Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada all made our team of the year.
Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada all made our team of the year.

Team of the year: Aussie quicks snubbed

CRICKET: India finished the year atop the Test rankings and Australia won back the Ashes, but who got more players into our team of the year?

Dean Elgar enjoyed a career-beat year.
Dean Elgar enjoyed a career-beat year.

DEAN ELGAR (South Africa) - 1128 at 50.85. Five centuries, high score of 199

It was a year to remember for the 30-year-old who was comfortably Test cricket's best opener in 2017 and doubled his career century-tally. The only series Elgar did not make a ton in was against Zimbabwe - a one-off four-day contest that finished in two days. Scored a hundred against each of Sri Lanka (129), New Zealand (140) and England (136), and two against Bangladesh (199 and 113).

David Warner continues to make runs.
David Warner continues to make runs.

DAVID WARNER (Australia) - 997 at 49.85. Four centuries, high score of 123

Alastair Cook made a late push for selection with his Boxing Day Test double-century but Warner has him covered for runs, tons and average so we could not look past the Australian. The left-hander started the year with a century in a session at the SCG and ended it with a ton at the MCG. Made amends for a lean tour of India with back-to-back hundreds in Bangladesh. The second hundred was particularly impressive for how unWarner-like it was, with his 123 coming across six hours of play and 234 deliveries.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara scored five centuries in 2017.
India's Cheteshwar Pujara scored five centuries in 2017.
CHETESHWAR PUJARA (India) - 1140 at 67.05. Four centuries, high score of 202

He'll never draw the crowds Kohli does but Pujara was India's highest Test run-scorer in 2017 and second globally. Scored a double-century against Australia but the highlight of his year came a game earlier on a pitch playing all sorts of tricks in Bengaluru. His dogged second-innings 92 that day turned the match and the series. He has sterner tests to come next year in England, South Africa and Australia.

Steve Smith's numbers keep soaring.
Steve Smith's numbers keep soaring.

STEVE SMITH (Australia) - 1305 at 76.76. Six centuries, high score of 239

Silenced his 'flat track bully' critics by dominating the Border-Gavaskar Test series in some of cricket's toughest conditions and then put England to the sword in the contest that matters most to Australians. 2017's highest run-scorer took his average to a place on Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers have been and his ICC batting rating to the second highest mark in history. He's just a little bit special.

Three double centuries in one year.
Three double centuries in one year.
VIRAT KOHLI (India) - 1059 at 75.64. Five centuries, high score of 243

In 2017 Kohli was a man you wanted to get out early. The Indian skipper reached 50 six times in 16 innings this year. He turned five of those half-centuries into hundreds and three of those five into double-centuries - he was unbeaten in the other two. He was man-of-the-match in three of the 10 Tests he played but will have to bat below Smith because he was properly awful in their head-to-head contest in the Border-Gavaskar Test series (46 runs at 9.20).

Kiwis Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor and Sri Lanka's Dinesh Chandimal can all consider themselves unlucky to have missed out on a spot in the middle order.

Mushfiqur Rahim wears the gloves in our XI.
Mushfiqur Rahim wears the gloves in our XI.

MUSHFIQUR RAHIM (Bangladesh) - 766 at 54.71. Two centuries, high score of 159. 14 dismissals

Wriddhiman Saha and Quinton de Kock both enjoyed better years with the gloves than Mushfiqur, but the Bangladeshi star's efforts could not be ignored. Tidy enough behind the stumps, the right-hander was brilliant with the bat. It was an eventful 12 months for Mushfiqur, who alongside leading the country to Test wins over Sri Lanka and Australia also had two stints in hospital because of blows to the head. He's a tough cricketer who made tough runs, scoring centuries in New Zealand (159) and India (127).

Ravindra Jadejaa is a captain’s dream.
Ravindra Jadejaa is a captain’s dream.
RAVINDRA JADEJA (India) - 54 wickets at 23.05. Two five-fors, best of 6-63. 328 runs at 41.00. Four half-centuries, high score of 70*

Man of the series in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Jadeja is a captain's dream - athletic in the field and a genuine all-rounder who gets through his overs quicker than anyone. Like 2016, his numbers were outstanding this year with both bat and ball. His left-arm darts/hand grenades were virtually unplayable on the subcontinent and he scored vital runs down the order time and time again. Will have his work cut out for him in this XI, batting ahead of a long tail. Just beat Shakib Al Hasan to selection.

Nathan Lyon in action during the third Test. Picture: AAP Images
Nathan Lyon in action during the third Test. Picture: AAP Images

NATHAN LYON (Australia) - 63 at 23.55. Five five-wicket hauls. Best of 8-50

Last summer Lyon was barely holding onto his spot in Australia's XI. Now he's the best spinner in the world. The offie took his game to another level on the subcontinent in 2017 (41 wickets at 19.39) and carried that form into the Ashes to finish as the year's highest wicket-taker. Knows how to take a caught-and-bowled too.

Comfortably beat Ravi, Rangana Herath and Keshav Maharaj - who all had good years - into the XI.

South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada averaged 20.28 with the ball this year.
South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada averaged 20.28 with the ball this year.

KAGISO RABADA (South Africa) - 57 wickets at 20.28. Three five-wicket hauls. Best of 6-55.

Despite a slow start to the year against New Zealand, Rabada was the leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers in 2017. With Dale Steyn out for the entire year, Rabada led South Africa's attack with aplomb. Still only 22 years old, Rabada has already taken more than 100 Test wickets.

South African bowler Morne Morkel celebrates a wicket.
South African bowler Morne Morkel celebrates a wicket.

 

MORNE MORKEL (SOUTH AFRICA) - 39 wickets at 23.02. One five-wicket haul. Best of 5-21.

Morkel returned to form for South Africa this year, and was a constant menace. The worst he fared in his five campaigns was 11 wickets at 26.72 in New Zealand. He's in our team of the year but might not even make South Africa's next XI, with Steyn expected to make his long-awaited return against India.

James Anderson in action on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test.
James Anderson in action on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test.

JAMES ANDERSON (England) - 55 wickets at 17.58. Four five-wicket hauls. Best of 7-42.

He hasn't had an outstanding Ashes series, but Anderson was arguably 2017's finest quick and the only man to take wickets at under 20 runs apiece. Took his career tally past 500 wickets to cement his spot among the greats and took four five-wicket hauls for the year. Averaged 14.10 bowling in home conditions.

Australia's Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were both unlucky to miss out, as was New Zealand's Neil Wagner.



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