Cricket365 Readers' Team of the Year

Blog Opinion

After a series of telling voting polls via Cricket365's front page, the people have spoken, and selected a formidable XI to characterise a year of quality, intriguing Test cricket.

<b>1. Graeme Smith (captain)</b><br>The begrudged Proteas captain, ultimately, has more fans than foes. Smith won the opening-batsmen poll, trumping candidates like David Warner and Alastair Cook by a long shot.

<b>2. Shikhar Dhawan</b><br>Dhawan gathered almost a quarter of the votes after taking Indian cricket by storm this year. Just as well, too, after Virender Sehwag faded into the shadows of poor form and subsequent lack of favour.

<b>3. Hashim Amla</b><br>Even fans of Jonathan Trott and Cheteshwar Pujara found it difficult to look beyond the dominance of Amla, who secured a whopping 43.17 percent of the votes – despite missing a couple of key Tests in the UAE.

<b>4. Jacques Kallis</b><br>We have to question this decision, which was probably based on former glory. Kallis, in truth, endured a very substandard 2013 – but still managed to gain selection ahead of Michael Clarke. Ross Taylor, unsurprisingly, offered both men some stiff competition.

<b>5. AB de Villiers</b><br>Named in the Cricket365 Writers' XI of the Year, too, de Villiers laid to waste all other number five batsmen by a veritable Country Mile. A hefty 52.55 percent of the votes quickly attested to the superiority of the number one-ranked Test batsman.

<b>6. Rohit Sharma</b><br>Sharma's foray into Test cricket is burgeoning, and Faf du Plessis probably would have been a more convincing pick, but voters were more prevalent in India than South Africa. Sharma, regardless, is a genuine talent. Goodness knows he has waited long enough for this chance.

<b>7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper)</b><br>This category presented a very tight race, with Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Matt Prior and Brad Haddin vying for top spot. The Indian took the majority of the ballots by a whisker in the end.

<b>8. Vernon Philander</b><br>The vote for the year's best seamers was lined with all of 20 options, and three men stood head and shoulders above the rest, the least of which was South Africa's kingpin – and new number one.

<b>9. Mitchell Johnson</b><br>Johnson's return to the Australian Test team has been impossibly good, with all Englishman put before him outdone, outlasted and outgunned. Long may it continue, for the talismanic left-armer and formidable all-rounder.

<b>10. Dale Steyn</b><br>Surpassed by Philander in the ICC Test rankings, Steyn still managed to hold the wood over his team-mate in this poll, fetching some 1,200 more votes than his new-ball partner.

<b>11. Saeed Ajmal</b><br>Usurped by Ravichandran Ashwin in the C365 Writers' XI, there was no such injustice for Ajmal in this team. Out of all the categories, across all the departments, the spinners section saw the biggest win. Indeed, Ajmal garnered 3,517 votes more than his closest rival, Ashwin.