Our definitive Test Team of the Year

23 December 2016

Smith and Starc represent the Aussies in our Test Team of 2016 // Getty

Our voices

After a controversial ICC selection, we picked our own best Test XI for the 2016 calendar year

About the Writer:

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

The International Cricket Council has announced their team of the year, and have courted immediate controversy: their own No.1 ranked batsman – Australia's Steve Smith – didn't make the XI.

The governing body had a qualification period that ran from September 14, 2015 to September 20, 2016 – it meant Adam Voges' prolific 2015-16 summer against the West Indies was included, and he leapfrogged into the ICC's squad, despite having been shed by the Australian team.

Looking at the figures from all Test completed in 2016 – with the Boxing Day clashes of Australia v Pakistan at the MCG and South Africa v Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth still to play – has come up with a Test XI based on performances in the calendar year.

No room in our XI either for Australia vice-captain David Warner. He has had a lean 2016 in Test match cricket by his lofty standards. He opened the year in whirlwind fashion with the fastest ever SCG but has not capitalised on his starts since, dismissed for 97 against South Africa in Perth.

Quick Single: ICC Test Team 2016

There are six changes in our XI from that compiled by the ICC, who also named a 12th man.

2016 Test Team of the Year 

Azhar Ali (Pakistan)

Matches: 10 | Runs: 950| 100s: 2 | 50s: 4 | Ave: 52.77| HS: 302*

Ali makes history with triple century

A solid year from the Pakistan opener, whose tally of 950 runs from 10 Tests was boosted by an unbeaten 302 against the West Indies in October. His 139 against England at Edgbaston in an ultimately losing cause was impressive, while he also notched defiant half-centuries in New Zealand and Australia, also in defeats.

Joe Root (England)

Matches: 17 | Runs: 1477 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 10 | Ave: 49.23 | HS: 254

Root scores Lord's double

The one-time opener has now found a home in the middle order and he enhanced his reputation as one of the best in the world this year with a world-leading 1477 runs. The pick of his three centuries was his 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford, while hundreds in Johannesburg and Rajkot underlined his ability to perform in all conditions. A slight knock of him has been his inability to convert starts into a big score, having posted 10 half-centuries and just three three-figure scores for the year.

Steve Smith (Australia)

Matches: 10 | Runs: 914| 100s: 3 | 50s: 5 | Ave: 60.93 | HS: 138

Skipper Smith's sweet 16th Test ton

In a difficult year that saw his side lose five Tests in a row, Smith's ability as a batsman was never in question. Centuries in Christchurch, Colombo and Brisbane underlined his ability to do it in all conditions, but our favourite performance was a defiant 48 not out in a total of just 85 against South Africa in Hobart. As his teammates crumbled around him, Australia's skipper stood firm and underlined his status as the world's No.1 ranked batsman.

Virat Kohli (India, captain)

Matches: 12 | Runs: 1215 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 2| Ave: 75.93 | HS: 235

Kohli joins greats with another double

The star of 2016, Kohli has had a breakout year in the Test arena having long been a dominant force in white-ball cricket. India's skipper plundered 1215 runs in just 12 Tests, averaging 75.93 and scoring four centuries, three of which he turned into double tons. He also led his side to an unbeaten 2016, making him an easy choice as captain in our side.

Ben Stokes (England)

Matches: 12 | Runs: 904 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 3 | Ave: 45.20 | HS: 258 | Wickets: 33 | 5WI: 1 | Ave: 25.81 | BB: 5-73

Stokes ton helps England rack up the runs

A superb year from the world's leading allrounder started with an incredible 258 from just 198 balls against South Africa in January and ended with 904 runs to his name at an average of 45.20. Throw in 33 crucial wickets at 25.81, and he thoroughly deserves a spot in the middle order.

