Test bowling nominees

The raw and the cooked

In no year did debutant bowlers do for experienced batting line-ups as they did in 2011

Sidharth Monga

January 11, 2012

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Click here for the Test batting shortlist


Dale Steyn tests VVS Laxman with a bouncer, South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day, January 6, 2011
Not a moment's peace when Dale Steyn is bowling © AFP
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Dale Steyn
5 for 75 v India
third Test, Cape Town

Steyn ushered the new year in by terrorising the acclaimed batsmen of the world's No. 1 Test team with frightening spells of accurate outswing bowling at high speed. Most did not survive the menacing attack, except for Sachin Tendulkar. Steyn's two spells to start the first two sessions of the third day were perhaps the 11 best overs anyone can bowl for just two wickets. Steyn oozed aggression every ball, routinely missed off after starting on or around leg, and ripped out five in the innings. It took masterful defending from Tendulkar to deny him.

James Anderson
5 for 65 v India
first Test, Lord's

England's whitewash of India wasn't as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. They had to burst through various roadblocks, and the final day of the Lord's Test was one when India's big four survived 93, 113, 56 and 68 deliveries, making England work hard for their wickets. Anderson made sure India wouldn't escape like they had at Lord's in 2007, which was followed by a series defeat for the hosts. He took out Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, before dismissing India's final defiance, Suresh Raina, with one that angled in from round the stumps and then left the batsman.

Stuart Broad
6 for 46 v India
second Test, Trent Bridge

The match was slipping out of England's grasp even after Broad's rescue act with the bat, with India already past England's meagre first-innings total with six wickets in hand. They had yet to reckon with Broad, though, who had, astonishingly, been under pressure to keep his place before the start of the series. Broad brought England back sensationally, with a hat-trick and a spell that read 5.1-2-5-5, to keep India's lead to just 67. It was a day India never came back from in the series.

Nathan Lyon
5 for 34 v Sri Lanka
first Test, Galle

Australia had been bowled out for under 300, and dreaded being on the receiving end of one of Sri Lanka's typical long innings at home that crush visiting teams. Australia's only spinner was a debutant regulation offie with no mystery balls or doosras… who with his first delivery in Test cricket dismissed Kumar Sangakkara. This was no dream: Lyon went on to get four more in the innings to help bowl Sri Lanka out for 105. It set up Australia's first series win in the subcontinent since 2006.

Junaid Khan
5 for 38 v Sri Lanka
first Test, Abu Dhabi

Flat pitch. Hot sun. Remorseless Sri Lankan accumulators to deal with. Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and fielded. A good start for Sri Lanka. Misbah knew something we didn't. Enter Junaid Khan. Like only Pakistani fast bowlers can, he thrived in the conditions, bowling his guts out to take five wickets in 14.1 overs. He swung the ball, persistently hit the seam, and bowled yorkers that took the pitch out of the equation. Only dropped catches in second innings denied Pakistan a win Junaid utterly deserved.

R Ashwin
6 for 47 v West Indies
first Test, Delhi

Ashwin kept with the theme of 2011 being a year for debutants. He did so at a time when India were staring at an embarrassing home defeat against West Indies. India hadn't won any of their previous six Tests and had fallen behind by 95 on a track where the low bounce would be a huge problem when chasing. In the third innings of the match, MS Dhoni came out with a helmet on, and his offspinner responded with wickets with both the new and old ball. The big two, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo, were key wickets as India went on to bowl West Indies out for 180 and finally win a Test again.


Pat Cummins appeals unsuccessfully for a wicket in his debut spell, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 1st day, November 17, 2011
Pat Cummins: started with seven © AFP
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Shane Watson
5 for 17 v South Africa
first Test, Cape Town

This spell was overshadowed later, but consider the numbers and take a deep breath. Watson took five wickets in the space of 21 balls in a five-over spell. Four of the five were specialist batsmen and the fifth the wicketkeeper. This was the fourth-quickest five-for in the history of the game. It bowled South Africa out for 96, barely making the follow-on mark. It left South Africa needing a miracle to win the Test.

Vernon Philander
5 for 15 v Australia
first Test, Cape Town

The miracle duly arrived when debutant Philander produced a cheaper five-for, although it took him two overs more than it took Watson. Philander is not as quick as Morne Morkel or as skilful as Dale Steyn, but on the day, on the seaming pitch, he bowled just the right pace and lengths to either get the edges or the lbw calls when he hit the pads. Sensationally, he was instrumental in South Africa bowling Australia out for 47, their lowest total in more than a century.

