With hardly any big ICC event, 2018 can easily be described as the year that belonged to Test cricket. Throughout the year whether it was India’s overseas tours, the controversial Australian tour of South Africa or New Zealand in the UAE. Every test series managed to ignite some fierce battles. Of course, Afghanistan and Ireland made their debut to traditional cricket this year which was another landmark. There were some breathtaking and absolutely majestic performances throughout the year. Based on the same, here we try to list down our Test XI of 2018:
The Sri Lankan batsman has displayed tremendous form this year. For a team that has been going through a crisis ever since the retirement of their heavyweights, the 23-year-old stepped up in the middle order for Sri Lanka. With a run tally of 1023 runs at an average of 46.50 in 2018, Kusal Mendis rightly grabs his spot in the playing XI. He also scored three centuries this year alongside four half-centuries.
The saviour of New Zealand at the middle order. His batting form has been excellent and has often come to rescue for the Kiwis. The perfect highlight will be his century in the Abu Dhabi test where he created a complete turnaround for his team. The Kiwi skipper scored 651 runs that too at a splendid batting average of 59.18 in 2018. As a captain, he also led New Zealand to a splendour test win against Pakistan in UAE.
In a year lined up with overseas tours, Virat Kohli continued to rise high. First, in South Africa where the conditions were absolutely difficult, Kohli led the batting charts with 286 runs in 3 Tests. Then coming back to England four years later with memories of a horrendous tour, he slammed 593 runs in 5 tests and was the highest run scorer. He also slammed a century at the bowler’s paradise Perth in the ongoing India-Australia series. Finishing the year with 1322 runs and scoring a hundred in every series he played, King Kohli will walk his way into any playing XI.
AB De Villiers
He may have bid farewell to the game this year but his performance was top notch in 2018. In what was a challenging series at home against India, AB De Villiers rose to the occasion and made valuable contributions. However, what followed against Australia was even phenomenal. Scoring 421 runs in the series at an extraordinary average of 71.17, he was the second biggest thing that haunted Australia in the series, first being sandpaper. One century and six fifties this year in 14 innings, AB De Villiers departed on a high and deservingly so.
While Pakistan struggled in the traditional format this year, Babar Azam proved his value-ability in the batting order. Whether the opponents were England, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, Babar managed to make his mark against everyone. His aggregate of 616 runs backed by an average of 56 in 2018 spoke a lot about his valour as a batsman. He scored a hundred and six half-centuries throughout the year.
The youngster had a dream year with the bat. He slammed three centuries this year against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All of these ended up on a winning note which describes his impact in the Kiwi batting lineup. Hailing from Christchurch, the batsman thus had the highest average of 73.11 with three fifties as well. While he did show glimpses of what he was capable of last year, 2018 is the year he managed to establish himself in front of the world.
Making a comeback to the test side, Jos Buttler managed to prove his credentials in the longer format. Not only did he score runs but also at a fascinating strike rate to bolster the batting. Batting at the lower order, he came to England’s rescue a fair bit of times whether it was against India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. The wicketkeeper-batsman ends 2018 not only after having conquered red ball cricket but also as the vice-captain for the Poms. An incredible year for the 28-year-old.
44 wickets at a brilliant average of 19.97 this year, Pat Cummins managed to get Virat Kohli’s wicket thrice in six occasions. Finishing the Ashes as the highest wicket-taker, he continued to pick wickets at an incredible pace in the South African tour as well as at home against India. As if the Australian spearhead was not already giving the opposition some sleepless nights following his atrocities with the ball, he also scored two fifties this year.
Regarded as one of the greatest off-spinner to represent Australia, Nathan Lyon had another great year in 2018. Picking 49 wickets and ending up as the third highest wicket-taker this year, Lyon continued to bamboozle the batsmen. He literally toyed with the Indian batsmen in the first two Tests before struggling at the MCG. For someone who doesn’t rely on turning tracks and rather extracts bounce from the surface for his off breakers, it was another mighty year for Lyon with the ball.
The highest wicket-taker of the year and the leader of the Proteas bowling lineup, is there anything Rabada hasn’t done correctly this year? Ok, yes, the temperament is a bit flared up but hey; he’s a quickie who’s not best with meditation.
Ranked as the No.1 bowler in the ICC rankings, Kagiso Rabada took a staggering 52 wickets at a bowling average of 20.07. The 23-year-old was stupendous against both India as well as Australia at home. He will particularly remember 2018 for the 11- wicket haul at Port Elizabeth where he blew away the Australian batting lineup.
For someone in his first year of Test cricket, there were a lot of expectations from him. Jasprit Bumrah has managed to exceed them and establish himself as the spearhead of India’s pace trio. 48 wickets in 9 Tests with an impressive bowling average of 21.02, Bumrah took a five-wicket haul in South Africa, England as well as in Australia. Every time he walked out to bowl, his unorthodox action alongside his sensational accuracy of yorkers always managed to flummox the batsmen.
The Windies skipper has often been underappreciated for all his efforts. He displayed some spectacular form with the bat whether it was rescuing the Caribbeans from a poor start or adding some valuable runs with the tail. Averaging a decent 37.33 with the bat, it was the bowling where he literally decimated the opposition. A spectacular bowling average of 12.39 this year with 33 wickets, Holder was on a roll with the red ball. He also picked four 5 wicket hauls throughout the year, which included an 11-wicket haul against Bangladesh.