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The year 2015 will be best remembered for the 11th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. However, the year also so some great contests in the longer format as well, with the highlights being England regaining the Ashes urn and the rise of subcontinent giants — India and Pakistan as Test sides. There were plenty of runs scored and Suvajit Mustafi takes a look at the top 10 batsmen in Test cricket. (Note: All stats till December 28)

 10. Adam Voges (Australia) | ICC Test ranking: 15

Adam Voges celebrates his fourth Test hundred of the year. (Courtesy: Getty Images)
Adam Voges celebrates his fourth Test hundred of the year at MCG. (Courtesy: Getty Images)

Better late than never. After 13 years of toil, Voges was finally rewarded with the Baggy Green and at 35; he went on to be the oldest cricketer to score a hundred on Test debut when he slammed an unbeaten 130 at Roseau against West Indies. He didn’t have a great Ashes series and averaged just below 29, but overall he had a solid impact by scoring almost thousand runs in his first year of Test cricket.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
12 1028 85.66 269* 59.01 4 3

 

9. Ajinkya Rahane (India) | ICC Test ranking: 11 

Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his hundred against Sri Lanka at P Sara Oval in Colombo (Photo caption: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane celebrates his hundred against Sri Lanka at P Sara Oval in Colombo (Photo caption: Getty Images)

This year marked Rahane’s leap to the next level in Test cricket. Don’t go by the numbers but the impact he has made is tremendous as he has been instrumental in India’s rise to No. 2 in ICC Test rankings. Though he hasn’t been too consistent, Rahane delivered under the most trying circumstances. In the recently concluded South Africa’s tour of India that was played on extremely difficult batting surfaces, he became the only batsman from either sides to get to three figures, and he did it twice, in the same match at Delhi. Often coming across as talented but flashy, Rahane displayed good temperament in Test cricket and has now emerged as one of India’s best batsmen.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
9 593 45.61 127 53.76 3 1

 

8. Chris Rogers (Australia)

Chris Rogers drives on his way to a hundred at Lord's earlier this year. (Image courtesy: Getty Images)
Chris Rogers drives on his way to a hundred at Lord’s earlier this year. (Image courtesy: Getty Images)

Twilight of his short career saw Rogers’ rise as a batsman. Consistent and effective, despite his very un-Australian style of persona and playing style, he embodies the very Australian ‘never say die’ attitude. He was one of the seven notable retirements for Australia this year. At 37, he retired as one of the best batsmen in the side. The highlight of his year and career has to be the strokeful 173 he got at Lord’s, which then saw Australia levelling the Ashes 1-1.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
6 631 63.10 173 59.36 1 5

 

7. Mohammad Hafeez (Pakistan) | ICC Test ranking: 23

Mohammad Hafeez drives en route to 98 against England at Abu Dhabi (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Mohammad Hafeez drives en route to 98 against England at Abu Dhabi (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Hafeez has been instrumental to Pakistan’s success as a Test side in the recent years and once again made it count with a string of good scores. It didn’t start on a good note for him as an injury forced him out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and then the constant reporting of his bowling action saw him bowl sporadically, but he made it count with the willow. His 224 at Khulna saw Pakistan come back against Bangladesh — where they had earlier lost the ODI and T20I series. His 151 at Sharjah last month set up Pakistan’s win against England as they rose to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings for teams.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
7 710 59.16 224 61.76 2 2

 

6. Alastair Cook (England) | ICC Test ranking: 9

Alastair Cook sweeps on his way to 263 at Abu Dhabi. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Alastair Cook sweeps on his way to 263 at Abu Dhabi. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

The year marked the return of Cook as one of the premier batsmen in Tests. The last few seasons have seen him struggle but personally for Cook, 2015 has been a good year in terms of runs and he is the top run-getter this year. As a captain, Cook would have liked to win more but there’s no better feeling than reclaiming the Ashes. Cook, who was sacked from the ODI side ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, played a couple of crucial knocks this year.

