The dark horses of Champions League 2010
When Peter Ingram - also a rugby player until he broke his jaw during one of the trials - is not playing cricket, he teaches New Plymouth kids how to mould objects out of metal. When he needs to relax, Ingram picks up his gun, acquired six months ago, and hunts down pigs. "Once you shoot them, you cut them all the way down to the gut, cut off the head and carry it, and then skin it," he says. "It's beautiful to eat, it is very lean and has no fat. It relaxes me. Sometimes cricket can be pretty tough." Cricket shouldn't ideally be so tough for this right-hand opener, for his model is the master of minimalism, Virender Sehwag. Having reduced excessive feet movement, after watching Sehwag bat, Ingram has "averaged about 65 and scored heaps and heaps of runs". Five days younger to Sehwag, Ingram is known to be a clean hitter who turns his starts into massive scores, which are similar traits. He is yet to display those in his short international cricket, and the Champions League cannot be a bad time to start.
Jonathan Foo is the latest addition to the list of exciting talent to emerge from Berbice. The lower order dynamo of Chinese descent became an instant hero during his first domestic event, the Caribbean T20 tournament. He warmed up to the format in his first two games, sealing tense chases with quickfire, unbeaten 20s. He lasted only five balls against Trinidad and Tobago, but managed to hit two sixes in a game of close margins. His best came in the decider where he lashed 42 off 17 balls, with three sixes and four fours, lifting Guyana from 85 for 8 in the 17th over to chase 135. His exploits have already evoked comparisons with Kieron Pollard, and if Foo can have the kind of impact the T&T allrounder created last year, West Indies cricket would have found its next hero.
Tom Cooper has been around the world to play for South Australia in the Champions League. He's originally from New South Wales, but switched to the Redbacks and has just finished his first season with Holland. He could end up as more than a journeyman if his aggressive batting clicks consistently. The 160 he struck in a 50-over game against West Indies in 2008-09 is still being talked about.
Ambati Rayudu is just 24 but he has already seen plenty of twists and turns in his brief cricketing career. At 16, he was touted as the next great Indian hope after he blasted 177 for India colts against England. At 21, he was almost finished as he chose to play in the rebel Indian Cricket League. In 2009, he returned to mainstream cricket when he accepted the BCCI's amnesty offer and he starred in the last year's IPL . Sachin Tendulkar empowered him with the responsibility of batting up order, ahead of the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, and Rayudu delivered on numerous occasions.
Ethan O' Reilly's stature doesn't create the impression that he can generate a lot of pace but deception is his biggest advantage. A short, small-built right armer, O' Reilly moved from Eastern Cape to join the Lions last season, where he's clocked respectable speeds of 140-plus kilometers per hour. He took 11 wickets in eight matches during the Standard Bank Pro20 to help the Lions to their first final in three seasons. O' Reilly usually opens the bowling but he is often given at least an over at the death because of his ability to bowl full when it's most needed. His best performances of the season came against the Lions' arch rivals, the Titans, where he took 3 for 27 in the round-robin match and 2 for 18 during the first leg semi-final. The 24-year old has a good bouncer and knows how to make the ball swing and as a relatively unknown prospect could prove dangerous for the opposition.
The name Ashwell Prince is not often associated with limited-overs cricket in a positive light, but he has worked hard to change that. The most significant sign of that can be seen in his strike rate. Prince has scored at rates of 109.80, 112.04 and 97.18 in his last three limited-overs series. They were all domestic competitions with the last two being forty-over versions, but Prince's aggressive intent has been clear. In the South African MTN40, he played four matches, scored 186 runs with a highest score of 128. That match-winning century came in the final of the competition against the Dolphins. He also scored a century for Lancashire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and in the Standard Bank Pro20 he scored 112 runs in four matches with a top score of 69. Since his disappointing World Cup in the 2007, Prince has been regarded as a Test player but with the new-found confidence, experience and the ability to remain calm under pressure, Prince may prove to be the Warriors' knight in shining armour.
Bryce McGain will always be associated with his unforgettable Test debut in Cape Town. But don't think that he can't bowl. While his hammering was an unfortunate end to his international ambitions, he remains a huge threat on the domestic scene with his thoughtful legbreaks. Depending on the situation, he can tease with flight or tie down with control. Attack him at your peril.
Jeevantha Kulatunga, Wayamba's big-hitting opener and occasional medium-pacer, had to wait 17 years after his first-class debut to make it to the Sri Lankan team. Two failures in a low-profile Twenty20 tournament in Canada and he was tossed back to the domestic circuit. That hasn't discouraged him, though, and he has been a key ingredient in Wayamba's successive triumphs in the domestic Twenty20s. Kulatunga was at his best in this year's Interprovincial Twenty20 tournament, bludgeoning 277 runs at 152.19 to bag the Player-of-the-Series award. He smashed the fastest Twenty20 century made in Sri Lanka, and his combination with Mahela Jayawardene at the top of the order proved to be the cornerstone of Wayamba's success. It earned him a place in the preliminary squad to the World Twenty20 in the West Indies but the presence of Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan meant there was no space for him to make an international return.
Chennai Super Kings
Shadab Jakati used the IPL ticket to get out of cricketing anonymity. His career might start and end with the IPL but he has been one of the pleasant surprises that the tournament has thrown up to the cricketing world. A left-arm orthodox spinner, Jakati excelled in the South African pitches, and was crucial to Chennai Super Kings' surge in the middle stages of the 2009 tournament. He announced himself with four-fors in back-to-back games, a remarkable achievement in Twenty20s. He was also a key figure in Chennai's winning campaign the following year, taking 13 wickets.
Bangalore Royal Challengers
Dillon du Preez is not extremely fast. He is not a glamour boy. In fact he was not even a permanent fixture in the Eagles team in his first three seasons. 2007-08 changed all that; he grabbed 55 wickets and stormed into public imagination. In 2008, he signed with Leicestershire as a Kolpak player. In 2009, he joined IPL and made a dream debut. He started with that rarest of Twenty20 beasts - the double-wicket maiden, and it included the scalp of Sachin Tendulkar. And when he removed JP Duminy in his next over, his figures read: 1.2-1-0-3.