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Last Updated:  Monday, 20 January, 2003, 11:08 GMT
World Cup rookies to watch
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport Online

Six players, all under 22, who have the chance to let their talents bear full fruit at the Cricket World Cup.

Yuvraj Singh, 21, India

Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh is a fearless and gifted batsman
Clearly a man for the big occasion, Yuvraj famously hit 84 off 80 balls in his first ever one-day innings.

At the time he was just 18, the opponents were an Australia side with McGrath, Lee and Gillespie and India's victory propelled the team into the semi-finals of the ICC Knockout Trophy.

Fast forward to a packed house at Lord's for the final of the NatWest series in the summer of 2002.

India are 146-5 needing 326 to beat England, and somehow Yuvraj and Mohammad Kaif bely their inexperience to get India home.

His batting is prone to periods of inconsistency but he can also bowl some handy left-arm spin.

Mohammad Ashraful, 18, Bangladesh

In Bangladesh's last one-day series - at home against West Indies - Ashraful twice top-scored in the three matches.

That really showed up the myopic attitude of the Bangladeshi selectors, who dropped him for a while last year.

It's not every day that a kid not far past his 17th birthday hits a century in his debut Test match. But that's what Ashraful did, against Sri Lanka in September 2001.

He may also be called upon to bowl his leg-spin, which has so far been on the expensive side.

Tatenda Taibu, 19, Zimbabwe

Tatenda Taibu appeals
Taibu was just 16 when he first toured with Zimbabwe

The player of the under-19 World Cup in early 2002, Taibu is becoming an accomplished gloveman for Zimbabwe.

He celebrated his 17th birthday on a tour of England with the senior squad in the summer of 2000, when he was already being groomed as a future replacement for Andy Flower.

His batting has not yet caught fire in the 20 one-day matches he has played, where he struggles to score his runs fast enough.

But he clearly possesses batting talent, as was shown in an unbeaten Test half-century against Pakistan.

James Anderson, 20, England

How's this for a fairytale?

James Anderson celebrates a wicket
Anderson has burst onto the scene

In May you are playing for Burnley in the Lancashire league.

By Christmas you have dismissed Adam Gilchrist and Sanath Jayasuriya for your first two wickets in one-day internationals.

That's the short story of James Anderson's 2002 and he has taken 12 wickets at a cost of 23.4 in his first seven one-day internationals.

Anderson would not yet have had a sniff of senior international cricket were it not for England's hideously long injury list.

But the fact that this fast and honest swing bowler has had such a fine start to his career makes one wonder why England selectors seldom show the necessary bravado.

Jermaine Lawson, 21, West Indies

Jamaica has produced two of the finest fast bowlers to grace the game in the shape of Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh.

Now, Jermaine Lawson has emerged as the heir apparent to that crown.

And while those are big boots to fill, observers in the Caribbean were impressed with his six wickets in 15 balls in a Test against Bangladesh.

Already reaching speeds of more than 92mph, Lawson has a quiet, unfussy run-up - much like "Whispering Death" Holding himself famously possessed.

Mohammad Sami, 22 (on 24 Feb), Pakistan

With Shoaib Akhtar injury-prone, and the old campaigners Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram also looking a little creaky of late, Sami could have a big role to play in South Africa.

A tall, slim right-arm seamer from Karachi, Sami played a key role in Pakistan's thumping win against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in December.

A squad rotation policy saw him miss the following two matches in the series as the tourists lost the series.

But his claims will be hard to ignore and even if he does not play a full part this time around, he knows Wasim is due to retire soon.

Five star batsmen
20 Jan 03 |  World Cup


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