It is raining centuries in Test cricket and this week, we’ve tons of performances that could’ve made it to the top 5 most other weeks. But, we can pick just 5 and conditions and situation of the match had to be taken into context. There were shorter format games as well complicating the whole equation but we did manage to pull out the top 5 cricketers of the week (in no particular order).
Three of those are not names that will surprise you at all, but the other two are good news for cricket, considering we are always looking for performances from the rookies and from those who have still not cemented their spot in their national sides.
#1 Mitchell Starc - 84 and 4/36
The Boxing Day Test was curtailed because of rain. Pakistan batted first and scored 443. Very few teams lose from that position, leave alone by an innings, especially in a rain-curtailed match. A lot of credit goes to two players – Steve Smith, the Australian skipper, who smashed an unbeaten 165* and Mitchell Starc. Starc ensured Australia had a huge lead, smashing 84 off just 91 balls with 7 sixes, which is no mean achievement at the MCG.
Then with the ball, Starc returned figures of 4/36 ensuring Pakistan ended like a train-wreck, imploding for 163 in just 53.2 overs in their second innings. All they had to do was survive the final two sessions of the final day, but when bowlers like Starc steam in on a fifth-day track, not much can be done.
#4 Kane Williamson – 95* and 73*
Bangladesh is having a torrid time in New Zealand. The mauling has been particularly handed by the bedrock of New Zealand batting – the skipper, Kane Williamson. Williamson ensured an ODI whitewash of Bangladesh scoring an unbeaten 95* in the third ODI, when New Zealand chased down 239 in just 41.2 overs, well-supported by Neil Broom, who scored a 97-ball 97.
In the first T20I, Williamson continued his fine form and the great start to the year, scoring an unbeaten 55-ball 73* chasing down 143 in just 18 overs.
#3 Dean Elgar – 129
The pitches in South Africa are doing quite a bit – not a surprise, given Sri Lanka’s inexperienced batting will find it really tough on such tracks. At Cape Town that could’ve backfired when South Africa, put into bat in the second Test of the series, lost their opener Stephen Cook in the very first over.
After a 66-run partnership, Hashim Amla lost his stumps and in the same over, JP Duminy had to walk back to the pavilion too. At 66 for 3, Sri Lanka had South Africa nervous. But the host’s other opener, Dean Elgar battled the conditions and ensured South Africa had an imposing first innings total.
Elgar batted 230 balls for his 129 and was the sixth wicket to go, after adding 76 with Faf du Plessis and then another 103 with Quinton de Kock, once again when South Africa were in trouble at 169 for 5. South Africa eventually managed 392, thanks to a de Kock century that came off just 124 balls. Quinton in the process also broke the record for fewest innings by a wicket-keeper batsman to score 1000 Test runs.
#4 Lahiru Kumara – 6/122
Left-arm fast bowler, Kumara became Sri Lanka’s second youngest bowler to take a five-wicket haul at the young age of 19 years 324 days. At the end of the first day at Cape Town, in the second Test, South Africa, after having been asked to bat were all out for 392.
Kumara picked up six of those wickets including the big ones of Amla, Duminy (both in one over), Temba Bavuma and the dangerous Quinton de Kock and then cleaned up the tail. It was a different thing that the batting totally let him down as Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 110 in their first innings. Kumara is only playing his third Test which adds to the amount of credit he deserves for his lion-hearted bowling.
#5 David Warner – 113
Warner is in the form of his life and he is definitely making it count. Warner smashed an incredible 95-ball 113 with a strike-rate of 118.94 at the Sydney Cricket Ground making a good Pakistan bowling attack look pedestrian. Warner was out when the score was 151 in just the 33rd over and he made 113 of those runs, which shows how dominating his innings was.
That is why, we pick him ahead of his opening partner, the 20-year old Matt Renshaw, who made his maiden century in only his fourth Test and has already broken into the top 10 highest scores at the SCG by an opener – 167*. Nevertheless, it was largely Warner’s innings that deflated the Pakistan bowling as Australia ended the day on 365 for 3. Warner’s innings was studded with 17 fours and surprisingly, no sixes at all.