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Sunday, April 18, 1999 Published at 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK


Embers' spin on World Cup bowlers

John Emburey: "It is a very open World Cup"

Former England Test off-spinner John Emburey picks the bowlers to watch out for during the World Cup.

This tournament should be a treat for fans of world-class bowling, with some of the game's all-time greats on show as well as a host of upcoming stars.


[ image:  ]
Having watched the warm-up matches in Sharjah, I think Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar could make a big impact. I like the look of him - he's a good, pacy seamer and always gives 100%.

His team-mate Azhar Mahmood is another one to watch. He's not as quick as Shoaib, but he swings the ball both ways, and will be a threat.

Pakistan will also have the likes of Saqlain Mushtaq and Wasim Akram, both experienced players, who will add to a strong bowling attack.


[ image: Shoaib Akhtar: Always gives 100%]
Shoaib Akhtar: Always gives 100%
You cannot underestimate Australia's demon fast bowler Glenn McGrath. I think he will be a dominant force, especially with the white ball.

He'll be able to use it at the start of the innings, when it's still new and shiny, and at the end, when it's slightly older and will still be swinging.

South Africa have a very strong attack - Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Jacques Kallis. I think Kallis is an exceptional cricketer and is definitely one to watch out for.

Expensive

South Africa have the added advantage that three of those four bowlers can bat very well, although the drawback for Klusener is that he can be expensive - he bowls quite full.

Looking at the West Indies, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh will be dangerous as ever.

But I don't think their spinners will cause any problems - and neither will the young paceman Reon King.


[ image: Australia's Glenn McGrath]
Australia's Glenn McGrath
In terms of England, Darren Gough is definitely a world class bowler. England will get the best out of him by giving him a few overs at the start and the end of the innings.

I'm hoping my old mate at Middlesex Angus Fraser will help as well. He will be as difficult to get away as usual, as will Leicestershire's Alan Mullally - and the raw all-rounder Andy Flintoff could surprise a few people.

The holders, Sri Lanka, will be dangerous with off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who can trouble anyone, now one of the most accomplished slow bowlers in the world.

Aside from him, they have a left-armer called Charminda Vaas who is a pacy seamer.

Of the other nations, I don't see much threat from the New Zealand side, although Daniel Vettori might cause the odd problem, while India will be banking on record-breaking leg-spinner Anil Kumble doing his stuff.

Scots shock

But I do think - and this is bound to surprise some people - that the bowler who will raise a few eyebrows is a Scotland player by the name of John Blain.

He's a 19-year-old who I saw at close quarters when I was coaching Northamptonshire, and he is very talented.


[ image: Darren Gough: World class]
Darren Gough: World class
Looking at the competition on a whole, I think that South Africa have the strongest bowling line-up, in terms of strength in depth.

But I like the look of Pakistan as well - they really do have some super bowlers.

I feel that Australia might have problems with bowlers like Paul Reiffel and Damien Fleming not being able to control the white ball in English conditions.

Having said that, Australia will be very dangerous - each bowler bowls with variety, and they can make things very difficult if they bat first.

As for England, we've gone from being outsiders to rank outsiders following the dismal display in Sharjah.

But I think the tournament is wide open, and it will be the closest World Cup ever.



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