The first decade of the 21st century was all about Australia, not only in Test cricket but in other formats as well. However, in the next ten years, things have changed with all their legendary players retiring. In the second decade of the century, there’s been a shift with all the other teams trying to assert their dominance.
The pendulum has shifted several times with different teams trying to take control in different phases. Almost every side had to undergo a transition phase in the longest format in this decade. While it was a smooth ride for some of the teams, a few others have struggled and witnessed failures like never before.
Here is the rating for the Test teams for this decade:
12. Ireland – 0.5/10
Ireland is the second of the two new teams which were given ICC Test status this decade. Since they have played some great white-ball cricket, they were expected to be highly competitive in the longest format too. However, there isn’t much to talk about their performances and they lost all the three games that they played.
The team was outdone by Pakistan in its first-ever Test match and lost by 5 wickets. In their second game, Ireland faced Afghanistan in India. Their batting performance disappointed in this match and they were defeated easily. Their best performance, however, came against England in their third Test match.
The team stunned England by bowling them out for 85 runs and took a good first-innings lead by scoring 207 runs. But they couldn’t make the most of it. In the second innings, the side was bundled out for only 38 runs and lost that game by 143 runs.
W/L Ratio: 0
11. Zimbabwe – 3/10
This should be a satisfactory decade as far as Zimbabwe is concerned. They might not have won a lot of games but is definitely better in comparison to their previous performances. The team won 4 matches out of 24 they played in this decade, lost 19 and drew 1.
Before this decade, the side only managed to register 8 Test wins in 83 games. Zimbabwe’s biggest triumph came right in the first series that they played in this decade. They defeated Bangladesh in the home series which is quite an achievement. Then, they went to Bangladesh and won a Test match in 2013.
In the same year, Zimbabwe also managed to upset Pakistan which was huge. They finished this decade by drawing a series against Bangladesh in 2018. In that series, both the teams won one game each.
W/L Ratio: 0.210
10. Afghanistan – 3/10
In the second half of this decade, Afghanistan was given the status of a Test-playing nation. After a little wait, the Asian team finally got to play its first Test match against India in Bengaluru. However, the inexperience of playing in the longest format of the game was clearly evident.
They were absolutely trashed by Ajinkya Rahane and his men in this game and the average runs per wicket they could score in that game was just about 11. Next up, the Afghans faced Ireland in India and comfortably won that game and thus registered their first-ever Test win. After that, the team toured Bangladesh and stunned the hosts with a fabulous performance.
They won the only match they played and also registered their highest Test score of 342 runs. Towards the end of the decade, they faced the West Indies and were handed over a defeat. For someone as new as Afghanistan in the Test arena, these performances are quite commendable.
W/L Ratio: 1
9. Bangladesh – 3.5/10
Bangladesh has completed another decade in Test cricket but the results haven’t been really encouraging. The team has failed to maintain consistency and even had to make a transition during this decade. In total, they played 56 games in these 10 years and won only 10. They lost 36 while 10 matches finished in a draw.
Bangladesh’s average score per wicket in this decade was just 29 which is considerably less than some of the other teams. At the start of the decade, Bangladesh lost 9 series in a row which included one against Zimbabwe. After drawing a couple of series after that, they lost two more series against Sri Lanka and West Indies in 2014. Nearly five years into this decade, they finally registered their first series win against Zimbabwe in 2014.
Again, there were a few losses and draws and the trot and the team had to wait for over four years to register another series win in this decade. In 2018, they won a couple of matches against West Indies. The team’s big wins in this decade came against Australia and England against whom they won one match each.
W/L Ratio: 0.277
8. West Indies – 4/10
With the advent of T20 cricket, the focus of the West Indies players shifted drastically in this decade. Rather than playing for their nation in the longest format of the game, they preferred plying their trade in various T20 leagues all around the world. Thus, their performances and outcomes got impacted a great deal.
After playing four series, the team finally registered a win when they played Bangladesh in 2011. Then they lost three series in a row against the big teams like India, Australia and England. The biggest triumph in the first half of this decade, however, came against New Zealand. The Kiwis were clean swept in an away series. West Indies kept registering a few more victories till 2014 before they fell apart.
