Alastair Cook (927 runs at 84.27, 4 100s): Started off the year in Sydney with his third hundred of a prolific Ashes series before scoring runs for fun against Sri Lanka and then grinding India into submission with a monumental 294 at Edgbaston.
Rahul Dravid (1145 runs at 57.25, 5 100s): We could have gone for either Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez as a specialist opener but instead we opt for the reluctant opener and highest Test run scorer of the year. 2011 was the year of Dravid's resurrection. Whether it was showing the Indian youngsters how to do it with a brilliant hundred on a treacherous Sabina Park wicket or singularly manning a burning bridge in England with three hundreds and a quarter of the team's total runs in the series, Dravid was immense.
Kumar Sangakkara (1034 runs at 49.23, 4 100s): Others may hadmore impressive averages in 2011, but King Kumar was the second highest scorer in Tests and saved matches at the Rose Bowl and even more memorably at Abu Dhabi where his epic 644 minute 211 foiled Pakistan. Finally his 2nd innings hundred at Kingsmead helped set up a famous win for his side. If that wasn't enough like Dravid he also shone away from the crease too with his already legendary Cowdrey Lecture.
Kevin Pietersen (731 runs at 73.10, 2 100s): A close call with Younis Khan(765 runs at 85.00) but we judged that KP's runs came against sterner opposition. His double hundred at Lord's against India showed a new responsibility to Pietersen's batting whilst his 175 at The Oval showed that he was back to his flamboyant peacock strutting best.
Ian Bell (950 runs at 118.75, 5 100s): From just 11 visits to the crease in 2011, Bell hit one double hundred, four further hundreds and two fifties. He also finally removed the monkey off his back when batting at three with a brilliant match-turning hundred at Trent Bridge and a masterly double hundred at The Oval. Could well be the best batsman in the world at the moment.
Misbah-ul-Haq (765 runs at 69.54, 1 100): Pakistan's inspirational captain proved a calming influence on his exhuberent team and an even calmer presence at the crease where he scored seven fifties to go with his one hundred. As captain his side beat New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and drew in the Caribbean, which given the turmoil when he took over from the disgraced Salman Butt was nothing short of remarkable.
Matt Prior (519 runs at 64.87, 3 100s): Like Cook and Bell started off the year with a hundred in the Sydney Test. He then scored hundreds at Lord's against Sri Lanka and a crucial 2nd innings effort against India after England had suffered a mini-collapse. Perhaps even more important is the speed at which he gets his runs with his strike rate of 89 being the highest of anyone with more than 250 runs in 2011. His work with the gloves continues to impress just don't mention that Lord's dressing room window.
Stuart Broad (33 wickets at 22.30, 1 five-for; 239 runs at 39.83, 3 50s): Welegedera, Gul, Philander and team-mates Bresnan and Tremlett ran him close but Broad's performances against India gets him our vote. In the first two Tests he bordered on the Bothamesque – the partnership with Prior steadied the ship at Lord’s, his fifty at Trent Bridge lifted England from the abyss and his hat-trick the next day dramatically changed the course of the match. He ended the series with 25 wickets at 14 and 182 runs at 61.
Dale Steyn (28 wickets at 19.57, 2 five-fors) - South Africa may have only played five Tests in 2011 but it is impossible to leave the best bowler in the world by a country mile out especially with a strike rate in 2011 of 38.2. Became the second quickest in history (after Lillee) to 250 Test wickets and at his best reminds one of Malcolm Marshall in his pomp. Yes, Steyn is that good.
Saeed Ajmal (50 wickets at 23.86, 3 five-fors): The leading wicket taker in Tests in 2011 and now arguably the best spinner in world cricket - his upcoming battle with Swann in the UAE will be fascinating. Pips team-mate Abdur Rehman, Devendra Bishoo and Rangana Herath for the spinners role in our XI.
James Anderson (35 wickets at 24.85, ER 2.93, SR 50.8, 1 five-for): Completed his demolition job of Australia at Sydney and then moved on to the small matter of India's stellar batting line-up in the summer where he made a certain Sachin Tendulkar look mortal. After Steyn the best quick bowler in the world.
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