Who Should Be In The ICC 2017 Test Team Of The Year?

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As 2017 draws to a close, one can reflect on what has been a marvellous year of cricket. Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy, being the underdogs, and there have been several exciting bilateral series. Zimbabwe provided a major shock after being Sri Lanka 3-2 in a five match ODI series and the African side are set to play the first ever four-day Test match against South Africa. There have been some incredible individual performances as well, ranging from Virat Kohli’s dominant home performances to Steve Smith’s phenomenal Ashes double hundred. This article focuses on Test cricket this year and asks the question of who should be in the ICC 2017 Test Team of the Year.
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The Openers

There were two openers who stood out this year. Dean Elgar, from South Africa, had a phenomenal 2017. Elgar hit five hundreds, the joint most along with Steve Smith and Virat Kohli, and scored 1097 runs (correct at the time of writing). This is the third highest out of any batsman. Although he struggled in a tough tour of England, Elgar excelled against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Looking forward to 2018, he will have a tough start to the year when India, the number one Test side, tour South Africa.

Opening up with Elgar is Sri Lankan Dimuth Karunaratne. Like Elgar, Karunaratne crossed the 1,000 Test run mark this year. His runs have been vital to Sri Lanka, who have struggled badly in recent years to find a settled top order. Karunaratne has provided a calming presence and has consistently performed for his side this year. It has to be said, though, that he has played significantly more matches than most other batsmen. As a result, his average seems rather disappointing at 40, but his benefit to Sri Lanka has been priceless. If Karunaratne was not selected, the third best opener was probably Australian David Warner.
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Top and Middle Order

It was very easy to pick numbers three, four and five as they virtually pick themselves. At three has to be Indian Cheteshwar Pujara. The leading run scorer in 2017, Pujara displayed his raw talent by wearing out some top bowling attacks. His strike rate of around 45 pays testament to his grit and determination and he has been remarkably consistent. Indeed, he averaged over 50 in every series he played this year, noticeably averaging 77 in Sri Lanka and close to 60 at home to Australia. Pujara is undoubtedly the best number three in the world at the moment and is a nightmare for any bowling attack.

Although Pujara is the leading run scorer at the moment, Australian captain Steve Smith needs just 13 runs to surpass him. This could easily happen in the Ashes Boxing Day Test Match. There is no real need to justify Smith’s selection, for his numbers do the talking: 1127 runs in 10 matches, averaging over 70. What makes this even more impressive is the quality of opposition he has faced this year. Smith averaged over 70 during Australia’s tour of India, which is a notoriously difficult place to score runs for overseas batsmen. More recently, his incredible Ashes performances have come against one of the best bowling attacks in the world. Other than a minor blip of form in Bangladesh, Smith has re-asserted his position as the number one Test batsman in the world and is now closing in on Don Bradman’s record. 

Like Smith, Indian captain Virat Kohli is a name that can not be omitted from the Test Team of the Year. Kohli is averaging the most out of any batsman this year, a healthy 75, and boasts five centuries. What has been impressive about these hundreds is super conversion rate, as he hit double hundreds against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand. A poor home series against Australia, with a top score of 15 in three Tests, is the only series to undermine his otherwise impeccable record. While this is the Test team of the year, it is also important to mention how successful he has been in ODI cricket this year as well. Kohli has transferred
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Number six was the hardest position to pick in the whole team. In terms of batting all-rounders, not many have excelled this year. For this role, Hardik Pandya was a contender, but in the end I picked West Indian Roston Chase instead. This is perhaps the most controversial selection that I made. Chase had a good run with the bat this year, averaging well over 40 and scoring 740 runs. For a batting all-rounder, this is a fairly good effort. Admittedly he had a poor tour of England, but that was the same for the majority of the West Indies side. Chase hit two centuries and two fifties against Pakistan, scoring 403 runs in just three Tests. He also made some important contributions with the ball as well. In that perilous tour of England, Chase picked up seven wickets, which improved on his tally of six wickets against Pakistan. In total, Chase has 20 wickets in 2017, making him one of the best all-rounders.


There was only one real stand-out keeper in 2017, who was Dinesh Chandimal. The Sri Lankan star was one of the six players who crossed the 1,000 run mark, as he hit three centuries and five fifties in a prolific year. His 164 against India in the final Test really stands out, and it was one of the best innings in 2017. Other than Chandimal, Bangladesh keeper Mushfiqur Rahim also impressed. Rahim hit over 750 runs and averaged in excess of fifty and was the leading run scorer for Bangladesh.
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Bowling Attack

As well as having Roston Chase’s spin, the bowling attack I have chosen consists of three seamers and one spinner. The three quicks are Kagiso Rabada, Neil Wagner and James Anderson. Rabada and Anderson were the only two fast bowlers to take more than fifty wickets this year, taking 105 wickets between them. Two statistics really highlight how incredible these bowlers have been. For Rabada, he has taken his 54 wickets a breathtaking strike-rate of 38. He has bowled 346 overs to claim those wickets, while Jadeja, for example, took 150 overs more to achieve the same feat. In Anderson’s case, it is his average that stands out. He has taken his 51 wickets at an average of just 16, by far the lowest out of any bowler this year. This pays fitting respect to his incredible discipline and accuracy. Neil Wagner is the third seamer, after he took 36 wickets for New Zealand in just seven Tests.

Nathan Lyon was the one full-time spinner I picked. It was hard to pick anyone else, as Lyon’s total of 60 wickets is the highest in the world. Recently he has been in fine form in the Ashes, wreaking havoc on the English batsmen and has been a bigger threat than their seamers on the whole. Aside from Lyon, India’s spin pair of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were also close to being selected.

My Test Team of the Year:

Elgar, Karunaratne, Pujara, Smith (C), Kohli, Chase, Chandimal (WK), Rabada, Wagner, Lyon, Anderson.

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