Test bowling nominees

Monty, Vernon and Co

Left-arm spin came back into fashion in 2012. But fast bowlers remained a force to be reckoned with

Sidharth Monga

January 10, 2013

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Click here for the Test batting shortlist


Abdur Rehman ran through England's middle order, Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 4th day, January 28, 2012
Abdur Rehman: bamboozled England's batsmen just as much as Saeed Ajmal did © AFP
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Saeed Ajmal
7 for 55 v England

first Test, Dubai
This was some welcome for the world's new Test No. 1 side. At the forefront was arguably the world's best spinner. After losing the toss, bowling on the first day on a sound batting surface, Ajmal drove England to distraction with his beguiling mix of offspinners and doosras, bowling them out in the 73rd over to leave Pakistan firmly in command. Ajmal was the last Pakistan bowler to be introduced into the attack, but after ten deliveries he had figures of 3 for 1, having removed Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen with his sixth, seventh and tenth deliveries. That was an impact England never recovered from.

Tim Southee
7 for 64 v India

second Test, Bangalore
It was an exemplary display of good old-fashioned swing bowling from Southee, which gave New Zealand a great chance of winning a Test in India, a chance their batsmen squandered. Southee produced the perfect mix of outswing, bouncers, and the ball that he bowled with scrambled seam to bring it in. His scalps included Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kolhi, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni. In one nine-over spell he took four wickets in three overs. The best of the lot was when he got a well-set batsman, Kohli, who had scored a hundred, to leave alone what he thought was an outswinger, only for the ball to come back in and trap him lbw.

Abdur Rehman
6 for 25 v England

second Test, Abu Dhabi
Having lost the first Test by ten wickets, England bounced back in Abu Dhabi to be set a target of 145. Time to put the monsters to bed? Not quite. There was Rehman still, who got his first five-for in Tests, and with his fast, accurate turn, served a reminder to England that they were fighting not just the genius of Saeed Ajmal. It took Rehman just 10.1 overs to run through England, and that included the mandatory wicket of Kevin Pietersen.

Monty Panesar
6 for 62 v Pakistan

second Test, Abu Dhabi
Hours before Pakistan's unsung spinner made his presence felt, England's unsung spinner, Panesar, had given England a golden chance to level the series with his second-best showing in Tests. Accurate and drawing sharp turn, he took out Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq, and then made sure there was no drama from the Pakistan tail.

Monty Panesar
6 for 81 v India

second Test, Mumbai
England had made the mistake of not playing Panesar in the first match, which they lost. Panesar had driven home the point that they had a mistake when he took 5 for 129 over the first two days of the Mumbai Test. The coup de grace, though, was delivered when he ran through India's second innings, showing the home spinners what they needed to be doing. He was accurate, but more importantly he had accurately judged that the pitch called for slightly faster deliveries, and gave them sharper turn. He bowled fast, put a lot of effort to turn every delivery, and fashioned one of England's best wins away from home.

Peter Siddle
4 for 50 v Sri Lanka

first Test, Hobart
This was a Test cut short by rain, and Australia needed to be swift amid resistance if they were to force a result. They were helped by a positive captain, who declared the first innings closed at 450 for 5. Yet Tillakaratne Dilshan thwarted them in the first innings, and they were eventually left with just four sessions in which to bowl Sri Lanka out. Enter Siddle, who had taken five wickets in the first innings, and now provided three key breakthroughs on the final day. First there was Mahela Jayawardene, who before lunch edged a ball that moved away from the bat and was caught at slip for 19. Then the big one - Kumar Sangakkara, lbw for 63. It was a perfect delivery, angling across the left-hander, pitching in line and straightening. Thilan Samaraweera provided plenty of fight after that, surviving until after tea, but Siddle jagged a ball back to have him lbw for 49. Siddle had already had Angelo Mathews caught behind for 19, and Australia were into the tail.

