Cricket365 Writers' Team of the Year

Blog Opinion

David Warner quickly corrected a year destined for desperation, Graeme Smith was the gift that kept on giving, Cheteshwar Pujara answered India's call and AB de Villiers knew no bounds.

<b>1. David Warner</b><br>Love or dislike him, David Warner tantalised the world of cricket time and time again this year. A superb stretch of form at first-class and Test level through November and December is testament to Australia's resident bad boy's complete turnaround. All is forgiven after those fisticuffs with Joe Root.

<b>2. Graeme Smith</b><br>The gift that keeps on giving, Smith continued to oblige fans and grate critics through 2013. His shot selection remains questionable and his technique is pretty flawed, but that all counts for nothing when impressive numbers deliver – for the most part.

<b>3. Cheteshwar Pujara</b><br>The retirement of Rahul Dravid left India crying for a replacement – and Pujara quickly came to the party, handsomely. Undoubtedly the batsman of the year, he delivered more than 2,000 first-class runs in 12 months. Now, what of Sachin Tendulkar's incumbent…?

<b>4. Michael Clarke (captain)</b><br>Quickly becoming as tenacious as Ricky Ponting once was, Clarke is the epitome of an Australian Test skipper, and at the time of writing is gunning for a five-nil Ashes series whitewash. Through all the pressure, regardless, the talented right-hander leads by example with the bat.

<b>5. Ian Bell</b><br>Bell was near brilliant against the Aussies in the United Kingdom earlier this year, and has largely been the only Englishman to stand up to them in Adelaide and beyond this month. Those frailties of the past are long gone, thankfully.

<b>6. AB de Villiers</b><br>Loaded with the ODI captaincy, Test vice-captaincy, and important role of wicketkeeper, de Villiers has taken it all in his cool, calm and collected stride – and recently filled his life ambition of topping the ICC's rankings for Test batsman. A true great of the game in the making, especially if he is soon relieved of the gloves…

<b>7. Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper)</b><br>Form is temporary and class permanent, reads the old adage, and was entirely true in the case of Matthew Wade versus Brad Haddin. The latter won, and rightly so, despite family troubles. He is here to stay, despite his age, and delivering rescue runs on cue.

<b>8. Stuart Broad</b><br>Another cricketer prone to love-hate relationships across world cricket, Broad walked the talk this year. Prolific at the bowling crease and cocky behind the microphone, it takes all sorts to be a pantomime villain. A foot injury, hopefully, won't cap an otherwise outstanding year.

<b>9. Ravichandran Ashwin</b><br>A neck-and-neck race with Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal ultimately saw Ashwin seal the spinner's berth in this hypothetical XI. With Harbhajan Singh's favour waning and Ravindra Jadeja not yet settled, the slow-bowling ranks needed a leader – and the man with that annoyingly stop-start delivery stride stepped up superbly.

<b>10. Dale Steyn</b><br>Not pursuing triumph through the closing throes of December's Wanderers Test against India will cop criticism for an extended period, but this negative approach is forgivable – given the copious amounts of wickets the pace ace coughed up for South Africa this year.

<b>11. James Anderson</b><br>Along with Broad, the welcome constant in an England attack sporadically rotated this year. Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Ben Stokes and Chris Tremlett needed nurturing, and Anderson was that mentor, all while characterising the ins and outs of a solid Test match swing bowler.

Latest