His 162 against New Zealand at Lord’s played a key role in his side’s win and later his marathon 263 at Abu Dhabi against Pakistan almost saw England clinch the Test. Cook also contributed with crucial fifties in the Ashes, which England won 3-2.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
14 1357 56.54 263 43.83 3 8

 

5. Younis Khan (Pakistan) | ICC Test ranking: 6

Younis Khan celebrates his hundred against England at Dubai (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Younis Khan celebrates his hundred against England at Dubai (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

A golden run began for Younis last year and even at 38, the run continues. Younis scored a hundred each in all the three series he played this year, and more importantly, Pakistan won all the three games. The highlight has to be his 171 not out at Pallekele that saw Pakistan chase down 382 on a fifth day surface. Pakistan have benefitted from Younis’ form and last month they rose to the No. 2 spot in ICC Test ranking. (Note: The No. 2 spot in ICC Test ranking is now held by India)

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
8 789 60.69 171* 56.72 3 1

 

4. Joe Root (England) | ICC Test ranking: 2

Joe Root punches one off the back-foot during his knock of 71 against Pakistan at Dubai. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Joe Root punches one off the back-foot during his knock of 71 against Pakistan at Dubai. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Root is the No. 1 ranked batsman in the ICC Test rankings and there is a reason for it. The young Yorkshire lad is continuing his honeymoon run with the bat that began in 2014. In the absence of Kevin Pietersen, England needed a middle-order batsman to step up and Root has answered the call. He scored plentiful in every series England played to emerge as the side’s best batsman.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
14 1312 59.63 182* 64.12 3 9

 

3. David Warner (Australia) | ICC Test ranking: 5

David Warner drives one in the inaugural day and night Test against New Zealand at Adelaide. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
David Warner drives one in the inaugural day and night Test against New Zealand at Adelaide. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Another brilliant year for Warner, and like Smith, he too notched up his maiden double ton. Not only he has been consistent but also the fact that Warner has been brutal. The phenomenal part is his strike-rate of over 81. From 22 innings, he has 11 scores of over fifty. Warner has also hit the most number of boundaries this year. He is an impact player and Australia have benefitted immensely.

M R

Ave

HS SR 100s 50s
13 1317 54.87 253 81.85 4

7

 

2. Steven Smith (Australia) | ICC Test ranking: 4

Steven Smith celebrates his sixth hundred of the year, against West Indies at MCG. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Steven Smith celebrates his sixth hundred of the year, against West Indies at MCG. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Smith hit a Bradmanesque during India’s tour of Australia in 2014-15. He started the year with a 117 against India at Sydney and continued his great form as he soon rose to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. He came close to scoring his maiden double ton at Kingston against West Indies but fell one run short. The wait wasn’t too long and a month later he slammed a match-winning 215 at Lord’s. Australia lost the Ashes but Smith scored two hundreds in the series and the side won both.

Only 26, Smith can look back at the year with pride. He started the year with a century in his home ground and captaining Australia to a series win against India, scored a match-winning hundred in his home ground in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi-final, won the coveted trophy by hitting the winning runs, got his maiden double hundred, rose to the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket and the icing on the cake was being appointed Australia’s full-time Test and ODI captain.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
13 1474 73.70 215 62.08 6 5

 

1.    Kane Williamson (New Zealand) | ICC Test ranking: 1 

Kane Williamson pulls one through mid-wicket en route to his match-winning century against Sri Lanka at Hamilton. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Kane Williamson pulls one through mid-wicket en route to his match-winning century against Sri Lanka at Hamilton. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

This young lad seems unstoppable and by far he has been the best Test batsman of the year. Averaging over 90, Williamson has nine fifty plus scores from just 16 innings. There might be an argument that he has benefitted from playing in just 8 Tests this year and his average was bound to go down had he played more. But honestly, those who watched him bat won’t agree for sure. His match-winning hundred against Sri Lanka at Hamilton saw him jump to the No.1 Test ranking. Had he played more, he would have surely ended as the top run-getter of 2015. Read more: Yearender 2015: Top 10 ODI Batsmen

His 242 not out at Wellington against Sri Lanka, earlier this year can be considered as one of the greatest knocks by a New Zealander. Two of his four hundreds came in a losing cause but they were the only saving grace for his side in those games. His 140 in Brisbane last month was another high quality knock where it seemed that he batted on a different surface when compared to his teammates. It won’t be a surprise if this 25-year-old soon leapfrogs AB de Villiers and Root to the No. 1 spot.

M R Ave HS SR 100s 50s
8 1172 90.15 242* 59.94 5 4

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)