2013 was a tumultuous year in Test cricket. The Ashes were retained then lost, South Africa confirmed its place as the best in the world, Zimbabwe won a match and greats retired in Sachin Tendulkar, Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis.
However, who were the best performed players for 2013?
No need for you to do the research, as I have done it for you (thank me later).
My list is not meant to be representative of a team. It is purely the top 10 players based on performance for the year.
1) AB de Villiers (South Africa) – nine matches, 933 runs, average 77.75, 13 innings, 4 x 100, 5 x 50, HS 164
A massive year for the world’s premier wicketkeeper/batsman, playing home and away series against Pakistan, one against India and one against NZ. His lowest average in any of these was 59.00.
We still don’t know what the AB stands for (is it a tribute to Allan Border perhaps?) but who cares.
He reached at least the 50 mark 69% of innings played. If there is any criticism, it is that he only played three Tests overseas, but that is not in his control.
Was also strong with the gloves.
2) Dale Steyn (SA) – nine matches, 51 wickets, average 17.66, strike rate 42.0, 4 x 5 wicket innings, 1 x 10 wicket match, best bowling in innings 6/8, best bowling in match 11/60
A year in which he gave up the world’s #1 Test bowling ranking to Vernon Philander, even though his stats where better across the board.
He only bowled one innings all year that didn’t earn him a wicket (0/104 v India at Johannesburg).
His opening spell against Pakistan in Jo’burg in February of 6/8 will go down as one of the great spells of fast bowling ever seen. Mohammed Hafeez will be glad to never face him again.
3) Cheteshwar Pujara (India) – eight matches, 829 runs, ave 56.24, 13 innings, 3 x 100, 3 x 50, HS 204
A massive year by India’s number three that saw him picked in the ICC Test Team of the Year as an opener, if that makes any sense?
Smashed a 204 against Australia in Hyderabad, a hundred in Sachin’s last Test and also a 153 against South Africa in Jo’burg.
A strong strike rate of 56 ensured he kept the pace up. His average of 70 against the South Africans away highlights his class.
4) Michael Clarke (Australia) – 13 matches, 1093 runs, Ave 56.39, 26 innings, 4 x 100, 3 x 50, HS 187
The Australian captain finished 2013 as the leading runs scorer for the calendar year. He averaged 47.63 in England and 49.57 in the home series, scoring three hundreds and a 50 over the 10 Tests.
His back-to-back hundreds in Brisbane and Adelaide when the Ashes were there to be won underlines his dependability.
Even in the Indian series, which the Aussies lost 4 – 0 (which now looks not so bad given how bad the English have been in Australia), he averaged 47.66.
5) Mitchell Johnson (Aus) – six matches, 34 wickets, Ave 17.52, SR 37.5, 3 x 5, 0 x 10, BBI 7/40, BBM 9/103
The man with the magic moustache returned with a bang. Possibly the scariest of the world’s fast bowlers and definitely the most damaging.
His 9/103 in Brisbane set up the Ashes series win and won him fans the world over. He also averaged 23 with the bat including a 50.
The days of “he bowls to the left” are well and truly forgotten.
6) Ross Taylor (New Zealand) – 10 matches, 866 runs, Ave 72.16, 17 innings, 3 x 100, 4 x 50, HS217*
The prodigal son returned to Test cricket with his middle finger proudly and firmly erect at the New Zealand selectors.
He was slightly down against the English at the start of the year but then averaged 247.5 against the West Indies at home and a healthy 67.5 against Bangladesh away.
Well done if you can pronounce his full name – Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor – quickly five times in a row.
7) Vernon Philander (SA) – eight matches, 38 wickets, Ave 18.05, SR 43.8, 1 x 5, 0 x 10, BBI 5/7, BBM 9/99
The world’s number one ranked Test bowler just continues to power on, cracking past 100 career wickets in 2013.
A devastating spell of 5/7 against New Zealand was a highlight at Cape Town in January. Against India, he averaged 22.8 against what is arguably the best batting line-up in the world.
Combined with Steyn, he is more destructive than the BCCI.
8) Ryan Harris (Aus) – eight matches, 38 wickets, Ave 21.94, SR 48.1, 2 x 5, 0 x 10, BBI 7/117, BBM 9/187
The man known as ‘Rhino’ proved injury couldn’t hold him back in 2013.
He is almost a clone of Philander with his metronomic line and length creating consistent wicket taking opportunities throughout the year.
9) Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan) – eight matches, 705 runs, Ave 54.23, 15 innings, 2 x 100, 5 x 50, HS 135
Pakistan’s most maligned player was also clearly their best.
Like most who tour South Africa, he had a hard time, only averaging 22.5 for the series. However, he then bounced back averaging 72.33 against Zimbabwe, 72.66 against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates and 135 against Sri Lanka.
His last nine innings of the year he averaged 81.4 and saved his country on more than one occasion.
A true superstar of the game and now averages more as captain than any other player in the history of the game, apart from Bradman.
10) Brad Haddin (Aus) – 10 matches, 647 runs, Ave 38.05, 18 innings, 1 x 100, 6 x 50, HS 118
An amazing comeback into the Test arena for Brad Haddin, who saved Australia on numerous occasion as its top order failed to fire over and over again.
Passed 50 in four matches in a row in 2013 (five if you include the Sydney Test in 2014). His glove work was also world class.
Apologies to the following in no particular order.
Stuart Broad – A lion hearted performance from the game’s super villain.
Hashim Amla – Big runs and a new baby.
MS Dhoni – India’s leader proved he can still rip the heart out of any opponent.
Mushfiqur Rahim – A shining light for Bangladesh as they look to establish themselves as a serious player on the Test stage.
Ian Bell – Was the difference between Australia and England during the UK Ashes series.
I welcome your thoughts and comments as always.