Pat Cummins
6 for 79 v South Africa
second Test, Johannesburg

Embarrassed by the defeat at Newlands, Australia needed something special to salvage their trip. On another difficult pitch for batting, they bowled South Africa out for 266 but managed only a 30-run lead. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers threatened to run away with the series with a 147-run stand. Before they could bat Australia out of the series, though, Cummins, the tall and fast debutant, struck. His burst of quick and skilful bowling meant South Africa lost their last seven wickets for 102, and Australia levelled the series in a thrilling chase.

Doug Bracewell
6 for 40 v Australia
second Test, Hobart

In just his third Test match, Bracewell delivered one of New Zealand's most famous Test wins. It helped that the conditions in Hobart supported movement and swing, and Bracewell used both, getting the ball to dart back in as well as leave the batsmen. When Australia were threatening to walk away with the match, Bracewell got into the act. He removed Ricky Ponting for 16, and Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey off consecutive deliveries to turn the tide in a matter of two overs. Just when David Warner, who made an unbeaten 123, needed the support of the tail, he dislodged James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc, and delivered the final blow, bowling last man Nathan Lyon after he had stitched together nine runs and, in the company of Warner, given his team hope of scraping through. It was New Zealand's first Test win over Australia since 1993.

Click here for the Test batting shortlist

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Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by the_wallster on (January 12, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

Some fantastic performances last year, but for me Stuart Broad's was the stand-out. under immense pressure from the Sri Lanka series, and bowled like a demon to knock the much vaunted Indian line-up. I'd follow this closely by Jimmy Anderson's, which was just astonishing bowling. 3rd Philander on debut, followed by Junaid Khan's performance and young Pat Cummins on an excellent debut.

Posted by Bruce_Robinson on (January 12, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Give it to Bracewell. He deserves something after being robbed of the man of the match award. ;) Seriously, though, it was a very good bit of bowling. For sheer edge-of-the-seat excitement, though, I would say Steyn vs Tendulkar. Top quality cricket from two immensely talented individuals. You want people to follow Test cricket. Show them that duel. Then they will understand what it's all about.

Posted by The_big_j on (January 12, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Junaid Khan easily. He defied the odds and took 5 wickets without giving too many runs on a flat track....

Posted by timus6778 on (January 12, 2012, 3:40 GMT)

my vote goes to steyn...there is no one better than him in the world...pace,swing,control,intensity,stamina...ah,..how could i forget the smile and the stare @ the batsmen...man, u r a legend in making...u deserve to be in a league having mcgrath,akram,lillee,marshall...i wish u rise to greater heights than these dignitaries...

Posted by   on (January 12, 2012, 3:34 GMT)

I have to go with steyn. That spell he bowled was insane, and possibly the best I have seen regardless of the amount of wickets he took or the pitch.

Posted by redneck on (January 12, 2012, 2:00 GMT)

philanders 5/15 on debut, bowled his side to victory. has to be that one, australia were in charge of that capetown match before philanders efforts! special mention for bracewell, cummings and watson too though.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

my vote goes for JUNAID KHAN. he bowled on a pitch that was a flat track and against a team who are very good under such conditions...ashwins perfromance cant be be matched with junaids, bcose ashwin is a spinner and definetly there was a possibilty that a spinner will take 5 or 6 wickets on flat tracks..........all the other philander, bracwell etc bowled on wickets which were suitable for fast bowling...so junaid gets my award.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 18:55 GMT)

dale steyn without a doubt...that was a gem type of spell.....that makes test cricket special..

Posted by kempson94 on (January 11, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

@Arnab Banerjee, Did you even watch Broad's spell? Tail-enders or not, England were on course to concede a crippling 1st innings deficit before Broad, having been under huge pressure for his place, changed the match for the second time. Steyn was also great, and is by far the best bowler in the world, but he failed to prevent Harbhajan forming a match winning partnership with Tendulkar, unlike how Broad prevented the tail doing so with Dravid. Hence Broad gets my vote, followed closely by Steyn and then either Bracewell or Philander, as both won games for their teams that seemed over, and it is the team winning, rather than individual numbers, which is most important (I can hear a collective gasp from Indian fans).

Posted by   on (January 11, 2012, 18:36 GMT)

Most of these performances came in bowler friendly conditions, apart fron Junaid' 5-for which I didn't see unfortunately. But watching Steyn move the ball and make everyone look like fools on a pitch that offered 400+ runs for both teams... having SRT caught behind (not given) and clipping stumps... the outswinger to Pujara was it? unplayable... he made that pitch look different during that mid-session of play...

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