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 8 and 9
You voted Misbah ul Haq, Asad Shafiq and Quinton de Kock as your favorite middle-order batsmen. Who makes up the tail-enders?
Ashwin has been instrumental in India’s phenomenal record and his numbers speak for themselves. He has added more variations in his arsenal and doesn’t give any sniff to the batsmen. Many batters struggle to rotate strike against him which means that it becomes easier for him to work them out. He was declared man of the series against South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand. He has played a vital role in thrashing the opposition and has stood out with his performances with the bat as well. He scores vital runs and has formed long partnerships which have frustrated the opposition big time.
Yasir had a terrific series against England in UAE. He snaffled Alastair Cook, England’s finest player of spin, thrice in four innings. He enjoyed the low, skiddy wickets and bit of turn made his straighter one even more effective. The best moment for him came at Lord’s where his ten wickets guided Pakistan to a 75 run win over England. He was taken apart at Old Trafford and wasn’t that effective at Edgbaston. Pakistan’s 214 run lead at Oval gave Yasir that sniff and he picked a five-for in the 2nd innings and also a chance to level the series. He had an excellent series against West Indies and who can forget that diving catch to dismiss Darren Bravo in the day and night Test match. Yasir had a very poor series against Australia and that’s where his and Misbah’s field placements were appalling.
Herath is undoubtedly the best spinner after Muralitharan and we aren’t surprised to see him here. A wily operator who invites the batsmen to get forward, deceives them in the air (with the drift and flight) and lets the ball do the talking. It’s his relentless accuracy that doesn’t allow the batters to rotate the strike a lot and then he builds the pressure. He ran through the inexperienced West Indian line up, demolished Australian batting by picking 28 wickets in the series. He led his side to victory against Zimbabwe in the absence of Angelo Mathews.
Ravindra Jadeja has formed a successful partnership with Ashwin and has complemented him extremely well. Jadeja doesn’t give away any easy runs and can become unplayable because of the pace at which he bowls. We have seen so many times that right handed batters play him for the turn and when it runs straight on, it opens the gate and also hits them right in front of the stumps. He got the better of Alastair Cook six times by closing off his scoring areas, getting the ball to spin and undoing him in length. Jadeja had a very good run against the teams he played against and is a useful batsman down the order as well.
Since the retirement of Mitchell Johnson, Starc has been the spearhead of Australia’s pace attack. He had to miss the home series against West Indies and tour to New Zealand after suffering from a stress fracture in his right foot. He made a comeback against Sri Lanka where he bowled with a lot of venom, pushing the batsmen back with his quick short-pitched stuff and then floating it up. Starc bagged 24 wickets in that series but didn’t get support from his fellow batsmen as they succumbed to spin. Starc’s performance against Pakistan has been satisfactory, though at times he didn’t bowled the right length to pick up more wickets.
Wagner is a kind of bowler who hits the deck hard and uses short pitched delivery to a terrific effect. We have seen so many times Wagner playing on the batsmen’s minds’ by bouncing them out. He isn’t your rapidly quick bowler but his pin-point accuracy and steep bounce surely baffles a lot of batsmen. He did well on the tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa but he got under the skin of Pakistan batsmen well, as the visitors aren’t used to the peppering back in the UAE. Batters try to pull/hook him and often get beaten by the extra pace and bounce. His shorter deliveries make the full ball effective as a lot of batsmen tend to hang back to him.
Amir made his comeback to Test cricket from where he left off (at Lord’s) and did reasonably well on the England tour. The wickets tally could have been more but he was unlucky to get a lot of dropped catches off his bowling. His opening spells have been decent but hasn’t done well with the older ball. Pakistan bowlers have come under the radar for not hitting the right areas and we saw that in tours of New Zealand and Australia. His average is on the higher side but knowing his ability, he is a far better bowler.
Trent Boult is the spearhead of New Zealand’s attack and his ability to swing the ball back in to the right handers makes him a tough opponent. He didn’t enjoy a lot of success in the first two Tests against Australia (in Australia) but made a good comeback in the 3rd Test. Hasn’t picked up a lot of wickets as his captain would have liked and that has mainly because he didn’t find a lot of swing but he relished the conditions in South Africa, picking up the wickets of their best batsmen. Conditions in India don’t favor swing bowling but Boult had a decent run in India. Overall, he did well but still he would have liked to pick up more wickets at a better average.