Best Test XI based on performances in the last two years
- A look at the best 11 players, in various positions, in Test cricket since January 2018.
- The list includes the Indian quartet of Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah
Whenever you hear the name Test cricket, there are some compelling attributes like resilience, patience, grit, determination, and hard work that come to your mind.
Well, Test cricket for long has extensively tested the aforementioned attributes of players and teams like no other format.
Although of late Test cricket has seen a diminishing audience, it remains the purest and most testing form of the sport. On that note, let us have a look at the best Test XI comprising of active players in the game, based on player performances since January 2018.
Current Best Test XI:
#1 Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal, a budding Indian cricketer from Karnataka, made his Test debut against Australia in December 2018. Since then, he has been a regular fixture in the Indian opening set-up. Since his debut, the Karnataka opener has played all eleven Tests the team has played in.
The right-handed opener has amassed 974 Test runs at an average of 57.29. His tally includes two double tons, a century and four fifties. In overseas Tests, Mayank Agarwal has donned a Test cap on six occasions and scored 377 runs at an average of 34.27.
Agarwal's selection ahead of David Warner might sound debatable. However, owing to his superior overseas record compared to that of Warner's, Agarwal forces himself into our XI. From a purely statistical perspective, since January 2018, Warner has played eight overseas Tests, notching up 312 runs at an underwhelming average of 19.50.
Thus, with a better record (both home and away), the Karnataka batsman pips David Warner to make our XI.
#2 Tom Latham
Tom Latham, a mainstay in the New Zealand Test team, has had an excellent run in the recent past. The left-hander, in the last two years, has played 18 Tests and scored 1431 runs at an average of 51.1, a tally that includes a double-ton, four centuries and five fifties.
Moreover, the Kiwi opener also holds a decent overseas record during this period. Since January 2018, Latham has played eight Tests on foreign soil and scored 454 runs at an average just below 31. His tally of overseas Test runs includes two fifties and a century.
Besides, the Kiwi opener happens to be the second-highest run-getter for New Zealand in Test matches during this said period.
Hence, with decent numbers up his sleeve, Tom Latham, alongside Mayank Agarwal, would form the opening combination of our Test XI.
#3 Steve Smith
Steve Smith is arguably the best Test batsman at the moment. Despite serving a one-year ban, since January 2018, Smith has compiled the second-most Test runs for Australia.
Having played 13 Tests in the last two years, the Australian has scored 1253 runs with one double-ton, two centuries and seven fifties, at an excellent average of 59.66.
The numero uno Test batsman boasts an excellent overseas Test record as well. During this period, Smith has been a part of seven Tests overseas where he amassed 916 runs at an impressive average of 70.46.
With excellent batting numbers to bolster his case, Smith would bat at No.3 in this lineup.
#4 Virat Kohli (Captain)
If there is any batsman in the world who can challenge Steve Smith in Test cricket, then it is the Indian captain - Virat Kohli. Undoubtedly the best all-format batsman and an excellent stroke-maker, Kohli has been a treat to watch.
Since January 2018, the Indian skipper has notched up 1972 runs at an average of 53.29, which is the second-most by any batsman since January 2018. Kohli has scored a double-ton, six centuries and seven fifties during this period.
Kohli has shown his ability to score in any part of the world. During the aforementioned period, the Indian captain has smoked 1335 runs (the most by any batsman in foreign conditions) at an average of 43.06.
Besides scoring plenty of runs, Kohli has also had a decent captaincy record in Test matches during this period. Since January 2018, the Delhite has captained India in 23 Tests and has won 13 of them, which is second-most by any captain during the said period.
With impressive batting numbers as a player and thirteen Test wins as a captain, Virat Kohli is an undisputed choice as the number four batsman of our team and its skipper as well.
#5 Kane Williamson
With a keen sense of game awareness, the New Zealand skipper, Kane Williamson, is one of the best Test batsmen at the moment. The right-hander has scored runs consistently for his team in the longest format of the game.
Having featured in 17 Tests since January 2018, the New Zealand captain has scored 1262 runs at an average of 52.58, doing so with four centuries and six fifties.
