As we bid farewell to 2016, we look back on a momentous year for test cricket and ask our readers to nominate their dream #TestTeamOfTheYear. Voting is now open for positions 10 and 11!
You voted Yasir Shah and Mohammad Amir as your favorite No. 8 and No.9. Who makes up Number 10 and 11?
Growing up idolizing one of the greatest right-arm medium-fasts to have set foot in the Test arena, Glenn McGrath, Josh Hazlewood’s immaculate line and lengths kept the batsmen in two minds when it came to choosing on which foot they had to tackle his good-length deliveries. Emerging as a regular in the Australian Test set-up after the retirement of Ryan Harris, the 26-year-old has struck on crucial occasions to help his side regain momentum. Sharing the new ball with Mitchell Starc, he picked up six wickets during Australia’s consolation victory during their second day-night Test in Adelaide against South Africa and finished as the highest wicket-taker in the three-match series with 17 wickets. He remained an instrumental weapon for Steven Smith during Australia’s fourth consecutive whitewash of Pakistan during the recently concluded Test series and was, once again, the leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps at an economy rate of less than two per over.
From 313 in the first innings to an abysmal 83 in the second, Stuart Broad decimated the South African batting line-up at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg to hand England a 0-2 series win with one Test to spare during the third Test of the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy almost a year ago. Virtually unplayable at home with the famous pronounced-seam Dukes balls, the 30-year-old took 4-fers thrice during 2016.
To a side that possesses top-notch batsmen and spry men in the field, Mohammed Shami, with his pace and reverse-swing, is the final piece that completes the puzzle. Having missed out the first half of 2016 due to a hamstring injury, the right-armer made return with a four for 66, his best figures of the year, to help India orchestrate a comprehensive victory by a margin of an innings and 92 runs against the West Indies at Antigua. In his 10 matches during 2016, he leaked less than three runs per over and with his skillful lateral movement – both in the air and off the wicket – he provided assistance to his spinners by maintaining the pressure during the home contests.
After having not picked up a single wicket in the last innings of the final Test against Sri Lanka, Chris Woakes announced himself as an effective contender with match figures of 11 for 102 against Pakistan in a lost cause at Lord’s. His pace and control over the ball saw him take 26 wickets in the four Test matches against Pakistan at home, the most by a bowler during the series. He conceded 435 runs at a remarkable average of 16.7 during the series. After his 2015 was marred by injuries, the late-summer of 2016 spoke volumes about the 27-year-old’s grit and hard work.
One of the biggest challenges a national selection panel faces is ensuring the smooth transition from a bowling line-up in its twilight years to new faces having the same venom as their predecessors. With Kagiso Rabada having already established himself as a genuine contender to lead the Proteas pace attack at just 21, the South African selectors can take a sigh of relief. Rabada became the center of attention during the U-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2014 when he played a pivotal role in his country’s successful campaign. He started off 2016 by becoming the youngest South African to take a 10-wicket haul in a Test match against England in the absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. He picked up five 5-wicket hauls and three man-of-the-match awards during 2016.
In the age of hi-tech match coverage with an abundance of team analysts helping batsmen in decoding bowlers’ techniques, James Anderson manages to get the better of batsmen with his mysterious ‘wobble-seam’ deliveries. Having noted himself down as England’s most prolific Test bowler by becoming the only Englishman with 400 Test wickets, Anderson ripped through the Sri Lankan batting line-up during their early summer tour of the British Isles in 2016. He took 21 wickets at a phenomenal average of 10.80. Not many have the ability to move the ball in the air regardless of its state, but the 34-year-old possesses the all-important ability to rattle the best of the best line-ups around the world.
In this day and age when the primary focus of a fast bowler is on generating pace, this medium-paced right-armer banks on the ability to turn the ball miles in the air. With a rare talent to swing the ball in both directions, Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two 5-wicket hauls in 2016. He played far too few games – just four Tests – last year, but he did so at an impressive strike-rate of 39.
The latest high-profile casualty to the Kolpak phenomena, Kyle Abbott retired from international cricket earlier this year due to his frustration over his irregular position in the South African line-up. The pace and swing that recently pulverized the Australian batting line-up at Sydney will now be a weapon for Hampshire in the county circuit. Without having taking his board and fellow players into confidence, the right-armer signed the Kolpak deal with the county which was unveiled during the second Test against Sri Lanka and it proved to be his final international outing. He remained wicket-less throughout the Test, perhaps due to the toll of the deal, after having taken 18 wickets in the last six innings.