Singapore have soared up the T20I rankings since full status was applied to pretty much all international T20 matches. The Asian island have even defeated Test nation Zimbabwe during their meteoric rise.
Now it’s the turn of another Asian island (Or four islands) to make headway in the cricketsphere. Japan’s U-19 side might not have performed sensationally on the pitch but their progress hasn’t gone unnoticed. Diehard sports fans love an underdog and for the time being at least even big nations like Japan are such when it comes to cricket.
An even bigger country that has also shown up on the U-19 World Cup stage is Nigeria. Like Japan it’s been tough at the tournament but they’ll stronger and more hungry for it. Both sides have a healthy amount of indigenous or dual heritage players in their teams which bodes well for the future. That’s both for the future of their respective teams and cricket in general.
What’s the ceiling limit though? Will they have to apply for Test status? Will it even be relevant for nations that are being groomed on Twenty20 or One-Day Cricket to try and function in longer forms of the game?
It’ll be fascinating to see how the international cricket landscape evolves over the next decade or two. Hopefully nations from all corners of the globe will be playing against one another.
Will Pucovski (243) and Josh Phillipe (41 & 104) were amongst the runs in the opening round of 2018-19 Sheffield Shield matches. It was good to see young batsman such as Sam Heazlett and Will Bosisto in their respective state XIs as well, even if they didn’t quite churn out Pucovskiesque innings. Question marks still linger over much of Australia’s batting line-up, what with Shaun Marsh’s inconsistency, Mitchell Marsh batting far too high at times and Usman Khawaja (Now injured) and Aaron Finch both needing to back-up encouraging performances against Pakistan in UAE, Pucovski could well have put himself to the front of the selection queue. With Peter Handscomb having fallen away horribly after a promising start to his Test career and Glenn Maxwell clearly not fancied by the selection panel, the twenty-year-old Victorian’s path to the national XI is being cleared of obstacles.
Another player that peaked interest in the opening round of this year’s Shield was leg-spinner Lloyd Pope. Not all that long ago, Pope terrorised England at the Under-19 World Cup with an eight-wicket haul that went viral. In truth, aside from that match-winning performance he had a quiet tournament. His maiden First Class wicket, trapping Steve O’Keefe LBW, saw him go viral again even though his two wickets cost in excess of a hundred runs. It was extremely alarming however to see the reaction of the Australian media. Labelling Pope as the “New Warne” is surely both unnecessary and unoriginal.
Back to batting and another player who could possibly solve Australia’s batting problems… Meg Lanning. There are some that say there’s no need to suggest women cricketers aim to play in men’s teams and that women’s cricket is a good enough sport on in its own right. I’m not necessarily suggesting that run-express Lanning represent her country’s men’s team but it’s worth pointing out just how good she is. Still only twenty-six, she has in excess of 3000 ODI runs from just 68 matches. She averages north of 53 with twelve tons and eleven fifties. She’s fresh off the back of another hundred against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.
It’ll be interesting to see just how much Lanning can achieve in her international career and who lines up for Australia’s men’s team come next year’s Ashes encounter in England.