Batsman to watch – Kane Williamson (Yorkshire)
Williamson is the batsman to watch anywhere, any time, any day. He is one of the names in the overseas ranks that is a superstar in the world game.
I’ve watched him in the Indian Premier League for the last two or three years and last year, because David Warner was unable to play for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kane got to play a whole season, as opposed to just a few games – and did a great job as captain said Mark Butcher.
Williamson is consistent and classical, but he also hits a lot of boundaries and a lot of sixes, playing in a manner that many people might not associate with him. He has the ability to have strike-rates of 150, 200, doing that throughout the IPL.
Batsman to watch – Sam Northeast (Hampshire)
Northeast is definitely the one to watch. After his horrific finger injury, he’s done well to get back as quickly as he has after an operation and will have a massive point to prove.
He is in good form for Hampshire and I am sure he will be one of the top run-scorers in the Blast. He plays the situation so well, has got a power game but also every facet needed. He is someone that reminds me a bit of Neil Mackenzie said Rob Key.
He will come in in the middle order and will play the situation well – play the right kind of knock whether it’s batting first or chasing; if you need 10 an over or need to dig in on a bad pitch. That is what sets him apart.
Bowler to watch – Imran Tahir (Durham)
He has been ranked the best T20 bowler in the world in the past, but strangely the South African leg-spinner falls in and out of favour with club T20 sides.
Some years he is the most sought-after player, other times he is the last man to be picked up. At the same time, in the middle overs of a match, Tahir can be a real match-winner and his celebrations are worth the entrance fees alone.
Bowler to watch – Rashid Khan (Sussex)
The Afghanistan leg-spinner is arguably the most sought-after T20 player in the world as, wherever he goes, his teams do well. He won the Big Bash with Adelaide Strikers and got to the final of the IPL with Sunrisers.
He was that good in the final that the Chennai Super Kings’ entire plan was to smash every other bowler except from him.
Shane Watson, who scored a hundred for Chennai, had a clear plan just to block Rashid’s four overs and take everyone else at 10 an over. You could not have more of a compliment as a bowler.
Young gun to watch – Ollie Pope (Surrey)
Pope is an exciting prospect, and has been exceptional for Surrey in the County Championship so far this season. If a spot came up in the England team I wouldn’t be afraid of chucking him in, he is that good said former England batsman Rob Key.
We shouldn’t be far off seeing him playing international cricket. He reminds me a little bit of Joe Root – he pulls, cuts and has everything you need for the international game.
As a batsman in T20s, it depends a little what role he will have for Surrey, but he is one of the most exciting players in the country.
By Gourav Pilania