Cricket.com.au's best Test XI of 2023

We've looked back an eventful year in Test cricket and picked our best team, led by Australia's WTC Final-winning skipper

Usman Khawaja (Australia)

M: 13 | Inns: 24 | Runs: 1,210 | Ave: 52.60 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 6 | HS: 195no

Usman Khawaja lapped the field in 2023, with 300 more runs than the next most prolific batter. There were big tons in Sydney (against South Africa in January) and Ahmedabad (against India in March) but his most important hands came at Edgbaston where he posted scores of 141 and 65 in a famous Australia victory. He finished as Australia's leading run scorer on tours to India and the UK. The key to his success as a reinvented opener has simply been batting time; he faced more than 811 balls more than anyone for the year.

Classy Khawaja denied maiden Test double ton by rain

Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)

M: 6 | Inns: 10 | Runs: 608 | Ave: 60.80 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 3 | HS: 179

One of Test cricket's more reliable openers with a Test batting average of 56 across the past three years, Dimuth Karunaratne takes the other opening spot despite Sri Lanka having a so-so year in the longest format. The left-hander cashed in with scores of 179 and 115 against lowly Ireland in two Tests in Galle, but passed fifty in three of four innings in tougher circumstances in New Zealand in March. Most importantly, he saw off the new ball in every innings he played in 2023, never getting dismissed inside the first 45 minutes of the innings.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand)

M: 7 | Inns: 13 | Runs: 696 | Ave: 57.91 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 0 | HS: 215

Knee and thumb injuries curtailed Kane Williamson in 2023 but he still played all seven of NZ's Tests. It was a feast or famine year for the star Kiwi; he was out for 15 or fewer in seven innings, but reached triple figures in four of his other six knocks. Williamson was player of the match in the Black Caps' remarkable comeback win over England in Wellington in February, then peeled off scores of 121no, 215 (against Sri Lanka at home) and 104 (against Bangladesh in Sylhet) in consecutive innings.

Joe Root (England)

M: 8 | Inns: 14 | Runs: 787 | Ave: 65.58 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 5 | HS: 153no

One of Bazball's biggest beneficiaries, Joe Root had another prolific year as he scored Test tons No.29 and 30 to close in on Alastair Cook's England record of 33. Both came in tight defeats; his first century was in the epic one-run defeat to NZ in February (he made 95 in the other innings) and the second was a brilliant 118 in the Ashes series opener. The pace at which Root is accumulating his runs these days represents a marked shift in his game; in his first full year of Test cricket, 2013, he scored 862 runs at a strike-rate of 40.64. His strike-rate in 2023? A swift 76.33.

Harry Brook (England)

M: 8 | Inns: 14 | Runs: 701 | Ave: 53.92 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 6 | HS: 186

Another Bazballer, Harry Brook, narrowly gets the nod to bat at five in this team over fellow middle-order aggressor, Travis Head. The Yorkshireman burst onto the scene in late-2022 and maintained the rage on the NZ tour, belting a career-high 186 from only 176 at Basin Reserve, before proving a thorn in Australia's side during the Ashes with six scores between 32 and 85, his strike-rate never lower than 60. Already one of Test cricket's most feared bats.

Lorcan Tucker (wk) (Ireland)

M: 4 | Inns: 8 | Runs: 351 | Ave: 43.87 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 1 | HS: 108 | Ct: 5 | St: 2

Easily the most difficult position to pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tom Blundell had strong years with the bat, while Alex Carey effected the most dismissals, but we've landed one of an emerging cricket nation's brightest talents, Lorcan Tucker, to take the gloves. The Dubliner scored one of only four centuries by wicketkeepers in 2023, his 108 on Test debut against Bangladesh in Dhaka and followed it up with an 80 against Sri Lanka in Galle and a plucky 44 at Lord's against England. All that despite having not played any first-class cricket in the two years prior.

