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Top 10 Bowlers in International Test Cricket in 2012
When I started work on my Hub about the top 10 batsmen of 2012, I found myself in a quandary. With huge discrepancies between the official rankings and the list of top run-scorers for 2012, did either of these lists truly reflect who the top performers were?
Though I opted to write about the top run-scorers, an examination of the statistics shows that some of these players did not perform to their true potential in 2012.
While any list will show a bias in favour of those players who were the most active during the year, I thought assessing the bowlers would be a little easier. While a test match may end in a draw because a team scored too many runs and didn’t leave themselves enough time to bowl the opposition out, it is not possible to get too many wickets. There can be a massive difference in runs scored, but if a team can’t take twenty wickets, they won’t win the match.
Despite this, there are a few surprises in the list of the top 10 wicket-takers in 2012.
1. Rangana Herath
I was surprised to find Herath at the top of the list because Sri Lanka had a poor year with a win ratio of only 30%. But this spin bowler stood out in a team that generally underperformed, taking 60 wickets at an average of 23.61 in 10 tests. This is a marked improvement on his career average of 30.32. He took 5 wickets in an innings on seven occasions and was the only bowler to take 10 wickets in a match twice during 2012.
2. Graeme Swann
England’s best spin bowler had a good year with 59 wickets at an average of 29.93 in 14 tests, which is only slightly worse than his career average of 29.13. As was the case with England’s batsmen, he benefitted by playing more tests than the top performers from any other country.
3. James Anderson
The second Englishman on the list is a fast-medium bowler. His 48 wickets at an average of 29.5 in 14 tests is a slight improvement on his career average of 30.39, but he only managed one 5 wicket haul in 2012 despite playing so many tests.
4. Vernon Philander
One of the surprise packages, Philander only made his test debut in November 2011, having an immediate impact on the game and shooting rapidly up the rankings. This fast-medium bowler can be relied on for his accuracy and beats his better known team-mates into fourth place for 2012. He managed 43 wickets at an average of 21.11 in only 9 tests and was the only South African bowler to take 10 wickets in a single match.
5. Peter Siddle
Siddle played an important part in the regeneration of an Australian team which had slipped quite badly after being the undisputed number one team for several years. This fast-medium bowler took 41 wickets at an average of 23.09 in 8 tests, improving on his career average of 28.5.
6. Stuart Broad
The third Englishman in the top 10 is another fast-medium bowler. He finds himself behind team-mate James Anderson only because he played fewer test matches in 2012. He took 40 wickets at an average of 31.7 in 11 tests with two 5 wicket hauls and took 10 wickets in a match once.
7. Saeed Ajmal
An impressive performance by this Pakistani spinner given that his team had a very quiet year. He took 39 wickets at an average of 20.56 in only 6 tests with two 5 wicket hauls and 10 wickets in a match on one occasion. His average was the best by any of the top 10 bowlers in 2012.
8. Kemar Roach
With performers like Roach, West Indies are showing signs of improvement after years of underperforming. This fast bowler took 39 wickets at an average of 22.25 in only 7 tests, which is a significant improvement on his career average of 27.69. He took 5 wickets in an innings on three occasions and 10 wickets in a match once. At 24 years old, his best cricket is surely still in front of him.
9. Dale Steyn
It is surprising to see the world’s top ranked bowler so low down the list. Since Vernon Philander came on the scene, Philander has often been the dominant force in the South African bowling attack. Fast bowler Steyn’s 39 wickets at an average of 29.71 in 10 tests is disappointing by his own high standards, as is the fact that he only managed one 5 wicket haul in 2012.
10. Morne Morkel
Another South African fast bowler one would have expected to see higher up the list. Morkel's 38 wickets came at an average of 30.28 in 10 tests. He could have had several more but for a problem with bowling no balls at the wrong time. Towards the end of the year he seemed to get this under control, so we can only hope he will have better luck in 2013.
What the rankings say
For the record, according to the official rankings after the conclusion of the last test match of the year, the top 10 ranked bowlers were:
- Dale Steyn
- Vernon Philander
- Saeed Ajmal
- Peter Siddle
- Rangana Herath
- James Anderson
- Graeme Swann
- Morne Morkel
- Pragyan Ojha
- Ben Hilfenhaus
To see a list of the current top 100 bowlers in test cricket, see the first link below.
The second link is to Cricinfo’s full list of bowling records by the best bowlers who ever played the game. See the link at the top of the record page to find all the records for 2012.
- Reliance ICC Player Rankings
List of the current top 100 bowlers in test cricket.
- Records | Test matches | Bowling records | ESPN Cricinfo
ESPN cricinfo.com provides the most comprehensive live cricket available as well as unparalleled statistics, quality editorial comment and analysis
Who, in your opinion, is the best test bowler in the world?
- 2% Rangana Herath
- 2% Graeme Swann
- 5% James Anderson
- 2% Vernon Philander
- 2% Peter Siddle
- 0% Stuart Broad
- 34% Saeed Ajmal
- 0% Kemar Roach
- 45% Dale Steyn
- 2% Morne Morkel
- 5% None of the above
This poll is now closed to voting.
Voting on this poll has now closed as the list of candidates has changed. If you would like to vote, please visit my new Hub.