Some years are about one-team domination, a year where numbers are entirely dominated by players from that team. 2015 thankfully was a great year for cricket, giving us some amazing Test series, the inaugural Day-Night Test played with the pink ball, some brilliant Test innings and some excellent bowling spells.It is also the first time in a long while that Dale Steyn wasn’t one of the top 10 Test bowlers in the world, having played just 5 Tests to pick 17 wickets. It explains to some extent why South Africa as a team isn’t at the top of the charts, having lost four of their last five Tests. However, 2015 will be remembered for quite a few things:Spinners were back occupying four of the top 10 slots and two of the top 3. There was variety too with two off-spinners, a leg-spinner and a left-arm orthodox spinner in that list.It was not the usually celebrated names that dominated the list – more the unsung heroes who finally found some limelight.The averages were a beauty to watch, clearly showing that the ball can still hold its sway. Of the 10 bowlers, only two had an average over 30, one of them marginally tipping over.6 of the 10 bowlers boasted of an impressive strike-rate of below 50 balls.The top 10 bowlers hail from as many as six different countries. Three of the top 10 bowlers, though, are from Australia and we haven’t included the great Mitchell Johnson. It is to the credit of the two English bowlers in the list and the backup crew that England still managed to win the home Ashes convincingly.Let us look at the top 10 bowlers. Mind you, it is not an out and out order based on wickets taken this year or lowest averages and strike-rates. It is a subjective list based on all of the parameters, which is why Moeen Ali, who has 39 wickets, 9th highest, misses out of the list, considering his unimpressive average of 39.94.
#10 Rangana Herath
Herath is the only bowler apart from Ashwin to pick 10 wickets in a match this year. He ended 2015 with 37 wickets at 35.59 apiece, having played 3 Tests fewer than Ali who picked up 39.
By Herath’s standards, these are ordinary numbers but the left-arm spinner won a Test for Sri Lanka against India at home with a brilliant 7/48, while Ali, his nearest competitor hasn’t managed a single five-wicket haul.
Herath is standing on the verge of retirement at close to 38 years, having played 67 Tests and picked up 297 wickets at 29.87. Herath managed just 4 wickets in 2 Tests in New Zealand, at the end of the year and time is running out on the wily left-armer with deadly accuracy.
Nevertheless, he may get a few more games, considering Sri Lanka haven’t exactly unearthed another spinner who can pick wickets and also be inexpensive when playing away from home.