Vernon Philander
5 for 30 v England

third Test, Lord's
You are playing for the No. 1 ranking, you are at the final hurdle, you have set the opposition 346 to win, and one of your three strike bowlers removes Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell in his first burst. It's a true pitch, though, and Matt Prior, as he often does, is holding you up, and threatening to pull off the impossible. The same strike bowler comes back and removes Prior. Next ball, he dismisses the last man to deliver a famous win. This in a Test in which the same strike bowler had contributed 61 and 35 handy lower-order runs. Philander, the latest South African sensation, who had been overshadowed in the series until then, well and truly emerged out of the shadows with this performance.

Vernon Philander
6 for 44 v New Zealand

second Test, Hamilton
Philander's phenomenal success continued in this, his sixth Test, where he demolished New Zealand to finish with 6 for 44 in the second innings, and 10 for 114 in the match. His fifth five-wicket haul shrank his bowling average to 13.6. Philander got balls to nip in back in (like the one Kruger van Wyk left, expecting it to move the other way, to be bowled), and moved them away (like the one Kane Williamson poked at to get an outside edge). Both captains felt Seddon Park was flat at the start of the game, but Philander was able to get something out of the surface by continuing to land the ball on the seam and in the channel just outside off.

James Anderson
5 for 72 v Sri Lanka

first Test, Galle
Anderson's skills when the ball swings conventionally have rarely been in doubt, but on a pitch traditionally favoured by spinners, he worked hard, swung balls new and old, in manners conventional and reverse, and kept England in the game with a five-for. In his second over of the series, he removed left-hand batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara with away swing, and then came back later with reverse swing to take two more. The man who thwarted England, Mahela Jayawardene, too fell in the end to Anderson.

Rangana Herath
6 for 74 v England

first Test, Galle
In a year in which he was the leading wicket-taker in Tests, Herath became Sri Lanka's lead spinner beyond doubt when he delivered them victory against England in Galle. He may look innocuous and gentle, but the England batsmen will disagree - none more than Ian Bell, who was bowled by a beauty that drew him forward, turned and clipped the top of off stump. All of Herath's wickets were top-seven batsmen, except for Stuart Broad. Four of them fell lbw, and Jonathan Trott was done in the flight as he charged down the wicket.


James Anderson celebrates after trapping Lahiru Thirimanne lbw, Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 1st day, April 3, 2012
James Anderson swung it on the subcontinent © Getty Images
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Dale Steyn
4 for 40 v Australia

third Test, Perth
Australia had bowled South Africa out for 225 at the WACA and were sniffing the Test No. 1 ranking when they came up against a possessed champion, Steyn. He bowled with fire, with skill and with pace, to stun Australia. In his first over, he got rid of Ed Cowan. With his first ball the next morning, he accounted for the other opener, David Warner. Then he sent back the man who could do no wrong until then, Michael Clarke, with a beauty that seamed away to square him up and take the edge. For good measure, Steyn added three more in the second innings to seal the No. 1 ranking.

Morne Morkel
6 for 23 v New Zealand

third Test, Wellington
Morkel's best bowling figures in Test cricket were a show of will on a flat pitch, and they came quick. South Africa had less than a day to force the result, and they were not helped by a late declaration that left New Zealand 389 to chase. South Africa were leading in the series and didn't want to take risks on an unhelpful pitch, but Morkel wasn't going to rest easy. He unleashed yorkers and bouncers to produce a wicket every 16 balls he bowled. Three of his wickets came from searing yorkers. Brendon McCullum couldn't get his bat to one that would have hit leg stump, Dean Brownlie let one slip beneath his bat, and Daniel Vettori barely had time to register being at the crease before Morkel bowled him first ball. South Africa did run out of time, but Morkel had given a teaser for what a more positive declaration might have done.

