If there was a player that personified the new wave of talent coming from cricket’s so-called unusual outposts, it’s Shu Noguchi.
Japan’s U19 talent was thrown into the lions’ den at this year’s World Cup, though the technique and brick-wall mindset of Noguchi against the barrage of quick bowling was hugely encouraging. His grit at the top of the order was perhaps more admirable considering he only turned 17 during the tournament. Almost preferring the jump in pace at the highest level, Noguchi was not prolific in Japan’s qualification campaign, though repaid the faith by being the team’s top scorer at the tournament.
Hailing from Sano, conveniently the base of Japanese cricket, Noguchi hasn’t looked back after he was introduced to cricket as a six-year-old. Eleven years on, Noguchi gives back by coaching the next generation, perhaps imparting knowledge to future teammates. Able to keep as well, Noguchi was the backup gloveman for Marcus Thurgate.
In Japan’s continual improvement in the sport, Noguchi will almost certainly be the first name in the team’s batting order. Let’s hope he and his fellow countrymen get the chance to develop their game by competing with some of the world’s best on a more consistent basis.
How lucky cricket was when Sylvester Okpe and his brother Isaac discovered the game by accident, on October 1, 2007.
Running into a game while walking down the street during Nigerian Independence Day celebrations, Isaac fell in love straight away, though it took a little longer for Sylvester to be won over by the ‘funny game’. Now the pair play international cricket together.
Nicknamed ‘Captain Marvelous’ by his own national board’s social media pages, Okpe led Nigeria at the U19 World Cup earlier this year, and was the senior team’s leading wicket-taker at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. Loading up with a hop into the bowling crease, Sylvester springs into a textbook off-break action, and generates prodigious turn. Taking a wicket every two overs in eight T20I appearances to date, his craft and leadership will go a long way to future Nigerian success.
Born in Nawalparasi, Rohit Paudel joins a club of Nepalis who have broken cricketing world records.
Before being eclipsed by Kushal Malla, it was Paudel who usurped the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Shahid Afridi to become the youngest player to make a fifty in ODI cricket, making 55 against UAE in early 2019.
Outside of the half-century, Paudel’s ODI numbers have been underwhelming, and he was pushed out of the team at the end of 2019. Though with the quality to squeeze back into the team, and time on his side, Paudel is just one innings away from finding the formula that got him into the team. That’s if there is a solid platform domestically for him to get his mojo back.