England's finest and Sri Lanka's standout fill the spin department, while a West Indian talent weighs in at number seven and Jacques Kallis rightly secures the all-rounder berth.
1. Alastair Cook
15 matches, 29 inns, 1249 runs @ 48.03, 4x100, 3x50
Five tons in his first five matches as captain, now the nation's most prolific Test centurion, the calendar year's second-highest run-scorer and England's heaviest run-scorer in India, ever - Cook's 2012 knew no bounds.
2. Graeme Smith (captain)
10 matches, 19 inns, 825 runs @ 48.52, 3x100, 5x50
Leading from the front in England, where South Africa clinched the number one Test ranking and again at the fore in Australia recently, when his side retained the coveted title. Indeed, Smith critics - instead of the target of their wrath - have plenty to answer for this year.
3. Hashim Amla
10 matches, 17 inns, 1064 runs @ 70.93, 4x100, 2x50
The first South African to score a triple-century in Test cricket and the recipient of three other tons on either side of his tour de force at The Oval, Amla is currently within a whisker of climbing to the helm of the ICC rankings for Test batsman - and rightly so.
4. Jacques Kallis
9 matches, 15 inns, 944 runs @ 67.42, 4x100, 1x50, 11 wkts @ 28.27, BB: 3/35
Kallis has a new lease on his career after shaking off a long wait for his maiden double-century. With the proverbial monkey off his back, the veteran all-rounder cruised through other great heights this year, though would have wanted more from his bowling.
5. Michael Clarke
11 matches, 18 inns, 1595 runs @ 106.33, 5x100, 3x50
Four double-centuries in a solitary year, each better than the last and one of them all the way to 329 not out, Clarke amassed a whopping tally at home, which saw him set a national record en route to the highest amount of Test runs by an Australian in a calendar year. Undoubtedly the great game's Player of the Year, were the ICC to recognise such an award.
6. AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper)
10 matches, 16 inns, 815 runs @ 58.21, 2x100, 2x50, 17xct, 1xst
Questions lingered over de Villiers' ability to maintain his dominance with the bat after taking over the wicketkeeping duties from Mark Boucher. He consistently silenced his doubters, though, with the willow and behind the stumps.
7. Marlon Samuels
7 matches, 11 inns, 866 runs @ 86.60, 3x100, 4x50, 5 wkts @ 46.60, BB: 2/14
Dodgy involvement with illegal bookmakers and a run-in with the bowling-action police is an inconvenience of the past for Samuels, who time and time again showed there is considerably more calibre to the West Indian batting order than just Shivnarine Chanderpaul. His ability to stifle in England in England was a particular delight.
8. Rangana Herath
10 matches, 60 wkts @ 23.61, BB: 6/43
His modest nature belies his prolific statistics, but there's no denying the darkhorse talent of the Sri Lankan veteran and 2012's leading Test wicket-taker, who so long lived in the shadow of Muttiah Muralitharan - but now holds Test cricket in the palm of his hand. Importantly, he has been able to succeed away from home too.
9. Graeme Swann
14 matches, 59 wkts @ 29.93, BB: 6/82
Pipping Pakistani Saeed Ajmal for a post in this XI, Swann's contributions waned at times. The character of the man was never giong to have his form in question for long, though, as proven in India in particular. England's team management, too, are resting him appropriately. They want plenty more years out of their kingpin spinner, who thankfully has the complementary force of Monty Panesar sharking the hefty workload.
10. Vernon Philander
9 matches, 43 wkts @ 21.11, BB: 6/44
The South African seamer's meteoric rise got underway in November 2011, and his surge through Test cricket's outstanding ranks is yet to slow down. Admittedly, the tour of Australia was not a great one for him - but will certainly serve as somewhat of a grounding lesson.
11. James Anderson
14 matches, 48 wkts @ 29.50, BB: 5/72
It was an up and down year for England's seam ranks, with Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and others blowing hot and cold. Anderson, however, remained the constant throughout - and emerged as the year's standout swing bowler.