Team of the Decade - Test 2010s Middle Order

Updated: Nov 3, 2018

NOTE : The Final XI will be in the 'Bowlers' blog.

Middle Order – numbers 4-6 (doesn’t have to be an all rounder)

The Contenders:

(% is the % of innings played in this decade at numbers 4-6)

Ross Taylor (99%) ( 🇳🇿 ) – 4,320 runs in 105 innings at 49.65 with 12 hundreds – Home : 1,802 runs in 43 innings at 56.31 with 6 hundreds – Away : 2,518 runs in 62 innings at 45.78 with 6 hundreds

Younis Khan (97%) (🇵🇰 ) – 4,697 runs in 98 innings at 53.98 with 17 hundreds – Home : 2,030 runs in 41 innings at 56.38 with 9 hundreds – Away : 2,667 runs in 57 innings at 52.29 with 8 hundreds

Virat Kohli (94%) (🇮🇳 ) - 6,223 runs in 117 innings at 56.57 with 24 hundreds - Home : 3,015 runs in 50 innings at 67.00 with 11 hundreds - Away : 3,208 runs in 67 innings at 49.35 with 13 hundreds

Joe Root (61%) (🇬🇧) - 4,324 runs in 83 innings at 58.43 with 11 hundreds - Home : 2,648 runs in 46 innings at 63.04 with 9 hundreds - Away : 1,676 runs in 37 innings at 52.37 with 2 hundreds

AB de Villiers (98%) (🇿🇦 ) - 4,770 runs in 90 innings at 59.62 with 13 hundreds - Home : 2,911 runs in 53 innings at 59.40 with 9 hundreds - Away : 1,859 runs in 37 innings at 59.96 with 4 hundreds

Misbah ul-Haq (99%) (🇵🇰 ) – 4,208 runs in 98 innings at 51.95 with 8 hundreds – Home : 2,167 runs in 41 innings at 65.66 with 6 hundreds – Away : 2,041 runs in 57 innings at 42.52 with 2 hundreds

Steven Smith (69%) (🇦🇺 ) - 4,234 runs in 81 innings at 54.28 with 15 hundreds - Home : 2,744 runs in 43 innings at 80.70 with 12 hundreds - Away : 1,490 runs in 38 innings at 42.57 with 3 hundreds

Steven Smith at number 3 - 1,744 runs in 29 innings at 67.07 with 8 hundreds - Home : 274 runs in 5 innings at 54.80 with 1 hundred - Away : 1,470 runs in 24 innings at 70.00 with 7 hundreds

Joe Root at number 3 1,538 runs in 40 innings at 40.47 with 2 hundreds - Home : 779 runs in 18 innings at 45.82 with 1 hundred - Away : 726 runs in 21 innings at 34.57 with 1 hundred

Shakib al Hasan (97%) (🇧🇩 ) - 2,543 runs in 62 innings at 44.61 with 4 hundreds - Home : 1,642 runs in 40 innings at 46.91 with 2 hundreds - Away : 901 runs in 22 innings at 40.95 with 2 hundreds

129 wickets at 31.92 (Best : 6-33) - Home : 88 wickets at 30.70 , Away : 41 wickets at 34.53

Ben Stokes (86%) (🇬🇧) - 2,562 runs in 71 innings at 35.60 with 6 hundreds - Home : 1,210 runs in 34 innings at 35.58 with 3 hundreds - Away : 1,352 runs in 37 innings at 37.55 with 3 hundreds

112 wickets at 33.25 (Best : 6-22) - Home : 58 wickets at 33.46 , Away : 54 wickets at 35.40

The competition in this section for just 3 places in the team is extremely intense. Even if you say there are 6 places (including ‘A’ Team), some very big names indeed will be left out. The statistics above are the stats of the players when they batted in the middle order. That may work against some players, like Steven Smith, who very often goes up to number 3 in Asia and his away average at number 3 is 70.00, much higher than anyone else in this period. However, it may work for some players such as Joe Root, who has played about 30% of his innings at number 3 and has a very modest record indeed.

Ross Taylor and Misbah will go down in history as 2 of the best players ever for their respective countries, but unfortunately they just do not compete with some of the other names on the list, especially with away batting averages of under 46 (Misbah’s home average however is mighty impressive). Shakib al Hasan and Ben Stokes are very talented cricketers, and their bowling is very useful, especially in home conditions with both averaging around 30. However, a batting average in the 30s lets Stokes down quite considerably. Shakib has a healthier record as a batsman and as a bowler and he could potentially be selected for the number 6 spot.

