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The men’s Test cricket team of the year: from Williamson to Sharma | Cricket

The Guardian’s men’s Test team of the yr is again, for its eighth version. This yr’s selectors have been Ali Martin, Jonathan Liew, Rob Smyth, Emma John, Adam Collins, Tim de Lisle and myself. Eagle-eyed readers might spot that there’s not a single Australian in it. That has every thing to do with the incontrovertible fact that after we picked our XI (earlier than the Boxing Day Exams) the team had performed solely three Exams this yr, all at house, and nothing to do with the Australian selector being outnumbered six to one. Promise.

1) Rohit Sharma, India

906 runs at 48

A unanimous decide. Made vital contributions throughout India’s sequence win in Australia, then stepped up a gear when he made a match-defining 161 in India’s 317-run victory towards England on a spinning pitch in the second Test in Chennai. He adopted that with 15 consecutive double-figures innings, a run that completed together with his first abroad century, one other match-winning innings towards England, in very completely different circumstances, throughout their 157-run victory in the fourth Test at the Oval. Finishes the yr as India’s white ball captain, so one of the most influential males in world cricket.

2) Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka

902 runs at 69

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The captaincy has been the making of Karunaratne, who had the finest yr of his lengthy profession. Away from house, his 103 was the one brilliant spot in an embarrassing defeat to South Africa at the Wanderers, and he additionally batted 4 hours to safe a attract the second Test on tour in West Indies. England’s 2-0 victory in Sri Lanka might need labored out in a different way if he’d been match, as a result of his house kind has been imperious. He made 244, and 118 towards Bangladesh, and 147 towards West Indies. Is averaging 50 as skipper.

Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, in action against the West Indies.
Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, in motion towards West Indies. {Photograph}: Ishara S Kodikara/AFP/Getty Photographs

3) Kane Williamson, New Zealand (captain)

395 runs at 66

Williamson has been fighting an elbow harm, which he nursed by way of excursions of England and India. It meant that greater than half his runs got here in a single innings, when he made 238 towards Pakistan in Christchurch. However he was again, and proper in the thick of it, for the largest match his team performed, the World Test Championship final towards India in Southampton. He made an over-my-dead physique 49 in the first innings, and was there unbeaten on 52 at the end. It was a becoming reward for the most spectacular captain in the sport.

4) Joe Root, England

1,708 runs at 61, 14 wickets at 30

No Englishman has had a yr fairly like Root did in 2021, when he lastly grew to become the actually dominant batsman he all the time promised to be. He began with 228 and 186 in two Exams towards Sri Lanka in Galle, and adopted that together with his monumental 218 against India in Chennai. Again house, he peeled off 109, 180* and 121 in successive matches towards India. Which meant his 89 in the first Ashes Test nearly felt like a failure. Proper now, he’s the world’s finest batsman. The disgrace is that, at the finish of all of it, his team have so few Test victories to present for it.

5) Fawad Alam, Pakistan

571 runs at 57

Ungainly, unorthodox, however irresistibly efficient, Alam lapped up a primary full yr of Test cricket. He had spent a decade ready for a second likelihood after he made his debut in 2009, 88 Exams on the sidelines, and this was his likelihood to present the Pakistan selectors what they’d been lacking. Made the prime rating of 109 in Pakistan’s victory over South Africa in Karachi, after the team had been 27 for 4, adopted it up with 140* towards Zimbabwe in Harare and 124* towards the West Indies at Sabina Park. He was the solely century-maker on both facet in all three matches.

Fawad Alam of Pakistan takes an acrobatic catch to dismiss Jermaine Blackwood of West Indies in August.
Fawad Alam of Pakistan takes an acrobatic catch to dismiss Jermaine Blackwood of West Indies in August. {Photograph}: Randy Brooks/AFP/Getty Photographs

6) Rishabh Pant, India (wicketkeeper)

706 runs at 42, 26 catches, six stumpings (not together with present Test v South Africa)

If the solely factor Pant did in 2021 was hit that one reverse-lap sweep for four off Jimmy Anderson, you’d nonetheless bear in mind his yr. Because it was, his devil-may-care batting made him one of the key gamers in India’s sequence victory in Australia, the place he made a vital 97 in the draw at Sydney and a rare 89* in the win at Brisbane. He labored over England, too, with 91, 58*, and 101 in the sequence at house. His kind fell away on the return tour later in the summer time however he nonetheless completed with a fantastic 50 at the Oval.

7) Ravichandran Ashwin, India

337 runs at 28, 52 wickets at 16 (not together with present Test v South Africa)

Ashwin performed solely eight of India’s 13 Exams this yr, and one way or the other he nonetheless ended up as the main wicket-taker in Test cricket (at the time of writing). After years of ceaseless tinkering and pondering, he has turned himself into the best spin bowler of his period. At house, he’s unplayable. He picked up 32 wickets in 4 Exams against England, and one other 14 in two house Exams towards New Zealand. In amongst all that, he made a good-looking century against England in Chennai, and was unbeaten on 39 at stumps when India drew in Sydney.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin has become a supreme spin bowler after years of tinkering.
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin has change into a supreme spin bowler after years of tinkering. {Photograph}: Christiaan Kotze/AFP/Getty Photographs

8) Jason Holder, West Indies

253 runs at 23, 22 wickets at 23

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Holder might have misplaced the captaincy after 5 and a half years in cost when the selectors changed him together with his good friend Kraigg Brathwaite, however he has a lot to be getting on with, batting at No 6 or 7, typically opening the bowling, and catching bullets in the field. His batting has suffered, though he performed two essential innings when he made 71* in a draw towards Sri Lanka and 58 in a victory over Pakistan, and his parsimonious medium tempo means he’s at present the world’s top-ranked all-rounder.

9) Kyle Jamieson, New Zealand

27 wickets at 18

Took to Test cricket like he had been constructed for it in a laboratory hidden someplace in the reaches of New Zealand’s south island. He destroyed Pakistan when he took 11 for 117 in Christchurch at the begin of the yr and at the second it mattered most turned in a man-of-the-match efficiency in the World Test championship last. He took seven wickets in the match, together with five for 31 in the first innings when he dismissed Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli once they have been threatening to run away with the recreation.

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10) Jasprit Bumrah, India

25 wickets at 29 (not together with present Test v South Africa)

Bumrah is method off the kind of electrical kind he confirmed in his first yr of Test cricket however together with his clockwork toy motion and depraved yorker, he’s one of the reliably entertaining bowlers in the recreation. He dominated England in the first Test of India’s summer time tour at Trent Bridge, the place he took 4 low cost wickets in a single innings and 5 extra in the different, and was even higher in India’s victory at the Oval, the place he turned the recreation on its head with a wildfire six-over spell on a tarmac-flat observe late on the fifth day.

11) Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan

47 wickets at 17

Nonetheless solely 21, Afridi has grown into the most electrical participant on the worldwide circuit. His devilish left-arm tempo, all waspish full balls and ripping bouncers, minimize by way of each team he’s performed this yr. He has taken wickets in New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and towards South Africa in Pakistan, however was at his finest in the second Test towards West Indies at Sabina Park, the place he took career-best figures of 10 for 94.

That is an extract from the Guardian’s weekly cricket e-mail, The Spin. To subscribe and get the full version, simply go to this web page and observe the directions.

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