Presenting an XI of current cricketers who are relatively new to the Test arena, but have already created a significant impact in the longest format of the game.
Test cricket can be a hard format to figure out, but for some, the transition is much easier than it is for others. The current international scene is packed with talented Test cricketers, some of whom are on course to become future superstars of the sport. The following team fits together 11 of those players from around the world, all of whom have played fewer than 25 Tests so far.
Numbers have been updated till 17 February 2021.
5 Tests, 352 runs @ 39.11, 0 100s, HS: 91
India’s latest batting prodigy has seamlessly integrated into their Test team, essaying fluent drives and flicks to become their incumbent opener alongside Rohit Sharma. In the existing Indian line-up, Gill has kept out Mayank Agarwal, another contender for a spot in this team, but Gill’s recent form (and Mayank’s lack of runs) pips him to the spot.
24 Tests, 1,760 runs @ 40.93, 5 100s, HS: 152
Touted as South Africa’s next big thing for a while, Markram has already given ample evidence of his batting flair, levelheadedness and leadership nous in a short span. An U19 World Cup winner and future Test captaincy material, Markram continues to be one of the team’s key figures, despite a dip in form that spread across 2019.
18 Tests, 1,885 runs @ 60.80, 5 100s, HS: 215
The leading Test run-getter in 2019, Labuschagne currently boasts of an enviable average of 60.80 in an 18-Test career thus far. Fuelled by his insatiable appetite for runs, Labuschagne already has five Test centuries, three of which have been 150-plus scores, and one, a double hundred. A run-machine in the truest sense, and one of the first names in the Australian XI.
15 Tests, 741 runs @ 35.28, 1 100, HS: 135*
The enterprising batsman was dubbed a ‘real find’ by Andrew Strauss in 2020, who backed him to come good across formats. In first-class cricket, he averages 52.89 and brings about a refreshing approach to long-format batting with his enterprising shot-making. Add to that his close-in fielding abilities, and you have a complete package.
18 Tests, 1,256 runs @ 44.85, 2 100s, HS: 159*, 71 catches, 5 stumpings
A genuine match-winner on his day, who appears to set out every innings with the single-minded focus of decimating the opposition. With an exceptional range of strokes up his sleeve and hand-eye coordination to match, Pant has emerged as one of Test cricket’s most impactful young cricketers. The second India-England Test was evidence that his wicketkeeping, too, is on an upward curve.
13 Tests, 754 runs @ 44.35, 1 100, HS: 115*, 32 catches, 1 stumping
Rizwan’s second wind as a Test cricketer has seen him emerge as Pakistan’s first-choice wicketkeeper and one of their most dependable batsmen. A diligent cricketer whose sensible batting has been the highlight of Pakistan’s middle order recently, Rizwan capped off his rise with an unbeaten maiden Test ton last month. A T20I century last week only reinforces his tremendous growth as a cricketer.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz
24 Tests, 100 wickets @ 32.42, BBI: 7-58; 836 runs @ 20.90, HS: 103
A standout U19 performer, Mehidy Hasan made an early transition to international cricket, debuting in Test cricket in 2016 aged 18. The off-breaks have so far fetched him 100 Test wickets (the fastest Bangladesh player to the milestone), and is a welcome change from the battery of left-arm spinners who invariably dominate Bangladesh cricket. His lower-order batting contributions cannot be missed; in the recent Chattogram Test where Kyle Mayers grabbed headlines, Mehidy Hasan fought his way to a maiden Test ton at No.8
6 Tests, 36 wickets @ 13.27, BBI: 6-48; 226 runs @ 56.50, HS: 51*
Statistically, Jamieson has had one of the most impressive starts to a Test career in the history of the game and ended 2020 as the third-highest wicket-taker in Tests. Beyond the numbers, though, it’s the mechanical accuracy, steep bounce and swing that makes him one of the most enticing prospects of the modern game. Along with that, he’s a powerful lower-order batsman, which raises his stock even further.
12 Tests, 41 wickets @ 31.21, BBI: 6-45
His face rarely portrays emotion, but there are few things as exciting in modern-day cricket as watching Jofra Archer bowl at full tilt. Possessing genuine pace and movement with unerring accuracy, and the ability to provide the extra lift off a good length, an on-song Archer is good enough to torment any opposition.
15 Tests, 48 wickets @ 32.33, BBI: 5-77
At just 20, Shaheen has already transitioned into being Pakistan’s fast-bowling spearhead, delivering telling performances over the last two years with his left-arm pace. A 6’6” frame imparts considerable extra bounce, but even on pitches that have little life, Shaheen creates an impact with his cutters, yorkers and deft variations of pace.
18 Tests, 83 wickets @ 21.87, BBI: 6-27
Before he ventured into Test cricket, there were doubts over his ability to convert his white-ball potential for the longest format, but Bumrah easily carried over his strengths to the red-ball game and has emerged as an equally good Test bowler. The angle his action creates, along with his accuracy, make for a formidable pairing, and the last three years have been a witness of that.