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ESPNcricinfo Awards 2013 Test bowling nominees: Chaos courtesy Mitch, Stu, Dale

It was a year of some serious quick stuff, as our Test bowling shortlist reveals

Will the 2013-14 Australia-England series come to be known as Johnson's Ashes?  •  Getty Images

Will the 2013-14 Australia-England series come to be known as Johnson's Ashes?  •  Getty Images

Vernon Philander
5 for 7 vs New Zealand
first Test, Cape Town

Philander took one of the quickest five-fors in history when he demolished New Zealand in the New Year's Test. He returned new-ball figures of 6-3-7-5, quite a feat for a bowler who had been doubtful for this Test after he tweaked a hamstring a fortnight previously, and who was described by Graeme Smith on the eve of the Test as "provisionally fit". There was nothing manifestly disturbing about Philander, no trepidation caused by express pace or even lavish movement. His method was simple and clinical: he maintained impeccable accuracy and found just enough assistance to be persistently threatening. New Zealand were still seeking stability after the controversial sacking of Ross Taylor from the captaincy, and Philander left them on even shakier ground.
Dale Steyn
6 for 8 vs Pakistan
first Test, Johannesburg

Pakistan joined a long list of teams who were bamboozled by Steyn, when he produced 8.1 mesmeric overs to roll them over for 49. It was Pakistan's lowest total in Tests, and the third time in 15 months that South Africa had bowled out an opponent below 50. Steyn allowed only three scoring shots off his bowling in the entire innings, as he confounded Pakistan with pace, swing and bounce. He conceded eight runs - the fifth-lowest ever for a bowler taking a five-for. This was the first Test of the series and Steyn's burst left Pakistan's already fragile batting bereft of confidence.
Saeed Ajmal
6 for 96 vs South Africa
second Test, Cape Town

The Cape Town pitch was expected to make Ajmal a central figure towards the end of the Test, but he made an impact as early as the second day with a beguiling display of spin bowling that left South Africa stuttering for the first time in their home summer. Though this was not a tailor-made turner for Ajmal, and it had been widely predicted to be a great day for batting, he got the ball to rear up and fizz off the track in an unbroken 25-over spell that could well end up as his greatest performance. The mighty South African batting was nonplussed, and an hour before stumps there was even the outside chance of them being forced to follow on. And this wasn't even one of those old South African teams that was frazzled by the sight of the turning ball.
R Ashwin
7 for 103 vs Australia
first Test, Chennai

During the 4-0 takedowns in England and Australia, India sought solace in their robust home record. But that seemed under threat after Alastair Cook's side won 2-1 in India, just before Michael Clarke's men arrived. On the opening day of a series in which India had everything to lose and Australia everything to gain, Ashwin held up the entire Indian attack with a performance of dominance and variety. On a ground where Ashwin said he believes "the air is talking to me, each man sitting in the stands is talking to me", he took 6 for 88 on a day the rest of the attack could only muster 1 for 228.
Nathan Lyon
7 for 94 vs India
fourth Test, Delhi

Halfway through the series, Lyon's place as Australia's first-choice spinner appeared to be in serious doubt. He had been dropped after leaking runs heavily in the first Test, in Chennai, and the coach, Mickey Arthur, said Lyon "hasn't gone that well this year" and needed to work on some technical issues. Add in the bruising defeats in the first three Tests, the homework saga, and an injury to Michael Clarke, and Australia seemed set for a hiding in the Delhi Test. Lyon kept them fighting, though, shortening his length a touch bowling from round the wicket more, to wheedle out seven wickets and leave the game even after the first innings.
Stuart Broad
7 for 44 v New Zealand
first Test, Lord's

In a destructive spell of pace bowling, Broad blew away New Zealand with career-best figures of 7 for 44 as England surged to a 170-run victory. Broad took the first five of his wickets in 5.4 overs before lunch to crush New Zealand's hopes of chasing what was a testing but not-out-of-reach target of 239. It was another of the eye-popping bursts that have dotted his Test career. New Zealand were taken apart for 68.
James Anderson
5 for 73 vs Australia
first Test, Nottingham

