“Men may come and Men may go; But I go on forever” – It is not just River Thames in Wordsworth’s poem. Our game of Cricket runs despite all the controversies and muggings over it in the recent times, in the past and will continue to be so in future. Every now and then a new glory emerges in the game. Quite a lot of such newer entrants fade out. Few of them continue to dazzle us.
This article is about five such newbies who have made a positive kick start to their career. Whether they end up with a career fulfilling their initial promise is better known to time. However let us celebrate their brilliant start and potential they display.
First such debut of the year to promise is that of a man who appears to revive the art of leg spin. Since the days of Warne and Kumble, no leg spinner has been able to make news in test cricket. Devendra Bishoo from Guyana entered the West Indies team, plagued by poor form and administrative mismanagement and immediately made name producing a match winning spell against Pakistan. What followed was more astounding. He made the Indian line up, supposed to be the best players of spin guessing with his leg breaks and wrong ‘uns. That Dravid and Laxman found him hard to play in West Indies speaks the volume of his ability. In Bangladesh he made short work of the young batsmen unsure of their feet in cricket still. The present tour of India has not been a big success but then even the best like Warne and Murali suffered in India to its marauding batsmen. In limited overs too, Bishoo has been promising few useful hauls.
Junaid Khan was the next to make the grade. He continues the legacy of Pakistani left arm pacers. Aameer messed his career to greed and misguidance and his successor Junaid Khan was a part of the World Cup squad but did not play. He made his debut with ordinary performance at Bulawayo against Zimbabwe. However in the dustbowls of the Gulf, Junaid showed his ability with an excellent five for against Srilanka which managed to bowl out the Lankan line up filled with stroke makers of excellence for a partly 197. Junaid in all took 11 wickets in the series in conditions extremely unconducive for the bowlers. With his left arm medium pace, he offers a ray of hope to the Pakistani side that has been hit by one controversy after another.
Third debutant to make the mark is someone who had been a star performer and well known by the time he was handed the test cap. Ravichandran Ashwin first hit the headlines in IPL as M.S.Dhoni’s trump card for Chennai Super Kings. He craftily bowled in the power plays and managed to keep some of the gustiest hitters in cricket like Gayle and Gilchrist guessing. His ODI career with Indian team was smooth with useful spells studded with fair economy rate and key wickets. Harbhajan’s loss of form handed Ashwin his test cap. In the second innings of his first test, Ashwin held forte. Some conventional finger spin with disguised weapon – the carom ball got him six wickets. Nine wickets and Man of the Match award on debut shows a highly promising start. More than anything he shows the glimpses of Indian spin’s legacy with his smart bowling. He should end up with a long successful career if things go right.
Ashwins’s debut coincided with that of another promising youngster from South Africa namely Vernon Philander. South Africa has never been short of pacers but they lacked a third seamer to consistently back up their fearsome new ball attack of Steyn and Morkel. Enter Philander, he made a decent spell of three wickets in the first innings. But it was the second innings when, he along with Morkel reduced the Australian line up with Watson, Ponting, Clarke and Hussey look paupers for a poor 21/9. Had not been there a fighting 26 partnership by the tail, they might have had the lowest total in test history. Philander was unplayable with his variations, taking a five for haul. No wonder he too got his Man of the Match award on debut. Above all, Philander is a useful bat in the middle or lower middle order, giving more depth to the strong South African batting line up. With Steyn and Morkel, if he can sustain, Philander may form a highly potent attack in years to come.
Latest debutant to hog the lime light was Patrick Cummins. He became the youngest Australian to earn their central contract and second youngest Australian to play test cricket. And what a sensational debut it was. He is already making names for his raw pace. After being impressive but without success in the first innings, Cummins at 18 is sensational with his outswingers and angulations in the second innings. He managed to break the stubborn partnership of Amla and De villers and brought up the six wicket haul and with it the Australia’s chances to win the match. Australia is presently having a weak attack with Johnson in awful form, Bollinger and Hilfenhaus indisposed, Siddle is unthreatening and here Cummins is a fresh positive for the struggling side. Like the other four, he must make big in cricket if he plays to his promise.
The year of 2011, after a lull for the bowlers appears promising with new faces making a right start. There had been some majestic innings constructed this year but compared to the previous years, the debutants who have made big are mostly bowlers. This gives a ray of hope in the days of uneven contest between the bat and the ball. Let these debutants enjoy a long and successful career and continue to provide us joy.