The current world Test XI, according to the ICC rankings
After a few eventful months of Test cricket, here is a World Test XI based on ICC Batting, Bowling, and All-Rounder Rankings.
It has been nearly six months since we last did this exercise. A lot has changed in Test cricket since then: Bazball has made purists squirm, Pakistan have struggled at home, a new Chanderpaul has arrived, Scott Boland has Scott Bolanded again, and fast bowlers have continued to rule.
Here is how we have approached this. Of the batters, we have picked the current two highest ranked specialist openers the highest ranked wicketkeeper, and the three highest ranked among the other batters; the top ranked all-rounder; and of the bowlers, the best spinner and the three best fast bowlers.
All statistics and rankings as of February 1, 2023
Usman Khawaja (Australia)
Current ICC Test batting ranking: 8th (770 points)
Having fallen out of favour after the 2019 Ashes, Khawaja finally returned to the XI in the next Ashes, in 2021/22, and celebrated his return with two hundreds in his comeback Test match. Khawaja’s second outing has amounted to 1,275 runs in 12 matches at 79.68, and he will play a key role on Australia’s upcoming tour of India.
Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
Current ICC Test batting ranking: 9th (748 points)
Karunaratne’s average fell from 69.38 in 2021 to 40.64 in 2022, but Sri Lanka’s immovable object at the top did enough to retain a place in the top 10 in ICC ranking. The phrase “leading from the front” is overused these days, but it is not lost on the Sri Lankan captain.
Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
Current ICC Test batting ranking: 1st (929 points)
Not only is Labuschagne the top-ranked contemporary batter but 12th on the all-time list – though that was based on his rating of 937 from December 12. Of contemporary cricketers, only Steve Smith (second, with 947 points) and Virat Kohli (11th, 937) have had a better ranking. All eyes will be on him in February and March.
Steve Smith (Australia)
Current ICC Test batting ranking: 2nd (892 points)
Hot on Labuschagne’s heels is his idol and friend Smith, who has been flirting with the 900-rating and 60-average marks for some time. His numbers had fallen since the lockdown – he made 783 runs at 41.21 between the lockdown and the 2021/22 season – but since then his 637 runs have come at 79.62.
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
Current ICC Test batting ranking: 3rd (862 points)
Pakistan’s ordinary run at home in 2022 was not because of Babar but despite him. Over the year, he made 1,184 runs – the most in the world – at 69.64 despite playing fewer innings than each of the next seven batters on the list. A significant proportion of his runs came while batting under pressure; all of them were easy on the eye.
Rishabh Pant (India) – wk
Current ICC Test all-rounder ranking: 7th (797 points)
In 2022, Pant made 680 runs at 61.81 while striking at 91, often batting up the order to take on the bowlers – all of this while keeping wicket. Of the several injuries to have hit the Indian camp, Pant’s – at the peak of his career – has probably hurt India the most.
Ravindra Jadeja (India)
Current ICC Test all-rounder ranking: 1st (369 points)
Jadeja had scaled the top of the rankings six years ago, but it is batting that makes him one of the finest Test cricketers in Indian history. Since the start of 2017, he has scored 1,675 runs at 45.27, sometimes batting in the top six, even at No.5. His all-round abilities came to forefront during the Mohali Test of 2021/22, where he followed his 175 not out with 5-41 and 4-46.
R Ashwin (India)
Current ICC Test bowling ranking: 4th (812 points)
Ashwin’s numbers (449 wickets at 24.30) are outstanding, but even they pale in comparison when pitted against the post-lockdown figures (84 wickets at 19.40). Already past 36, Ashwin is still 170 wickets behind Anil Kumble’s Indian record of 619 Test wickets: he will want to clear a part of that deficit by 2023.
Pat Cummins (Australia) – c
Current ICC Test bowling ranking: 1st (878 points)
Cummins attained top rank for the first time during the 2019 Ashes, on August 5, and has not relinquished the spot since. This may be an era of bowlers, but his numbers – 214 wickets at 21.25, a wicket every 47 balls – are ridiculous even by contemporary standards. Since Australia are the top-ranked side, it is fair that he gets to lead.
James Anderson (England)
Current ICC Test bowling ranking: 2nd (835 points)
The Methuselah of 21st-century cricket needs 126 wickets to go past Muttiah Muralitharan’s world record of 800 Test wickets and 34 short of Shane Warne’s tally. England use him well – he has bowled about 33 overs a match since the lockdown – and he has responded with 98 wickets at 20.73.
Jasprit Bumrah (India)
Current ICC Test bowling ranking: 3rd (812 points)
The presence of four Indians in the XI, none of whom is a bowler, indicates a significant shift from India’s traditional strength of batting. Despite missing the Bangladesh tour, Bumrah finished with most Test wickets (21) among Indians in 2022. While he has started bowling in the nets, there is no specific return date as yet, but India will be keen to have him back as soon as possible.
The current world Test XI, according to the ICC rankings:
Rishabh Pant (wk)
Pat Cummins (c)