The emerging game has seen a number of young players burst onto the scene in recent years, and the 2022 edition of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup gives an opportunity for the game’s next generation to make a big impression.
With four Associate teams at the tournament, we take a look at five future stars ready to dominate in Australia.
Vriitya Aravind (United Arab Emirates) - Wicket-keeper/Batter, 20
Many world-class players make a first impression by the way they look with bat in hand. Your first impressions of Vriitya Aravind will probably be the sound of a ball hitting the middle of his bat.
The Player of the Tournament and leading run-scorer of the T20 World Cup Qualifier A, Aravind represents the Phoenix-like rise of UAE, who have achieved strong results in the wake of scandals that rocked the team’s cricket back in 2019. Aravind was one of several young Emirati players thrown into senior international cricket early as a result, but the dashing top order gloveman has passed every test with aplomb.
A dashing right-hander who could feature anywhere in the top four, Aravind is quick on the pull shot, but also adept at hitting with a straight bat either through the field or over the top. On top of his power in the shortest format, Aravind also boasts a 76-ball 115 in ODI cricket against Namibia on a notoriously slow Sharjah surface.
The 20-year-old will also take the gloves at the tournament, and looks in good nick behind the stumps, taking an excellent diving catch against the West Indies in warm-up action.
Karthik Palaniapan Meiyappan (United Arab Emirates) - Leg-spinner, 21
Another player fast-tracked into the UAE national team, and an Under-19 World Cup team-mate of Aravind, Karthik Meiyappan fits the archetype of the short-format leg-spinner that has been so successful in the T20 game.
A seven-step run-up with a high release point, almost beyond the point of perpendicular, Meiyappan now has confidence to throw the ball above batter’s eye-lines, and disrupts opponents with a mix of dip and spin. Making his T20I debut last year off the back of solid ODI performances, Meiyappan played a key role in UAE’s Qualifier A campaign earlier in the year, and claimed five wickets in just seven overs across the three matches
Should Meiyappan hit the ground running in Australia, he could rack up a swag of wickets and prove pivotal to UAE's hopes of reaching the Super 12 stage of the tournament.
Brandon McMullen (Scotland) - Batting All-rounder, 22
Called up to Scotland for the first time, Brandon McMullen has made such an impression in domestic action that he looks set to break through a well-set Scotland unit just months after qualifying for the team.
Described as a “genuine” all-rounder, McMullen has shown a little more with the bat than with the ball thus far, often at the top of batting classifications in the Western Premier Division as a cornerstone in Stirling County’s line-up.
A tall, wiry figure, McMullen uses all his height with a high action to generate bounce, with a batting technique predicated on straight-bat shots with leverage.
Impressing in Regional series action and A team matches, McMullen provides the squad with an option to be versatile in any role. With little data opponents have on him, McMullen could prove the difference in another Scottish push for the Super 12s.
Bas de Leede (Netherlands), Batting All-rounder, 22
It’s clear to see that a full calendar of international white-ball cricket against top opposition has accelerated the game of Bas de Leede, who now stands as a generational talent for the Dutch.
From de Leede’s T20I debut to the end of the last T20 World Cup in 2021, de Leede struck just 228 runs in 13 innings at an average of 20.72, and a strike rate of 101.78. In the T20Is since, de Leede has made 289 runs in just seven knocks, striking at 123 and averaging 72.25. The run included two half-centuries against New Zealand in their recent visit, making 66 (53) and 53* (48) in Westvliet, coming in early at No.3 and No.4 in respective innings.
De Leede was no shrinking violet in the Qualifier B campaign either, averaging over 50 and only pipped on the Dutch runs tally by Max O’Dowd. Claiming nine wickets at an average of just nine and an economy of 5.40, de Leede was also in the conversation for Player of the Tournament honours, only to be pipped by Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza.
With the ball, it won’t be de Leede’s pace to do the damage, but rather a probing line and length, cramping opposing batters for room. George Munsey found that out in warm-up action in Melbourne, with the seamer claiming three wickets in his first hit-out in Melbourne.
One feels that de Leede will improve on his seven runs across two knocks in T20 World Cup cricket, and could be the backbone of the Netherlands’ quest for T20 World Cup redemption after last year’s performance.
Divan la Cock (Namibia) - Batting all-rounder, 19
It can be hard to kick the door down when your team is living in its golden era, though batting all-rounder Divan la Cock carries the potential to take the Namibians to new heights.
A dasher at the top of the order, la Cock burst onto the scene in local cricket two years ago, in a domestic T20 final no less.
Chasing 201 on a tricky United Ground surface in Windhoek, la Cock made a blistering 123* from just 59 balls, laced with 11 sixes against a bowling attack boasting four senior Namibian internationals, and skippered by Gerhard Erasmus. La Cock’s side fell short, though his efforts, which also included a spell of 1/32 with the ball, earned him Player of the Match honours.
Fast-forward 18 months, la Cock made a similar impression in his T20I debut. Opening the batting against Zimbabwe, la Cock belted five sixes in a knock of 66 (43) to top score for his side.
Given Namibia’s sluggishness at the top of the order last year, la Cock could well be the missing piece as the team strive to better their Super 12 entry.
OWN THE GAME
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