It is evident that the 6 players who will get the spot are AB de Villiers, Joe Root, Younis Khan, Shakib al Hasan, Steven Smith and Virat Kohli.

AB de Villiers leads the way in the batting averages, and is 2nd in runs scored and has the most impressive away average of any batsman on the list. The only thing holding him back would be his relative lack of hundreds compared to Kohli, Smith and Khan, as well as his sabbatical in test cricket and subsequently, him missing some massive series for South Africa, including a successful tour to Australia.

Joe Root is 2nd on the batting averages in the middle order, and has a solid home and away average. Root’s downfall comes in terms of hundreds (less than half of Kohli’s and fewer hundreds than all but one of the specialist batsmen in this list) and his poor record at number 3. England have been overusing him at 3, and should bat him at 4 where he has been prolifically scoring runs.

Steven Smith’s away average may look damning, but his record at number 3 means that his averages are actually higher than they look. His stunning home average as well as his high number of hundreds place him in good stead.

Virat Kohli has the most runs out of anybody (and by quite some distance), and a mighty home average to boot. His away average is probably the only thing that holds Kohli back, and it is because of a surprisingly poor record in Sri Lanka and West Indies, 2 of the weaker test sides since Kohli came into the side. However, 24 hundreds and a stunning conversion rate mean that it would be very difficult to leave Kohli out.

Younis Khan has scored a lot of runs in this decade, and has a better away average than Kohli and Smith in the middle order. He also has 17 hundreds, only bettered by Virat Kohli, and the only disadvantage for Younis would be a slightly lower home average compared to the rest of his main rivals.

Picking just 3 names is very difficult, but if you were to start somewhere, it would be difficult to look past Steven Smith. He has some of the most memorable individual performances and runs of this decade and is truly the best test batsman of his generation.

That leaves AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Younis Khan for 2 spots (Shakib doesn’t do enough to make the main side, but edges out Ross Taylor and Misbah ul-Haq for the number 6 spot in the ‘A’ team with his left arm spin and a decent away record.)

AB de Villiers’ incredible away average and consistent performances across the main 4 statistics (batting average, home average, away average and hundreds) means de Villiers is the 2nd player to be written into the XI.

The 3rd choice is very difficult. Virat Kohli and Joe Root are very well matched. Root has a higher batting average and a higher away average, but Kohli has a higher home average, but the hundreds stat edges Kohli through in this contest. A difference of 5-6 hundreds would’ve still given Root the edge, but Kohli having more than double of Root’s hundreds means that Kohli edges through.

Younis Khan has a lower batting average and a lower home average overall, but has an excellent away average and the second most amount of hundreds in the list. It is very close between Younis and Root, with the hundreds stat yet again taking Younis through (as well as his away average). In addition, Younis Khan’s double hundred at the Oval scripted Pakistan’s rise to World Number 1, and it is a lot more difficult to remember too many great Root innings away from home that have led to an England win (there was one in Johannesburg but that was more because of Broad taking 6-18 in South Africa’s 2nd innings.

Younis Khan vs Virat Kohli is almost too close to call. Kohli has higher total and home averages, while Younis has a better away average. They both have some incredible hundreds across the world and in the end, Kohli edges him out on shear volume of runs.

Conclusion : Steven Smith (🇦🇺 ) , AB de Villiers (🇿🇦 ) , Virat Kohli (🇮🇳 )

‘A’ Team : Younis Khan (🇵🇰 ) , Joe Root (🇬🇧) , Shakib al Hasan (🇧🇩 )

Honourable Mentions : Shivnarnie Chanderpaul (West Indies ) 3,197 runs at 61.48, Kevin Pietersen (England) 3,095 runs at 44.85, Dinesh Chandimal (Sri Lanka) 2,894 runs at 47.44, Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka) 4,262 @ 43.05, FAF du Plessis (South Africa) 2,570 runs in 69 innings at 42.93 , Ajinkya Rahane (India) 2,843 runs in 78 innings at 41.20

Wicket Keeper Batsman

The Contenders :

