This year’s Test cricket team for men: from Williamson to Sharma | Cricket

TThe Guardian men’s test team for men of the year is back for its eighth edition. This year’s nominees were Ali Martin, Jonathan Liew, Rob Smyth, Emma John, Adam Collins, Tim de Lisle and myself. Eagle-eyed readers may find that there is not a single Australian in it. It has everything to do with the fact that when we chose our XI (before the Boxing Day tests), the team had only played three tests this year, all at home, and had nothing to do with the Australian selector being six against one in undertal. Lift.

1) Rohit Sharma, India

906 runs on 48

A unanimous choice. Made important contributions during India’s series victory in Australia, then rose a gear as he made a match-defining 161 in India’s 317 victory over England on a spinning track in the second Test in Chennai. He followed it up with 15 consecutive double-digit innings, a race that ended with his first overseas century, another match-winning innings against England, under very different conditions, during their 157-race victory in the fourth Test at the Oval. Ends the year as India’s white ball captain, then one of the most influential men in world cricket.

2) Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka

902 runs at 69

The captaincy is created by Karunaratne, who had the best year of his long career. From home, his 103 was one bright spot in an embarrassing defeat to South Africa at the Wanderers, and he also struck four hours to secure a draw in the second Test on tour in the Caribbean. England’s 2-0 win over Sri Lanka could have worked differently if he had been in shape because his home form has been unsurpassed. He made 244 and 118 against Bangladesh and 147 against the Caribbean. Is on average 50 as a skipper.

Sri Lanka’s captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, in action against the Caribbean. Photo: Ishara S Kodikara / AFP / Getty Images

3) Kane Williamson, New Zealand (captain)

395 runs at 66

Williamson has struggled with an elbow injury that he cared for through tours in England and India. That meant more than half of his runs came in an innings as he made 238 against Pakistan in Christchurch. But he was back, and right in the middle of it, for the biggest match his team played, the World Test final against India at Southampton. He made an over-my-dead body 49 in the first round, and was undefeated at 52 at the finish. It was an appropriate reward for the most impressive captain in the sport.

4) Joe Root, England

1,708 runs on 61, 14 wickets kl 30

No Englishman has had a year like Root had in 2021, when he finally became the truly dominant batsman he always promised to be. He started with 228 and 186 in two tests against Sri Lanka in Galle, and followed that up with his monumental 218 against India in Chennai. At home again, he peeled 109, 180 * and 121 off in consecutive matches against India. Which meant his 89 in the first Ashes Test almost felt like a failure. Right now he’s the best batsman in the world. A shame is that his team at the end of it all has so few test wins to show for it.

5) Fawad Alam, Pakistan

571 runs on 57

Unusual, unorthodox, but irresistibly effective, Alam put in a first full year of test cricket. He had spent a decade waiting for a second chance after making his debut in 2009, 88 tests on the sidelines, and this was his chance to show the Pakistani voters what they had been missing. Made top score of 109 in Pakistan’s victory over South Africa in Karachi, after the team was 27 for four, it followed up with 140 * against Zimbabwe in Harare and 124 * against the West Indies at Sabina Park. He was the only centenarian on both sides in all three matches.

Fawad Alam of Pakistan takes an acrobatic catch to fire Jermaine Blackwood of the Caribbean in August.
Fawad Alam of Pakistan takes an acrobatic catch to fire Jermaine Blackwood of the Caribbean in August. Photo: Randy Brooks / AFP / Getty Images

6) Rishabh Pant, India (wicketkeeper)

706 runs on 42, 26 catches, six shots (not including current test against South Africa)

If the only thing Pant did in 2021 was hit the one reverse round sweep for four by Jimmy Anderson, you would still remember his year. As it was, his bloodthirsty batting made him one of the key players in India’s series victory in Australia, where he made a decisive 97 in a draw in Sydney and an extraordinary 89 * in the victory in Brisbane. He also worked across England with 91, 58 * and 101 in the series at home. His form dropped on the return trip later in the summer, but he still finished with a fine 50 at the Oval.

7) Ravichandran Ashwin, India

337 runs at 28, 52 wickets at 16 (not including current test against South Africa)

Ashwin played only eight of India’s 13 Tests this year, and somehow he still ended up as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket (at the time of writing). After several years of incessant nonsense and thinking, he has transformed himself into the greatest spin-bowler of his time. At home he is unplayable. He picked up 32 wickets in four Tests against England and a further 14 in two home Tests against New Zealand. Among all that, he made a beautiful century against England at Chennai, and was unbeaten at 39 on stumps when India traveled to a draw in Sydney.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin has become a superb spin bowler after many years of fiddling.
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin has become a superb spin bowler after many years of fiddling. Photo: Christiaan Kotze / AFP / Getty Images

8) Jason Holder, West Indies

253 runs on 23, 22 wickets on 23

Holder may have lost the captaincy after five and a half years in the lead when voters replaced him with his friend Kraigg Brathwaite, but he has plenty to get on with, hitting number 6 or 7, and often opening the bowling alley, and to catch bullets in the field. His batting has suffered even though he played two crucial innings as he made 71 * in a draw against Sri Lanka and 58 in a win over Pakistan, and his frugal mid-pace means he is currently the world’s top-ranked all-rounder.

9) Kyle Jamieson, New Zealand

27 wickets at 18

Tried cricket as if he had been built for it in a laboratory tucked away somewhere on the outskirts of New Zealand’s south island. He destroyed Pakistan when he took 11 for 117 in Christchurch at the beginning of the year, and the moment it mattered most, it turned into a man-of-the-match performance in the World Test final. He took seven wickets in the fight, incl five for 31 in the first place when he rejected Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as they threatened to run away with the game.

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10) Jasprit Bumrah, India

25 wickets at 29 (not including current test against South Africa)

Bumrah is far from the kind of electric form he showed in his first year of Test cricket, but with his clockwork toy action and evil yorker, he is one of the reliably entertaining bowlers in the game. He dominated England in the first Test of India’s summer tour at Trent Bridge, taking four cheap wickets in one round and five more in the other, and was even better in India’s victory at the Oval, where he turned the match upside down with a forest fire. with six overs on a paved track late on the fifth day.

11) Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan

47 wickets on 17

Still only 21 years old, Afridi has grown into the most electric player on the international circuit. His diabolical left-arm tempo, all wasps full of balls and tearing bouncers, cut through every team he has played this year. He has taken wickets in New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and against South Africa in Pakistan, but was at his best in the second Test against the Caribbean at Sabina Park, where he took career-best figures of 10 for 94.

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