Our dream team: The best Test XI for 2012

You know Test cricket has been pretty interesting in 2012 when out of the 42 Tests played, only 9 ended drawn. We pick the players who made this wonderful year their own with some very special performances.

Openers

Alastair Cook

There are few players in world cricket who look as secure at the crease as the England captain. The manner in which he batted in India against the spinners showed that he is getting better with every outing. He doesn’t mind batting for long periods and his strong point will always be his patience. His success as England skipper shows that he is ready to take responsibility. He is the man you want walking out to face the new ball.

15 Tests/29 innings/1249 runs/190 highest/48.03 ave/ 4 hundreds, 3 fifties

Graeme Smith

While Cook will look to grind out the opposition, Smith has no qualms about taking the attack to the opposition. He thrives on a challenge and has a way of coming good just when his team needs him to. He would be the balance that this team needs to beat all opposition down.

10 Tests/19 innings/825 runs/48.52 ave/3 hundreds, 5 fifties

No. 3

Hashim Amla

There are some who might think that Cheteshwar Pujara (654 runs at an average of 70.93) should get this slot but really, Amla is on another level. Pujara has been tested only in home conditions but Amla scored centuries in England and Australia against some of the best attacks in the business.

Alastair Cook (L) and Jacques Kallis (R) are part of the dream team. Getty Images

His hunger for runs in insatiable and that’s what you want from your number three. A lot has been said about his unorthodox technique but it works for him and how!

10 Tests/17 innings/1064 runs/311 highest/70.93 ave/ 4 hundreds, 2 fifties

No. 4

Jacques Kallis

Grit, class, all-round ability, experience – Kallis has it all. He is rock solid and can play his heart out. The right-hander doesn’t have any real weakness in his game and year after year, he just keeps getting better. And we haven’t even started speaking about his ability as a bowler or a slip fielder. Having Kallis in the middle makes any team feel secure. Marlon Samuels also had a great year (making 866 runs at an average of 86) but a majority of those runs came against Bangladesh and that doesn’t really count.

9 Tests/15 innings/ 944 runs/ 224 highest/ 67.42 ave/4 hundreds, 1 fifty

No. 5

Michael Clarke

329*, 210, 259*, 230 and 106 – that’s Clarke’s year in a nutshell. Almost every time he got a century, he made it a big one. The year began with a triple ton and a double century against India, it got better with two double tons against SA and ended with a ton against SL. He delivered as a captain for Australia and would be our captain as well.

11 Tests/18 innings/1595 runs/329 highest/106.33 Av/5 hundreds, 3 fifties

No. 6

Michael Hussey

Mr Cricket has already announced his decision to retire after the series against Sri Lanka but what a way to go out. Clarke and Hussey were the two batsmen that kept Australia afloat. The thing about Hussey is that he knows how to change his game to suit the match situation. He’s comfortable facing the new ball and always gives it his all.

11 Tests/18 innings/898 runs/150 highest/59.86 ave/4 hundreds, 2 fifties

Wicket-keeper

AB de Villiers

Matt Prior (777 runs at 38.85) and Matthew Wade (399 runs at 36.27) had pretty decent years but AB De Villiers stands way above them. He took over as keeper after the injury to Mark Boucher and never looked back. In terms of wicket-keeping ability there isn’t much difference between Prior, Wade and De Villiers but as a batsman -- 815 runs at 58.21 – the South African is just too good.

10 Tests/16 innings/815 runs/169 highest/58.21 ave/2 hundreds, 2 fifties

Fast bowlers

Vernon Philander

He may not have won any ICC awards this year but it’s really hard to see why. He’s deadly with the new ball and his accuracy allows him to be just as effective with the old ball. Straight out of the Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock school of bowling and just as deadly.

9 Tests/17 innings/43 wickets/ 6 for 44, 10 for 114 best bowling/21.11 ave/45.8 strike-rate/ 2.76 econ

Ben Hilfenhaus

Before the series against India, he wasn’t even on the horizon but Hilfie was simply superb all through the year. He is much fitter than he used to be and can swing the ball at pace -- a rare quality in this day and age.

9 Tests/17 innings/37 wickets/ best of 5 for 106 and 8 for 97/ 21.67 Ave/39 strike-rate/2.46 econ

Spinners

Saeed Ajmal

He didn’t play too much Test cricket because no one wanted to tour Pakistan but in the little that he did, he destroyed England. He has all the variations, use the crease well to create different angles and the doosra or the teesra or whatever he calls it… works.

6 Tests/12 innings/39 wickets/ 7 for 55 and 10 for 97 best bowling/20.56 ave/46.4 strike-rate/2.65 econ

Rangana Herath

A lot of wickets against New Zealand but he also managed a five wicket haul against Australia. He beats out Graeme Swann by the sheer number of wickets he took this year. He also had really good tours against England and Pakistan. This was a left-arm orthodox bowler in great form. His mystery ball can work wonders too.

10 Tests/18 innings/60 wickets/ 6 for 43 and 12 for 171 best bowling/23.61 ave/ 53.7 strike-rate/2.63 econ

12th man

Peter Siddle

If you want to fit in another seamer, you have to go for Peter Siddle. Here’s a man who will bowl himself into the ground for the captain. What more can you ask for? Well… wickets… and in 2012, he got them too.

8 Tests/15 innings/40 wickets/ 5 for 49, 9 for 104/22.87 ave/47.7 strike-rate/2.87 econ

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