|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
As we recover from a year of retirements and changes of guard, a look at some cricketers who will look ahead to a productive 2014. Not all in this list have had a disappointing 2013, but they all will be looking to have purposeful year.
1. Jesse Ryder (New Zealand)
Jesse Ryder is a special talent, but certainly not a fulfilled one. His staggered career has developed at an uneven rate, and at 29 he has played just 18 Tests, and only 41 ODIs. He's better than that, but needs consistency and discipline on and off the field. Combining the two could allow Ryder to explode back onto the scene, which may be important with T20 contracts up for grabs. A century on the first day of 2014 is a good sign, but with Ryder it is never far away from something unexpected.
2. M Vijay (India)
Having made his debut in 2008, Vijay's chances in Test cricket were stifled by the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. They have since been put to one side, and Vijay's chance has finally emerged. Six hundred and forty seven Test runs at an average of 46.76 in 2013 was a good grounded response to continued selection. But Vijay must continue to stay relevant in the company of Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, and not be a passenger. In order to not be buried in the drama of Indian cricket, and the high octane performances of others, he must push the boundaries and build a reputation.
3. Azhar Ali (Pakistan)
Pakistan are about to go through a turbulent period. With Misbah-ul-Haq at the ripe age of 39, and Younis Khan at 36, spare parts are desperately needed. Azhar Ali was steady at No. 3 in his first couple of years, but fell away dramatically in 2013 - 270 runs in 14 Test innings was just not good enough. There is lots to work with, and lots to like about Azhar. Pakistan cricket is a roller-coaster ride sometimes, and a solid, steady No. 3 will help. Step up Azhar.
4. Joe Root (England)
The golden boy of English cricket found the going hard in 2013. He averaged under 35, and was moved up and down the order perpetually, not being allowed to settle. He was worked over by Australia's quicks, and though he played the short ball well, he wasn't the defensive rock that England had hoped for at the top of the order. Where some will attribute this to him being unsettled due to constant change, it must also be recognised that he has not made any of the positions his own. The sooner he consolidates a position the better, and that is his task for the year in all formats.
5. JP Duminy (South Africa)
The left-hander has gained a reputation as an ODI specialist. He has only played 21 Tests in his career, and has always been placed in the lower middle-order, coming in to bat after a flurry of world class batsmen such as Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. Nobody doubts his ODI credentials, but his first-class average of nearly 50 simply does not translate in Test cricket, where he averages in the early 30s. He will be looking to assert himself, and prove that he is not cut out only for the shorter formats.
6. Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka)
As a player, and as a captain, Angelo Mathews has struggled with Test cricket. He played in 28 limited- overs games, whilst having only three full Tests in 2013, which outlines the difficulty of long-term planning. A general depression in Test form, has been contrasted by a solid year in coloured kits. His 585 ODI runs and 19 ODI wickets helped build his character as a leader. In 2014, he will need to strengthen his place as the leader, and transfers limited overs contributions to Tests. If he doesn't, Sri Lanka will be far too heavily reliant on the old guard.
7. Quinton de Kock (South Africa)
With the retirement of Jacques Kallis, a position in the batting order has opened up. Quinton de Kock has had a fantastic year in limited-overs cricket for South Africa - the only format he was afforded selection - with 928 runs, including four centuries. He is the obvious player to come into the Test side, and as a wicketkeeper, he has an added string to his bow. Some will say he is too young to fill Kallis' enormous shoes, but someone has to. In spite of his inexperience, de Kock has shown considerable ticker in his performances so far.
8. Darren Sammy (The West Indies)
West Indies' beleaguered captain is chronically unable to lead from the front, and must show some more substance. His toothless bowling produced eight Test wickets in nine innings in 2013, and his Test batting average of just 21 is not exactly dynamite. He is economical and steady, but he is clearly picked only because he is the captain. He continues to be a solid ODI performer, but he needs to do more in Test cricket.
9. R Ashwin (India)
Ninety-five of Ashwin's 104 Test wickets have come in India, which does not take away anything from his achievements, but suggest he struggles away from home. When his side plays England in five Tests in 2014, he will be desperate to make the XI ahead of Pragyan Ojha or Ravindra Jadeja. He must secure his spot in the side by developing a stock ball, and learning to use variations more intelligently. Until he does that, he will never have success where there is less spin to be had.
10. Steven Finn (England)
In 2011, Steven Finn became England's youngest bowler to 50 wickets, at the age of 22 years and 63 days. He was set to be the next big thing but failed. He struggled for control, and even when he got wickets, they have been expensive. His aim for 2014 should be to settle his action. He is clearly a good bowler, and has performed well in limited-overs cricket. If he can develop a consistent and reliable action, success could come his way.
11. Ishant Sharma (India)
How do you solve a problem like Ishant Sharma? His robotic bowling lacks the emotion that a fast bowler should have, sometimes more stiff and unimaginative than a bowling machine. Twelve Test wickets at an average of 48.16 in 2013 have only reinforced his dire 2012 showing of seven Test wickets at 75.57. He is only 25 years old, despite having been around since 2008; but time is running out regardless of his age. Only for so long can India continuously pick this uninspiring and ineffective bag of unfulfilled potential.
Other contenders: Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon.
If you have a submission for Inbox, send it to us here, with "Inbox" in the subject line
Jack Mendel writes about cricket on the Sideline Agenda and runs his own blog, Stumpycricket. He tweets hereFeeds: Jack Mendel
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
Think the world needs to read your opinions on cricket? Here's your chance to be published on ESPNcricinfo.FAQ ►
The attritional finish at Newlands and Afridi's ballistic batting at the Asia...
He is huge, monstrous, violent. In his hand, leather balls are grenades. At t...
Revisiting McCullum-Watling and other glorious chapters from the ever-burgeon...