International cricket stars of the future: Meet the next Wasim Akram, Lasith Malinga and MS Dhoni

Sport360 staff 19:24 04/08/2017
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Star trio: Akram, Malinga, Dhoni.

World cricket is forever waiting for the next gem to be unearthed. And if the ‘next big thing’ brings back memories of an all-time legend, the level of interest rises exponentially.

Here, we take a look at three young cricketers who look set to take the world by storm and compare favorably, in our opinion, to icons of the sport.

They are not big names yet but if they live up to the promise they show in these videos, then anything’s possible.

What do you make of our three picks?

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SHAHEEN SHAH AFRIDI – THE NEXT WASIM AKRAM

The 17-year-old fast bowler from the north-western territory of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan is already 6 ft 6 tall and bowls with serious pace.

Indeed, it’s not hard to see why the left-arm quick is being compared to Wasim Akram and Mohammad Amir.

Interestingly, Shaheen was introduced to the game by elder brother Riaz Afridi, who played one Test for Pakistan in 2004.

Last year, Shaheen claimed five wickets in three games during the Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Cup in Sri Lanka – showcasing the pace and bounce he gets from his height.

If the teenager can maintain his fitness levels, it won’t be long before he gets to play for the senior team.

NUWAN THUSHARA – THE NEXT LASITH MALINGA

The subcontinent is famous for producing players who look extraordinarily similar to their role models, be it in the batting or bowling departments.

India opener Virender Sehwag admitted he tried to copy Sachin Tendulkar’s shots even at international level. When Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik started his career, his bowling action was a near perfect copy of that of spin great Saqlain Mushtaq.

And now Sri Lanka have Nuwan Thushara. The 22-year-old fast bowler for the Sinhalese Sports Club bowls with the same slingy action that made Malinga a phenomenon.

Nuwan has the pace, the swing and the yorkers to raise hopes of a fine career. As of now, he has played one first-class game and two T20s, with only two scalps in the shortest format.

GEORGE LAVELLE – THE NEXT MS DHONI

MS Dhoni is a once in a generation player. It can be dangerous to label a 17-year-old ‘the next MSD’ but the pace at which Lanchashire’s George Lavelle is rising through the ranks, it’s difficult not to wonder.

Lavelle is a right-handed batsman and a fine gloveman, who has been turning out regularly for Lancashire 2nd XI this summer.

He was named the Most Valuable player at the 2015 edition of the Bunbury Festival, an annual competition featuring the most promising Under-15 players in England.

In fact, tournament organiser David English named Lavelle in his all-time best Bunbury team, picking him ahead of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. His lightning quick stumping for the second XI against Yorkshire would make someone like Dhoni proud.

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