Critics Corner.

Opinions. And LOTS of them.

2006: Test Team of the year

Posted by Sports Snob on January 2, 2007

Its that time of the year again- have a few drinks with friends, look back at the cricketing year and try and come up with a world XI which would knock the crap out of most teams (including Australia). Selections were made on performances over the past year and also where they fit in the team ( so no question of selection of say Tendulkar).

Some of the selections were rather obvious but some others were made after some more beer and a great deal of discussion. Selecting a team is not an easy job (unless you are Fletcher in which case you remove logic and reason from your selection process) and we have taken this rather seriously. So let us know what you think and more importantly who would make your team of the year!

Matthew Hayden:

The burly left-hander had one of his more subdued years in 2006.The usual arrogance has been missing from the game and swagger was absent in the middle of the year. Scoring just two hundreds and three nineties, Hayden has still managed a place in the team owing to inconsistent performances of many openers around the world. He might not be at his best but he will fight it out at the center. Never discount Matthew Hayden. Alaistar Cook was a great candidate but on his day Hayden can destroy any bowling line up.

Stats: 10 Matches, 789 runs, 2 Centuries, Average: 43.83

Kumara Sangakarra:

Why is Sangakarra in the team? Ask the Kiwis and the Springboks! Without a doubt, Sangakarra has snatched the title of best wicket keeper batsman from Adam Gilchrist. Consistent performances in England over the summer helped the Lankans draw the three test series with England. Sangakarra then went on to smash 287 as he put on a record 624 run partnership with Jayawardene as the Sri Lankans beat the Proteas 2-0 at home. Sangakarra probably saved his best form for the Kiwis, a century at Christchurch came when there was no hope of victory but that set the tone for a fabulous 156 at Wellington as the Lankans drew level with the Kiwis. With Sangakarra finally doing full justice to his potential both in front of and behind the wicket, the Lankan squad looks a very strong contender for the World Cup.

Stats: 11 Matches, 1242 runs, 4 centuries Average: 69

Ricky Ponting:

Criticized for his captaincy after the Ashes series defeat in England last year, Ponting has made a great comeback as captain this year. Yes, he has a brilliant team at his disposal but he can only be judged by the results and the results have been good. And, he hasn’t stopped scoring runs. He started the year with a remarkable match in Sydney against the Springboks (his 100th test match), Ponting scored a century in each innings as Australia easily achieved the competitive total that Graeme Smith had set his team. Ponting then went on to save his team a lot of embarrasement as he scored 118 to thwart Bangladesh from achieving one of the biggest upsets in test history.

But as expected, Ponting saved his best for the hapless Englishmen. Centuries at both Brisbane and Adelaide have taken Ponting’s tally to an incredible 33 centuries. If he manages to keep this form for the next two years, he might well hit 50 international test centuries. And considering Langer, McGrath and Warne are retiring next year, the Australians will be hoping the Ponting does continue this remarkable run.

The perfect man for the number 3 spot.

Stats: 10 Matches, 1333 runs, 7 centuries Average: 88.86

Jacques Kallis:

Kallis has not had a great year either with bat or ball, falling from his mid-fifties average to an average of 45 with the bat. There might be readers who believe that in such a strong team, the presence of a allrounder is not necessary. But Kallis is more than an ordinary all rounder. He can swing the ball both ways (just ask Tendulkar) and is also a fine slip fielder.

A wonderful player who is also one of the most boring people to have played the game, I think. His century against Australia at Sydney was a painstakingly compiled effort as was his other century effort of the year in Capetown against the same opposition. He brings the kind of balance that most teams would kill to have as would we.

Stats: 8 Matches, 620 runs, 2 centuries, Average: 44.28
491 runs, 15 wickets, Average: 32.73

Mohammed Yousuf:

What a year this man has had! There have many good batsman who haven’t made 1800 runs in an entire test career. Yousuf broke Sir Vivian Richards’ 30-year-old record for the most runs in a calendar year scoring an incredible 1,788 in 2006, including nine centuries, at an average of 99.33. He made big hundreds against India at home, against England in England and then ended the year by plundering runs against against the West Indies in Pakistan. Yousuf also achieved the record for most test centuries (9) in a calendar year. This remarkable run makes him one of the first names on our list.

Stats: 11 Matches, 1788 runs, 9 Centuries Average: 99.33

Kevin Pietersen:

Pietersen has been one of the few bright spots for England in the Ashes campaign in Australia. Pietersen has had a very consistent 2006 as he scored centuries against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia. Its a treat to watch Pietersen play and there is never a dull moment when he is around. And yes, any guy who does this to Muralitharan has to be a special player.

