Thursday, February 17, 2011

World Cup Predictions: Ace in the Hole

With our penultimate World Cup Predictions, Matt, Subash and Dave examine who's the player flying under the radar ... the perennial Ace in the Hole.

Part 1: Leading Wicket Taker
Part 2: Leading Runscorer
Part 3: Surprise packet
Part 4: MVP
Part 5: Dream Team

Matt Wood

Kevin Pietersen. Oh, sorry, you said ace-in-the-hole. There isn’t a lot of publicity over a few guys who could shape the tournament. South Africa, while not having a spinner, do boast one of the short form’s great slow bowlers in Johan Botha, who should be nicknamed “Immodium” for his ability to restrict runs. His defensive mindset and shrewd field placements have allowed him to open the bowling in occasional T20s. Of the three, he’s most likely to be the trump which has the greatest effect in the tournament’s latter stages. The other two can be solid but may not be game-changers: New Zealand’s Tim Southee is still very young, but he bowls real swing and could help New Zealand back from the brink of world patsydom. The climate, especially at night, will suit him. Tim Bresnan is another who should be suited by the swing-conducive climes of India and has displayed his ability by taking truckloads of wickets in Australia on pitches unsuited to bowling of his style. He has the game to really break some of the best top-orders in the world.

Posted 17th February: One player who's escaped a lot of attention is William Porterfield, who opens the batting for Ireland. He's scored heaps of runs and of the minnows, he seems most likely to be a "breakout" candidate.

More well-known players from the affiliate nations out to impress include the Netherlands' Ryan ten Doeschate, Rizwan Cheema of Canada, Elton Chigumbura & Tatienda Taibu of Zimbabwe.


Subash Jayaraman

A man whose career is at crossroads and a solid tournament would resurrect his seemingly sliding career – Yuvraj Singh. There has been a mountain of questions regards to fitness, mental focus and attitude towards his cricket. This would be biggest platform for him to respond to his doubters. Play a few match winning innings and bowl his left arm spin that is tailor made for the slower pitches of India, he will regain the confidence that is sorely needed for this gifted cricketer.


David Siddall

The ‘Ace in the Hole’ refers to the break-out player of the tournament, the player that no one is talking about but will star in the event. The issue with the selecting the Ace is that cricket has become so globalized and so ubiquitous that it is hard for a modern day player to just slip under the radar or for a young star to rise so prominently and not get noticed. Because of this, my ace in the hole is coming from way left field.

He’s a forgotten man in world cricket. He probably won’t even start for his country. But not too long ago he became the quickest man ever to reach the 50 ODI wickets mark in 19 matches at a staggering average of around 10. Back then he was a mystery spinner who mesmerized with his mix of offies, googlies, leg-breaks and carom balls. Bowling wicket to wicket, constantly attacking the stumps he claimed a disproportionate amount of lbws compared to your average bowler. But that was 2008 and he appears to have been figured out since with batsmen getting to know his variations and playing him more like a medium pacer. He still takes wickets but they are thinner on the ground.

Whether Ajantha Mendis can rekindle the form he showed when he burst onto the scene is completely up in the air. Whether he can even find his way into Sri Lanka’s starting lineup is also less obvious. Whether there is space for two spinners in the side is open to debate. Murali is number 1 and Dilshan does a good job as a part time spin option. Mendis also has competition from the slow left-armer Rangana Herath in that department. If Mendis does get his berth in the side who knows what might happen? This writer enjoyed his passage into the history books in 2008 and wanted to see plenty more of him but is still waiting for his wish. Maybe Ajantha Mendis can be a great addition to the few attacking spinners left in the limited overs game…


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