Cricket enjoyed one of the most memorable years of 2012 when England ended the suffering of the World Cup on home soil when a resurgent Australia tainted the Ashes in hostile territory.
Big names like Steve Smith and Ben Stokes shined, but there are several more unplanned players for whom 2019-20 turned out to be a groundbreaking season.
With their remarkable performances over the years, these players have been able to drive themselves into the limelight, usually reserved for superstars. When the game finally resumes, they will all itch to continue the good work they have shown recently.
Here we look at eight big breakthrough stars over the last year or so.
Mayank Agarwal (India)
After scoring runs for Karnataka in domestic cricket, he was finally rewarded for his perseverance with his Boxing Day Test debut against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The opening batsman has impressed with two half-centuries in three innings. The best, however, did not come from Agarwal, who later had a rather disappointing tour than the West Indies.
Agarwal entered the class with two double tons and a century as India ended the year with home clashes against South Africa and Bangladesh. The right-handed polishing technique and impressive temperament saw him form a great opening partnership with Rohit Sharma as India pushed the Profs and Bangladesh hard.
In 2019 alone, Agarwal scored 754 runs at an average of around 69.
Nicholas Puran (West Indies)
Puran’s talent was evident when he scored a great 143 against Australia in Dubai during the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup.
The fate of the next year shows a goal to reach more heights in left-handed senior cricket before taking an unbroken turn. A horrific car accident threatened to end his cricketing career on the south side, and he had to have surgery on both his legs.
A year later, Puran was back on the cricket pitch again and it didn’t take long for him to discover his great touch. In the years that followed, he showed a glimmer of brilliance, not ending until 2019, when he began to dominate bowlers around the world. Dakshinapati was arguably the most exciting limited-overs batsman and the way he was knocked out of India’s bowling attack in last year’s ODI series.
Since 2019, the Windies have averaged 932 ODI runs at an average of about 50.
With the gift of a smooth style and effortless time, the old batting looks easy throughout the flow. Keep an eye out for him in the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Rossi van der Dussen (South Africa)
It is never too late to blossom at the international level and Rossi van der Dussen proved that it was the year of his great debut for South Africa. When he played two T20s against Zimbabwe at the end of 2016, only last year Van der Dussen really came to his place.
The right-hander made his ODI debut against Pakistan in Port Elizabeth more than a decade after making his debut in List A and first-class cricket. Proteas did not waste any time in his ODI debut with 3 runs.
Three more half-centuries in his next seven ODI innings, the Pretoria nationals were fit to travel to England for the ICC World Cup. Seen as a campaign of frustration for the Proteas, Van der Dussen was a rare bright spark with three half-centuries that included a great 95 against Australia at Old Trafford.
South Africa’s breakthrough season was rewarded with a Test debut against England, averaging around 744 in ODIs over the years. He again proved to be an instant hit with three fifties in a four-match series.
Sheldon Cottrell (West Indies)
Since 2013 he has been in and around West Indies limited overs teams, Sheldon Cottrell has never forced the cricket world to take notice until last year.
The tall left-arm pacer 201 kick with a career-best ODI stint against England 5-4 of, one of the few good things Cottrell showed during the England tournament before going further in the World Cup was the glorious catch of the boundary rope.
Athleticism on the field, lower order batting and the ability to strike with new balls make Cottrell a complete package as a limited overs bowler. With xt0 wickets across all formats in 2019, at a strike-rate of just 26, Southpawli means it has merged with the best pacers in the world.
Celebrating his trademark ‘Salute’ has earned him a cultural status among fans and he will keep an eye on when cricket will finally resume.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
Although he has already made his debut for Pakistan in three formats in 2013, the young Shaheen Afridi has really risen to the post in the last 15 months or so.
In 24 matches across all formats, the young pace prodigy has taken 54 wickets at an average of less than 25. The left-arm bowler started the frustration of his first World Cup campaign in England, but he literally couldn’t play. Pakistan’s tournament got smaller.
In his last three World Cup matches, Afridi took 13 wickets, including a career-best 6-35 against Bangladesh at Lord’s. The 19-year-old who led Pakistan’s pace attack in the distant Test series against Australia shows how far he has come in international cricket in such a short time.
Expect bigger things to come from a pacer who has made the future of Pakistan great.
Joffra Archer (England)
England waited patiently for Archer to qualify for them and showed why Barbados-born pacer’s first year in international cricket.
Fascinated for Sussex in his debut years in England and in various franchise T20 leagues, in 2016 Archer was always expected to do something big. In the end, this bowler delivered more quickly than this front with the role he played in England’s World. Promoting cup winning.
His 20-wicket haul in the tournament was paired by Mitchell Starc and Lucky Ferguson by the Trans-Tasman duo. Archer then followed the heroism of the World Cup with a thrilling introduction to the Ashes series against Australia. His fight with Steve Smith, the best Test batsman in the world, proved to be an exciting affair that ended with a deck with Sydney.
The poor New Zealand tour will not take away anything from the great year that the 25-year-old has claimed 55 wickets for England in all three formats.
Lucky Ferguson (New Zealand)
The Auckland-born pacer made his full Blackcap debut in 2016, but it was his performance in 2019 that really captured his status. The likes of Trent Bolt and Team Southee in fierce order mean that the competition for a place in New Zealand’s pace unit is always fierce.
Ferguson’s place in the limited-overs set-up now looks set to move forward for sure, given what he showed in his full campaign for a World Cup final.
Of the 35 ODI scallops claimed by Ferguson in 2014, only nine had one wicket in the World Cup. In all three formats of the year, his strike-rate was the best of all bowlers (except associates) who picked up the least. 45 wickets.
The 26-year-old obviously has speed in his locker and will try to do more for New Zealand when cricket returns.
Marnus Labaschagane (Australia)
None of the 2019 breakout star seas have popped like Labaschagan. The Australian top-order batsman did not really uproot a tree during his debut against Pakistan in 2018, and the question has been growing since his successive selections.
In what has been one of the most incredible transformations in the sport, Labaschagen has dispelled these doubts with Incredible 2019.
A county Stein at Glamorgan last summer seemed to have done wonders for his confidence, with the right-hander taking the score to the Ashes as an alternative to Steve Smith’s replacement.
He finished 2019 as the top run-getter (1,104) at an average of around 655 in Tests and then started explosively in 2020 by registering a double ton against New Zealand. His recent introduction to ODI cricket is going great, he has so far registered a century and two fifties in six innings.
Now just behind Smith and Virat Kohli in the ICC Test rankings, Labuchagen has the strategy and disposition to be a whirlwind success for Australia. Labschagan needs hunger and drive to be the best in the world for a long time, if not a glimpse of his personality in the recently published ‘The Test’ documents.
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