Test bowling nominees January 10, 2017

Broad wrecks, Herath befuddles

Sharp spin, searing swing and more in our pick of the best Test bowling performances of 2016

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Stuart Broad
6 for 17 v South Africa
third Test, Johannesburg

Few bowlers in the history of the game have bowled as many match-turning spells as Broad. His career is littered with days in which he has been fuelled by some inexplicable force over and above all the tangible qualities he brings to the bowling crease. England had won the first Test, and South Africa had fought back from conceding 629 to draw the second. The third match was neck-and-neck: South Africa 313, England 323. Then, in 12.1 manic overs, Broad destroyed South Africa with pace, bounce, seam movement and that indefinable Broadness, sending them clattering to 83 all out.

Yasir Shah
6 for 72 v England
first Test, Lord's

Responding to Pakistan's 339, England were 118 for 1, cruising along at more than four an over, with their two best batsmen at the crease, when Joe Root top-edged a slog-sweep and gave Yasir his first wicket of the series. It was just the sort of opening Yasir needed. Attacking the stumps relentlessly, he magnified every error the batsmen made. Each of his next five wickets was either bowled or lbw, as England slid to 272 all out. Remarkably, a legspinner had turned the first innings of a first Test on a tour of England. Yasir took four more in the second innings - three bowled - and Pakistan completed their fourth win at Lord's.

I am Herath, hear me roar © AFP

Rangana Herath
5 for 54 v Australia
first Test, Pallekele

Sri Lanka had won only one Test out of 26 against Australia, and it looked like that wouldn't change when they collapsed to 117 all out on the first day of this three-match home series. Herath began the fightback, taking four wickets, including those of Joe Burns, Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja, to limit Australia's lead to 86. A magnificent backs-to-the-wall 176 from Kusal Mendis helped set Australia a target of 268, and Herath, yet again, was Sri Lanka's match-winner, his arm ball sucker-punching batsman after batsman as they played for non-existent turn.

Dilruwan Perera
6 for 70 v Australia
second Test, Galle

Galle is Herath's most productive Test venue, and while he played his part in helping Sri Lanka take a 2-0 lead, with six wickets, including a first-innings hat-trick, it was Dilruwan, the offspinner, who made the biggest difference in a match that ended in two and a half days. Brought into the team as a third spinner on a raging turner, he tormented Australia's left-handers, angling it in from around the wicket, getting some balls to turn and others to slide on towards the stumps. Three of his six second-innings wickets were of left-hand batsmen, as Australia slumped to defeat by 229 runs.

Mehedi Hasan Miraz was no slouch in his debut Test, but he became an irresistible force in his second © Getty Images

Mehedi Hasan Miraz
6 for 77 v England
second Test, Mirpur

On Test debut in Chittagong, 18-year-old Mehedi had nearly bowled Bangladesh to a sensational win. In his second Test, having turned 19 in the interim, he went one better. There were six left-handers in England's line-up, which made his offbreaks particularly potent on a Mirpur turner. Bangladesh scrambled together 296 in their second innings, setting England 273 to win. In a match that was still only in its third day, England began ominously, as Alastair Cook and the aggressive Ben Duckett put on 100 for the first wicket. But first ball after tea, Mehedi crashed through Duckett's defences with a skidder from around the wicket, and set in motion the mother of all collapses, as England lost all ten wickets for 64 runs in a single session.

R Ashwin
6 for 132 v New Zealand
first Test, Kanpur

India were playing their 500th Test and starting a home season of 13 Tests, and predictably enough, Ashwin was soon to the fore. He made the key breakthroughs in the first innings to help India gain a 56-run lead, and was even more dominant in the second, despite bowling 35.3 overs with a callus on the middle finger of his right hand. Ashwin ran through New Zealand, dismissing Williamson (who he would eventually get out four times out of four in the series) lbw with one that did him for length. That was his 200th Test wicket as well; only one man, Clarrie Grimmett, had reached the mark in fewer Tests.

Overcast? Seaming wicket? Vern's your man © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Vernon Philander
5 for 21 v Australia
second Test, Hobart
After Australia were sent in to bat on a cloudy morning, on a pitch expected to provide a bit of early assistance to the seamers, Philander was the last man they would have wanted to face. Particularly after they had squandered a winning position in Perth. Inside the first nine overs of the Test match, their worst fears came to life. Philander was relentlessly accurate, seaming the ball this way and that and squaring batsmen up for fun. Australia were 8 for 4 early, three of those wickets going to Philander, and they were eventually bowled out for 85, their innings lasting 32.5 overs - their shortest at home since Marshall, Garner and Holding shot them out in 31.2 overs in Perth, back in 1984. South Africa were well on their way to winning the series, and Australia well on theirs to losing their fifth successive Test match.

Kagiso Rabada
5 for 92 v Australia
first Test, Perth

Australia had it all going for them. They had bowled South Africa out for 244, and their openers had put on a 158-run partnership. They were 166 for 1 when Dale Steyn, South Africa's spearhead, fractured his bowling shoulder and was ruled out of the rest of the series. It was then that Rabada announced himself, ripping out Usman Khawaja's off stump with a full, swinging delivery from around the wicket. Rabada took two wickets in the first innings, but his best work would come in the second. With South Africa reduced to just three front-line bowlers, Australia made a fist of the chase, but every time a partnership threatened to develop, Rabada struck. He delivered the killer blow at 144 for 2. Faf du Plessis left cover open for Steven Smith, who was batting on 34. Smith drove, and Rabada found his edge with a tiny bit of away movement.

Tim Southee's quality swing turned New Zealand's middling first-innings total in Hamilton into a match-winning one © AFP

Tim Southee
6 for 80 v Pakistan
second Test, Hamilton

The Hamilton Test of November 2016 will be most remembered for Pakistan losing nine second-innings wickets in the final session, but the key spell that gave New Zealand the advantage they never lost thereafter came late on the second day. Batting first, New Zealand had posted what seemed a sub-par 271 before Southee's new-ball magic made it look monstrously large. Combining the age-old virtues of a full length, a line close to off stump, and late swing, he nicked off Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali and Younis Khan within his first five overs to leave Pakistan 12 for 3, from which they never really recovered.

Ravindra Jadeja
7 for 48 v England
fifth Test, Chennai

England weren't supposed to lose this game. They had won the toss and piled up 477, and though India replied with 759 for 7 declared, they only had a day and five overs left to take ten wickets on a flat Chepauk pitch. England's openers batted through to lunch on day five, and their batsmen somehow kept local boy Ashwin wicketless for 25 overs. But in the same number of overs, Jadeja made his most spectacular contribution to what had till then been a solid but quiet series for him with the ball - his 16 wickets in the first four Tests had come at an average of 32.38. England contributed to their downfall with some daft shots, but they arose from the demons Jadeja planted in their minds with his accuracy. He relentlessly pounded the rough outside the left-handers' off stump and eked out as much help as humanly possible from an atypically placid fifth-day pitch to finish with his best innings and match figures in Test cricket.

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Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo