A panel of writers and broadcasters picked out Wisden Cricket Monthly’s Test team of the year for 2021, but there are plenty of players who narrowly missed out.
2021 saw a number of Test players have bumper, and a 28-member panel each selected their first-choice XI based on performances from December 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021. WCM then collated the votes to select their Test team of the year. With those same votes, here is WCM’s second XI in Tests for 2021.
5 Tests, 461 runs @ 46.10, 100s: 2
Rahul was one of the stand-out batters for India in England, seeing off the new-ball regularly. He played four matches in the country, impressing with his solid technique. Playing his first Test since the West Indies series in 2019, Rahul’s calm temperament played a major role in India taking a 2-1 lead in England. He ended the year with a fine Boxing Day ton in Centurion.
3 Tests, 379 runs @ 63.16, 100s: 1
The New Zealand opener was the batter who was closest to making the first-choice side. He made a stunning debut, scoring 200 in his maiden Test innings at Lord’s, and followed it up with two fifties in his next two Tests.
8 Tests, 416 runs @ 34.66, 50s: 4
The Pakistan cricketer did not get a hundred in the last year but played crucial knocks throughout. He ended with three scores in the seventies, all of which came in wins.
Dhananjaya de Silva
7 Tests, 609 runs @ 67.66, 100s: 2
The Sri Lanka cricketer was fighting with Joe Root for the No.4 spot but missed out due to the latter’s exceptional run of form. De Silva had the best average among Sri Lanka batters with at least 500 Test runs in the period under consideration, and ended with two big hundreds: 166 against Bangladesh and 155* against West Indies at Galle.
7 Tests, 594 runs @ 49.50, 100s: 1
The Bangladesh player was his team’s highest run-scorer, and just one of two cricketers from the country to score over 500 runs in Tests. He was also especially impressive against Pakistan at home, scoring 114, 59, 6 and 45 in four innings.
Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper)
10 Tests, 586 runs @ 48.83, 100s: 1
The wicketkeeper might have fizzled out in Tests by the end of the year, scoring one fifty in his last eight innings, but was impressive in the first half, when he made three fifties and 115* on seven occasions when he batted. His batting average increased to 55.16 in wins.
5 Tests, 36 wickets @ 11.86, 5-fors: 5
The only bowlers with a better Test average than Axar Patel in the last year were Babar Azam (one wicket at 2), and Scott Boland, who picked up seven scalps at an average of 7.85. Patel has had a dream run in the format, picking up the joint-most five-wicket hauls by any bowler in 2021.
8 Tests, 41 wickets @ 16.07, 5-fors: 5
The fast bowler was in the fray to get selected in the first-choice XI after a sensational year. Hasan proved to be unstoppable: he picked up the third-most wickets by a quick with the best strike rate among bowlers with at least 11 wickets in the format.
8 Tests, 38 wickets @ 22.18, 5-fors: 3
The New Zealand fast bowler bowled in 16 innings and went wicketless on only three occasions. He was highly impressive in the Test match against India at Kanpur, which was played on a relatively flat wicket, grabbing a match haul of eight wickets.
8 Tests, 37 wickets @ 21.16, 5-fors: 2
The England quick was the standout bowler in the series against India, picking up 21 wickets in four Tests at an average of just over 21. Only one other bowler from the team managed more than 10 wickets, which is evidence of the kind of impact Robinson had.
11 wickets, 38 wickets @ 25.92, 5-fors: 1
Bumrah had a relatively quiet year, by his own standards, but was at the forefront in India’s overseas wins. His spell at The Oval, breaking open the innings with two quick wickets on a flat track, speaks of the class of the bowler.