Bowlers in this day and age are judged in all formats of the game by their economy, average or five-wicket hauls. However, the most real factor that judges a bowler's wicket taking ability, goes missing - the strike rate.
In Test match cricket, in particular, I feel strike rate is the best way to judge a bowler's performance given that in Tests, averages and economy do not matter as much as the ability to pluck out wickets.
But, there needs to be a clear criterion when judging the best bowlers based on strike rate. Mere sorting can pop up names likes Alastair Cook or Mark Boucher who have bowled just 18 and 8 balls respectively their whole career. As strike rate is balls delivered per wicket taken, Cook and Boucher, who have 1 Test wicket apiece can feature right at the top of the list.
Hence, a minimum number of overs criterion must also be considered.
To find the best Test bowlers of 2016, I will try to separate the dust from the gravel and keep a criteria of a minimum of five matches played and a minimum of 100 overs delivered. Keeping this filter, we come across five names sorted by their strike rates, who perfectly fit in as the best performers with the red cherry this year.
Have a quick look at their performances right through the year.
#5 Chris Woakes
The English all-rounder revelled in a year marked by the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Shouldering a lot of responsibility, Woakes has been a standout performer for England in Tests. He had two outstanding home series’ against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, taking over from Finn and Jordan as the no.1 back up bowler to Anderson and Broad.
His numbers in the year have been quite stunning. In 10 Tests during the year, Woakes has 39 wickets at a strike rate of 45.7 with two five-wicket hauls and one-ten wicket haul. His best performance came against Pakistan at Lord's where he picked 6/70 in the first innings and followed that up with a 5/32 in the second innings.
Admittedly, he could not replicate the same kind of success in sub-continental conditions and had a forgettable tour of Bangladesh, where England struggled to a tame 1-1 draw. Ben Stokes is close on his trail with 26 wickets in 9 games at a strike rate of 47.3.