Note : Only runs scored while playing as a wicket keeper will be considered

Jonny Bairstow (🇬🇧) - 2,812 runs in 72 innings at 41.35 with 19 50s - Home : 1,414 runs in 33 innings at 44.18 with 11 50s - Away : 1,398 runs in 39 innings at 38.83 with 8 50s

MS Dhoni (🇮🇳 ) - 2,448 runs in 78 innings at 34.47 with 18 50s - Home : 1,101 runs in 29 innings at 44.04 with 7 50s - Away : 1,347 runs in 49 innings at 29.98 with 11 50s

Sarfaraz Ahmed (🇵🇰 ) - 2,451 runs in 73 innings at 40.18 with 19 50s - Home : 184 runs in 6 innings at 46.00 with 4 50s , Away : 1,361 runs in 44 innings at 36.78 with 10 50s

Matt Prior (🇬🇧) - 2,546 runs in 76 innings at 40.41 with 20 50s - Home : 1,409 runs in 45 innings at 38.08 with 11 50s - Away : 1,137 runs in 31 innings at 43.73 with 9 50s

BJ Watling (🇳🇿 ) - 2,445 runs in 71 innings at 40.75 with 18 50s - Home : 1,223 runs in 34 innings at 42.17 with 8 50s , Away : 1,222 runs in 37 innings at 44.29 with 10 50s

Quinton de Kock (🇿🇦 ) - 1,884 runs in 56 innings at 36.94 with 16 50s - Home : 950 runs in 28 innings at 39.58 with 7 50s - Away : 934 runs in 28 innings at 34.59 with 9 50s

Mushfiqur Rahim (🇧🇩 ) - 2,109 runs in 58 innings at 39.75 with 14 50s - Home : 1,033 runs in 35 innings at 31.30 with 7 50s - Away : 1,076 runs in 23 innings at 53.80 with 7 50s.

Measuring metrics for a wicket keeper on their keeping skills is very difficult. One of the best out and out wicket keepers of the decade in Wridhimman Saha does not even make the shortlist because he wasn’t good enough in terms of his batting.

Therefore, the keeper selected will not necessarily be the best keeper, but he will be the best batsman out of the keepers.

Jonny Bairstow has the highest batting average and the most runs, as well as the 2nd most number of 50s. He has a decent away average and a strong home average, and is the most obvious choice for the keeper spot.

MS Dhoni played most of his away tests outside of India in this decade, and it is therefore very difficult to judge him on this basis. He has a strong home average but his poor showing with the bat on a consistent basis in India’s two overseas cycles makes it very difficult for him to warrant a spot in the side. Quinton de Kock has all the talent in the world, but he hasn’t been able to kickstart his test career to go with his ODI career, and as such he has the lowest amount of runs, and his batting averages are in the mid 30s across the board.

The ones left are Prior, Watling, Ahmed and Rahim. Rahim has an incredible 4 overseas hundreds, and a brilliant away average, but poor home form (albeit on impossible Bangladeshi pitches) counts against him a little.

Sarfaraz Ahmed is consistent across the board, with the best home average but a slightly poorer away showing, a common theme for Asian wicket keepers (making Rahim’s record all the more surprising).

BJ Watling has a very impressive away average, and has scored a lot of runs for New Zealand in a variety of conditions and situations. His home average is also above 40 and is a strong contender for the final spot.

Matt Prior has a strong away average and performs well on the road but has a much lower home average than expected. However, he has the most amount of 50s in the decade and a strong batting average overall.

All in all, BJ Watling and Jonny Bairstow are the only players who compete in all of the averages very well, with Prior (home average), Rahim (home average), Sarfaraz (away average), Dhoni (away average) all failing to show consistency both home and away.

Jonny Bairstow and BJ Watling are 1st and 2nd in batting average, and Bairstow has 1 more 50 than Watling (both having 5 100s). Bairstow also edges Watling in home averages but Watling is very strong away from home compared to Bairstow.

It is very very close, but Watling plays a lot less cricket than Bairstow, which makes his stats very impressive, so unfortunately, another English player narrowly misses out.

Conclusion : BJ Watling (🇳🇿 )

‘A’ Team : Jonny Bairstow (🇬🇧)

Honourable Mentions : Wridhimman Saha 1,128 runs in 44 innings at 31.33 with the 8 50s , Dinesh Chandimal 1,602 runs in 43 innings at 41.07 with 12 50s