Rohit Sankar puts together a XI of players who made their debut during the World Test Championship and have enjoyed somewhat of a honeymoon at the start of the Test careers.
10 Tests, 569 runs @ 35.56, two 100s, one 50, HS: 174
Abid Ali, a veteran in domestic cricket, eased into international cricket with hundreds in each of his first two Tests against Sri Lanka at home. His bigger test came in England in 2020, and he showed signs of finding his feet as a Test opener. Despite a rut in New Zealand and in the home series against South Africa, Abid showed enough to suggest he could be a good Test opener for a while.
Seven Tests, 378 runs @ 34.36, no 100s, three 50s, HS: 91
He hasn’t quite taken the international arena by storm yet, but Shubman Gill showed skill and composure in a tough tour of Australia when he was thrown into the deep end. Good off the front and back foot, Gill has appeared mature beyond his years so far in his Test career. A minor dip in the home series against England notwithstanding, Gill has been one of the best debutant openers this inaugural cycle of the WTC.
Three Tests, 375 runs @ 75, one 100s, two 50s, HS: 113*
While Kyle Mayers has hogged the headlines, Nkrumah Bonner has silently notched up more runs than his teammate, playing a huge role in the three Tests he has been part of so far. A solid batsman, Bonner was quoted stating that he “gets paid to make runs and be consistent”. He has been exactly that in his short Test career so far.
One Test, 112 runs @ 56, One 100, no 50s, HS: 103
A dream start to his first-class career translated into a dream Test debut as he went onto script a brilliant hundred from No.6 in the first Test against West Indies. A highly touted talent, Nissanka’s promotion up the order is a matter of time in the Sri Lankan setup.
Three Tests, 358 runs @ 71.6, one 100, one 50, HS: 210*
A debut for the ages marked Kyle Mayers’ introduction to Test cricket. In a scintillating run-chase in the fourth innings in Bangladesh, Mayers went from saving the Test to winning it for the Windies with an unbeaten double century. He followed it up with a couple of classy knocks from the middle order in the last Test against Sri Lanka.
Joshua da Silva (wk)
Four Tests, 280 runs @ 40, 0 100s, two 50s, 10 catches
The talented West Indies wicketkeeper has had a good start to his Test career, averaging 40 after four Tests with a few handy knocks to show for. He is benefitted by a lack of competition in the ‘keeping department, but his batting numbers show he is more than capable of holding his own in the No.6 role.
Six Tests, 31 wickets @ 32.06, two five-wicket hauls, one 50, Best: 7-75
The West Indian was in tight competition with Washington Sundar for this spot. While Sundar has contributed more on the batting front, Cornwall has stood out with his traditional off-breaks and a fifty in the last Test against Sri Lanka definitely tilts the balance his way by a bit.
Three Tests, 27 wickets @ 10.59, four five-wicket hauls, Best: 6-38
A dream start to his Test career saw Axar Patel return with 27 wickets in the home series against England in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. Axar equalled the most five-wicket hauls in the entire World Test Championship in one series.
Six Tests, 36 wickets @ 13.27, four five-wicket hauls, Best: 6-48
The best average among fast bowlers in the WTC, Kyle Jamieson made a rollicking start to his Test career. Using the helpful conditions in New Zealand to his advantage, Jamieson destroyed teams with his high-arm release and fuller length. He took five-wicket hauls against each of the three teams he played against in the WTC. His batting prowess – exemplified by an average of 56 in his short career so far – makes him an elite pick in this XI.
13 Tests, 42 wickets @ 31.04, three five-wicket hauls, Best: 6-45
Jofra Archer was earmarked for greatness long before he started his international career. But it began in stunning fashion in the Ashes in 2019 where he tormented the Aussies with his pace and throat-killers. He finished the Ashes with 22 wickets at 20.27, though he hasn’t quite those heights since in Test cricket looks a serious prospect.
10 Tests, 39 wickets @ 29.84, three five-wicket hauls, Best: 6-56
A tough debut in India where he bowled 25 overs for no wickets in his first innings was followed by a quick surge once he returned to greener pastures. The series against England in South Africa brought out the best in Nortje as he topped the wicket-taking charts. In these two years, he has gone from a tearaway seamer to one of South Africa’s first-choice Test picks.
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