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Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by uzairamir on (January 11, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

my vote goes for abdur rahman depending 144 is quite something and the people who are saying that england were unprepared and were playing at pakistans homeground.firstly,pakistan were playing at abu dhabi not there homeground and the no1 test team being unprepared:D and thirdly dont make lame excuses.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

surely Junaid Khans 5 - for on placid , nothing for bowlers pitches should come here :/

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 11, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

What happened to Philander's spell that got Australia out for 47? That should be on here and that should be First. After that it should be Panesar's spell for getting out the best players of spin (Indians) in their own back yard. The Close 3rd (right after Panesar) should be Ajmal's spell against the English

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (January 11, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

vernon Philanders performance against England 5-30 is the best cosidering what was on stake

Posted by Shan156 on (January 10, 2013, 23:17 GMT)

Looks like Martin didn't play that game where Southee took 7 wickets but Boult and Bracewell did and did very little although Bracewell accounted for the key wicket of Sachin although you have to consider that the little master was out of form, and anyway Southee did get him in the 2nd innings.

Posted by C.A-SA1987 on (January 10, 2013, 20:20 GMT)

@ Posted by SamuelH on (January 10 2013, 19:13 PM GMT):

Hahaha, yeah.

They appear to short of runs, short of wickets and short of victories...

Reap what you sow and all that jazz i suppose.

Cant wait till they come over to our shores.

I hate to see the Kiwi's struggle, cause they're a genuine bunch with modest salaries.

The Indian team on the other hand: overpaid and incompetent fat-cats. Cant wait to see them crash back down to Earth (for like the 17th time).

Before any Indian fans jump down my throat, my grandfather was born in India, so I used to support the likes of Kumble, Dravid, Laxman, Prasad and good old Javagal (absolute legends) when i was growing up.

But now all i want to see is the Indian Test team lose (I always support the opposition) and it all started with the "revenge" talk from the likes of Kohli and Gambhir. That really made most folk outside of the sub-continent dislike India intensely.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 20:13 GMT)

However based on the inadequate list here i would go with either of Southee in India , Anderson in Sri Lanka or Steyn @ Perth Forgive me but i am a true West Indian so i am strongly pro pace bowling :D

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Granted England's batting in the UAE vs Pakistan last year was also 'tiger'esque so Ajmal's & Rehman's nominations shouldn't be overly lauded either

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

I'd rate Tino Best's 6/40 vs Bangladesh @ Khulna & Kemar Roach's 5/41 vs Australia in the 3rd innings @ Queen's Park Oval above quite a few of these nominations. both of these could be used as standards & guides for fast bowling in my opinion. With Best u may argue that his figures came against just Bangladesh but after being unable to bowl in the 1st innings due to injury look @ the mettle it took to bowl his team to victory through pain / injury on such a flat pitch on tour. Plus Philander & Morkel got nominations for figures vs New Zealand & Siddle vs Sri Lanka In 2012 New Zealand was equal to Bangladesh if not worse in my book. & Sri Lanka in Australia were not much better. I am pretty sure the fact that the Kiwi's are woeful won't prevent Philander's 5 for 7 from being nominated next year >:(

Posted by SDHM on (January 10, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

C.A - SA1987 - you've got to take wickets to get on the list I assume, which disqualifies most Indian bowlers :P

Posted by Dannov747 on (January 10, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

Also, no Indian bowlers or batsmen? THE ONLY TEAM with none in EITHER. That's actually quite sad :(

Posted by Dannov747 on (January 10, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

Monty should win. The way he humiliated both the Indian batsmen (so called masters of spin) and the Indian bowlers (beaten on their own turf!) was epic.

Too bad Swanny is not up there, even though he's had a very good year!

Posted by king78787 on (January 10, 2013, 18:37 GMT)

i think the most important thing is the pitch and quality of the other bowlers in the attack. Pansear, herath, ajmal, they ALL took their wickets in the subcontinent and are SPINNERS. Southsee with no or little assistance took 7 wickets and had very little help from boult ( 1 tailender) and patel (nothing)

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 18:18 GMT)

If the world# 1 can not defend a test total of 142, just because someone took 6-25, then that bowling should be the spell of the year. Abdur Rehman all the way. No doubt in my mind.

