By Sadman Alvi
Long gone are the days of traditional playmakers in football. Players with exquisite skill, technique and flair, playing in the hole behind the front men and dictating the whole match with their passes, are rarely seen in modern football. Especially in the high tempo and fast paced English football, such midfielders are considered as liabilities for a team as they never take any responsibility defensively. Hence, inevitably, now we are seeing a rise of players like Xavi Alonso, Xavi and other Spanish players with similar names. In this new RS column that highlights talented, underrated, young sports stars, who haven't yet become famous enough to marry former spice girls or super models and change their hairstyles 3 times every week, Tom Huddlestone of Tottenham Hotspurs is this week's player. Who seems to be another addition into this fine line of creative and hardworking midfield players.
In fact, in his earlier days as a Derby County player, he was reverted to the center-back position, and also excelled in that role. As you have probably guessed by now, he is a product of the highly productive youth system of Derby, where he made his debut at the age of 16. Soon after he became a regular fixture in the championship side and was instrumental for the club in the season 2004-05, when the struggling Derby County became one of the contenders for the championship title. His performance and reputation as one of the best young players in the country attracted attention from the top tier clubs of the Premiere league, and consequently Tottenham was the first to grab him in the summer of 2005.
However, it wasn't until this season that Huddlestone, as a 20 year old, was able to break into the first team squad of the Spurs. It's not much of a surprise as he had and still has to battle with the likes of Jenas, Carrick and Zokora, Malbranque to earn a starting spot in the heart of the midfield. And this season, his performance against the very best in the business has been more than impressive. He has the full support of the Spurs fan behind him, many of whom rate him as a better player than the England international Carrick, who left Tottenham after the end of last season to join current league leaders Manchester United.
As a player, his greatest strength is his astute and immaculate passes that always seem to find their mark. Both his ground and aerial passes are something to behold, as even from visibly awkward positions he can make some remarkable passes. He has a great technique and decent ball control. But he is no pushover without the ball either, with a height of 6' 2'', a commanding physical stature and his natural defensive attributes make him the dream player of every manager for the central-midfield role. Already he has formed a very good partnership with Zokora in the heart of the Spurs midfield.
Huddlestone has already featured in the England under-17, under-20 and under-21 squads. And with his dramatic development as a player and natural talent, the main English squad doesn't seem very far off as a target. In the end I have to say that truly he is a player with the potential to become a world class talent.
By Faria Sanjana
Much had been said about the Bangladesh cricket team. They've been acclaimed by bigwigs like the ICC chief executive while in other cases they've been criticized ruthlessly; yes indeed I'm referring to the snide remarks of Mandira Bedi like 'the underdogs have done it again' and their win against India was an 'upset'.
There's no question about our team being extremely talented, the major advantage of them being a young and fresh bunch. However some points must be raised about the consistency of the players. Let us take Tamim Iqbal for instance. He was the hero when Bangladesh played against India, scoring a thrashing 51 off 53 balls. Soon during the match against Australia, he failed to revive the magic of his earlier performance and scored a meager 3 runs. Now it would be wrong to say that they were playing against the Aussie giants! Because if they could beat the no.1 team, South Africa, then Australia should've been merely the mewing kittens in front of the roaring tigers!
Mohammed Ashraful is one such player whom we never get tired from praising. He is termed as an 'enigma and a spectator's delight when in flow'. His wondrous 87 off 83 balls against RSA was enough to blow off the minds of the meanest of his critics. So what happened to him against England? When the whole country was relying on him (even the Indians!), he was out there in the 'battle' field getting bashed by the English bowlers.
As far as bowling is concerned, Bangladesh is far more ahead with it than batting with likes of the three left-arm spinners Mohammed Rafique, Abdur Razzaq and Sakib-Al Hasan. And not to mention the very talented Mashrafe Mortaza who had a key role in the match against India. After all, it was the bowlers who kept England under tremendous pressure in which they had to bring out their best efforts to reach a mere 144 target. If only our batsmen scored 40 runs more then we could've had great chances of winning. In this match, Sakib-Al Hasan's name is worth mentioning too as he played an extraordinary innings of 57 runs and was the lone tiger out there who fought the battle without being out. His bowling figures have been impressive as well since he took 2 important wickets in the match against RSA.
Bangladesh may not have reached the semi-finals but they've already made us swell with pride by coming this far. It has been truly a scintillating experience to see people celebrating all over the country. The younger generation sported the 'Amra Bangladesh' wristbands and stickers of national flags on their hands while some even used the national flags as bandanas. We surely want to portray our patriotism further in future, so our request to the Bangladesh cricket team: please play more good cricket and continue to surprise the world!