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My 2017 Test team of the year

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Last Updated on 5 years by Charbel Coorey

2017 is coming to an end and in the cricket world, so it’s an opportunity to put an opinion forward about best Test XI for the calendar year.

Six players scored 1000+ for the year, and six bowlers have taken 50+ wickets, but there is only room for 11 players. This article will take into consideration the impact these players have had for their teams, as well as a look into their best performances for the year. I’ll also mention those players who I think couldn’t quite make the cut.

My 2017 Test XI:

1. Dean Elgar – South Africa (12 Tests, 1,128 runs, average 53.71)

A pretty easy choice for one of the opening positions. Dean Elgar has had a stellar 2017 – so stellar that his previous best return in a calendar year was 470 runs back in 2014.
His year began with 129 vs Sri Lanka in Cape Town, followed by a great Dunedin Test against New Zealand, where he made 140 and 89. Despite not making a significant score for the rest of that series, Elgar was arguably South Africa’s best batsman on a tough tour to England, where he scored 291 runs in the four Tests at an average of 48.50. He then filled his boots against a poor Bangladesh attack at home, making two hundreds in the two Tests.
His solid performances across the different countries makes him deserving of his place. India and Australia are next for Elgar, which will be a test of his ability to build on a really solid 2017.
Dean Elgar celebrates his hundred v New Zealand

2. David Warner – Australia (11 Tests, 997 runs, average 49.85)

The second opening position wasn’t as straight forward to choose. David Warner didn’t have his best year, but I still think he deserves to be included in this XI.
His home record in 2017 was stellar as always, scoring 522 runs in 6 Tests at an average of 69.13. However, what has been a criticism of Warner, and rightly so, is his away record. His India tour was a substandard, scoring 193 runs at an average of 24.12, but what impressed me was the application and skill he showed in difficult conditions in Bangladesh against a potent spin attack on spinning pitches in very humid conditions. To put his performance in perspective, Steve Smith scored 119 runs across the two Tests at an average of just 29.75. For Warner, two centuries in the two Tests there helped boost his away figures to 444 runs at 37.00, which still isn’t too flash, but I don’t think anyone else has performed as well to take his spot in this XI – 997 runs at an average of nearly 50 is a good return.
David Warner performed really well in very tough conditions in Bangladesh

3. Cheteshwar Pujara – India (11 Tests, 1,140 runs, average 67.05)

A player with an amazing hunger for runs. In a year in which he passed 4,000 Test runs, this is surprisingly the first instance in which Pujara has crossed the 1,000 run mark in a calendar year. He is an easy selection for the number three position.
His year started with 83 and 54* vs Bangladesh in Hyderabad, but in a series in which even Virat Kohli struggled against a competitive Australia side, Pujara was excellent. In the four Tests, Pujara scored 405 runs (only Steve Smith scored more) at an average of 57.85, including a double century in Ranchi which lasted more than 11 hours, and sucked the life out of the Australia bowlers. His remaining six Tests were all against lowly Sri Lanka, where he scored 598 runs at 66.44, including three centuries and a wonderful, fighting 52 in Kolkata, where India were bowled out for just 172 with the ball seaming around. In total, he faced a mammoth 2,484 balls in 2017, the most of any player.
In the upcoming series against South Africa, Pujara’s performance will significantly impact how India will go.
Pujara batted for over 11 hours in Ranchi where he scored 202 v Australia

4. Steven Smith (c) – Australia (11 Tests, 1,305 runs, average 76.76)

Another incredible year from Steve Smith.
Like Pujara, Smith’s hunger for runs is what separates him from so many players around the world. In 2017, Smith scored runs in India, and was the fourth time in a row that he scored at least 1,000 runs in a calendar year, at an average of over 70 each time.
Before the India series, the critics like myself kept a close eye on how Smith would perform in foreign conditions. During the series, Steve Smith answered the critics superbly, topping the run scoring charts against a fine spin attack in difficult conditions, which included three centuries in a total aggregate of 499 runs at 71.28. Australia’s next best scorer in that series was Matt Renshaw with 232 runs at an average of 29.00. His counterpart, Virat Kohli, scored 46 runs at 9.20. Then, against England, he has also outplayed his counterpart, Joe Root. So far, in four Tests, Smith has amassed 604 runs at an average of 151.00
His only low point was against Bangladesh where he only scored 119 runs in two Tests at 29.75, but even then he spent good time at the crease in very challenging conditions. In the first Test, he and Warner nearly led Australia home in a challenging chase. In the second Test, he notched a half century.  All in all, it was another incredible year for the Australian captain.

Now, it will be interesting to see how Smith goes in South Africa, where you can bet he won’t be greeted by flat pitches like we are seeing in Australia.

Steve Smith was Test cricket’s best player throughout 2017

5. Virat Kohli – India (10 Tests, 1,059 runs, average 75.64)

I was really tempted to leave Kohli out of the best XI for 2017. His big runs came against Bangladesh at home, and Sri Lanka, of whom he played six of his 10 Tests against. Both teams don’t necessarily have the most threatening bowling attacks. In his biggest challenge, against Australia, he scored a poultry 46 runs at 9.20 in three Tests.
However, he still led India well in 2017, where they were unbeaten in Test series. His presence at the crease was superb, showing the hunger to bat long periods, scoring three double centuries – one vs Bangladesh and two vs Sri Lanka, which came in consecutive Tests. An average of 75.64 is still superb, and like Steve Smith had the jury out ahead of the India tour earlier this year, it will be interesting to see how Kohli goes in South Africa. It will be a different challenge to Sri Lanka, that’s for sure.
Virat Kohli was too good for Sri Lanka, but tougher Tests await.

