World Test cricket team of the year

2014-12-28 15:00

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Proteas superstars Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla feature in our team of the men who rocked the test cricket arena in 2014.

Despite playing slightly fewer matches than Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia, the Proteas ended 2014 as the number one test nation.

In the middle of their eighth test of the year, against the West Indies in Port Elizabeth, the Proteas boast the best bowler in the world in Dale Steyn, two of the three best batsmen (AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla), and the second-ranked all-rounder and third-ranked bowler in Vernon Philander.

Here is our World Test XI:

1. David Warner – Australia (Tests: 9, Runs: 1 096, Ave: 64.47)

The stocky Australian opener was incredible this year, especially in the latter half.

Pundits continue to marvel at how well Warner has adapted to test cricket, when he was considered a T20 basher for so long.

This year, he scored six centuries in nine tests, with a top score of 145, and had the only strike rate over 80 of the top 10 run-getters. He recorded tons in both innings of tests against SA in Cape Town and India in Adelaide.

2. Brendon McCullum – New Zealand (Tests: 9, Runs: 1 164, Ave: 72.75)

The Black Caps’ captain showed his batting might in the current test against Sri Lanka, hitting 195 off just 134 balls on Friday to add to the double century he scored in his previous test, against Pakistan.

3. Kumar Sangakkara – Sri Lanka (Tests: 12, Runs 1 486, Ave: 78.21)

At 37, he’s in the form of his life and the selectors are begging him not to retire. He’s the highest run-getter in tests in 2014 by some distance, with a 319 top score.

4. Hashim Amla – SA (Tests: 8, Runs: 667, Ave: 66.70)

Amla has not allowed his new job as captain to get him down, but has led from the front. His recent double-ton against the Windies came in tricky conditions, and was his top score for the year. He bagged two other tons in 2014, as well as seven catches.

5. Angelo Mathews (Capt) – Sri Lanka (Tests: 12, Runs: 1 201, Ave: 92.38)

The Sri Lanka skipper recorded at least a fifty every time he came to the middle. He is one of three Sri Lankans to score more than 1 000 runs this year and bagged three tons with a top score of 160.

6. Steve Smith – Australia (Tests: 9, Runs: 1 012, Ave: 84.33)

This baby-faced assassin has become the scourge of bowlers everywhere of late. He’s stood in for injured Aussie captain Michael Clarke and racked up the runs to boot. He crossed the 1 000-run mark for 2014 in the current test against India.

7. Joe Root – England (Tests: 7, Runs: 777, Ave: 97.12)

The Yorkshire batting all-rounder provided a silver lining for an indifferent England in 2014. His career-best 200 not out saw his average climb well above those of his team-mates. Of the 11 innings he played in 2014, he recorded three centuries and three fifties.

8. Sarfraz Ahmed (WK) – Pakistan (Tests: 9, Runs: 743, Ave: 67.54)

Pakistan finally have someone other than an Akmal keeping wicket and Ahmed is scoring loads of runs to make sure it stays that way.

9. Dale Steyn – SA (Tests: 8, Wickets: 39, Ave: 18.33)

The Phalaborwa Express is the only bowler among the top 10 wicket-takers of 2014 to average less than 20. Steyn recorded his best figures for the year against the Windies at Centurion, and was just two wickets shy of becoming SA’s second-highest wicket-taker in tests ahead of this weekend’s test.

10. Mitchell Johnson – Australia (Tests: 9, Wickets: 42, Ave: 21.92)

Johnson was the most feared bowler this year and only went two innings without taking a wicket.

11. Rangana Herath – Sri Lanka (Tests: 10, Wickets: 60, Ave: 27.45)

The veteran spinner, who bowled almost double the overs of anyone else this year, is deadly on a deck with even a little bit of turn.

Meanwhile, the Proteas’ bright start in the second test against the West Indies on Friday created the expectation that they might bury the visitors, just as they did in the first match, which they won by an innings and 220 runs.

Should the match follow the same pattern, the five-day test might end well before Tuesday.

Dean Elgar struck his third test century as SA finished the first day on 270/2.

He scored 121 and shared a second-wicket partnership of 179 with Faf du Plessis.

Du Plessis was on 99 at stumps, while captain Hashim Amla, who scored a double century in the first test, was on 17.

Opener Alviro Petersen – out for a duck in the first test – was the early casualty after being caught at cover by Leon Johnson off Shannon Gabriel for 17.

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