When the annals of Bangladesh cricket are sifted by future generations, Shakib Al Hasan will emerge and re-emerge as the greatest cricketer of its first two decades. His on-field performances and off-field professionalism set a benchmark that was followed by peers and juniors alike. As a bowler, Shakib is accurate, consistent and canny; aggression and a wide range of strokes are the keys to his batting. Even more importantly, he has self-belief an excellent temperament, unflustered by the big occasion and ready to do battle against the top teams.
The best of his ability and temperament were on display in his first Test as captain, against a weakened West Indies side in Grenada, when Shakib took eight wickets and scored an unbeaten 96 in a tense but successful fourth-innings chase of 215, leading Bangladesh to their first overseas series victory. In only his fourth Test as captain, Shakib scored 87 and 100 - his maiden Test century - in a losing cause against New Zealand in Hamilton, performances that offered further proof of his skill and ability to handle pressure. Read more
As soon as he broke into the side at the age of 22, while a law student, it was apparent that Kumar Sangakkara was destined for more than just batting stardom. The left-handers that had preceded him, like Arjuna Ranatunga and Asanka Gurusinha, had been pugnacious battlers but Sangakkara was cut from more graceful cloth, easing into strokes with the elegance often associated withthose that play with the 'other' hand. The cut and the pull came naturally to him and with growing confidence, he became a more assured front-foot player as well.
Ranatunga had already exploded the myth of the Sri Lankans being meek men who could be bullied, but Sangakkara has refined the belligerence, combining a suave exterior with cutting asides and sharp sledges from behind the stumps. Initially, his glovework wasn't for the purists, but such was his batting ability that there was no question of displacing him from the XI. Read more
Of Shahid Afridi it can safely be said that cricket never has and never will see another like him. To say he is an allrounder is to say Albert Einstein was a scientist; it tells a criminally bare story.
For a start, the slant of his all-round skills only became clear ten years into his career; he is a leg-spinning allrounder. Variety is his calling and as well as a traditional leg-break, he has two googlies, a conventional offie and a lethal faster one, though this is increasingly rare. All come with the threat of considerable, late drift. He fairly hustles through overs, which in limited-over formats is a weapon in itself and the package is dangerous.
But forever associated with him will be his madcap batting, the prospect of which is a crowd-puller the world over. He is a compulsive basher, literally unable to control his urges to slog every ball that comes his way, and not much of it is classical. Read more
To conquer international cricket, Shane Watson first had to beat his fragile body. Despite boasting an athletic figure made for photo shoots, Watson's frame was so brittle it threatened to break him. He refused to give up. Not through recurrences of back stress fractures, hamstring strains, calf problems, hip complaints, a dislocated shoulder or a suspected heart attack that turned out to be food poisoning. He changed his training, preferring pilates to weights, gave up alcohol, but not his dream. It finally paid off in 2009, when he was chosen as a Test opener in the middle of the Ashes series. Many batsmen would have been uncomfortable with the promotion from the middle order, especially after failing when given the job with Queensland, but Watson had become used to re-inventing himself. With a history of setbacks, it was not a surprise that his first Test century became such a drama, but after two scores in the 90s and an 89, he finally brought it up at the MCG against Pakistan - thanks to a single from a dropped catch. Read more
Sunil Narine, a mystery spinner, caught the West Indies selectors' attention by taking all ten wickets in a trial match and received a call up to the Trinidad & Tobago squad in January 2009. He may not have accomplished that in international cricket , but every time Narine came to bowl, he looked like taking a wicket. His bag of tricks - an assortment of carrom balls, knuckle balls and skidders - led West Indies to the World T20 title in 2012 - the first time they claimed a World trophy since 1979.
He was one of the chief architects of Kolkata Knight Riders' two title victories in 2012 and 2014 - well worth the investment they put in him. He was bought at US $700,000 in 2012, promptly became the Man of the Tournament and has been retained by the franchise ever since. Narine once bowled more overs than runs conceded in a Twenty20 match, with 21 dot balls out of 24 in the Caribbean Premier League 2014. Read more
"I hit a lot of sixes, big sixes like him," Evin Lewis said when asked why he chose Chris Gayle as his mentor. For an upcoming left-handed opening batsman, especially in the modern game, that's a fairly smart pick.
