Tuesday 1 January 2013

Test team of the year 2012

For the test team of the year, I’ve given extra weight to performances away from home. Often the mark of great players is that they can master foreign conditions. For each player I’ve generated a weighted average, and I’ve used that to pick the team.

I’ve also looked at openers as a separate skill to batting in numbers 3-5. I also feel that numbers 6 and 7 need to be multi-skilled players: who can contribute with the bat and either the ball or the gloves. As a result I’ve picked the best batsman among the keepers. It is very difficult to quantify the ability of keepers, and while I feel that Prasanna Jayawardene is currently without peer as a keeper, his batting (while improving) is significantly weaker than some of the other keepers.

With the bowlers I decided on at least 2 quick bowlers and at least one spinner. After that I picked the next best bowler. There were a few times that a team went in with either 3 spinners or 4 pace bowlers, but every time the results were not good enough to demand it being replicated in this team.

There were a couple of bowlers who had a good year without playing any away matches. For these players I looked at the average difference between home matches and away matches, and adjusted their weighted averages accordingly.

Openers: Alastair Cook and Graeme Smith.

While these two may not have the crowd in raptures with scintillating stroke-play, they have scored a lot of runs this year, both home and away.

NameOverall AverageAway AverageWeighted average
AN Cook (Eng) 48.0371.954.67
GC Smith (SA) 48.5250.5649.52
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak) 45.952.548.24
AN Petersen (SA) 4743.0645.09
TM Dilshan (SL) 40.134240.67
DA Warner (Aus) 43.7728.539.96

Numbers 3-5: Marlon Samuels, Michael Clarke and Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Michael Clarke has been amazing in Australia, but his away form was so poor that he was almost pipped for the spot by Amla.

NameOverall AverageAway AverageWeighted average
S Chanderpaul (WI) 109.55196131.17
MN Samuels (WI) 86.694.7189.94
MJ Clarke (Aus) 106.3331.3384.9
HM Amla (SA) 70.9374.8572.83
JH Kallis (SA) 705663.3
Azhar Ali (Pak) 55.16056.73
MEK Hussey (Aus) 61.6136.553.68
AB de Villiers (SA) 58.2146.7852.5
Asad Shafiq (Pak) 47.1164.2552.38

All Rounder: Jacques Kallis.

While Samuels came out as the best all-rounder for the year, he is already in the team for his batting (and there’s also a chance he won’t be allowed to bowl). Kallis has had a much improved year with the ball, his averages were similar to Dale Steyn for the year.

MN Samuels (WI) 89.9442.847.14
JH Kallis (SA) 63.330.8932.41
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak) 48.2428.3619.88
KS Williamson (NZ) 30.5241.67-11.15
MEK Hussey (Aus) 56.7373-16.27
SR Watson (Aus) 31.748-16.3

Keeper: AB de Villiers

De Villiers almost made the team as a batsman alone. Ramdin recovered well from having calls for his head at the start of the year.

NameOverall AverageAway AverageWeighted average
AB de Villiers (SA) 48.5548.5548.56
D Ramdin (WI) 42.8754.1647.71
MJ Prior (Eng) 38.8539.6239.07
MS Wade (Aus) 36.2739.637.31
MS Dhoni (India) 40.6324.3337.14
Adnan Akmal (Pak) 25.2537.6628.64

Bowlers: Tino Best, Tim Southee, Narsingh Deonarine and Vernon Philander

This was the big surprise for me. Where is Dale Steyn? Where is James Anderson? Probably the best two bowlers in the world and they don’t even feature. Likewise Saeed Ajmal just gets pipped. These are not the bowlers that I would pick if I were selecting a team other than on stats.

bowleroverall averageaway averageweighted average
TL Best (WI) 16.2714.9215.69
TG Southee (NZ) 22.6417.320.08
N Deonarine (WI) 19-20.27
VD Philander (SA) 21.1121.8321.45
BW Hilfenhaus (Aus) 21.6720.821.49
Junaid Khan (Pak) 24.1421.7822.96
Saeed Ajmal (Pak) 20.5629.9323.17
PM Siddle (Aus) 23.0938.3324.14
KAJ Roach (WI) 22.2534.2524.3
MA Starc (Aus) 25.0527.525.27
Abdur Rehman (Pak) 22.6441.3326.26
HMRKB Herath (SL) 23.6162.1627.12
MS Panesar (Eng) 26.0329.3127.23
GP Swann (Eng) 29.9323.6127.54
PP Ojha (India) 25.96-27.7
JM Anderson (Eng) 29.526.6128.62
TA Boult (NZ) 30.7727.0529.1
DW Steyn (SA) 29.7129.0829.41


