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Likely Matchwinners

A look at potential stars from the South African, English, Australian, Kiwi and Zimbabwe teams

Likely Matchwinners
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Teamwork is a vital ingredient for success in any competitive sport. All players need to realise and accept their responsibility and to accept the challenges offered them when playing sport at a representative level.

When players complement each other by doing their jobs to the very best of their ability and understanding not only the expectations placed on themselves but also the roles and responsibilities of their team-mates, the team will be well on the way to success. Individuals, however, can still show their flair, talent or skill and be recognised as having made a significant contribution to the team's victory.

Australia have a very well-balanced team, which contains a number of players, all match winning individuals. The three W's—Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh and Shane Warne—are all exciting players, but what about Michael Slater, Mark Taylor, Craig McDermott, Ian Healy or David Boon who have produced magnificent performances over the years?

New Zealand have potential match winners in Martin Crowe and Chris Cairns while young players like Nathan Astle and Stephen Fleming have some real talent.

England have the steadiness of Mike Atherton and the skills of Graeme Hick, with Dominic Cork emerging as a useful all-rounder.

South Africa have the gusty Gary Kirsten and the explosive pace attack of Alan Donald and Brett Schultz and the accuracy of Fanie De Villiers.

Zimbabwe could rise to the challenge through the experience of the Flower brothers, Andy and Grant, while their pace bowler, Heath Street has made quite an impact on world cricket.

On taking a closer look at these players, it is Australia which stand out for having produced so many quality players over many years.

There is no finer example than Shane Warne, who is a bowler of immense talent and possibly the number one bowler in world cricket today. There is an air of expectancy when he is tossed the ball and, invariably, he responds. Warne has developed some wonderful skills and it is interesting to watch his mannerisms.

My team would like to have the services of Mark Waugh. He bats beautifully at number three, his bowling is more than useful and he is an outstanding fielder.

New Zealand's Chris Cairns and Stephen Fleming are very inexperienced by world standards at this level, with neither having yet played 40 one-day international matches. However, they both have the potential to be great players. Cairns burst onto the scene in 1990 and although he has been a match winner for New Zealand since then, he has been unable to cement a regular place in the team until this season. Cairns has the ability to be an explosive batsman. In 1995, he produced a match-winning performance when he scored 103 against India in India.

 David Gower always impressed me with his grace, elegance and timing as a batsman. Fleming has those rare qualities, although he hasn't shown the consistency needed at this level.

 We haven't seen much of Derbyshire's all-rounder, Dominic Cork, but he made a big impact against the West Indies in England in 1995, being named England's player of the series.

Hick has been something of an enigma in English and international cricket. His obvious talent and skill are there to see year after year as he has dominated the country scene. He has played some of the best attacks in the world but at the highest level he has appeared to lack confidence and consistency.

One-day cricket is about keeping the opposition's runs to an absolute minimum. South Africa's Fanie De Villiers is the only bowler in world cricket today who has the economy rate of around 3 runs per over. He is a wonderful bowler who can always be relied upon to bowl with a thoughtful and consistent line and length. If he is bowled for 10 overs and has figures of 0-30, he has done a fantastic job of containment

 Zimbabwe may not rate highly as a top side in this competition, but they are likely to cause an upset somewhere along the line. They may not have too many known fancied players in their lineup. However, some Zimbabwe players have still managed to impress even with the limited amount of cricket they get. Of the nine major cricket-playing nations, they are the least experienced at both Test and one-day levels. But two of their players, Andy and Grant Flower, will be determined to prove a point and show that they can be competitive. Andy captained Zimbabwe when they beat Pakistan in their first-ever cricket Test match. To say that he is versatile—he is a left handed batsman, wicket keeper and off-spin bowler—hardly seems to do him justice.

Brother Grant is a right-handed batsman and left-arm slow bowler who has the highest score of 84 not out and best bowling figures of 3-15. Last season he scored Zimbabwe's first double Test century with a score of 201 not out.

Zimbabwe's right-arm, medium fast bowler, 20-year-old Heath Streak, had an outstanding last season when he took 22 Test wickets at 12.77. He played for Hampshire in English county cricket and picked up a further 50 first class wickets. At such a young age, he is obviously still very inexperienced at an international level. But he has all the hallmarks of a top-class performer.

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