Lewis moved up the ranks playing age-group cricket for Trinidad & Tobago, and was part of a championship winning Under-19 side in 2008. His List A debut came in October 2009, when he struck a half-century playing for West Indies U-19s. The following January he was representing them at the World Cup.
Like Gayle, Lewis' best has come in the T20 circuit. In 2013, he was Trinidad & Tobago's top-scorer in the Champions League with a strike-rate of 141.61. He showed big-match credentials, striking 62 off 46 balls in the semi-final against a Mumbai Indians attack comprising Mitchell Johnson and Harbhajan Singh. The following year, at the Caribbean Premier League, he made 321 runs from eight innings, the most by a T&T Red Steel batsman and only 42 behind Gayle, who had played 11 innings. Read more
Mohammad Amir, a left-arm pace bowler, reveres Wasim Akram. Over 2007 and 2008, he also emerged, still improbably young, as a hot pace prospect. Even before he went to England on an U-19 tour, he had been picked out as a special talent by Akram himself at a pace camp he oversaw in Lahore in May 2007. By 2010, he had become the hottest pace bowling prospect around the world - but within months his career was in ruins following charges of spot-fixing.
He began in 2009 with an impressive showing on the domestic circuit, impressing with his whippy pace and swing. He took 55 wickets for National Bank of Pakistan in his debut season, and earned selection to the Pakistan World T20 squad. There he hit the big time, taking over from an out-of-sorts Sohail Tanvir and bowling with pace, accuracy and courage.
He hovered in the high 80mphs, touching even 90 on occasion and was a crucial opening link in Pakistan's title run. Read more
A batting allrounder with powerful shots square of the wicket, Asela Gunaratne put together several impressive seasons for Sri Lanka Army Sports Club before eventually being considered for higher honours in 2016. Though not an immediately eye-catching player, it was his consistency that impressed: batting in the middle order, Gunaratne averaged more than 50 in three of the four Premier League Tournaments between 2012 and 2016. A wide range of strokes, including his favoured reverse sweep, had also helped his case.
He was a sporadic performer when chosen in the A side, yet was immediately effective in Tests, hitting a fifty and a hundred in his first three international innings, against Zimbabwe. With Angelo Mathews ruled out of that tour, Gunaratne also earned a place in the ODI squad, and made an impact with his dibbly-dobbly slow-medium bowling, claiming eight wickets at an average of 14. Read more
An attacking left-hand and unorthodox wicketkeeper-batsman, Niroshan Dickwella arrived in first-class cricket already having built some hype through his stellar school cricket career. He won Sri Lanka's Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 2012, having hit over 1000 runs in the previous season, and having led Trinity College to the national championship.
Since then, Dickwella has become Nondescripts Cricket Club's regular wicketkeeper across all competitions, thanks in part to Dinesh Chandimal's long absences from domestic cricket, due to his presence in the national team. Dickwella has been particularly impressive in across all formats in domestic cricket, and has been a fixture in the Sri Lanka A team. He made his Test debut as far back as July 2014 - at the age of 21 - but despite a sparkling 72 at SSC against a strong South Africa attack, did not hold his place for long. Read more
Ronsford Beaton gave a glimpse of his startling pace at Under-19 World Cup in 2012, where he picked up eight wickets in five matches. He broke through the first-class ranks for Guyana in 2011, but it wasn't until 2012-13 that he was seen as a fast bowler meant for higher honours. He took 16 wickets in six matches in the Regional four-day competition, complemented it with seven wickets in five matches in the subsequent T20 tournament and earned a deal with the CPL franchise Guyana Amazon Warriors. He has since moved to Trinbago Knight Riders.
Beaton, a product of WICB's High Performance centre, impressed for West Indies A during the one-day leg of the tour to Sri Lanka in November 2016 by picking up seven wickets in three games. In February, he was selected to play for WICB XI against the visiting England side in a warm-up fixture. Three months later, he received a maiden West Indies call-up for the T20I series against Afghanistan at home. Read more