Posted by Shan156 on (January 10, 2013, 18:06 GMT)

@getsetgopk, before mentioning Ajmal in the same breath as Warne or Murali, let him perform in all conditions around the world against all teams. Come back after he plays a full series in Aus. or SA. He didn't do great in Eng. either. This is exactly what the SC fans accuse the English of and they do the same. Proving yourself in all conditions is not just for English players but for SC players too.

Re: bowling performance of the year, it has got to be Tim Southee. The guy had no support from the conditions or the other end (no disrespect to Chris Martin) and he was bowling to batsmen who are (or at least used to be) very strong in their home.

Posted by CorneredTiger92-09 on (January 10, 2013, 16:43 GMT)

Rehman's 6 for 25 has to win. He had to defend 142 against the number 1 side and the pressure was all on him (and Ajmal) and he absolutely bamboozled the english batsmen in ways I ain't seen since. The deliveries to Morgan and Broad in that spell were sheer class

Posted by Uzi-Khan on (January 10, 2013, 15:46 GMT)

I will be amazed if Abdur Rehman doesnt win this award. No matter how good the bowling was by the other contenders, Rehman's pipps them all for sheer class! An England side who had annihilated India 4-0 being bowled out for 72 in pursuit of 144? Erm...Hello? It was sheer class..and had nothing to do with Batsmen playing false strokes or any of that

Posted by AllroundCricketFan on (January 10, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

Not a single Indian batting or bowling entry? Whats happening here...

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

junaid khan 5 wicket haul at ssc batting paradise wicket should be in the nominees

Posted by C.A-SA1987 on (January 10, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

As a South African who loves Vernon to bits, I'd have to be honest and say that the Rehman spell to defend 145 was the most exciting sporting event i watched on TV for the whole of 2012 (next to the Aguerro goal in extra time to win the EPL)... I mean, who defends 145 nowadays?!?!

Myself and my mates had goosebumps watching it LIVE (albeit on TV), and i have goosebumps now thinking about it. We were jumping up and down as if it was a Rugby World Cup Final

It was not just his spell, but everything that went along with it. Before the series, noone really gave the Paki's a chance, but wow... They really showed what they can do.

And the joy on the faces as each wicket was taken... GOOSEBUMPS!!!

From a proud South African.

P.S: No Indian bowlers included? :-)

Posted by Uppercut07 on (January 10, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

Herath also took 6-97 in the 2nd innings of the same match!!

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

There may be good bowling performance over all but if there was a category of "bowl of the year" i would definitely vote for dale steyn's ball which removed micheal clarke, it as sheer beauty.

Posted by Harlequin. on (January 10, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

The batting performance I found quite difficult to choose from, the bowling performances less so. Rehman/Ajmal vs England was as much to do with poor batting as excellent bowling, Philander is tempting although I would go for Southee because he didn't have the support Vernon did - either from the pitch or from Morkel and Steyn.

Posted by DaDaL0G on (January 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

Amla's 311 on english soil against England Rehman's 6/25 to destroy World's No1 Ranked Team

Posted by getsetgopk on (January 10, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Ajmals 7 wickets in the first test is by far the most destructive bowling by a spinner in recent history. In fact I can't recall when a spinner anywhere in the world had such an impact on the outcome of a test series after Murali and Warne. The initial blow that he dealt Eng, they never recovered. As far as this argument of 'accuse' Eng of being 'woefully' underprepared than give due credit to a fantastic bowler, seems hallow. My understanding is and I dont see how I can be wrong about it is that Eng has always and only valued test cricket and for their fans to come up with such excuses is actually not in good spirit. Ajmal has had phenominal success across formats since 2010, no batsman has really stood up to him in any format with the exception of Sangakara.

