We already had a blog on him few weeks back. Of the whole lot ,he looks the best by some distance already and had a meteoric rise. Had a quiet debut in 2018 ,he played an impressive knock of 38 batting at 3 against a quality attack of India in January 2019, but his real impact came in the gripping Ashes series in 2019 ,when he came out as a concussed substitute to replace Smith in Lords test and played a fine match saving 59 on last day on a wearing pitch and also countering Jofra Archer thunderbolts after being ferociously hit on the grill off Archer on his 2nd ball. He was brilliant in the remaining test matches , battling in critical situations with solid technique and exemplary temperament ending the series scoring 353 runs at 50 average. If that was not enough, he converted himself into a run machine in the Australian summer of 5 tests scoring 4 big hundreds and outscoring the more illustrious Smith and Warner. With 1400 plus test runs at a high 60s average ,Marnus has shown great attributes of solid defence , classy strokeplay all round the wicket and above all immense concentration and resilience . He is a brilliant close in fielder and a decent leggie capable of giving breakthroughs . His enormous energy on the field and his quality batting has already earned heaps of praise from Indian captain Virat Kohli. Labuschagne has already shot up the test batting points table and is threatening to upstage both Kohli and Smith . He is now a fixed number 3 in Australian lineup. A high quality player and is sure to dominate test cricket in 2020s.
Ollie Pope :
Young Pope had a quiet start to his test career in the India series in 2018 .He was showing his talent in first class cricket and was knocking at the test doors till an extended poor run by Johny Bairstow opened up a middle order spot in the current test series vs South Africa . Finally his moment came with a brilliant 135 notout against a quality South African bowling attack at Port Elizabeth in a winning cause after series was locked at 1-1 after 1st 2 tests. His exciting strokeplay has reminded many experts of Ian Bell. Currently batting at 6 in his fledging career ,he is surely going to go up the order in a higher middle order spot. England needs some solidity in their test batting and Pope looks a great candidate to provide that.
Nortje had a quiet debut vs India in India on flat batting tracks but with his strong build , he managed to extract enough life from the docile Indian pitches with deliveries clocking at 90 miles plus. However his best moment came in the 1st test of England series where he troubled all the England batsmen with his pace and hostility taking 5 wickets in the game . Even as a batter he contributed as a nightwatchman scoring a dogged and resilient 40 to wear down the England bowlers in a winning cause. Though he continued to bowl with pace getting his share of wickets and batting with determination, South Africa lost to England twice after to trail the series. In difficult times of South African cricket Nortje has arrived as a fast bowler who can reach the heights of his predecessors if continues to maintain his pace, form and fitness and he is already an automatic choice in the Test XI.
When India toured Australia in 2018 for the test series, it was Prithvi Shaw and not Mayank Agarwal who was on the touring party. However a freak injury in the side game and subsequent return back to India of Shaw paved the way for Mayank to play the boxing day test immediately on arrival in Australia as a replacement, and what a debut series he had against a top class bowling attack. 2 scores of 70 plus launched him into test cricket and barring a mix series in West Indies, Mayank never looked back notching up 2 tons vs South Africa and 1 ton vs Bangladesh ( which includes 2 double) in home season of 2019-20 by forging a strong opening partnership with Rohut Sharma . The whole of India now awaits Mayank and Rohit’s opening combination to fire in overseas. Mayank has shown solid defence and a wide array of attacking shots and a very good player of spin too. He like the others mentioned above look a strong long term prospect .
The years 2020 and 2021 will be vital for all the above players as it is a well known fact that opposition will observe and get more familiar with their game and formulate strategies to blunt their effectiveness and that will be a real test of character for Mayank , Marnus and Co.