Five players to keep an eye on in the T20 World Cup group stage

With just four teams going through to the Super 12 stage, any player could lead their country to World Cup glory.

The wait is finally over and after what feels like 9 million warm-up matches the T20 World Cup is finally here with the group stage where we will see some of the best associate nations take to the world stage.

Sri Lanka and the West Indies will be two countries disappointed that they have to qualify for the Super 12s while Ireland, the UAE, Netherlands, Scotland, Zimbabwe and Namibia will all be battling it out to play against the likes of Australia, England, India and Pakistan.

With many casual cricket fans not always paying attention to some of these teams, here are five of the best to keep an eye on in this group stage.

Tom Cooper (Netherlands)

Many fans of the game in Autralia will be thinking, is that the same Tom Cooper who has popped up on our screens every Big Bash for the last decade as well as playing plenty of cricket for South Australia? Indeed it is.

After a brief stint more than nine years ago with the Dutch side and after the retirement of his brother Ben from the side, Tom has now linked up with the squad once again.

Cooper will provide some much needed experience through the middle order as well as providing some much needed local knowledge on bouncy Australian pitches.

With a T20I record averaging 27 at a strike rate of just over 130, Cooper has yet to reach his potential. But Cooper has shown in his BBL past that he has the ability to accelerate quickly as well as bowl some handy overs.

David Wiese (Namibia)

Wiese is another that's playing for his adopted country after having being born in South Africa and playing for the rainbow nation before more recently making the move to Namibia and being part of that nation's cricket growth.

Recently Wiese was a standout in the 2021 T20 World Cup hitting vital lower order runs including a half century at a strike rate of more than 150. Those batting skills as well as consistent bowling skills will provide Namibia with that something extra that they need to compete with some of the best sides in the world.

Weise is coming off a solid Hundred in England with the bat having struck 150 runs in seven matches at a strike rate of 182 as well as taking seven wickets. If Namibia is to make it to the second stage of the tournament, Wiese will be the key ingredient.

Akeal Hosein (West Indies)

You only have to go back two T20 World Cups ago to find the West Indies being an absusletly dominant side full of superstars. However, with the retimrent of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and the non-selection of a couple of others, the West Indies no longer look like that dominant side.

One man who will be hoping to remedy that situation is Akeal Hosein who Australian fans will most likely remember from recently being picked up for the Melbourne Renegades in the BBL Draft.

Most recently though, Akeal Hosein played in the West Indies second T20I against Australia bowling three overs without reward. Over the last 12 months though he has performed incredibly taking 23 wickets at an economy rate of just more than six and half runs an over.

His ability to bowl tight, not really spin the ball but get plenty of overpsin will be important especially on the early pitches the West Indies will play on. His side should easily get through the first half of the competition but then the real test begins, will he be up to it?

Blessing Muzarabani (Zimbabwe)

it's unfortunate that Australian audiences didn't get to see Muzrabani through Zimbabawe's tour of Australia a couple of months ago. There certainly aren't many bowlers who stand over two metres tall and can bowl 140km/h while still swinging the ball around corners, but the young Zimbabwean is one.

His strike rate of taking more than one wicket per match is key for Zimabwbe as they need to break through top orders early just as they did to Australia in Townsville. However, there will be questions over his fitness after having not played a T20I match since July.

His figures of 0/27 from two overs in Zimbabwe's warm up match are certainly not indicitivate of where this fast-paced bowler can be going forward. In fact, there has been plenty of speculation around him becoming one of the first Zimbabwean men to pick up an IPL contract and a good performance at this tournament would certainly help those claims.

With Zimbabwe playing the group stage of the tournament in Hobart there is no doubt Muzrabani will be dangerous on the green seaming Tasmanian wickets. The only question for Zimbabwe is whether their batters can post good enough scores to give Muzrabani a chance.

Harry Tector (Ireland)

He may just be 22 years of age but there is no doubt Tector is the future of Irish cricket. While the golden generation of Joyce, Porterfield, and the O'Brien brothers is largely finished, there is a younger generation coming through and Tector is leading that charge.

Since being selected for the national side at just 18 years of age he's played 44 T20I matches averaging 24 and striking at 130. His most impressive innings in that time being a 50-ball 64 against a strong Indian bowling line up.

Tector possesses the strength to clear any rope in the world as well as playing 360 degree cricket. His form has been so good of late that's he way picked up in the SA20 and will no doubt become the captain of Ireland sooner rather than later.

Most recently though he made a two ball duck against Namibia in Ireland's warm up match, being dismissed by spinner Jan Frylink. If Ireland is to post big totals they will certinaly be relying on Tector as well as Paul Striling at the top of the order.