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By Golam Rezwan

For the last ten years, the cricketing world has been dominated by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricki Ponting and Sanath Jaysuriya. These men, have steered themselves and their teams to glories with their brilliant performances, which made them the greats of the game. However like the greats before them, like Geoff Marsh, Boycott, Walsh, Akram- these men are also at the pinnacle of their success- a new breed of cricketers are coming, cricketers who are sure to be the next big thing in the game. Below are soe players, whom we think adequately deserves the title "Rising Stars of the game"

Md. Ashraful
Few doubt the talent of Md. Ashraful- apparent in the way; he destroyed Australia, and almost devastated England, with his 100 and 94. The way he punished Brett Lee and Harmison, raised quite a few eyebrows- he has been compared to the likes of Brian Lara and Tendulkar, a sure pedigree of success. But will Ashraful be the hero of Bangladesh? Sure, he has a couple of hundreds to his name in Test Cricket, such as the memorable 158 against India, and a few brilliant scores in England, and an amazing strike-rate- but Ashraful misses one thing which might just elude himself greatness: confidence and consistency. Scores like 0, 100, 94, 56, 0, 6, 4, 31, 0…….tell a pretty pathetic tale- all of which show different batting styles all together. He is a confused young man- like Ramiz Raja said, "he should stick to one game plan, and play like the Ashraful we know" And when he does that, he is nothing short of absolutely brilliant- or nothing short of absolutely stupid.

Michael Clarke
As the dominance of the Aussies seem to wane and falter, only Michael Clarke seems to be rising out of the ashes, to become the next-generation of Australian superstars. Aged: 24, Clarke is a devastating batsman, typical aussie in style and flair. Already a fixture in the test and oneday squad, Clarke has an average of over 45 in both forms of the game. He is a pretty useful bowler too, and almost finished off India with his 6-11 in a test in Calcutta during the Aussie tour of India! Clarke's role in the Aussie side, is however a controversy. An explosive opener, he almost pushed out fledgling opener, Matt Hayden from the One-day squad. The Aussie Cricket Board, however decided to give Hayden a chance and pushed Clarke to number 3. This has affected his batting to an extent- because Clarke is much more suited to attack, than building a platform. Aussie board should think about their pointless 'cricketing loyalties'. A natural winner, Clarke would surely be the hottest Aussia performer in the coming World Cup.

Shane Bond
Technically not a youngster anymore, Shane Bond is a perhaps New Zealand's most prized asset. Coming back after three years into international cricket, Shane Bond is the fastest Kiwi bowler ever, and has one of the highest strike rates in the world. His pace and bounce is devastating, as in the way he cleaned up the Indians and made them reel at 44/7 in the recent VideoCon Triangular Cup!! Coming down at number 11, he is also a very handy striker. Naggingly accurate, Bond, is an amazing performer- Speculations are rife that next year world cup may well be won, by New Zealand- of so, watch out for Shane Bond- he will be pivotal.

Irfan Pathan
Personally I don't like the over-fed and over-endorsed Indian team, but Pathan is my favorite. Only 20 year old, Pathan is leading the Indian Bowling Strike, ahead of the much more experienced Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra. Pathan has been compared to the likes of Wasim Akram, for his similar style and accuracy. Not really pacy, Pathan has a deadly in swinger, which seems to trouble all the right-handed batsmen- specially of course the Zimbabwean and Bangladeshis! However, the problem with Pathan is once batsmen adopt to his in swingers, his bowling becomes really really… predictable. We have seen that recently, by the Kiwis- who demolished him in the final of the VideoCon Cup. Pathan is certainly a valuable asset to the struggling Indian Cricket team- at only his 15 th test match he has taken over 50 wickets. However he needs, variety- only then can he truly challenge Wasim Akram.

Tatenda Taibu
The captain of the Zimbabwean cricket team, Taibu seems to be the only one who performs well and performs consistently. We will remember Taibu as a thorn in our sides, since he has almost prevented us from taking both the ODI and Test Series- but in Zimbabwe, where the cricket condition is pretty pathetic, Taibu is a hero. Short, (black ) and determined, his gritty innings hold Zimbabwe. Together. In tests and One-day both, he has the ability to counteract, when the chips are down and get Zimbabwe to a respectable position. Only 22, Taibu is looking extremely promising, both as a captain, wicketkeeper and also as a batsman. Now, the only thing that matters is wether his team has the steam left, to give him support.

Graeme Smith
The charismatic captain of the Proteas, Smith is only 23. Yet he has shown a head and a style which even older batsman lack. Opening for South Africa, Smith is explosive. Like Stephen Fleming he loves to attack- and attack quickly. He has recently demolished England, but his test record is less than promising. While South African team isn't in an exactly great shape, Smith has enough talent to lead them perhaps to a World Cup Win!

Kevin Peitersen
By far one of the best players up and coming players the cricketing world has ever seen, KP Peitersen continues his phenomenal rise to fame and glory as the cricketing world watches in awe- a master in the making. Peitersen's rise to cricketing heights is awesome. Just started playing a year back, Kevin Peitersen has only played about 25 matches with a stunning average, of 86.4. Already having 3 one-day hundreds, 8 fifties Peitersen, is looking to take England to greatness. At only his 24th match he is starring in the World XI team, playing with the best cricketers the modern world has seen. Tendulkar was considered great after about 100 matches, look at this guy!

As dominating with the bat, as with his personality- Peitersen never takes a no for an answer. His ideal condition is a pressure situation, when the whole crowd is against him and the opposition looks to run away with a sure victory. Peitesen then delivers. We have seen that in South Africa where he demolished the African bowlers scoring a record 3 centuries in 7 one-day, despite the constant daunting and boos from the crowd. Only a great man can play a game like that, amidst open hostility.

Finally who can forget his magnificent 156 at the final test in Lords, which clinched England the Ashes after 16 years? Who can forget the pressure he was under as he watched great batsmen like Vaughn, Flintoff, Trescothik tumble and collapse around him. And who can forget the way he still toyed with Shane Warne, master spinner hitting him over the long off boundary for four sixes! Peitersen's innings would be one of the best-remembered century in the cricketing annals of England.

If anyone is guaranteed to succeed it must be Kevin Pietersen. Watch out rest of the world, England has one of the most promising players that has ever been- a player which can inspire their whole team and win then the elusive world cup. Infact, if anyone tells me to bet on a team now, capable of winning the world cup- it would obviously be England!


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