Short Leg discusses the Test Cricket Arena with the coveted Test Team of 2018 revealed.
Happy New Year and welcome to the first post of hopefully many on Short Leg Cricket where we discuss various topics. As we embark on a Cricket filled year with the World Cup and the Ashes the highlights, Short Leg reviews the 2018 Test matches with a Test Team of the Year and the major factor in 2018 of the “Sandpaper gate”. 2018 saw new nations Ireland and Afghanistan play their first official test match in a positive step by the ICC to include more nations whilst other nations experienced top quality cricket in challenging conditions for the contest between bat and ball. From the conclusion of the Ashes , to the ban of Smith, Warner and Bancroft, to away series wins for England and New Zealand in Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively and the current test match series in Australia and New Zealand, 2018 showed Test Cricket still has a place in the game for the future.
Dimuth Karunratne (Sri Lanka) M: 9 Runs: 743 Ave: 46.43 HS: 158NO 100s: 1 50s: 7 4s: 71 6s: 1 SR: 56.63
A lone star in the most recent home series defeat against England scoring 256 in 6 innings ranking him just behind England debutant keeper Ben Foakes. At the top of the order, Karunratne showed his experience where others struggled as he weathered off the attack with seam and spin scoring 3 fifties. He was the unfortunate victim of being on the receiving end of England’s outstanding fielding by Stokes and Jennings on 3 occasions. However, his most impressive innings was his undoubtedly a match winning 158NO against South Africa in Galle. This came in the first innings and in the second made 60 where no other batsman passed 50 in the game. In a tough year for Sri Lanka, on and off the field, Karunratne led the battle from the front and still has some years left to convert those fifties into hundreds.
Tom Latham (New Zealand) M: 7 Runs: 658 Ave: 59.81 HS: 264NO 100s: 2 50s: 2 4s: 62 6s: 2 SR: 43.06What a gusty year from Latham when he needed to cement his position in the New Zealand line up. Coming off 83 against England, he underperformed in the series win against Pakistan and was rumoured to be replaced by Will Young heading into Sri Lanka at home. But he quashed those rumours with a 264 unbeaten knock in Wellington with pure class and elegant strokes. He backed up his form with 176 the next week, in a winning cause. His gritty determination in his spirited performances, shows he has undeniable talent at this level. And whilst more than two thirds of his runs came in the most recent series with Sri Lanka, he has a knack of making big runs when needed.
Kane Williamson (C) (New Zealand) M: 7 Runs: 651 Ave: 59.18 HS: 139 100s: 2 50s: 3 4s: 616s: 1 SR: 54.46
Classy stats for a classy player! Williamson plays with such ease in a smooth and steady nature and is surely the most consistent batter at this time. He edges out Kusal Mendis who played 6 more matches and his brilliance leading from the front is rewarded by Short Leg as captain. 2 very important centuries led to historic wins against England and Pakistan, most notably the 139 scored against Pakistan in challenging batting conditions to win the series. His contributions, ably supported by others, led to a breakthrough year for New Zealand who for the first time had won 4 successive Test Series and was untouchable at times.
Virat Kohli (India) M: 13 Runs: 1322 Ave: 55.08 HS: 153 100s: 5 50s: 5 4s: 144 6s: 2 SR: 54.33
The world’s best batsman delivers again. Unlike Ian Poulter, he delivers every day (including Sundays) scoring a shade over 300 more runs than anyone else. In a tough looking schedule for India playing South Africa, England and Australia away in a calendar year, Kohli was in a class of his own scoring centuries for fun, just when India needed them. Questions were asked about his previous records, but he outlined his supreme qualities silencing each critic one by one. With a match winning 153 in South Africa to a crucial 123 in tricky Perth conditions, Kohli did it all and saved many of the negatives highlighting India’s current performances (excluding their current lead in Australia) with a flamboyant yet perfectionist style.
Henry Nicholls (New Zealand) M: 7 Runs: 658 Ave: 73.11 HS: 162 100s: 3 50s: 3 4s: 67 6s: 1 SR: 48.66
A contender for most improved player of the year as his sensational performances have aided the Kiwis to a record 4 successive Test Series victories. Much like Latham, Nicholls needed to have a good year to cement his spot and boy did he do just that. In an outstanding year, he partnered Latham in a mammoth partnership contributing a record high 162 runs taking the match away from the toiling Sri Lankans. A huge century in Pakistan in spin friendly conditions, allowed the New Zealanders a chance to win the away series which they duly did so. With the highest average of any batsman in 2018, Nicholls firmly sealed down his spot in the middle order.
