This game can be so cruel.
The Test eleven that I have picked for the year 2017 features three players each from Australia, India and South Africa, and one each from Bangladesh and England.
While deciding on the top five was rather straightforward, there were quite a few contenders for the wicketkeeper and all-rounder spots. Likewise, the third fast bowling berth too saw a bit of competition.
1) Dean Elgar (South Africa)
The left-handed Elgar was the leading Test opener in 2017. A bountiful year saw him gather 1128 runs, the third-highest tally, at 53.71. His five centuries included a match-winning 129 against Sri Lanka at Cape Town, a stoic 140 at Dunedin and a gritty 140 at the Oval. He fell just short of a maiden Test double hundred against Bangladesh at Potchefstroom, getting out for 199.
2) David Warner (Australia)
Australia’s pocket-sized dynamo partners Elgar at the top, on account of his 997 runs at 49.85. Warner began the year typically, becoming the fifth man to score a century before lunch on the first day, against Pakistan at Sydney.
He reserved his best for the Bangladesh tour, where he followed his 112 in defeat at Mirpur with a restrained 123 at Chittagong to help Australia square the series.
3) Cheteshwar Pujara (India)
Blessed with immense powers of concentration, Pujara was India’s highest run-getter and the second-highest overall, scoring 1140 runs at 67.05. He played a pivotal role in India’s regaining of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, scoring a precious 92 in the crucial Bangalore Test and a marathon 202 at Ranchi.
Sri Lanka bore the brunt of his blade too, as he reeled off three centuries against them.
4) Steven Smith (Australia)
The relentless Australian captain enjoyed another prolific year – he led the run charts by scoring 1305 runs at 76.76, with six hundreds. Smith was the top run-scorer in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with a tally of 499 at 71.28.
His match-winning 109 at Pune was a masterclass on a rank turner, while his 141* at Brisbane and a career-best 239 at Perth paved the way for Australia’s Ashes glory.
5) Virat Kohli (India, captain)
Captaining the XI is Kohli, under whom India stretched their undefeated run to a record-equalling nine series, dating back to 2015. He led from the front, scoring 1059 runs at 75.64.
Three of his five centuries were converted into doubles, two of which – including a career-best 243 – came in back-to-back Tests in the home series against Sri Lanka, a series in which he piled up 610 runs at 152.50.
6) Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh, wicketkeeper)
Thanks to his batting numbers, Rahim beat Jonny Bairstow, Quinton de Kock and Wriddhiman Saha to the wicketkeeper’s spot.
He was Bangladesh’s leading run-getter, scoring 766 runs at 54.71 with two tons – at Wellington and Hyderabad – besides pouching 14 dismissals. Though he was replaced as captain, he remains a very reliable middle-order batsman for his side.
7) Ravindra Jadeja (India)
Jadeja had a highly productive year with the ball, snaring 54 wickets at 23.05. The left-arm spinner was named man of the series in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after he took 25 wickets at just 18.56.
His best effort of 6/63 came at Bangalore, where India beat Australia to level the series. He also contributed with the bat, scoring 328 runs with four half-centuries, two of which came against Australia.
8) Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
The 22-year-old Rabada was the highest wicket-taker among pace bowlers, with a bag of 57 scalps at 20.28. He reached 100 Test wickets in the process, in only his 22nd game. He dominated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at home, recording a ten-wicket haul against each of them.
Having taken wickets in every Test he played this year, he established himself as a strike bowler to reckon with.
9) Nathan Lyon (Australia)
Lyon had a path-breaking year as he finished with a chart-topping 63 wickets at 23.55. The offie took 19 wickets in India, including a career-best 8/50 at Bangalore. He was even better in Bangladesh, where he gobbled 22 victims at 14.31, the crowning moment being a match-winning 13/154, also a career-best, at Chittagong.
He kept up his form in the Ashes, striking at key junctures.
10) Morne Morkel (South Africa)
Morkel’s ability to hit the deck hard brought him 39 wickets at 23.02. He was named the South African player of the series in the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy in England, where he took 19 wickets.
Earlier in the year, his opening spell in the second innings at Wellington hastened New Zealand’s tumble to defeat. He scythed through Zimbabwe’s batting in the Boxing Day Test, taking 5/21.
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11) James Anderson (England)
Like old wine, Anderson seems to be getting better with age. His 55 wickets came at 17.58, as he climbed to fifth in the list of most Test wickets.
The 35-year-old ran riot at home, taking 20 wickets against South Africa at 14.10 and 19 against the West Indies, also at 14.10, including a career-best 7/42 at Lord’s. He has been England’s best bowler in the ongoing Ashes down under, with 16 wickets.
Roarers, what would be your Test team of the year?