Posted by Black-Zero on (January 10, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

Ajmal's 7 for did set the tone for the reminder of the series,but for me it HAS to be Rehman's 6/25 in the second test because Pakistan was defending a VERY small total of 144.yet because of his performance Pakistan comfortably won the match.

Posted by NAP73 on (January 10, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

Rehman's effort was outstanding. Will be hard pressed to find better figures for a while (and defending a small total), unless it is against a 'minnow'. It reminded me of Warne at Adelaide that time. P.S. Abu Dhabi is not a completely home ground for Pakistan. P.P.S I am intrigued to see how pitches shape up with the move to drop in pitches; it might save money, but it could also mean losing a home advantage and turning people off a side when they lose more.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

well am from pakistan and yeah i agree with landl47, cant go with ajmal, the english batsmen were woeful against ajmal, it wasnt a contest when ajmal (far superior) made them realize that the number 1 test ranked team doesnt know how to play a ball that spin just a wee bit. But guess what, SAF made them realize that they cant even play swing and seam... am glad they went to india and showed the world they still can play straight balls. LOL

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

Have to go with Ajmal, basically set the tone for the remainder of the series, mind you Rehman's 6/25 is worthy of a mention as well.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (January 10, 2013, 7:44 GMT)

my vote goes to james anderson in sri lanka or Tim southee in India , considering that these two performances came in unfamiliar and not so helpful conditions for the bowlers

Posted by ReverseSwingMaster on (January 10, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

Why ENG fans like landl47 keep mentioning that PAK had beaten " underprepared England side". I bet if they come UAE again they will get beaten by the same margin. Accept your defeat instead of giving excuses.

Posted by landl47 on (January 10, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

Monty Panesar's 6-81 gets my vote. Ajmal and Rehman bowled very well, but they were at home against a woefully underprepared England side. Panesar's performance came in India against a side that had just won the first test by 9 wickets. His 11 wickets in the match completely turned the series around- one of the best performances ever by a visiting player. The only other performance to rank with those three was Southee's, but his achievement, great though it was, didn't win either the game or the series for NZ.

Posted by Trickstar on (January 10, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

Such an hard one this, no single one stands out above the others and you could make an argument for quite a few, most people will vote for their own player probably, or vote for the bowing performance they actually watched. The best few imo are Ajmal, Southee, Rehmann, Monty in India, Anderson & Vernon at Lords.

Posted by neo-galactico on (January 10, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

I'm have a bias towards Southee, he bowled like the bowler that he was hailed he'd be in that innings. There were all good but I go Southee for swinging it in India.

Posted by sabeeh89 on (January 10, 2013, 5:52 GMT)

has to go to Ajmal, that set the tone for the series. Pak spinners (Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez) strangled England in the series

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

Abdur Rehman's 6 wickets and bowled out world's number one team for 72 only while they were chasing less than 150. Abdur Rehman must win.

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (January 10, 2013, 5:39 GMT)

In my opinion, Abdur Rahman's spell was amazing (6/25) while defending a small total of 145.

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

james anderson as he did that in sri lanka

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 4:16 GMT)

I can't get that delivery Steyn bowled to Clarke out of my head... along with his spell at the Oval, Steyn showed that given a little sniff, he can break through any batting order... accounting for Clarke's only failure of 2012 alone speaks volumes...

Posted by Erebus26 on (January 10, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

It was difficult to choose from some of the outstanding performances that the guys at cricinfo have picked here but I evetually plumped for Tim Southee. I don't know why, but maybe because it was my admiration for an underdog (little old New Zealand mixing it with the big boys) coupled with the fact that Southee finally showed what he was capable of after a few years of underwhelming performances. He looked like a 'go to bowler' in this match, something that New Zealand desperately need going forward.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 10, 2013, 3:36 GMT)

best bowling Saeed Ajmal.

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