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Who will be 2019’s breakout international star?

by Thomas Lemmon 5 minute read

Sam Curran and Prithvi Shaw enjoyed sensational starts to their international career in 2018, but who will follow in their footsteps in 2019? Thomas Lemmon picks out five young cricketers who might just make the world sit up and take notice.

Will Pucovski

The eighth-youngest man to score a Sheffield Shield double century, 20-year old Will Pucovski’s 243 against Western Australia grabbed the limelight in the first week of the Sheffield Shield.

Pucovski might have played a part in the current Australia-India series had he not been forced to take an “indefinite break” from the game for mental health reasons.

Now back, he hit a half century on his return and could soon be wearing the famous Baggy Green.

Former Australia all-rounder David Hussey called him a “quality talent”, but told RSN he wants him to “dominate” the Shield before a Test call-up.

But with Australia struggling desperately for runs, selectors may soon see Pucovski as next in line in time for the Ashes in July.

Standout Performance

The brilliant 243 at the WACA. The youngest player since Ricky Ponting to score a double hundred in the Shield. He scored them at a fair rate too, 311 balls, 30 boundaries. Barely into his Shield career, it led to calls that he should be included in the Australian Test side immediately.

Qais Ahmad

With Rashid Khan having turned 20 in September, some might have feared that Afghanistan’s stock of teenaged leg-spinners had dried up completely. Luckily, 18-year-old Qais Ahmad has emerged to show that when it comes to producing precocious wrist-spinners, there are few countries better.

Qais starred at the Under 19 World Cup in January 2018, taking 14 wickets, the joint-most in the competition, as Afghanistan recorded a barnstorming third-place finish. He has since been snapped in the CPL and BPL, with an international bow sure to follow. With Afghanistan well placed to make waves at the World Cup, this could be quite some year for young Qais.

Standout Performance

Ahmad appears to thrive on the big occasion, getting career best figures of 5-18 in the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League T20 final back in October. His crucial middle-order wickets restricted Kabul to 132-9 and allowed Ravi Bopara to guide Balkh Legends home.

Shubman Gill

Better than Prithvi Shaw, a bit like Brian Lara, a bit like Kane Williamson. That’s according to India legend Sourav Ganguly, who spoke to India Today. High praise indeed, and it’s not hard to see why Ganguly thinks so.

Gill has plundered 610 runs in just three and a half matches in the last month. A double hundred in Mohali was followed by a match-saving 148 in Hyderabad. Gill has scored 1,081 runs at an average of 83.15 in first-class cricket.

He’s not bad in the shorter forms of the game either, with four List A hundreds and an average of 47.

While competition for places in the India batting line-up is fierce, if Gill keeps up adding to his mountain of runs, he simply must get into the side sooner rather than later.

Standout Performance

With Hyderabad setting Punjab a lofty 337 to win, they would have been hopeful of wrapping up the game rather quickly. But Gill had other ideas. 148 runs at nearly a run a ball meant his innings took Punjab desperately close to forcing an unlikely win.

Rachin Ravindra

When your name is a deliberate portmanteau of Rahul and Sachin, there’s a fair bit of pressure on you. Ravindra has shown throughout his young career that he doesn’t mind being talked about early.

At 16 he was playing in the U19 World Cup and two years later he was back, and through his performances at that tournament, he was elevated straight into the New Zealand ‘A’ set-up.

Barely 19, he made his debut against Pakistan ‘A’ in Dubai and justified his call-up too, with two fifties in his first two games suggesting he wasn’t playing above his level.

His unfussy, classy batting is his stronger suit, but his tidy left-arm spin makes him an attractive all-round option. Ravindra is used to moving through the ranks quickly, and has shown himself so far able to belong at every level he tries. An international call-up might not be far off, and shouldn’t faze him if it does come.

Standout Performance

An all-round, Player-of-the-Match performance from the young man against South Africa at the U-19 World Cup. Ravindra scored 76 when opening the batting and 4-32 to constrict the South African run chase.

Jofra Archer

News of the ECB changing their rules of eligibility in December saw quite the media frenzy – pronouncements for Jofra Archer to storm into England’s World Cup squad were made left, right and centre.

And with good reason to. The former West Indian U19 fast bowler has made Sussex his home while starring across T20 franchise leagues with his rapid pace, athletic fielding, and more than handy prowess as a lower-order batsman.

Whether or not he bolts into the No.1 ranked ODI side in the world in time for the start of the World Cup remains questionable, but it remains just a matter of time before England do come calling.

Standout Performance

Rajasthan Royals paid a staggering INR 7.2 crore for Archer for IPL 2018, an eye-catching fee for a cricketer yet to make his international debut. Any doubts over his price tag were put to bed rather quickly, a sparkling debut saw him collect figures of 3-22 against Mumbai Indians.

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