of 64.08 in ODI cricket already. I know its early stages in his career and it’s likely to drop at some point, but what he’s shown us so far suggests otherwise. Imam has already scored four hundreds and three fifties in his 14 matches. The young Pakistani opener has had a phenomenal 2-3 months of cricket and will be looking to carry that form into New Zealand’s tour of the U.A.E.