Williamson, a batsman of calm demeanour, has an excellent overseas record as well. Since January 2018, the Black Caps skipper has donned the Test cap on seven occasions and scored 467 runs at an average just below 39.
Owing to his batting exploits coupled with his ability to play the ball late, Williamson would slot himself at the No.5 spot in this XI.
#6 BJ Watling (Wicketkeeper)
Watling's selection ahead of the players mentioned above might surprise everyone. But the underrated Kiwi wicketkeeper boasts of excellent glove-work behind the stumps. Since January 2018, Watling has been a part of 72 dismissals (70 catches and two stumpings), which is the third-most by any wicketkeeper since January 2018.
Talking of his batting exploits, since January 2018, the Kiwi wicket-keeper has played 18 Tests where he has amassed 956 runs at a decent average of 39.83. In addition to that, Watling holds an excellent overseas record as well. Having been a part of eight Tests away from home since January 2018, the Black Caps wicketkeeper has scored 462 runs at an average of 35.53.
Due to his double credentials of a decent batting profile and excellent glove-work behind the stumps, Watling would be the wicket-keeper of this side.
#7 Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes is by far the best all-rounder at the moment. He happens to be one of the very few all-rounders who can make it to any Test XI solely as a batsman or as a bowler. Hence, Stokes would need very little justification for his place in this XI.
Since January 2018, the English all-rounder has scored runs aplenty. Having donned the Test cap on 24 occasions during this period, Stokes has registered 1627 runs (third-most by any batsman since January 2018) with three centuries and nine fifties, doing so at a decent average of 37.83.
With the ball, Stokes has been England's third-highest wicket-taker (52 wickets) since January 2018.
Due to his all-round ability and performances to boot, Stokes gets the nod over other all-rounders.
#8 Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins is arguably Australia's best bowler in Tests at the moment. Ever since his comeback in 2017, the New South Wales paceman has been on the top of his game.
Since January 2018, Cummins has scalped 107 wickets at a miserly average of 20.00. It is the most wickets by any bowler in Test cricket during this period.
Moreover, the Australian paceman holds an excellent overseas record as well. Having been a part of nine Tests away from home since January 2018, Cummins has grabbed 51 wickets (highest for an Australian) at an excellent bowling average of 20.41.
Cummins is also a decent batsman down the order, who would add depth to the batting lineup of our XI. Hence, with an excellent bowling record (both home and away) and his batting credentials, Cummins slots himself at the No.8 spot in our XI.
#9 Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami, a paceman from UP, is more worthy than what we perceive him to be. The fast-bowling express from Amroha has been one of the finest red-ball bowlers for India in recent times.
Talking about his performances in numbers, Shami is India's highest wicket-taker in Tests since January 2018. Having featured in 23 Tests since January 2018, the right-arm bowler has taken 85 wickets at an exceptional bowling average of 23.54.
Besides, Shami tallies an outstanding overseas Test record as well. During the said period, he played 14 Tests away from home where he scalped 61 wickets at an impressive average of 26.88.
#10 Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon has contested the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Yasir Shah to seal the No.10 spot in this playing XI. So, what makes Lyon so great to have beaten the aforementioned trio? It is his consistency across different conditions that makes him the only spinner in this XI.
Lyon happens to be the only spinner to feature in the list of top 10 leading wicket-takers since January 2018. Having played 22 Tests during this period, Lyon has picked up 104 wickets (second-most by any bowler since January 2018) at a bowling average of 31.55.
The off-spinner has featured in 11 overseas Tests since January 2018, scalping 48 wickets (most by any spinner since January 2018) at a bowling average of 36.12.
#11 Jasprit Bumrah
What a find Jasprit Bumrah has been for India! Bumrah is the best all-format bowler for India at the moment.
Moreover, there may not be too many doubts over his place in this XI. With a unique action, controlled line and length and good seam movement, the Gujarat paceman would be an asset for this side.
Since January 2018, Bumrah has taken 68 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 20.33. During this period he has taken five five-wicket hauls. Bumrah has the third-highest tally of wickets in Test matches by an Indian bowler during this period.
Interestingly, all of Bumrah's Test wickets since January 2018 have come away from home, which makes his numbers more impressive.