It is time for the Armchair Selector’s review of 2012 to focus on proper cricket. Here is our best Test XI based on performances in 2012. As ever there is more players worthy of selection that places in the team. Special mentions for Shiv Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Virat Kohli, Rangana Herath, Dale Steyn, Graeme Swann, Morne Morkel and Ravi Jadeja. All were very unlucky to miss out.
Alastair Cook – 1249 runs at 48.03
Alastair Cook the run machine shows no sign of slowing down. His run getting over the last 2 years has justifiably drawn comparisons with some of the all time greats. He has taken full time charge of the England Test team and has guided them to the first English victory since Frankie Goes to Hollywood were topping the charts with the original “Power of Love”. Once Cook finds himself in a good vein of form he is ruthless in his accumulation of runs. He is not flashy, he is just Test cricket’s version of the Energiser Bunny.
Graeme Smith – 825 runs at 48.52
The captain of the number one side in Test cricket, and one of the most solid performers in world cricket, Graeme Smith scores important runs. No man has more hundreds in the 4th innings in victories in Test history. His ability to wear down his opponents is legendary, just ask any England captain. In 2012 he was Mr Reliable again and scored well against all opponents. The opening partnership of Cook & Smith will not empty bars, but it will empty the hearts of their opponents.
Hashim Amla – 1064 runs at 70.93
There is no player in the world that is better to watch than Hashim Amla. If you combine this with the fact that he scores runs with the same ruthless efficiency that MS Dhoni signs endorsement deals you have just about the perfect Test player. A humble and self effacing man, Amla is what every young player should aspire to be. His 311* at the Oval was the Test innings of the year and by the time it was over he had ground the England bowlers down to a nub.
Kevin Pietersen – 1053 runs at 43.87
In 2012 Kevin Pietersen played three of the finest Test match centuries that we have ever had the privilege to watch. At Colombo, Headingley and Mumbai Pietersen was head and shoulders above those trying to bowl at him. He made Herath look toothless, Steyn look mediocre and the Indian fielders look like arthritic octogenarians. That he should do all of this in the midst of the most protracted dispute since the Trojan war speaks volumes for his will to succeed. You can love Pietersen, you can hate Pietersen, you can’t doubt his ability to win games.
Michael Clarke (Captain) – 1489 runs at 106.35
2012 may not have brought us the end of the world, but it brought us to the apex of Michael Clarke’s Test career. Earmarked from an early edge to be the next Australian captain he has had a love – hate relationship with Aussie cricket fans. If there is anyone left that hates Clarke after his exploits this year they must be dead inside. He has scored four hundreds this year, his lowest score once reaching three figures is 210. He has captained with aggression and innovation and led his side from the front and by example. When he scored his 4th 200+ score of the year the only surprise was when he got out.
Jacques Kallis – 944 runs at 67.42 & 11 wickets at 28.27
Like your car insurance premiums, some things get better the older you get. Jacques Kallis’ batting technique can be added to that list. At 37 he is still the leading all rounder in Test cricket. While he may bowl less overs than he used to, he has become even more of a “golden arm”. 2012 was another vintage year for Kallis, and his runs against England were vital to South Africa winning in England and claiming the top spot in the test rankings.
Matt Prior – 777 runs at 38.85. 29 catches and 7 stumpings.
Matt Prior is the best wicket keeper batsman in the world. His aggressive batting coming in at 7 and his ability to bat well with the tail has been a god send for England in a year when the middle order has been fragile. He has turned himself into a fantastic wicket keeper and his glovework improves with every series he plays.
Vernon Philander – 43 wickets at 21.11
When Philander burst on to the international scene with the kind of figures that made the all time greats look average many thought that it wouldn’t last. Philander has backed up his outstanding start to Test cricket by being a consistent wicket taking threat. His ability to bowl with control and late movement has meant that he has troubled all the batsmen he has faced. His late order runs have added to his importance to the world’s number one side.
Kemar Roach – 39 wickets at 22.25
The West Indies should have bowlers that can bowl quick and want to take a batsman’s head off. Kemar Roach is from that school. Only 3 seam bowlers have taken more Test wickets in 2012, and all of them played more matches than Roach. If the West Indies can keep a firing Roach fit and motivated there is a good chance that they can continue their rise from the cricketing doldrums.
Saeed Ajmal – 39 wickets at 20.56
Saeed Ajmal has not played Test cricket since July and only played 6 Tests in 2012. His exploits have grown in stature for having not seen him. He is the best spin bowler in the world and he backed up performances against England that destroyed their confidence of playing spin by ripping through the Sri Lankans. His ability to get the ball to turn both ways means that he is never short of wickets and a joy to watch
James Anderson – 48 wickets at 29.50
James Anderson has had a year where he has seen fast bowling colleagues injured or out of form. Despite him having to carry the England attack on occasions he has continued to take wickets and further prove that no one has more understanding of conventional and reverse swing than the Lancashire lad. His performances against India on their home turf will live long in the memory and go down in England cricket folklore.
Who have we missed? Add your comments below.
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