As a fan of the sport, there is rarely anything as fun and genuinely exciting as watching promising youngsters taking on the big guns of cricket and standing their ground. Here are five of them who stand out as the next big thing in cricket. The only criteria of this list that is objective is the age of the cricketers, all of whom have to be under 23 to make it into this list. That means I will have to exclude many promising young talent such as Babar Azam from Pakistan, simply because they are a few months too old to be included. Also notable is how there are no Australian or English players on this list. This is due to the fact that in those countries, most cricketers have their international debuts after this cutoff age.
Shadab Khan (Pakistan)
The youngest player on the list, the only reason I’ve put this promising leggie so far below is because he’s still relatively untested. At the ripe old age of 19, he has already played 17 ODI matches, 13 T20I matches and a solitary test match as a member of the national team. Technically a bowling all-rounder in the domestic circuit, his claim to fame in ODI’s come from his stellar bowling performances against West Indies. Leg break bowlers are very rare to find in the age of T20I cricket, and even rarer is to find a leggie who can take wickets yet keep pressure on the batsmen. Considering the fact that he has the record for having the most economical figures in a T20I debut, he’s proven that he can do the latter. He was also a part of the Pakistani squad that won the 2017 Champions Trophy. His maiden fifty against Sri Lanka in an ODI on the 17 of October, 2017 also shows batting prowess.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
The second youngest player on this list is a bit more recognizable for having a stint in the 2017 IPL with Sunrisers Hydrabad and in BPL with Comilla Victorians. Rashid Khan is also the second leg spinner on the list, and the reason he’s rated above the previous entry is because unlike Shadab, he is a proven talent. He became the youngest player to top the ODI bowlers ranking this February. He would also end up topping the T20I’s bowler ranking the same month. He also became the youngest player to captain an international side this March during the World Cup Qualifier, at the age of 19 years and 165 days. Having broken the record for reaching the 100 wicket mark for ODI’s in only 44 matches, Rashid Khan is already going places no Afghan cricketer has gone before.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz (Bangladesh)
The first Bangladeshi to enter the list is the wily off break bowler and right handed batsman, Mehedy Hasan Miraz. Not to be confused with the procession of Mehedy’s before him in Bangladeshi cricket, Miraz made his mark as the captain of the under-19 side that made it to the semifinals of the 2016 Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He would lead the team to victory in the 3rd place play off, beating Sri Lanka. He was also named the player of the tournament, having scored 242 runs and taken 12 wickets in 6 matches. The reason I have ranked this 20-year-old higher than the last two is because of the dream debut series he had against England. Having seen how good he was in the Under-19 world cup, there was no doubt in the minds of the Bangladeshi selectors that they had found a rare talent, and Miraz paid back the trust in full. Despite being a spin bowler, he opened the bowling in the first test match against fellow debutant Ben Duckett and managed to turn him into his first wicket. He became Bangladesh’s seventh and youngest player to pick up a five-wicket haul on the debut test. In the next test match, he would become the 6th player in history to have taken three five-wicket hauls in the first two matches. He would also become the first Bangladeshi in history to get the man of the series award on debut.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
A name sure to trigger PTSD in the regular Bangladeshi cricket fan, Kagiso Rabada is a speed demon from the land of the Proteas. His ODI debut was against Bangladesh, and he completely ruined any chance for them to win by plucking out 6 wickets for only 16 runs. As a Bangladesh fan myself, it’s hard not to be traumatized by the event. This only shows why he is ranked so high on this list. He would also become only the second player in history to pick up a hat-trick on ODI debut, behind only Bangladeshi spinner, Taijul islam. The 20-year-old would also become South Africa’s youngest to have a 10-wicket haul in a test match. The figure of 13 wickets for 144 runs would also become the second best bowling figure by a South African cricketer in tests, behind the Protea legend Makhaya Ntini. He already has taken 143 wickets after having played only 30 tests, with an outstanding bowling average of 21.59 at the time of writing this. With similar figures across the formats, it’s hard to see how he won’t end up with hundreds of international wickets by the end of his career.
Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh)
The 22-year-old left arm seamer is my choice for the best young prospect in cricket right now. The reason for picking him is simple: by the end of his debut ODI series, he had already made an argument for being possibly the greatest fast bowler the country has produced. He had already shown his merit in his international debut against Pakistan in a T20I match in April, 2015, having taken the wickets of Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez. He would become a superstar in a few months, taking a record breaking five wicket haul in both of his first ODI matches against India. We would finish the series with 13 wickets as Bangladesh would win their first ODI series against India. He would also star in the following series against South Africa, helping Bangladesh win it 2-1. He has since established himself as the centerpiece in the Bangladeshi bowling line up, as well as becoming a superstar in the IPL and other leagues around the world. He has dealt with injury for much of 2017, but has recently been rehabbed and come back to punish batsmen. His immense potential and miserly ODI bowling average of only 16 runs per wicket is why I’m placing the 2016 ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year as the most promising young cricketer in the world right now.