Jonny Bairstow (England)

Matches: 17 | Runs: 1470 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 8 | Ave: 58.80 | HS: 167*

Bairstow injured walking out to bat

He only regained his spot in England's Test side, but Jonny Bairstow has sewn up his position and then some with a superb 2016. The right-hander finished with 1470 runs for the year, just seven behind Root as the leading run-scorer for the year. Three centuries and eight fifties underline his class, while he was also solid behind the stumps.

Quinton de Kock (South Africa, wk)

Matches: 7 | Runs: 589 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 4 | Ave: 65.44 | HS: 129* | Dismissals 28 (all catches)

De Kock shines with second Test ton 

While we could have easily given Bairstow the gloves in our XI, we simply couldn't leave de Kock out of the side after a landmark year for the 23-year-old. The left-hander averaged 65 from seven Tests with two centuries and four fifties, while he also pocketed 28 dismissals behind the stumps. South Africa's record this year underlines de Kock's importance to their side; the Proteas won all four Tests in which their keeper-batsman scored more than 100 runs for the match, but were winless from three games in which he didn't score at least 50.

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

Matches: 12 | Runs: 612 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 4 | Ave: 43.71 | HS: 118 | Wickets: 72 | 5WI: 8 | 10WM: 3 | Ave: 23.90 | BB: 7-59

Ashwin makes history with wicket No.200

A record-breaking year from the world's leading spin bowler, who pocketed 72 wickets at 23.90 in 2016, 18 more than anyone else in the game. There may not be a more difficult task in world cricket than trying to combat the off-spinner on home soil, and he is sure to torment Australia on their tour of India next year. Throw in 612 runs at 43.71, including two centuries and four fifties, and Ashwin is almost the complete package and a luxury to have at No.8 in our Team of the Year.

Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka)

Matches: 8 | Wickets: 54 | 5WI: 5 | 10WM: 2 | Ave: 17.53 | BB: 8-63 | Runs: 266 | 50s: 1 | Ave: 20.46 | HS: 61

Watch all of Herath's 28 wickets v Australia

Far from an old dog learning some new tricks, the year of Sri Lanka's 38-year-old spinner was simply a continuation of a brilliant career that began at the end of last century. While 19 of his 54 wickets came in just two Tests against Zimbabwe, his efforts in steering his side to an historic whitewash of Australia was one of the performances of 2016.

Mitchell Starc (Australia)

Matches: 7 | Wickets: 45 | 5WI: 3 | 10WM: 1 | Ave: 24.55 | BB: 7-48 | Runs: 149 | 100s: x | 50s: 1 | Ave: 13.54 | HS: 53

Starc one of the few to leave Sri Lanka with reputation enhanced 

While injuries have restricted Starc to just seven Tests so far in 2016, his numbers prove why he'll long be Steve Smith's go-to man with the ball. After a record-breaking tour of Sri Lanka that delivered 24 wickets at 15, a leg injury halted his momentum going into the home Tests and he hasn't quite been at his absolute best this summer, although he's still delivered for his captain. His 2016 record of 45 wickets at 21 and a strike rate of a wicket every 6.1 overs underlines his class.

Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)

Matches: 8 | Wickets: 42 | 5WI: 4 | Ave: 22.23 | BB: 7-112 | Runs: 105 | Ave: 17.50 | HS: 32*

Rabada's record 13-wicket haul in January

He's long been regarded as a future star by those in South Africa, and this was the year that Kagiso Rabada announced himself to the world. A 13-wicket haul against England in Centurion got his year off to a flying start and his performance against Australia in Perth will live long in the memory.

International cricket is more affordable than ever this summer, with adult tickets from $30, kids from $10 and family packages from $65 across every day of international cricket. Price for purchase at match. Transaction fee from $6.95 applies to online and other purchases. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

Top Stories


Pace 'passenger' steers Aussies out of trouble

Sheffield Shield final: all you need to know

LIVE: Stars lose Lanning for second T20I

New mentor Rogers eyeing young talent