Stats: 14 Matches, 1343 runs, 4 centuries Average: 53.72

Michael Hussey:

Mr. Cricket. Australian vice-captain and one of the best performers of 2006. Hussey seemed to have an answer to every challenge thrown at him. At 31 Hussey has firmly established himself in the middle of the Australian line up and should be around for another 5-6 years. After a string of mediocre performances in South Africa, Hussey warmed up for the Ashes by belting the Bangladeshis before hammering the hapless poms. Probably the best aspect about Hussey is the fact that he never seems to be fazed by the pressure (much like Bevan?). In the unlikely chance that the top half of this batting order collapses, you can be sure that Hussey will be around to help the team post a competitive total.

Stats: 10 matches,965 runs, 2 centuries, Average: 80.41

Shane Warne:

The legend himself. Few sportspersons retire at the top and it is a testament to Warne’s genius that he is going out at the top at the ripe old age of 37! He may not have enjoyed much success against the Indians but he has dominated every other team.

Monty Panesar makes a strong case for a position in the line up. He will bring variation, I hear you say. But Warne’s experience and the sheer intimidation factor that Warne brings to the line up means that Warne makes the line up ahead of Panesar. We love you Monty- 2008 for sure!

Stats: 10 Matches, 49 wickets, 5 wickets- 3 , Average – 30

Makhaya Ntini:

Ntini has emerged as one of the most consistent pace bowlers over the last two years and its been a remarkable transformation for this cricketer. After a turbulent period in the late nineties when Ntini was initially charged and later acquitted of rape, Ntini is now one of the premier pace bowlers in the world and his fabulous spell against the Indians in the seccond innings at Kingsmead proved just that. Ntini is 29 and should be around for another 3-4 years as he helps the new breed of South African pace bowlers develop their game.

Stats: 10 Matches, 58 Wickets, 5 wickets- 5, 10 wickets- 2, Average- 21.60

Stuart Clark:

Stuart Clark has been the spearhead of the Australian bowling attack this year. In the absence of McGrath, Clark will have to share the burden with Brett Lee next year and going by what he has done this year, it looks like the Aussies have a great replacement for McGrath. But, the biggest test for Clark will be the subcontinent. McGrath enjoyed a fair deal of success in South Asia and it remains to be seen if Clark will do the same. I cant think of a better bowler this year to share the new ball with Ntini.

Stats: 8 Matches, 42 wickets, 5 wickets- 1 , Average-17.76

Muttiah Muralitharan:

90 wickets in the year. Average return for Muralitharan. Muralitharan spun multiple webs around the South African, English and the New Zealand teams as Sri Lanka emerged as one of the best teams of the year. The big question remains: Will he get to 1000 test wickets? Will that be the bowling equivalent of Bradman’s 99.96? Odds are that Murali will cut down on one day cricket to prolong his test career. whatever happens in 2007, Muralitharan will end up with 50+ wickets in tests.

Stats: 11 Matches, 90 Wickets, 5 wickets- 5 , 10 wickets- 2 Average- 16.90

Happy New Year! May 2007 be your best year yet.

Z and Prof

4 Responses to “2006: Test Team of the year”

  1. Kesavan said

    Dravid/Vettori/Flintoff instead of Kallis depending on the pitch and Kumble instead of Warne.

  2. Sarath said

    Firepower in bowling, definitely the line up needs some out right pace in place of either clark/ntini. Someone who will hit the deck. Especially since the team has kallis who also swings the back, a Brett Lee would do good. But honestly I dont have too much of a clue about his performances over the last year. Any other outright pace bowling options would also fit in.

  3. @ Kesavan: Kumble over Warne, maybe. Kumble has had a terrific year and his role in WI was crucial. But then Warne has had a good year too. Kumble has picked up more wickets (at a higher average though). Since we have guys like Clark and Kallis who can keep one end tight, it might be better to have someone who is more attacking, like Warne.
    Dravid wasn’t picked because we wanted more balance and Kallis added that with his bowling. Vettori might have been an interesting choice but 3 spinners? Flintoff, well he hasn’t had agreat year really.

  4. @Sarath: I don’t agree with the need for outright pace. Lee doesn’t really frighten batsmen around the world with his pace. Prefer a McGrath to outright pace anyday, don’t you agree?

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