Worst Test XI of 2011

Let's start the year with some positivity, right?


I did plan to shelve this because I thought it may be a tad late, but we're now halfway into the Border-Gavaskar series, and I'm in the perfect frame of mind to indulge in some bitterness.

Here are the worst of 2011 then, and remember, it's always debatable.

Andrew Strauss (316 runs @ 28.72, 2 fifties): Strange year for him - he had come into some pretty good form in ODIs, and was great in the World Cup, after which he quit LOIs. His form in Tests dipped, thanks to a well-publicized weakness facing anything with a left-arm. His year's high of 87 came against India, after Zaheer Khan was ruled out with injury. At 34, he won't be around long if this form continues, but we'd rather see him play on than see Alistair Cook at the helm, inevitable though it may be.

Brendon McCullum (245 runs  24.50, 2 fifties): He made big runs in the last two years, including a 225 in India and a hundred against Australia, but since the start of 2011, he managed only two fifties, both against Pakistan. And it gets worse - in his last six innings, he only has 88 runs at a shade over 14. A player like him always has a big one around the corner, though, and his next opponent is Zimbabwe.

Ramnaresh Sarwan (83 runs @ 10.37): Remember him? How bad do you have to be, that despite 11 years of experience with around 11,500 international runs at a 40+ average, a team like the West Indies, which is starved of reliable batsmen, actually drops you? A comeback doesn't look likely soon, as he hasn't played any first-class cricket since the home Tests against India, and was ignored by Guyana for the domestic T20s.

Mahela Jayawardene (517 runs @ 24.61, 1 hundred, 2 fifties): The latest entrant into the 10,000 club in both Tests and ODIs had just the one good series against Australia at home. In 18 other innings, he averaged just under 19, with a high score of 49. 2012 hasn't begun well for him, as he scored 30 and 12 against South Africa.

Jesse Ryder (97 runs @ 12.12): Very worrying return for such a talented player. Worrying for New Zealand, that is... my brows are not easily furrowed. His noteworthy innings in Tests have all come against India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, and last year's failures were against the high-quality pace attacks of Pakistan and Australia. It won't get easier for the big man when they play South Africa in March - it will be a make or break series for him. And by that I mean it will either make him thirsty (you know) or it will break his duck. {The Cricket Nerd: incorrectly deconstructing expressions since 1764}

Ashwell Prince (178 runs @ 22.25, 1 fifty): He really should have been dropped a while ago - he only has three fifties since March 2009. Luckily for him, Duminy didn't do enough to replace him, but Rudolph's return and subsequent shift to #6 (where he scored an unbeaten 50 the other day), means that it will be tough for him to force his way back in.

Brad Haddin (335 runs @ 20.93, 2 fifties): B-Hads did his best to get himself on this list - he worked really hard all year to be recognized. Batting, keeping, throwing balled-up aluminium foil into a bin from a distance... he has messed up all of it. Sure, T-Paine was injured, but anyone could outperform him at this point.

Mitchell Johnson (13 wickets @ 56.61): This one was a no-brainer, really. The man has a whole Barmy Army rhyme dedicated to him, for Sachin's sake. I'm just really surprised that Australia stuck with him for so long, when the likes of Pattinson, Cummins and Copeland were lying around. And they miss him so much, that they bring in a likeness, Mitchell Starc? Oh, Australia. If you weren't thrashing the pants off us (not in a dirty way), I'd laugh.

"The hell? Did I just move that with my mind? Damn, I'm sexy."

Amit Mishra (7 wickets @ 61.85): Possibly the worst spinner to have played for India this decade? Keep in mind that list even includes Piyush Chawla. He looked terrible in England - he was too slow, could not contain the batsmen, and hardly looked like getting a wicket. I'd be surprised if he plays for India again. Like most Indian spinners that aren't Pragyan Ojha, he even did better with the bat. Think about that: Kumble scored a maiden hundred towards the end of his career, Harbhajan scored two, and current culprit Ashwin is making merry in the lower order.

Dilhara Fernando (7 wickets @ 57.42): Now here's a bowler that I've always wanted to put on a 'worst of' list. He's a wild card, by which I mean he has the extraordinary ability to produce more crap than a bucket of laxatives, out of which he'll occasionally produce something special. The fact that he has played 39 Tests can only be attributed to his nationality.

Shahadat Hossain (2 wickets @ 197): I was wary of putting a Bangladeshi player here, because their individual performances are generally far from spectacular, but these numbers really amazed me. I mean, this is a man who is quick and who can get the ball to move - it's not just 2 wickets in 4 Tests that annoyed me, it's the economy of 4.74! He sprays it so much, that... you know what, I don't have a joke for this. Get it together, man.

Surprise exclusions: Harbhajan Singh, Abhinav Mukund, Kemar Roach, Sreesanth. That's right, you guys were so bad you aren't even on my worst list.