Anderson led England to victory in the first Ashes Test of the back-to-back series as he took the last four wickets in a steadfast spell of fast bowling on a nerve-shredding final day at Trent Bridge. A last-wicket stand of 65 between Brad Haddin and James Pattinson took a wonderful match into the fifth afternoon, against expectations, before Anderson struck for the final time. Much is made of Anderson's skill, but it was his stamina that also came to the fore as he produced a gruelling spell of 13 overs and was then asked for 11 more deliveries after lunch. The importance of Anderson to England was doubly emphasised when he finally took a break. At that stage Australia still needed 64, but with Anderson withdrawn, the last pair immediately sensed they could hit their way to victory. It required Anderson's intervention to finish off the resistance.
Stuart Broad
6 for 50 vs Australia
fourth Test, Durham

In an hour or so, Australia undid the patient progress of three and a half days of hard cricket to tumble to defeat in Durham and confirm England's Ashes victory. It was Broad, bowling with pace, persistence and skill, who provided the impetus for England to claim nine wickets after tea on the fourth day of this game with a spell of 5 for 20 in 40 balls. His away-cutter to defeat Michael Clarke was among the balls of the series. Topping 90mph at times, Broad looked every inch the fine Test bowler his talent has long suggested he could become. His match haul - 11 for 121 - was his best in Tests to date.
Tendai Chatara
5 for 61 vs Pakistan
second Test, Harare

A 12-year-wait to win a Test against a top-eight country finally came to an end for Zimbabwe in September when quick bowler Chatara, in just his fourth Test, took a five-for that knocked out Pakistan. Chatara celebrated several of his wickets with a joyous run towards fine leg, roughly the direction of the shy 22-year-old's hometown of Mutare. Chatara bowls with a curious action - his left arm is almost locked to his body through the delivery stride - but that hasn't prevented him from becoming one of Zimbabwe's most useful bowlers. And it didn't hinder him when he bowled in an absorbing finale against Pakistan, when, despite Misbah-ul-Haq's best efforts, Zimbabwe held on for a 24-run victory.
Mitchell Johnson
4 for 61 vs England
first Test, Brisbane

Going into this match, Australia were winless in nine Tests and England were widely considered favourites for the Ashes. Johnson was returning to the side after nine months, and no one was quite sure what he would serve up. It was the good Johnson who turned up: reborn, he was at his fearsome best in the Test, touching speeds of around 150kph to harry England in both innings. His first victim was Jonathan Trott, caught behind in the final over before lunch. Michael Carberry then perished to a short-ball barrage, and England were soon hurtling towards a paltry score of 136, leaving too big a first-innings between them and Australia. The game ended Australia's ten-month wait for a Test victory, and signalled a power shift in the Ashes.
Mitchell Johnson
7 for 40 vs England
second Test, Adelaide

If Johnson's Brisbane demolition involved terrifying quick bowling, his Adelaide takedown had terrifying quick bowling on a flat pitch where no other bowler could generate much of a threat. Johnson's sustained menace bore comparison with the great fast-bowling spells of the modern age. He took 5 for 16 in five overs immediately after lunch to leave England in a state of bewilderment. Plenty of pacemen have succeeded when the going is fast, the bounce and carry providing ample encouragement, and even through the development of a pack mentality, but in Adelaide it was a one-man wrecking ball that left England in ruins.
Dale Steyn
6 for 100 vs India
second Test, Durban

Going into the second day, Steyn had been wicketless for 67 overs in Tests, the longest barren spell of his career. It didn't help that the Durban surface was more subcontinental than South African, hardly offering any lateral movement with the new ball. India's batsmen dominated the first day, finishing on 181 for 1. All cues for Steyn to conjure the sort of devastating performance that we've come to expect from him. He peppered the batsmen with quick bouncers, mixing in the full ball as he searched for reverse swing. It worked; the first spell of the day read: 5-2-19-3. That took care of the top order and he returned later in the day for a burst of 5-1-13-3 that polished off the lower order.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo