Cricket365's Worst Team of the Year

Blog Opinion

This is certainly one XI you don't want to crack the nod for, but Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Ricky Ponting, as many as four Indians and a trio of Pakistanis did more than enough – or nothing at all – to garner this infamy.

<B>1. Phil Hughes (Australia)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Andrew Strauss (England)</I><BR>With Simon Katich unfairly out of the picture and Shane Watson ready for a new buddy at the top of the order, opportunity knocked for Hughes. Again. The left-hander, however, failed to step up to the plate and now has his Test future severely in doubt as David Warner continues to impress. Sri Lanka promised so much, South Africa got the better of him and the Chappell-Hadlee Series was his ultimate undoing, when Chris Martin and Martin Guptill combined four times on the trot to have the plighted opener caught at gully or third slip.

<B>2. Parthiv Patel (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)</I><BR>Only the BCCI selectors will know why the diminutive opener was given such an extended run in the ODI team. While he was decent against England, the rest of his lot was thoroughly inadequate – and even Dinesh Karthik would have been a better pick as Dhoni's understudy. Thankfully, the brains trust eventually came to their senses, dropping Patel and taking Wriddhiman Saha to Australia.

<B>3. Ricky Ponting (Australia, captain)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Imrul Kayes (Bangladesh)</I><BR>Oh how the mighty have fallen. Not a series goes by without Ponting not facing the heat, but he knew that would come the moment he resigned from the captaincy to become a mere member of the rank and file. A large contingent of Australian cricket, no longer content to live on the past glories of their veteran right-hander, want his head. The vast majority, if not all, of the current line-up stand up for Ponting's cause press conference after press conference. The criticism doesn't affect him at all, he insists. In fact, it inspires him, he says. Tough to swallow, considering we haven't seen a Test ton from the perennial centurion since January 2010.

<B>4. Mohammad Ashraful (Bangladesh)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Kane Williamson (New Zealand)</I><BR>We've lost count of the amount of times the former captain was in favour, cast to the sidelines, back in the team and dropped again this year. Team management did too, with coach Stuart Law insisting the middle-order batsman was part of their plans against Pakistan recently even if the official team sheet read otherwise. Sneaky on Ashraful's part to avoid the axe by just assuming he was part of the furniture, presumption from Law or an oversight by the selectors – all and sundry were uncomfortably in the dark. Through every fault of his own the right-hander has thrown away ample opportunity with plenty of rash strokeplay.

<B>5. Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)</I><BR>Far too content to ride on the back of tennis star and new wife Sania Mirza's pay cheque for an extended period, Malik was jolted back into action when Pakistan sought alternative options against Sri Lanka and the Tigers. The former captain soon realised international cricket was just as tough in 2011 as 14 months prior, when he was initially dropped. He never got beyond 17 with the bat in the UAE and Bangladesh, while his role as a spinner was fickle at best. Doubt we will see him against England early next year.

<B>6. Suresh Raina (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Steven Smith (Australia)</I><BR>He remains firmly in India's limited-overs plans, but Raina's technical deficiencies, particularly against the short ball, caught up with him in Test cricket. Virat Kohli has since removed the left-hander from his middle-order berth, while Rohit Sharma is next in line.

<B>7. Kamran Akmal (Pakistan, wicketkeeper)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Brad Haddin (Australia)</I><BR>How many Kamran Akmals does it take to drop a catch? The punchline is yours to decipher, but a slew of spills against New Zealand and a torrid World Cup campaign will go a long way in rounding the number. His batting wasn't that bad, but it was his inadequacies behind the stumps that eventually led to the chop, with brother Adnan Akmal taking over. 'Kamran eyes comeback' stories have been vast and varied ever since. We're happy to field them ad nauseam, as long as they afford the promising Adnan an extended run.

<B>8. Mitchell Johnson (Australia)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Darren Sammy (West Indies)</I><BR>Johnson fired well enough in ODI competition, but really it was in the Test arena that Australia wanted him at his 2009-esque best. Just 13 wickets in six matches at an average of 56.61, though, soon flattered to deceive. Some say it's ever since he added all that ink to his heavily tattooed left-arm that the downward spiral started. Either way, injury saved him from the chop and now the likes of Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Ben Cutting are cued up for his place permanently.

<B>9. Harbhajan Singh (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Prosper Utseya (Zimbabwe)</I><BR>His general lack of contribution in a team otherwise lined with consistent performers could only go unnoticed for so long – and when the Indian unit was down the spotlight soon fell on their individual underachievers. One such player flying under the radar was Harbhajan, whose effectiveness of the past seems gone for good, hence his chop for the tour Down Under. Ravichandran Ashwin, meanwhile, continues to prove that Singh's exit won't prove too much of a transition.

<B>10. Wahab Riaz (Pakistan)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Tim Southee (New Zealand)</I><BR>He is back for the early-2012 series against England, and really the southpaw seamer will want to put a forgettable 2011 behind him as soon as possible. An outstanding five-for against India at the World Cup pledged so much more, only for substandard tours of New Zealand and the West Indies to undo the promise.

<B>11. Shantha Sreesanth (India)</B><BR><I>Close, but no: Suranga Lakmal (Sri Lanka)</I><BR>The occasion was too much for him at the World Cup, while England in England really took it out of him. A string of injuries marred the rest of his year – and now he would only just feature in India's third-choice attack, if fit.

<B>Jonhenry Wilson</B>

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