6 – Shakib Al Hasan – Bangladesh (7 Tests, 665 runs, average 47.50. 29 wickets, average 33.37)

Shakib Al Hasan takes the all-rounder spot in my best Test XI for 2017.
Despite a few frustrating dismissals in 2017, notably the second innings of the first Test against New Zealand in January, he was superb for Bangladesh with both bat and ball. He led Bangladesh to two Test wins in 2017, against Sri Lanka and Australia. Against Sri Lanka, he scored 116 in the first innings and followed it up with 4 wickets in the second innings. Then, in arguably the best performance by any player in 2017, he scored 84 and took ten wickets against Australia to lead Bangladesh to their first ever win against their more fancied opponents.
In addition, Shakib achieved the highest score for a Bangladesh player in Tests, scoring 217 against New Zealand away from home in January. Then, in his first Test innings in India, he made 82. As the new Bangladesh Test captain and best all-rounder in Tests, in my opinion, he’ll continue to have a big role to play for his team.
Shakib achieved some wonderful things in 2017

7 – Dinesh Chandimal (wk) – Sri Lanka (12 Tests, 1003 runs, average 45.59)

Dinesh Chandimal was a shining light in a wretched year for Sri Lanka.
Despite not being the first choice keeper for Sri Lanka currently, Dinesh Chandimal is deserving of his place in the best Test XI for the year, considering his ability with the gloves. Tours of the UAE and India are challenging for any player, and Chandimal passed those tests with flying colours. Since the beginning of the UAE tour, Dinesh Chandimal scored 590 runs at 65.56 against Pakistan and India, which saw Sri Lanka become the first team to win a Test series in the UAE v Pakistan, and then perform solidly vs India away from home.
Dinesh Chandimal had a solid 2017.

8 – Kagiso Rabada – South Africa (11 Tests, 57 wickets, average 20.28)

Kagiso Rabada has a long and successful career ahead of him, and had an excellent 2017.
Despite being below his best in England, he still took 16 wickets in three Tests at an average of 28, and was in contention for the top wicket taker spot for a long time. He blew Sri Lanka and Bangladesh away at home, and asked questions of the New Zealand batsmen away from home. Incredibly, in 11 home Tests to date, Rabada averages 17.62, and will be a challenge for India’s batsmen in the upcoming series.
Rabada was solid in 2017.

Nathan Lyon – Australia (11 Tests, 63 wickets, average 23.55)

Forget Ravichandran Ashwin, Nathan Lyon is the best off-spinner in the world right now, without a doubt. He was absolutely brilliant in 2017, taking wickets in all conditions, and is certain to finish the year as top wicket taker.
Nathan Lyon finally mastered Asian conditions, taking 41 wickets in India and Bangladesh at an average of 19.39, including 8/50 in Bangalore and 7/94 in Chittagong. His numbers were also very impressive in Australia, taking 22 wickets at 31.32, which are superb numbers in conditions not conducive to spin bowling.
Nathan “Gaz” Lyon had a brilliant 2017

10. Morne Morkel – South Africa (9 Tests, 39 wickets, average 23.02)

Morne Morkel was excellent in 2017, and is unlucky not to have even better figures.
He looked to bowl fuller this year, which is a length he should have started bowling a long time ago, and will represent a big challenge for India’s batsmen in the upcoming series. I thought he was particularly impressive in England without reward, taking 19 wickets at an average of 26.37. These are respectable figures, but he bowled even better than these figures suggest.
2017 represented a step forward for Morne Morkel when it appeared he had no place in the South Africa side. In fact, his average of 23.02 is his best return in a calendar year. He has said to the selectors – “pick me”.
Morne Morkel bowled a fuller length in 2017

11. James Anderson – England (11 Tests, 55 wickets, average 17.00)

Having not played a Test till July, James Anderson was excellent in English conditions against West Indies and South Africa. In six Tests at home, Anderson took 39 wickets at an incredible average of 14.10, highlighting just how potent he is in England.
In Australia, he has also fared better than he usually does in Australia, currently taking 17 wickets at 22.47.
James Anderson went past 500 wickets in 2017

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Notable absentees:

 
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja (India): Both Ashwin and Jadeja took over 50 wickets for the year, but all in the subcontinent. Both these bowlers have struggled outside the subcontinent in the past, and for me, there have been more admirable performers in 2017. I’ll wait to see how they go in South Africa,
Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka): Another player who scored 1,000 runs for the year, and was really considering him for the opening spot. However, he ended up with an average under 40, and struggled in India towards the end of the year, averaging 15 in three Tests.
Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka): Another good year for the Sri Lanka legend, but can’t be picked over Nathan Lyon.
Keshav Maharaj (South Africa): South Africa have a brilliant spinner. Without a Test in Asia, he raced to 48 wickets for 2017 at an average of just 23. Again, couldn’t be picked over Nathan Lyon, who was brilliant.
Joe Root (England): Joe Root, despite his frustrations in Australia, still averages over 50 for the year. However, Australia was going to be his big test, and unfortunately he hasn’t been able to convert starts into hundreds, which remains an issue for him.
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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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