The ICC test team of the year has just been announced. It’s a decent team on the whole. But there’s one glaring omission: Jimmy Anderson has been left out. This leaves me scratching my not inconsiderable bald bonce.
Let’s look at the team. It’s led by Alastair Cook and also includes Joe Root and Stuart Broad. They’re joined by David Warner (boo!), Kane Williamson, Younis Khan, Steve Smith, Sarfraz Ahmed, Trent Boult, Yasir Shah and Josh Hazlewood. Ravi Rashwin was named 12th man.
As far as I’m concerned, Anderson deserves to be selected above both Boult and Hazlewood. He took 46 wickets at an average of 22.65 in 2015, compared with Boult’s 30 wickets at 31.4 and Hazlewood’s 44 wickets at 23.27. Anderson also has a far better economy rate than either of them (2.6 compared to 3.4 and 3.1) and recently became England’s leading wicket-taker in test history.
I’m not saying that Hazlewood and Boult don’t deserve some recognition – they’ve generally performed well during the qualification period – but their respective averages must count for something. What’s more, Hazlewood bowled poorly in the Ashes (the biggest series he played in) and was generally considered a disappointment. Anderson missed the last two Ashes tests through injury but was outstanding in the 3rd test at Edgbaston where his 6-47 all but won the game.
I also think that Ashwin has been hard done by. He’s taken 55 wickets this year, more than anyone else, yet he’s only played 8 tests. Statistically he’s head and shoulders above everyone else. Yet his reward is merely a place carrying drinks. He must make a bloody good cuppa char.
Overall the bowling selections seem as contentious as one of Nigel Llong’s DRS decisions – especially when one looks at the batsmen picked. The six specialist batsmen chosen are the top six leading run scorers in 2015. It’s hard to argue with that. Mohammad Hafeez was possibly a little unlucky to be left out, but it’s hard to argue against the selections of either Cook or Warner.
The selection of Sarfraz Ahmed as wicket-keeper might have raised a few eyebrows too. Sarfraz is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but both BJ Watling and Dinesh Chandimal were also strong candidates (although the latter doesn’t always keep these days).
I’d love to know the thought process that goes into these decisions. I imagine the music simply stopped when Sarfraz was holding the parcel? As for Jimmy Anderson, was he was even invited to the party?
James, the team is not selected for 2015 but for the period 18/9/14 to 13/9/15. (Whether that makes any sense or not is another matter – but them’s the rules).
Anderson does have a strong case for inclusion based on that period but it isn’t that clear-cut. He is 9th leading wicket-taker with 33 and 6th in the averages (min. 15 wickets). Broad and Hazlewood are ahead of him on both measures. His figures compared to Boult are virtually identical – Anderson has one more wicket and 0.5 better average but played one more match. Boult played 5 out of his 7 matches away whereas Anderson played 5 out of his 8 matches at home.
On Cook and Warner as openers, they are 10th and 12th respectively in the averages for opening batsmen in the relevant time frame. Some of those above them (eg Pujara) played very few games but Vijay and Hafeez have significantly higher averages and played a decent number of matches. On the selection of Cook as captain, Misbah has a W/L ratio of 3.0 (W6 L2) whereas Cook’s is 1.25 (W5 L4). Cook’s figure puts him 6th among international captains.
Finally, the whole thing is a farce because of the international fixture list. SA played just six Tests last year (two of which were virtually washed out) so all their players are effectively ineligible.
Here are the relevant stats:
Openers by average:
Openers by runs scored:
Bowlers by average (min. 15 wkts):
Bowlers by wickets taken:
Captains by W/L ratio:
Matches played by team:
It seems pretty odd. I understand that technically the qualification period runs from September to September, but I’m sure that the most recent performances sway the judges more. As you say, Cook’s selection as captain is a lot more questionable if examined going back to Sept 2014 and excluding his UAE double ton.
They call it the ‘team of the year’, which is a bit misleading, and all the stats I’ve seen used to analyse the various selections come from the year 2015. For example, while discussing Cook and Broad’s inclusions, Sky repeatedly put up the list of run scorers and wicket takers from the last 12 months!
Meanwhile, the fixtures are out, and they’re a right fucking ballsup. Barely any Sunday T20 fixtures whatsoever, and none anywhere near me. I guess I’ll have to tell my junior team we won’t be going to watch cricket this year, after all. Nice one, ECB.
They chosen the night before the FA cup final to launch the T20 cup, presumably to ensure absolute minimum press coverage in their effort to make the competition fail.
There are also only 7 home T20 fixtures per team. Not only is that completely illogical (divisions of 9 should imply 8 home games), its like they’re actively trying to drive clubs to the wall. Would it really kill them to give teams those extra 2 games?
(Picked at random) Notts will play 7 CC games before the end of May, 2 in June, 2 in July, 2 in August and 3 in September. So same problems there as last year.
Its also a nightmare to find the domestic fixtures on the ecb website, which shows exactly how much they care about the domestic game.
That seems quite odd. I imagine others share your concerns mate. I’ll look into it.
“Cook’s selection as captain is a lot more questionable if examined going back to Sept 2014”
It’s pretty questionable based on any criteria, from the Neolithic age to several billion years into the future.
As an opening batsman – yep, justifiable. As a captain? *Chortle*
It’s led by Alastair Cook… is not how you describe any team of the year in my book.
Cook was the only selection who was captain in the period I think.
Unless you count smith who stood in for Clarke when he was injured and was anointed at the end of the Ashes but he never lead a team in his own right in the qualification period.
I think Cook got the job by default.
Anderson was good at Edgbaston but pretty poor at Lords and mediocre in Cardiff. If there is a gross bowling omission here it is Dale Steyn who, as you note, was excluded by virtue of the relatively few tests SA played in the period.
Which, by the way, ended Steyn’s record of seven consecutive selections:
Stop Sooking James.
Ravi Rashwin?? Is that the Scooby Doo version?
He’d have made the team if not for those meddling kids…. :)
I can’t spell the full version of his name, Shaggy.
It wasn’t so much the first name I was driving at – as the extra letter that you gave his surname in the second para. Made me laugh – hence my feeble humour.
I would have picked Anderson over Hazlewood just because Jimmy played a decisive role in 2 victories (Grenada and Edgbaston) as opposed to Hazlewood’s one (Dominica). It’s a marginal call either way though.
“Hazlewood’s one (Dominica)”.
Hazlewood took match figures of 7/142 (on debut and on an absolute road) against India at the Gabba. He also had match figures of 7/56 in a win in Kingston and 5/88 at Lord’s.
That said, if I was captain I’d prefer an ICC ‘Alternative XI’ attack of Steyn, Starc and Anderson to the one they selected.