Cricket: The difference makers

By David Leggat

David Leggat weighs the world's cricket nations and picks his players to watch

James Franklin is New Zealand's biggest hitter. Photo / Mark Mitchell
James Franklin is New Zealand's biggest hitter. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Group A

India: Talented all-rounder Irfan Pathan has a big role to play for the Indians. He gets his runs at 125.47 per 100 balls, averages 26, and has 23 wickets at 21.6 and an economy rate of 7.88 from 19 games. Has "gamebreaker" writ large across his back.

England: Keep an eye on Alex Hales, a 23-year-old averaging 39 at a strike rate of 122.5 from only seven T20s. No KP means England need to find runs from elsewhere. The Middlesex man could be the ticket.

Afghanistan: Hamid Hassan, a lively bowler rated good enough to play for full member nations, according to former Pakistani wicketkeeper Rashid Latif, who once coached the national side. Strongly built, he's ambitious too: "I want the world to know me, to be famous. 'Look, it's Hamid'," he has said.

Group B

Australia: Shane Watson, by a nose from pugnacious David Warner.

'Watto' combines parsimony with the ball and can bludgeon the best at the top of the order. Assuming he's fully fit, he's a matchwinner.

Ireland: George Dockrell's left arm spin will be crucial for the Irish. Only 20, he's been around a while and is a tidy operator. In 17 T20s, he's taken 26 wickets at 13.11 apiece, and an economy rate of 5.54 runs an over.

West Indies: Chris Gayle, who else. His record speaks for itself. If Jamaica's second coolest athlete fires, the Windies are in the frame. If not, they're unlikely to advance past the Super Eight.

Group C

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene, the captain who wields a magic wand at the crease. A true artist who can lead his country to glory on their own turf.

South Africa: They're not short of star turns but keep an eye on Albie Morkel, Morne's older brother. He hits a long ball, is used either as a pinch hitter at the top or a fast-scoring finisher, has an impressive strike rate of 143, and bowls tidy medium pace.

Zimbabwe: Captain Brendan Taylor must make runs, but all-rounder Elton Chigumbura could be the game breaker. Averages a tick under 20 but his cracking strike rate of 152 is the key here. A middle-order thrasher.

Group D

New Zealand: Try James Franklin for size. He hits the biggest ball in the squad, is experienced, has a strike rate of 118 and while his left arm bowling is falling away in effectiveness he could be the man for the key moments with the bat late on.

Pakistan: He wasn't good enough to make the ICC Player of the Year shortlist, but Saeed Ajmal will do just nicely for us. A brilliant off-spinner who prospers when batsmen are obliged to take risks. Sixty wickets in 42 games at 15.48, an economy rate of six runs an over are eloquent testimony to his importance.

Bangladesh: Shakib al Hasan, a class all-rounder, who ranks in the top echelon of those skilled in both main disciplines. His left-arm spin will be vital, and he scores fast runs. A poor return from Shakib will be bad news for Bangladesh's hopes of making the Super Eight.

- NZ Herald

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