Five years ago, we picked out five batsmen, four all-rounders and five bowlers who we thought would be the best over the next five-year period. Let’s have a look at how wrong we were.
Here’s who we picked. Let’s look at their records at the point at which we picked them and how they’ve fared since then. We’ll stick to Tests so that this doesn’t become too much of a statsfest.
Ross Taylor: 1,496 runs at 41.55 when we picked him. 3,135 runs at 47.50 since then.
JP Duminy: 389 runs at 48.62 when we picked him. 891 runs at 33.00 since then.
AB de Villiers: 3,558 runs at 43.92 when we picked him. 4,048 runs at 62.27 since then.
Michael Clarke: 3,693 runs at 49.24 when we picked him. 4,780 runs at 51.95 since then.
Gautam Gambhir: 2,553 runs at 56.73 when we picked him. 1,493 runs at 29.86 since then.
Three reasonable calls and two wrong ones you’d say. It’s notable that the two failures are the two who’d been in a particularly rich vein of form at the time of writing.
Duminy isn’t such a great surprise in that even at that early stage he looked a bit wobbly against the short ball, but we did expect more from Gambhir. He seemed to be a player who had to work hard to succeed so we thought he’d still be going well while those to whom batting came more easily might have grown complacent. However, if he was a fighter, he was a fairweather fighter and fairly or unfairly he’ll probably always be remembered for his ‘wait until you come to India’ type comments during a chastening tour of Australia.
Shakib Al Hasan: 715 runs at 29.79 and 48 wickets at 28.27 when we picked him. 1,814 runs at 43.19 and 92 wickets at 33.10 since then.
Dwayne Bravo: 1,856 runs at 32.00 and 73 wickets at 39.57 when we picked him. 344 runs at 28.66 and 13 wickets at 41.30 since then.
MS Dhoni: 2,176 runs at 40.29 when we picked him. 2,700 runs at 36.48 since then.
Matt Prior: 1,326 runs at 44.20 when we picked him. 2,773 runs at 38.51 since then.
Stuart Broad: 767 runs at 30.68 and 64 wickets at 35.78 when we picked him. 1,426 runs at 21.60 and 200 wickets at 28.02 since then.
Shakib Al Hasan’s pretty much held up his side of the bargain and that was quite a leftfield call back then. Dhoni and Matt Prior were actually the top-scoring wicketkeepers in that five-year period, even if their records seem nothing to write home about.
If Stuart Broad now seems a ridiculous selection, his bowling did at least improve, even if his batting means he shouldn’t be in this section. Dwayne Bravo, however, was an exceptionally bad selection. His Test career seemed to finish moments after we clicked ‘publish’.
Dale Steyn: 170 wickets at 23.70 when we picked him. 226 wickets at 21.69 since then.
Mohammad Asif: 70 wickets at 22.22 when we picked him. 36 wickets at 28.52 since then.
Ajantha Mendis: 44 wickets at 29.50 when we picked him. 26 wickets at 43.69 since then.
Ishant Sharma: 54 wickets at 34.42 when we picked him. 133 wickets at 38.47 since then.
Not for the first time, we’ll thank the cricket gods for Dale Steyn. Reading the original article again, we think we knew there was a bit of wishful thinking going on with these selections even at the time. Sad, bad and infuriating.
A mixed bag, but it strikes us that these results would make more sense when set alongside those who really did perform best over this five-year period. So let’s do that. Meet you back here tomorrow.