Former India opener Aakash Chopra named Pakistan’s left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi as his top pick among Test bowlers for the year 2021. Two England fast-bowlers and a spinner and seamer from India rounded off Chopra’s top five selections, which also had quite a few notable absentees.
The year 2021 has thrown up some thrilling bits of Test cricket, with bowlers playing their parts to perfection in some remarkable results. There were history-makers too. While James Anderson surpassed Anil Kumble to become the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, Ravichandran Ashwin went past fellow countryman Harbhajan Singh and former South Africa great Shaun Pollock to break into top 12.
Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, Ollie Robinson and Ramesh Mendis were the most notable performers among new entrants in the format.
Aakash Chopra named Ravichandran Ashwin as the lone spinner in his top five Test bowlers list for the calendar year. Ashwin tops the wicket-taking charts with 52 scalps at 16.23, despite having missed out on each of the four away Tests against England at the start of the year.
"Ravichandran Ashwin - he is there. He has picked up 52 wickets in eight matches, he didn't get to play a single Test against England in England. He was good in the Sydney Test against Australia and the WTC final was also not that bad. He was absolutely sensational in India," Chopra said of Ashwin on his YouTube channel.
Anderson was fourth in Chopra’s list, with the veteran speedster having showcased his brilliance across different playing conditions through the year.
"Jimmy Anderson's name is there in this list,” Chopra said. “32 wickets in 19 matches, he has played in Sri Lanka, India and at home. He was exceptional in the first Test against India at Chennai, took a five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka as well."
Ollie Robinson, who has had an impressive start to his Test career after having gone through a tough time off the field, was Chopra’s third pick.
"Ollie Robinson - he has taken 28 wickets in five matches,” said Chopra. “His stature is growing. Some of the old issues came to the fore but he just fought through it and he has done very well."
Chopra named Siraj as his No.2 bowler, after the young Indian quick excelled in India’s historic triumph in Australia at the start of the year, and followed it up in England and in the home series against New Zealand last month.
"I have put Mohammed Siraj's name in this list,” said the former India opener. “28 wickets in nine matches, he gave a fantastic performance at Lord's, good performances in Sydney and Brisbane. He has been continuously doing well. I like his attitude, he makes the ball talk off the surface."
The No.1 spot in the 44-year-old’s list belonged to young Pakistan sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi, who bagged 47 wickets in the year at a staggering strike-rate of 37.3.
"I am picking Shaheen Shah Afridi as the No.1 Test bowler for 2021. 47 wickets in nine matches at an average of 17. He has been sensational, there was a time where he was taking a five-wicket haul in every match."