The year 2018 redefined the way the world view Test Cricket. With plenty of close encounters and excellent performances throughout, audiences were in for a treat as challenging games and nail-biting finishes became more prominent.
Here is the Test XI of 2018.
The opener had a phenomenal year for Sri Lanka, even though he played most of his matches at home. He amassed 743 runs at an average of 46.43 and was in the top ten highest run-scorers for the year. With seven fifties and one hundred, ensured that Sri Lanka were off to good starts more often than not.
Markram has been a consistent anchor at the top of the order for the South Africans in the last few years and 2018 was no different. He finished the year with 672 runs and faced opposition teams like Australia and India at home, whilst also traveling to Sri Lanka for a series in the sub-continent.
Pujara knuckled down and consolidated the innings after the early loss of wickets right throughout the year. With the Indian openers looking iffy throughout 2018, the onus was on Pujara to come in early and anchor the innings, something that he did with ease. Even though the Saurashtra player had a dubious record overseas before the year began, Pujara did well to end 2018 with 837 runs, including two hundred in Australia that has put the team on course for a historical series win.
Also Read: T20I XI of 2018
India has led the Indian team from the front and has marked himself as the best batsman of the year, finishing with 1322 runs at an average of 55.08. The skipper conquered South Africa, led the charge in England and has been the silent performer in Australia as well and while his feats do not compare to Steven Smith’s run in 2017, there is no taking away from Kohli’s efforts. Most impressive was the Delhi player’s strike-rate that was just a little short of 60 in 2018.
The English captain finishes as the second highest run-getter of 2018 with 948 runs at an average of 41 that includes two hundred and six fifties. Except for the Ashes at the start of the year, England had a solid run in Tests in 2018, and they have Root to thank for it by a large margin. England was yet another side plagued by an inconsistent top-order, but the player’s ability to hold the fort and take his team out of safety ensures he finds a place in Test XI.
The Kiwi skipper might not have played many Tests in 2018, but he did make full use of his chances when given a chance. He racked up 651 runs in only 12 innings, averaging 59 and notching up a 50 once in every two innings.
None of the wicket-keepers had a standout year in 2018, and hence the selection for this spot was a tricky one. However, Bairstow edges out the others despite not keeping in England’s tour to Sri Lanka, where he handed over the gloves to Ben Foakes. He batted well with the middle and the lower order throughout and did well to score more than 600 runs at a decent strike-rate as well.
Also Read: ODI XI of 2018
The spinner’s slot saw a stiff competition, with Dilruwan Perera in the fray as well. However, while the Sri Lankan had a better average than Lyon, the Aussie gets a look-in because he played against stronger rivals as against Sri Lanka who only had a tour to West Indies. Australia played series’ against South Africa, Pakistan, and India and he did well to finish with 49 wickets at an average of 34.02. In a year when the Australians struggled, Lyon was one of the most consistent performers.
The Pakistani had a dream run and finished with a strike-rate that most fast bowlers only dream about – taking a wicket in every 36.3 balls. Though Abbas is not the biggest swinger of the ball and is not the quickest either, his accuracy, especially when he is reverse swinging the ball in dry conditions makes him a real threat. He picked up 38 wickets in the barred tracks of UAE, and the fast bowler is one of the most exciting talents to have emerged in Test cricket in the recent past.
The 36-year old seems to be getting better with age, finishing 2018 with 43 wickets at a ridiculous average of 22.51. He played a huge role in England’s series triumph over India last year and though he struggled in the Ashes Down Under in 2017, he was able to put all the disappointments behind as he had a stellar season.
The best pace bowler in the world at the moment, Rabada had a year to remember in 2018, as he finished with 52 wickets at an average of 20.07 and a strike-rate of 36.3. The player played against quality opponents as well, which includes Australia and India and is the lead player in a threatening pace attack for South Africa.