  1. While going on averages is one thing, it's quite misleading because it doesn't take into account sheer number of runs/wickets taken as well as strike rates & quality of opposition. Not to mention inflated batting averages due to not outs. Deonarine over Ajmal for example is absurd considering the number of wickets Ajmal took & the number of matches he won.

    Philander & Southee were very good this year, not too sure about Tino Best though considering all those Bangladeshi wickets he picked up. As for keeper, weren't a large portion of AB's runs scored without the gloves? Didn't realise Ramdin had such a high average but again, it may be misleading. The sensible pick would be Prior but I'd go with AB too, just 'cos of his pure ability. Gotta have some flair ;)

    Clarke obviously deserves to be in the side through sheer weight of runs (away average barely counts considering how few matches he played away) & would be my captain too. Again Samuels & Chanderpaul have been fantastic but Kallis & Amla have scored away against better opposition (though Kallis is already in the team obviously, so I'd take Amla over Samuels because of the Bangladesh factor again).

    Cook & Smith no arguments there at least haha, cheers.

    1. You make some good points, but I'll respond to a couple of them.

      Firstly Deonarine actually had a much better year than you think. Here's the list of batsmen he dismissed:
      Clarke (twice)
      Cowan (twice)
      Willimason (twice)
      van Wyk

      You'll notice that all of them are specialist batsmen or wicket keepers except Ryan Harris. I'm not sure that they can be called cheap wickets.

      In general wicket-keepers dominate spin bowlers, so for a spinner to get out a keeper almost every time he bowled to one says something.

      I don't disagree that Ajmal is a better bowler. (For that matter I think Herath, Swann, Ojha, Patel, Petersen, Panesar, Ashwin, Rehman etc. are all better bowlers than Deonarine), but this is not a list of the best players, but the players who played the best.

      Next, Tino Best did take a bunch of wickets against Bangladesh. But Bangladeshi pitches offer nothing for quick bowlers. Over the last 3 years, all other quick bowlers combined have averaged over 30 when playing against Bangladesh in Bangladesh. Best averaged 14. It's hard not to acknowledge that.

      Also, when looking at a keeper, I only looked at matches where AB had the gloves.

      Chanderpaul has averaged 86 against Australia and 78 against England. Samuels averaged 97 against England and didn't play against Australia. I don't think that they can be accused of not performing against the quality attacks.

    2. Fair enough on Deonarine, but I still think Ajmal warrants the place because he took 39 wickets in 12 innings to Deonarine's 15 in 10. Plus Deonarine wasn't tested away.

      As for Best, point most certainly taken. And admittedly he does have that heroic 95 from no.11 to his name! Apologies for the AB mistake on my part, can't believe he can be that good away against England & Australia with the gloves on. He accumulated moderate runs and really let rip with that 169 at the end, although that came on a day when he had to do no glovework.

      I still have to disagree on Amla's exclusion just because of his pivotal role in what were the two most important series of the year, away from home. Samuels or Chanderpaul flip a coin I think, Chanderpaul does have quite a lot of not-out inflation going on.

  2. Roach, Hilfenhaus or (my pick) Siddle should be in there ahead of Best really. Siddle really was the Australian attack's leader this year so he should slot in, & you can make a case for one of the other two ahead of Southee. Herath would be the second choice for spinner after Ajmal.

    Hussey, Samuels & Ross Taylor would be my shouts for the middle order after Amla, Chanders & Clarke of course. Kallis & Philander would both be all rounders really to be honest. Openers pick themselves.

    Smith, Amla, Kallis, AB & Philander all merit a spot, no wonder South Africa became no.1. Steyn & Morkel contributed when they were most needed with timely contributions from Du Plessis & Duminy too.

    Steyn & Anderson only had moderate averages but when they contributed they contributed to wins & as you said are probably the best fast & swing bowlers respectively.