Players with immense possibilities

With the emergence of talented players such as Peter Forrest and Mitchell Starc, the future of Australian cricket looks very bright. Over to S. Dinakar.

Watching Peter Forrest bat soothes your senses. His footwork and mind appear to be in harmony. And he has some style about his batting. He does not bludgeon the ball in a stand-and-deliver manner with a heavy bat like several modern-day batsmen do. Forrest gets to the pitch of the ball and then times it well.

Among the younger Australian batsmen, Forrest appears most likely to follow in the footsteps of the great Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, who revel in footwork.

The turnaround in Forrest's career after he left New South Wales — where he was struggling to make the first eleven — for Queensland has been remarkable. He not only finds himself in the Australian one-day side but has also made the headlines. The switch, no doubt, has worked for Forrest.

Before his failure against India at the SCG, Forrest had created some sort of ODI history for Australia. With 238, he had more runs than any other Australian batsman in his first four ODI innings. The selectors picked Forrest as much for his potential as his domestic form this season and the 26-year-old batsman has not disappointed.

Indeed, Forrest's century against Sri Lanka in Hobart was high on quality. There were no rough edges in his batting. Some of his strokes were underlined by class. He sashayed down the track and drove with poise and placement. Fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara was creamed through covers. Forrest also skipped down for a rousing straight six off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

He is a batsman who uses the depth of the crease well. Forrest often goes back to shorten the length. The Australian can unsettle bowlers too by putting away good deliveries. A threatening yorker from Malinga was simply wristed to the mid-wicket fence.

Skipper Clarke said after the Hobart game: “The decision to bat Peter at No. 3 was about what I thought was best for the team. I myself could have batted there, Michael Hussey could have batted there, and there were a couple of other senior players but I thought it was a really good opportunity for him on a very good wicket and I'm very pleased that he made the most of it.”

Indeed, Forrest has immense possibilities. He is already pushing for a Test spot during Australia's forthcoming tour of the West Indies. Given his footwork and temperament, he appears to be the kind of player who has a future in the longest format of the game.

Clarke rates him very high. “Forrest is a very gifted player, a very good batsman and a good fielder. He has the potential to play Test cricket. The key is to make runs in whatever form of the game you're playing. Foz (Forrest) just needs to keep making runs and knocking on that door, make the selectors select him,” he said.

“Foz has a very good technique. He's a wonderful talent and could play a big part in the Australian cricket moving forward. And he has already been pretty successful for Queensland this season. He's already looking at how the other guys are going about their work in the changing room, at how we go about our work and train,” Clarke added.

Indeed, Forrest would learn much from being a part of the Australian side. And as he stays longer, his confidence will grow.

Australia has some excellent pace bowling prospects and Mitchell Starc, 22, is one of the brightest. This seamer can do some damage with the sphere.

The left-armer has an easy run-up and a natural action, and has the delivery that comes into the right-hander. A conversation with the great left-arm fast bowler from the past, Wasim Akram of Pakistan, has enabled Starc to hone his action.

Starc has a lot of things going for him. His arm is high at the point of release and his wrist position good. He invariably hits the seam.

The New South Welshman's deceptive short-pitched deliveries can open up batsmen; he uses the ball to disrupt the feet movement of the batsmen before unleashing a fuller one.

The Australian selectors might have given him a rest during the climactic phases of the Commonwealth Bank ODI series but this could enable Starc to come hard at the batsmen with renewed energy during the tour of the West Indies.

Then there are other young Australian pacemen such as James Pattinson who tormented India in the first two Tests with his pace and bounce. He has a very direct approach to fast bowling and can make life hard for the batsmen with his speed, bounce and movement. Pattinson's body language simmers with aggression.

The Australians, indeed, have some interesting talent for the future.