Year-ender 2018: From Trent Boult to Jasprit Bumrah, the top ten Test spells

As the year comes to a close, here is a look back at ten memorable and match-defining Test bowling spells of 2018.

Vernon Philander 6/42 vs India, Cape Town

Set 208 with five sessions to go at Newlands, India combusted for 135. Their third lowest target failed to chase down. A whole day was washed out was removed from the picture, as was a South African collapse of eight wickets for 65 runs in one dramatic session.

What caught India by surprise was how the conditions progressively started to assist swing. There was movement and Vernon Philander exploited it brilliantly. He was sublime, getting Virat Kohli to misjudge the line of the ball, while Rohit Sharma was tempted into a poke away from the body. Aided by a moment of brilliance from Quinton de Kock to get rid of R Ashwin, Philander finished India off with three wickets in one over after tea. South Africa won by 72 runs, Philander had career-best figures of 6/42 and India were behind 0-1.

Trent Boult 6/32 vs England, Eden Park

This spectacular spell gave Trent Boult career-best figures of 6/32 – which he would outdo with a similarly crushing effort against Sri Lanka as the year closed out – and was achieved with the pink ball in Auckland. After being drubbed in the New Year s Test in Sydney by an innings, England turned up somewhat dazed in New Zealand and were 58 all out, their sixth lowest total of all time at Eden Park. Their innings last 20.4 overs as Boult claimed 6/32 and Tim Southee 4/25. Five batsmen made ducks, equalling England s record. Root s team became just the fifth side to be bowled out in the first session a Tests, and lost the opener by an innings and 49 runs.

At Eden Park, Trent Boult helped bowl out England for 58.
At Eden Park, Trent Boult helped bowl out England for 58. Getty Images

Kagiso Rabada 5/96 & 6/54 vs Australia, Port Elizabeth

Beaten by Australia in the first Test, South Africa stormed back to level the series at Port Elizabeth where Kagiso Rabada claimed 11 wickets. The tone for a crushing victory was set in motion by Rabada on day one, when under an overcast sky he bowled a brilliant spell of 5/13 in 18 balls either side of tea to bowl out Australia for 243 halfway through the evening session. Rabada proved instrumental as South Africa wrapped up a six-wicket win on day four, taking 6/54 in Australia s second innings of 239 that set the hosts a target of 101. This marked the fourth time in 28 Tests that Rabada captured 10 wickets in a Test.

Mohammad Abbas 4/23 & 4/41 v England, Lord s

In an excellent year, during which he claimed 38 wickets in seven Tests at an average of 13.76 while striking every 36.3 deliveries, the Pakistan pace sensation Mohammad Abbas had several match-winning performances. In June, he was named Player of the Series after the 1-1 draw in England where he took 10 wickets including eight in victory at Lord s. In a display of high-quality seam bowling, Abbas bowled Pakistan to victory with 8/64.

On day one, he accounted for Marcus Stoneman, Ben Stokes, Dom Bess and Stuart Broad as England fell to 184 all out to set the stage for Pakistan s victory. On the fourth morning, Abbas trapped Alastair Cook lbw and then picked off Root, Jos Buttler and Broad. Pakistan thus went up 1-0 over England.

Shannon Gabriel walks off after claiming 8/62 against Sri Lanka.
Shannon Gabriel walks off after claiming 8/62 against Sri Lanka. Getty Images

Shannon Gabriel Shannon Gabriel 8/62 vs Sri Lanka, St Lucia

For a team that regularly struggles to compete in Test cricket, Shannon Gabriel s achievement at Gros Islet were an oasis of hope. Up 1-0 in the best-of-three-series against Sri Lanka, West Indies escaped with a draw in the second Test after the final day was suspended due to bad light, and Gabriel s role was sensational. In Sri Lanka s first innings of 253, the sturdy fast bowler claimed 16-4-59-5. After West Indies took a lead of 47, Gabriel produced the third best performance by a West Indian bowler, taking 8/62 to seal match figures of 13/121 – and the best by any bowler in the Caribbean. Only once had a West Indian quick taken more wickets, and that was Michael Holding in 1976 with 14/149 versus England.

James Anderson nine wickets vs India, Lord s

In a fruitful series that ended with him becoming the most successful fast bowler of all time, James Anderson bowled England to 2-0 with nine wickets at Lord s, where he became the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets at the hallowed venue. After Joe Root won the toss and opted to field under grey skies following a complete washout on day one of the second Test it took Anderson five deliveries to strike when he bowled Murali Vijay with a terrific delivery that foxed him into a flick across the stumps, only for it to swing past the bat and into the stumps. Anderson s dismissal of KL Rahul left India 10/2, and later in the day he returned to nip out four wickets in no time as India were bowled out for 107.


The day belonged to Anderson who took 5/20 in 13.2 overs and reached the mark of 99 wickets in Tests at Lord s, and the historic landmark duly came his when in India s second innings when he claimed 4/23 in 12 overs to cap an innings-and-159-run win.

Hardik Pandya 5/28 vs England, Trent Bridge

On his best day as a Test bowler, Hardik Pandya was a big factor in India leading England by 292 runs after two days of the third Test. Pandya was at the forefront of India s demolition job with five wickets in 29 balls, his best returns as a Test allrounder, on a day on which 16 wickets fell. From 46 without loss going into lunch on Sunday, England lost all ten wickets in the afternoon session. Pandya s spell of 5/28 in six overs began with the wicket of Root first ball, which left the home side at 86/4. That would become 108/5 when Mohammed Shami removed Stokes, and then Pandya grabbed four more wickets.

Hardik Pandya helped shape India's win at Trent Bridge with a career-best 5/28
Hardik Pandya helped shape India’s win at Trent Bridge with a career-best 5/28. Getty Images

Moeen Ali 5/63 & 4/71 vs India, Southampton

Called back into England s Test squad after being dumped in March after a terrible Ashes, the offspinning allrounder Moeen Ali made a resounding comeback with nine wickets in England s series-clinching win over India at Southampton. Moeen, coming off a score of 219 and eight wickets for Worcestershire in the County Championship, had ostensibly been picked in England s XI for The Areas Bowl for his batting skills but it was his offspin that proved destructive as he claimed 9/134 – just short of recording his second 10-wicket match haul. After taking 5/63 in India s first innings, Moeen inflicted defeat on Sunday with 4/71 and was named Man of the Match.

Dilruwan Perera 4/46 & 6/32 vs South Africa, Galle

The offspinner Dilruwan Perera finished 2018 as the year s second-highest wicket-taker with 50 from 11 Tests, and his defining performance came in the first Test of a home series versus South Africa, which Sri Lanka won inside three days. In South Africa s first innings, Perera took the new ball and claimed three wickets on the way to impressive figures of 4-46 from 23 overs as the visitors collapsed to 126 – their lowest Test innings in the country, leaving them 161 runs behind.

On day three, Perera ran amok with a career-best 6/32 to bowl South Africa our for 73 – their lowest total in the subcontinent – to finish with a match haul of 10/78. No surprises for guessing who the Man of the Match was.

Jasprit Bumrah 6/33 vs Australia, MCG

True, this is the worst Australian batting line-up in forever, but India had been beaten in Perth and needed a win at the MCG to claim an unassailable lead in the series. On a tricky pitch with variable bounce, Jasprit Bumrah handed India a whopping lead of 292 with career-best figures of 6/33. Bumrah began by claiming Marcus Harris with a well-directed bouncer in the morning and then foxed Shaun Marsh and Travis Head with exceptional yorkers either side of lunch, before returning after tea to sniff out three wickets in 11 balls for the cost of one run.