The fun part of the year, but also the hard part of the year. When I get to pick my test team of the year.
My two openers are as follows,
There is not many who can argue against one of England's finest batsmen, he scored a bucket load of runs in the recent Ashes series in Australia, and was the backbone of the English batting order, and showed to be very difficult to remove from the wicket. This is the same batsman who people had thought best to not send to the Ashes because of some mediocre form heading into it, he showed his doubters they were wrong.
A different style batsman than Cook, a more attacking batsman but still showed he has many talents with his range of shots, and he isn't a one trick pony, he is a very decent bowler also, picking up wickets at vital times for his captain. And is maturing into a very tidy batsman.
Now we go for the middle order, for my next player his name itself says it all.
Kumar Sangakkara(Sri Lanka)
Much has been said about how will Sri Lanka survive without Muttiah Muralitharan and one batsman who has certainly stood up for his country and fought as best he can do with the bat.
Kumar has shown this reliability and no better time than when he scored 211 in his teams second innings to save a test against Pakistan, in the recently complete series. There is very few better players of the cover drive than Kumar.
He is arguably the greatest player to have played the game and when the series started in England, between India and England, much was to be said about the big four batsmen India had at their disposal. But only Dravid stood tall, much as he has done for India ever since he has taken the fight up for his country. He produced hundredth after hundredth in the tour and if it's possible. He earned even more respect among the non Indian cricket community. The man is a gentleman on the field and away from it, he is India's wall.
One of the most improved batsman over recent years and showed it with some fine knocks in the recent Ashes series, and also in the series against India in England. He is a very fine strokemaker. And no false shots about him, his approach on the wicket and his technique is a joy to watch, and having a batsman of his calibre at 5 for England, it shows the depth of their squad.
Darren Bravo(West Indies)
The relation of the famous Brian Lara, he has much to do to get close to the achievments of Lara, and he is making a good go of it. Hitting 949 runs at an average of 49.94, including a massive 195, with 3 centuries and 3 half centuries to his name. He is fast becoming the player the West Indies need him to be, especially as the saga looms over Chris Gayle, and with Chanderpaul not getting younger, it's vital Bravo continues with his strong form and leads the West Indies from the front.
He is England's batsman but has shown immense skill with the bat, having some very fine performances with the bat in the recent Ashes series. Though he didn't start very well with a golden duck during Peter Siddle's hat-trick. Scoring 85 and taking 6 catches, and in the fifth test he scored his first century against Australia from only 109 balls, and in doing so, he scored the fastest English test century since Ian Botham's 118 at Old Trafford in 1981.
Stuart Broad had a dry spell going into the Ashes but that all changed with some wise words from the coach, but with an injury picked up during the Ashes he was forced to go home. He still finished the year with 33 wickets at an average of 22.30. But his big turning point for the year was in the series against India at home, where he picked up 25 of those 33 wickets, with an amazing average of 13.84, he stunned the Indians with his lines and length, to show why he is one of the best in the modern game.
Dale Steyn(South Africa)
The mighty Dale Steyn, if looks could kill when this man bowls then most batsmen would be dropping like flies. He is fiery bowler with a fierce stare to him, he is a very quick aggressive bowler. And has been the no.1 seam bowler in the test rankings for many years now. And he's taken only 28 wickets this year so far but he's played only 5 matches, and with an average of 19.57 and an economy of 3.06, that's put him right up there.
And has struck up a mighty fine partnership with Morne Morkel, which has given South Africa one of the finest pairings of opening bowlers in world cricket.
Much of Pakistan's return to form can be given to Saeed Ajmal, he finished the year top of the wicket takers, with 50 wickets at an average of 23.86. This came from only 8 matches, and he also produced 11/111 in one combined match against the West Indies, but it wasn't enough to win the match, they lost the game by 40 runs due to some indifferent batting by Pakistan. I know this is for test cricket, but he also became the No.1 ODI bowler following a successful series against Sri Lanka. With this he has announced himself as Pakistan's top spinner in all forms of the game.
James Anderson has had a very good year, first he lead from the front with 24 wickets during the Ashes at an average of 26.04, if that wasn't enough. He was to return home and during the hyped India series in England. He picked up a further 21 wickets at an average of 25.71. He with Stuart Broad has given England one of the finest bowling attacks in World cricket, and has certainly pushed England to the No.1 spot in the test rankings. Though with a series against Pakistan coming up, all of his experience will be needed as England look to dominate the world of cricket even further.