Lorcan Tucker in action against Sri Lanka mid-year // AFP

Ravindra Jadeja (India)

M: 7 | Inns: 9 | Runs: 281 | Ave: 35.12 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 2 | HS: 70

Wkts: 33 | Ave: 19.39 | SR: 48.5 | BBI: 7-42 | BBM: 10-110 | 5W: 2 | 10W: 1

In the allrounder spot, Ravindra Jadeja is impossible to go past. He torched Australia on their tour in February-March, teaming up with Ravichandran Ashwin to continue their formidable spin partnership. His seven wickets and 70 with the bat in the series opener in Nagpur was vital in an innings victory. The left-armer finished with 33 victims at 19.39 for the year, while he was also one of India's better performers in their World Test Championship final defeat at The Oval.

Debacle in Delhi: Aussie batters bundled out in stunning fashion

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

M: 7 | Wkts: 41 | Ave: 17.10 | SR: 33.0 | BBI: 7-72 | BBM: 12-131 | 5W: 4 | 10W: 1

Another tough selection here, with Nathan Lyon narrowly getting overlooked despite finishing the year as its leading Test wicket taker with 47 scalps at 24.95. Off-spin rival Ashwin took only six fewer wickets in three fewer Tests, while also turning in important performances with the bat in wins over Australia in Nagpur and Delhi (23 and 37 in low-scoring Tests) as well as a half-century in Port of Spain. Ashwin took 12 wickets for the match the Test prior in Dominica that proved decisive in helping India achieve a series win in the Caribbean, while Australian fans will need no reminding of his series-leading 25 victims in their 2-1 win. India may wonder whether they could have been won the WTC final too if he had been selected.

Pat Cummins (c) (Australia)

M: 11 | Wkts: 42 | Ave: 27.50 | SR: 45.7 | BBI: 6-91 | BBM: 10-97 | 5W: 3 | 10W: 1

Captain of Australia's maiden World Test Championship-winning team, Pat Cummins time and again showed his mettle as a leader and his class as a bowler in 2023. His performance at Edgbaston (38 and 44no, plus a devastating second-innings four-wicket spell with the ball) will go down in Ashes folklore after copping flak for having a deep point in place to start the series. The 30-year-old finished the year with a stirring Johnny Mullagh medal-winning effort at the MCG against Pakistan with his second career 10-wicket haul. Do not expect any regrets from Cummins over the year's most polarising moment – the Jonny Bairstow stumping at Lord's. More costly were missteps Headingley and Old Trafford that some will suggest cost Australia an Ashes series win abroad and Cummins an even more memorable year.

Cummins masterclass secures second career 10-wicket haul

Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)

M: 4 | Wkts: 20 | Ave: 17.10 | SR: 33.0 | BBI: 6-50 | BBM: 8-94 | 5W: 2 | 10W: 0

No fast bowler who took at least 15 wickets in 2023 had a better strike-rate or a better bowling average than Kagiso Rabada. It is a shame for Rabada, and for Test cricket, that South Africa played only four times in 2023. While the speedster was below his best in the New Year's Test against Australia, he was integral in a 2-0 home series win over the Windies before capping the year with seven wickets in their win over powerhouses India at Centurion.

Stuart Broad (England)

M: 8 | Wkts: 38 | Ave: 26.28 | SR: 45.1 | BBI: 5-51 | BBM: 6-113 | 5W: 1 | 10W: 0

An all-time fast-bowling great who retired while still bowling as well as he ever had after playing 25 consecutive Ashes Tests on home soil. Stuart Broad only once went wicketless in a Test bowling innings in 2023, impressing abroad against New Zealand (10 wickets in two Tests) and at home against Ireland (taking 5-51 at Lord's). But, as ever, he saved his best for Australia, remaining effective on pancake-flat pitches through the series. His bail-switching antics at The Oval were true to his mischievous character and his sense of theatre remained unmatched until the very end; having immediately been Alex Carey's most vocal critic after the Bairstow stumping controversy, Broad somehow scripted his final ball in Test cricket to be 'Carey, caught Bairstow' in England's series-tying win.