The quest to identify the best Test XI of the last decade is a tedious, tricky process that requires some perfect filtering to avoid statistics that stand out without really speaking of quality. Here we split the team into categories – fairly accepted ones – and identify a best XI.
- Stats considered after 2010
- Seven batsman, including one all-rounder and keeper
- Two spinners and two seamers at least among bowlers including skill of an all-rounder
Filters: 4000 runs and an average above 40
Contenders: Alastair Cook, David Warner, Dimuth Karunaratne
Cook, Warner and Karunaratne are perhaps three very contrasting batsmen from this decade. All three exceptional in their own ways, but we only have room for two of them. Given that Cook and Karunaratne are both similar players with a defensive dominant approach, Warner is a certainty in our team. Between Karunaratne and Cook, the England opener has way more runs and a better average. So we’d go with Cook and Warner at the top, contrasting openers with exceptional records.
Filters: 3000 runs and 50+ average
Contenders: Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson, K Sangakkara, Younis Khan, AB de Villiers, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Given the criteria above, Joe Root, Cheteshwar Pujara and Hashim Amla miss out. So does giants like Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis who retired in the first half of the decade. Among the remaining contenders, we have Kane Williamson, Younis Khan and Kumar Sangakkara for the no 3 spot. For no 4 and 5, we have Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Misbah and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. In this we also have two keepers in Sangakkara and de Villiers but based on a better average and regularity with which he kept, Sangakkara pips the South African. Virat Kohli and Steven Smith are absolute must haves in the team in this decade. Kane Williamson is our pick at no. 3.
Filter: 50 wickets, 1000 runs and bat-bowl avg in the positive
Contenders: Shakib-Al-Hasan, Jason Holder, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ben Stokes, V Philander, Shane Watson
We probably have one spot left for an all-rounder although a couple of them also fulfill the bowling criteria kept. As such we go for the one obvious pick in this category despite Ben Stokes’ recent heroics. Shakib-Al-Hasan, for his average and effectiveness as an all-rounder, gets the one spot.
Filter: 175+ wickets, avg less than 30
Contenders: James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rangana Herath, R Ashwin, Dale Steyn, Trent Boult, Morne Morkel, Tim Southee, Vernon Philander, Mitchell Starc, Yasir Shah, Kagiso Rabada, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Ravindra Jadeja
With Shakib in as a spinner already, we probably have the luxury to go with three pacers and one additional spinner. Rangana Herath has such indisputable numbers that even with Ashwin and Jadeja having the edge as all-rounders, Herath is the lone spinner alongside Shakib. That said, such is Ashwin’s record as an all-rounder and bowler that he is a worthy 12th man.
Among pacers, James Anderson, the highest Test wicket-taker and Vernon Philander, for his all-round record and impeccable bowling average, are must picks. This leaves one additional spot for which Mitchell Johnson, for his left-arm variation and pace, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Stuart Broad are contenders.
We go for Rabada from this category given his exceptional average and excellence across continents with minimal injury. Steyn suffers from his injury absences while Broad’s average and Johnson’s inconsistency works against them.
Final XI: David Warner, Alastair Cook, Kane Williamson (c), Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Shakib-Al-Hasan, Vernon Philander, Rangana Herath, Kagiso Rabada, James Anderson. 12th man: Ravichandran Ashwin.