Jos Buttler (+) (England) M: 10 Runs: 760 Ave: 44.70 HS: 106 100s: 1 50s: 6 4s: 84 6s: 7 SR: 68.10
At the beginning of the IPL 2018, Jos Buttler wasn’t expecting to make Short Leg’s team let alone being involved with the test side. However, the shrewd pick from a high scoring IPL tournament, Buttler made his presence on the test side batting as a specialist batsman. His mix of counter attacking and aggressive shots with defensive and mature batting to rotate the strike, Buttler had a phenomenal year. He saved and revitalised England when they need it a home and away with his ability to adapt to the conditions special to watch. Making 6 fifties was fantastic but he achieved his aim in a wonderful century capping off a spectacular year where he became an integral part of England’s Test team.
Jason Holder (West Indies) M: 6 Runs: 336 Ave: 37.33 HS: 74 50s: 2 Wkts: 33 Ave: 12.39 BBI: 6/59 5wi: 4
A captain certainly leading from the front for West Indies and his best year yet at test level. Constantly performing with the ball, taking crucial wickets with his accurate medium pace at a fantastic economy rate of below 3. As a captain, he led with his heart on his sleeve, consistently outperforming the main strike bowlers and impressively taking 1 of 4 five wicket hauls against the mighty India including the scalps of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. It was his batting which took most by surprise entering the top 50 for the year with two valuable knocks returning to the shades of the former batsman of a few years ago. A player sought after and admired by many nations.
Pat Cummins (Australia) M: 8 HS: 63 50s: 2 Wkts: 44 Ave: 19.97 BBI: 6/27 5wi: 2
In a turbulent year for Australia, Cummins showed their is life, hope and promise in the national test side with some emphatic performances highlighting his credentials. In the ongoing Indian series, he registered his highest knock of 63 in a gritty and courageous innings to give Australia some cheer. He has also led with the ball with fiery spells including a test best 6/27 against India to gain the Aussies some pride. In the field, he has set high standards and exceeded with some beautiful pieces of fielding. A true a cricketer has woke up into the Test arena and been a solid rock and warrior throughout their tours especially South Africa. An athletic and energetic player has sparked the Aussies into form and is a genuine allrounder.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) M: 10 Wkts: 52 BBI:6/54 5wi: 2 10wm:1
The leading wicket taker in the world and he is only 23! The energetic, dynamic fast bowler caught the eye early in the year with a fantastic spell of fast hostile bowling against Australia prior to the Sandpaper incident. His bowling does catch the eye of the match referee as well due to forthcoming altercations after taking a wicket and has ended up in a match ban during that series. Home conditions usually suit Rabada’s nature but away from home was the real sign of a great bowling in the maker taking the most wickets in Sri Lanka which is suited for spin. At this tender age, his progression is sky-high and could become one of the best fast bowlers in the world and history if this form continues.
Nathan Lyon (Australia) M: 10 Wkts: 49 Ave: 34.02 BBI: 6/122 5wi: 2
Dilruwan Perera is a near miss but what brings Lyon is the fact he has played less test matches in the sub continent fortress of spin that Perera has. Year after year, the Australian tweaker continues to bring spin to Australia in most times less conducive wickets for spin. With back to back 5 wicket hauls against NO.1 ranked side India and his stunning burst of 4 in 6 balls against Pakistan, Lyon has ripped the heart out of many batsmen. His undoubted experience is improving his game and continues to make positive strides forwards. How long though can Lyon go on for before he heads to the inevitable retirement and is there someone ready to replace him?- I don’t think so!
Jasprit Bumrah (India) M: 9 Wkts: 48 Ave: 21.02 BBI: 6/33 5wi: 3
How is this his first year of test cricket? Why have India waited so long to bring in a fast, zippy bowler? He has been so impressive over the year especially in Australia where he has bowled bouncers, fast pace deliveries and variations to fool and take the wickets of the Australian inexperienced batsmen. India had a tough and gruelling schedule away from home, but Bumrah has stepped up to the plate when experienced heads like Umesh Yadav have struggled to replicate wicket taking balls. His zippy action is durable for the long forms of the game and has taken 5 wicket hauls in South Africa, Australia and England showing his asset to each team he play
Men that miss out and are 12th man : Mohamed Abbas (Pakistan) Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka) Joe Root (England) Chetseswar Pujara (India) Tim Southee (New Zealand) Dilruwan Perera (Sri Lanka) Mohamed Shami (India) Taijul Islam (Bangladesh) Jimmy Anderson (England) Babar Azam (Pakistan)
There will be more articles and posts coming out soon all about cricket and moving into the 2019 season.
Until next time Short Leg