Top 5 Test bowlers of the decade (2010-19)
The decade 2010-2019 has been a rather interesting one as far as Test cricket is concerned. The early years of the decade saw India rising to the number one spot in the Test rankings under MS Dhoni. However, that was completely to do with a tremendous run at home. They got a rude awakening when they visited England and Australia in 2011/12, as an ageing side full of stalwarts was whitewashed 4-0 in both the series.
The biggest Test triumph of the decade undoubtedly was Alastair Cook’s men conquering India in India in 2012. That apart, it has mostly been a case of teams utilising their home advantage to the fullest. Of course, there have been some stunning exceptions, with Sri Lanka becoming the first Asian team to register a Test series win in South Africa in 2019, ending the latter’s streak of seven home series wins. India also created history Down Under, albeit against a weakened Aussie outfit.
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Some fine bowlers have played significant roles in memorable Test wins for their respective sides over the course of the decade. Here’s a look at Top 5 Test bowlers of the decade. Performances in wins away from home have been given additional consideration.
#5. Rangana Herath
Matches -- 72, Wickets -- 363, Average -- 24.61, Strike Rate -- 57.50, Best Bowling in an innings -- 9/127
For a major chunk of his Test career, Rangana Herath lived under the shadow of the illustrious Muttiah Muralitharan. However, once the legendary Sri Lankan retired, the left-arm spinner came into his own, and blossomed into a match-winner himself. Herath is the fourth leading wicket-taker in the decade with 363 wickets from 72 Tests at an average of 24.61. He picked up as many as 30 five-fors in the decade, the best of the lot.
Like Murali, Herath starred in numerous Test wins at home for Sri Lanka, utilising the spinning conditions to the best of his ability. His accuracy while not getting wickets meant that the pressure was constantly on the batsmen. Herath’s best of 9 for 127 came in Pakistan’s first innings during the Colombo Test of August 2014. His 5 for 57 in Pakistan’s second innings bowled Sri Lanka to a 105-run triumph. Herath thus finished with career-best match figures of 14 for 184.
With 7 for 48 in India’s second innings, the left-arm spinner led the hosts to a famous 63-run triumph at Galle in August 2015. Chasing a small target of 176, India crumbled to 112. Galle was also the venue of another stunning performance by Herath, against England in March 2012. The spinner picked up six-fors in both innings as Lanka won by 75 runs. Herath featured in six away Test wins, and claimed 38 wickets at an average of 18.73. His finest moment came during the Durban Test in December 2011, a game in which he picked up nine wickets, which resulted in one of Sri Lanka's most famous wins.
By the time the decade neared its end, Herath had distinctly created a place for himself among the all-time great spinners.