“A Thing well began is Half done”
The debutants bring a fresh lease of energy to the field and create an immediate impact in the minds of the fans much easier than the experienced ones. A good beginning can influence the development in a great manner. They can also avoid the pressure of uncertainty. The year of 2011 has been blessed with so many stars that made a grand debut and have established themselves as men for feature. Here is a XI picked among the “Eleveners” – The players who made their test debut in 2011 and have earned a name and reputation for themselves.
The man made for T20 style of aggressive play, Warner had made his international debut for Australia in T20 with a blitzkrieg knock of 89 against South Africa much before he made his First Class debut for New South Wales. Yet he has successfully graduated from T20 school to Test opening wherein he made a patient 123 in his second match, carrying the bat through the innings. In the year that Australia struggled with their opening batsmen to partner Watson, he comes as a saviour. 153 runs in 4 innings at an average of 76.5 look quite impressive.
Dareen Bravo with a batting reminiscent of Lara has been the talk of the Caribbean but the Bajan, Edwards has made a silent progress. With a century on debut against India, another one later in 2011 and few impressive fifties, he appears to provide the solidarity to the struggling West Indies batting especially with Chanderpaul in his twilight days. 594 runs in 6 tests at 54.09 is too good a figure for current Calypso batsman. With a tight defence, he looks as a bolt in blue among the new generation Windies batsmen who have a gasping technique. Though not exactly an opener, I pitch him with the new ball since more often than not he is used to it.
Son of a former opening batsman for Baggy Green, Shaun has followed the footsteps of his dad Geoff in promising to be a dependable top order batsman. In 284 runs in 5 innings at 56.8 that included a century on debut, Marsh is providing the cushion to legendary Ponting to bat at No 4. If he can establish himself at No 3, not only will the present Australian set up gain but also cricket in general. He is a batsman with rock solid technique and can adjust to any form of the game.
Brownlie migrated to New Zeland across Tasmanian Sea and got into their team in his second season itself. He has been impressive throughout with three fine knocks in as many matches. Not often do we find a Kiwi newcomer with an average of 53.6 and 268 runs at the end of his first 3 matches. In a fragile batting order, if he can cement himself, Brownlie can lead the Kiwi renaissance. Right now he looks to be going in right direction.
This pick was a tricky one. Khawaja and Kohli had almost similar stats in their debut season. However Kohli is my pick for by the time he made his test debut, Kohli was an established match winner in ODIs and is the leading scorer in ODIs for the year 2011. He had a sober debut in West Indies, struggling to pace and bounce but back home, he impressed with two good fifties against the same opponents. His form going into the Boxing Day has been good too. He has the right temperament and needs to improve his technique more. 191 runs in 4 matches at 27, though not so impressive for a player in Indian batting line up, he has promises to behold.
A pace bowling allrounder, Philander broke into the South African squad as the support cast to their fiery new ball attack of Steyn and Morkel. But after just 3 matches, he looks a potent threat to the opponents out bowling his accomplished seniors. 4 five wicket hauls in 6 innings, blowing off the opposition along with Steyn, what else can one ask from a debutant. He is the latest addition to the Proteas never ending stream of fast bowlers. His length and seam control has troubled some quality players like Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Mahela and Sangakkara so far. If this is an indication, the batters have another one to deal carefully.
Many a batsmen, spinners, pacers who made their debut in 2011 had been successful. But keepers of the year had not made much mark as the other disciplines. Yet among the debutants – Mohammed Salman, Reece Young and Kaushal Silva, Young looks the better lot. He has a test fifty and some decent returns behind the stumps.
Along with Philander, he is the exciting debutant of the year. Long before he donned the whites, Ashwin was a hit in limited overs. With Harbhajan’s awful form, Ashwin got his due. He grabbed the chance with both the hands taking a six for on debut. He followed it with a century and five wicket haul in his just third test. With a century and 22 wickets in his debut series, Ashwin looks like a man India desperately needs to fill Kumble’s shoes. His carom ball will pose questions to batsmen in future.
Hailing from a Cricketing lineage, this nephew of former Kiwi off spinner John Bracewell got into the test squad at just 21 years and quickly ascertained his quality in his third test with a match winning six wicket haul against the Australian side at Hobart. He is a useful fast bowling all rounder. Though a surprise pick, the man had made most of the luck that came his way with an impressive test record of 16 wickets at 19.6 in 3 matches.
Australia unleashed a pace sensation in Cummins against South Africa but he soon injured himself. Somehow they found another in Pattinson who demolished the Kiwis in both the tests he played. With his height and bounce, he is likely to trouble quality batsmen. Australia at its lowest ebb needed a match winner and he seems to be one. With two five wicket hauls in his first two tests, he is the man to watch.
Ever since the two wizards in Warne and Kumble left, art of leg spin in red cherry was almost extinct before the Guyanese Bishoo revived it with some impressive performance against Indians, supposed to be the best players of spin. In his 10 matches, he has 39 scalps and has moreover managed to contain Tendulkar, something even Warne could not. ICC’s Emerging player of the Year award and few good spells, his curriculum vitae looks imperious at the end of first year. If he can sustain, the renaissance of West Indies cricket is not far.
This is the best possible XI, I could choose. There had been more potential candidates to form a second XI too which could read as : Ed Cowan – Kraigg Brathwaite – Kieran Powell – Nazir Hossain – Usman Khawaja – Mohammed Salman – Eliyas Sunny – Pat Cummins – Umesh Yadav - Nathan Lyon – Kyle Jarvis. Undoubtedly the year of 2011 have been “DEBUTANT’s YEAR”