When all is not well, when there is a gap to be filled, then fresh blood is called for. It is a proud moment to put on your country’s colours and represent it on the field. Even spectators appreciate the wonderful sight of a debutant who gets into the flow. A dark horse, no one can predict for certain when he is capable off once he steps onto the green. As he sheds his nerves and finds himself, it is a sight well worth the wait. Several cricketers who have gotten off to a flying start this year but we look the ones who distinguished themselves the most in 2016.
With Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra ahead of him, Jayant Yadav's chances of making the playing XI looked slim. However, the off-spinner got his chance in the second Test between India and England. With 42 first-class matches behind him, Yadav has enough experience in first class cricket and would go on to score 35 runs in a vital 64-run stand with fellow spinner Ashwin. His easy action with the ball impressed as well, displaying vigour in the field to pick up a wicket. An admirable overall performance was further improved upon a few days later, when he would go on to become the first Indian to score a century while batting at the No. 9 spot. His heroics earned him the earnest praise of his skipper and partner, Virat Kohli.
Haseeb Hameed broke a record before he even started batting as he became the youngest opening batsman for England at 19 years and 297 days. His age, however, was not reflected in his demeanour. Calm and assured, he notched up a steady 31 and 82 runs on his debut to become England’s youngest half-centurion. A very good player of spin, his sound defence helped him cope better against the Indian bowlers. Of Indian heritage, his father was a self-taught cricketer while he himself travelled to India to train at the age of 16, going on to play for Lancashire. Later in the series, the 19-year-old would go on to wow the nation by hitting a fighting fifty with a shattered finger.
Colin de Grandhomme
Kiwi cricketer, Colin de Grandhomme, made his debut later than most. In the crosshairs of New Zealand selectors for a while, Colin finally earned a place in the Test squad thanks to his performance with bat and ball at the first-class level. A consummate batsman, he ironically got his international debut was off to a dream start thanks to his skill with the ball. Surprising the opposition, he proved to be devastating to Pakistan, picking up 6 wickets for 41 runs to send them crashing, ultimately to a defeat. His wait for a Test cap might have been a long one but it makes his debut all the more sweet.
The Australian cricket team was looking for a change, an infusion of younger players and one of the first on the list was Peter Handscomb. At 25 years of age, the youngster captained Australia A before getting a chance to make his debut for the national side. One of the best players of spin in the country, Handscomb is a welcome addition to his team. He made a statement with his debut, bringing up an unbeaten half-century against South Africa and followed it up a month later with a maiden Test hundred against Pakistan as wickets fell around him. With captain Steve Smith suitably impressed, the future looks bright for this young man.
Another Australian to impress his captain is Matt Renshaw. The Australian team’s poor performance in the first two Tests in South Africa saw a space open for the southpaw to make his debut along with fellow rookie Handscomb. Renshaw brought up 71 in his second test, playing beautifully under pressure. He might be 20 years old and is known to possess an aggressive streak, reminding many of a certain Matthew Hayden. This is an exciting new time for Australia and these young guns have the potential to make a great impact.
A former captain of the South African Under-19 squad, 24-year-old Keaton Jennings was able to commit to England thanks to his mother’s nationality. When Hameed injured his finger playing against India, Keaton Jennings got a chance to start off his Test career. Nearly getting caught early on, he settled down to bring up a century in difficult conditions in India. While his was a dream start, he was unable to replicate the feat a second time as he got out for a duck. However, he has shown enough to merit a longer run in the squad as him and Hameed could be the answer to England’s top order woes.