Sportskeeda's Test XI of the year

Alastair Cook
Cook kept churning out runs
Manish Pathak

If there were concerns about the health of Test cricket in the past, 2016 played a crucial role in dispelling all such apprehensions.

From Day-Night Test matches to 5-match Test series between top-ranked nations, this year saw it all.

Also, this year drove home the point that teams generally dominate at home, but struggle to get going overseas.

India emerged as the Team to beat and under Virat Kohli, the Men in Blue remained an unbeaten unit throughout the year.

There were many players from across the nations who put up their hands and performed on a fairly consistent basis and towards the end of the season became lynchpins for their respective teams.

Also read: Sportskeeda Cricket Awards 2016: Test batsman of the year

Here is our attempt to bring these players under one umbrella by devising a team of the year.

#1 Alastair Cook

The England captain had a very tough year as the leader of a deflated English unit, but Cook the batsman kept churning out the runs as he has done right through his career. Ever since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, there have been as many as 14 players who have walked with Cook to face the new ball, but only Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings looked like a long-term prospect.

Amidst all the uncertainties, the England captain has always looked assured and did what he does best, which is to grind down the opposition and accumulate runs.

His leadership has come under the scanner, but his batting is looking as confident as ever. He is a definite choice to bunt the new ball.

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#2 Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali
Azhar Ali was both solid and secure

The Pakistan Vice Captain has assumed the role of an opener wth some distinction and has quickly established himself as one of best openers in the world currently.

His technique is cut out for Test match and his risk-free approach to the game has made him one of the fulcrums of the Pakistan batting order. He has the ability to soak up the pressure and dig in for the long haul.

This has yielded great dividends for Pakistan as the other stroke makers can then play their game.

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The left-right combination at the top of the order would work perfectly for the team!

#3 Joe Root

Joe Root
A prolific run scorer for the team

The England number 3 was the best Test batsman in the year and emerged as the leading run-scorer in the format.

His consistency was a real boon for England and he kept coming out and scoring runs at number 3, which is one of the most crucial positions in the team.

However, his conversion rate was not as great, but his string of scores was a testament to his consistency.

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#4 Virat Kohli (Captain)

Virat Kohli
A memorable year for Virat Kohli

The Indian captain had a dream year in 2016 across formats, and by the end of the year, he established himself as a prominent player in the longest format too.

There were so many occasions when he walked out when his team was in a spot of bother, but then his approach and intensity in the middle took away the game from the opposition.

He notched up 3 triple hundreds in the year, and his form and hunger to score runs never ceased to amaze.

Apart from his prolific run with the bat, he was also inspirational as the captain of the team, and thus he will lead this Test team of the year.

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#5 Steven Smith

Steven Smith
A lynchpin of the batting order

The Australian Team had a mixed season this year. After having been defeated by Sri Lanka on turning pitches, the Steven Smith-led side had to face further embarrassment when they went down to a spirited South Africa 2-1 in a 3-match series.

However, the captain and the selectors decided to make some wholesale changes to the squad and introduced many new players for the third and final Test against South Africa which was slated to be a day-night affair.

Smith led the way and held fort all throughout the tumultuous year, and kept scoring runs. He displayed tremendous grit and ability and was one of the best and most consistent batsmen for Australia.

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#6 Jonny Bairstow

Jonny Bairstow
A solid middle-order batsman emerged

The England wicket-keeper batsman had a memorable year and his performances this year established him as one of the leading wicket-keeper batsmen in the world.

Ever since he has made a comeback into the team he has looked a different player. With a tweaked technique and solid temperament, Bairstow kept playing match defining innings all through the year.

He bailed England out of many tricky situations with his calm approach and solid ability with the bat.

With the gloves, he has come a long way and is now far more assured behind the stumps. All-in-all, it was a breakthrough year for Jonny Bairstow.

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#7 Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes
A match-winner with both bat and ball

With immense promise and potential, Ben Stokes has emerged as one of the premier all-rounders in the world.

He became a vital asset for the team both with the ball and the bat. His improvement against spin has been one of the biggest positives in his game.

With the ball, he became the best exponent of reverse swing and was one of the standout performers in the otherwise dismal tour of the sub-continent.

Stokes has unbridled ability and in the coming years, he could establish himself as one the premier match-winners in the game.

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#8 Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin
A man, a machine!

The number one Test bowler was an unstoppable force in 2016. He was taking wickets for fun and won a million matches for India almost single-handedly.

He was no slouch with the bat either and scored 2 centuries. Both these efforts were back to the wall innings which underlined the importance of the man to the team’s cause.

During the year, he became the second-fastest bowler to 200 wickets at Kanpur against New Zealand.

Also read: Ravichandran Ashwin bags brace of ICC annual awards

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#9 Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc
A deadly prospect even in Tests

The left-armer had already established himself as one of the best exponents with the white ball. However, this year brought to the fore his immense potential with the red/pink nut.

He was lethal with the new ball and equally adept with the older one. Starc was one the shining lights in Sri Lanka and regularly claimed top order wickets against South Africa and Pakistan.

With his swing and pace, Starc is bound to cause some severe problems to batsmen all over the world in the coming years.

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#10 Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad
A complete Test bowler!

There is no denying the fact that Stuart Broad is a complete bowler, and if the conditions are remotely in his favour, he has the ability to wreak havoc.

Apart from this, the experienced man has also developed a canny leg-cutter which he employs to great effect in the subcontinent.

He was plagued with few injury concerns right throughout the year, but when he was fit and available, he became a solid proposition for the batsmen.

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#11 Rangana Herath

Rangana Herath
A magician, a maverick!

The diminutive left-arm spinner from Sri Lanka is without a doubt one the best left-arm tweakers going around currently. His demolition job of the Australians is one for the memories, and his self-effacing attitude is a bundle of joy.

Herath also displayed some fine leadership skills when he was given the mantle of a young Sri Lankan team in Zimbabwe, and the added responsibility only spurred him on the put on an even better display.

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Edited by Staff Editor


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