New players came into the side and they couldn’t reach the expectations. Starting from 2015, the West Indies featured in a total of 18 Test series. Out of these, they only won four series. These victories came against teams like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. But the way they defeated England and won The Wisden Trophy early in 2019 was commendable.
W/L Ratio: 0.511
7. Sri Lanka – 4.5/10
This isn’t one of those decades which was great for Sri Lanka in the longest format. Many of their legendary cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene retired. The transition, however, wasn’t smooth and seemed endless. In the 93 games that they played, the Islanders managed to win only 31 matches.
Sri Lanka is another one of those teams which didn’t play more than three games in a Test series throughout this decade. From the start of this decade till June 2012, Sri Lanka couldn’t taste a single series win. Their first series win of this decade came against Pakistan. But after that, they managed to win three out of six series – two of which were against Bangladesh. The team would be proud of its efforts to defeat England in 2014.
Wins have been hard to come by. But one of their best performances came when they whitewashed Australia at home in 2016. Two more memorable performances came against South Africa. They whitewashed the Proteas at home in 2018. But playing in away conditions and registering two of the best victories ever against South Africa in 2019 will be etched in the history forever. While there were odd good performances, this wasn’t clearly Sri Lanka’s best.
W/L Ratio: 0.794
6. Pakistan – 5/10
Pakistan took a while to register a series win in this decade. They were outdone by Australia and England early on. Furthermore, the match-fixing scandal brought shame to the entire nation. Coming out of this and winning a Test series in New Zealand would have been a great feeling for the side. Pakistan then won four series in a row towards the end of 2011 which included victories against the likes of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and England.
Then began a tough transition phase for the side as they remained winless for six series in a row till August 2014. After this lean patch, they stunned Australia by whitewashing them in the UAE. From thereon, the team went from strength to strength and won four of the six series that they played. Through this phase till 2016, they were unbeaten and played really well.
However, they drifted apart once again after this in the last two or three years of the decade. In the last 11 series that they played in this decade, Pakistan just won only two. Two series finished in a draw and their two wins came against West Indies and Ireland. While they did well initially in this decade, Pakistan’s performance towards the end was well below-par.
W/L Ratio: 0.864
5. New Zealand – 7.5/10
New Zealand is amongst those top nations which played the fewest Tests this decade (81). The team went through a transition phase in this decade but dealt with it very nicely. They started the decade under the captaincy of Daniel Vettori. Then it was Brendon McCullum who took over the reins and added an aggressive flavour. Later, Kane Williamson was made the captain and he helped bring the calmness back into the side.
The Kiwis never played more than 3 matches in a series throughout this decade. Right at the start, they bagged losses against Australia, India and Pakistan. Till October 2013, it was a very tough phase for them. In 15 series, they won only three and two of those wins came against Zimbabwe. But they picked up after that by winning 6 series out of 10. They drew two and lost the other two. Then came the away losses against South Africa and India.
But under Kane Williamson, the side bounced back and won against Pakistan and Bangladesh before South Africa defeated them once again in 2017. From thereon, they figured out the right set of players and brought out some indomitable performances. From December 2017 till the end of this decade, the Kiwis remain unbeaten and even won five series in a row before drawing a couple of others. In the last one against England, they managed to get over the line and finished the decade on a good note.
W/L Ratio: 1.103
4. England – 7.5/10
After over 140 years since they started playing Test cricket, this decade marked a momentous occasion for England. The side completed 1,000 Tests and played 125 of those in these 10 years. After the draw against South Africa at the start, the Brits won six series in a row under Alastair Cook.
But the turbulent times began after that starting from 2012. Till 2014, they played 11 Test series and won only five. Many of the top performers from the start of the decade retired or were completely out of the reckoning due to poor form. Alastair Cook stepped down as the captain due to the heavy criticism and the baton was passed on to Joe Root.
Right till the end of the decade, these mixed performances continued and there were quite a few players tried out. They won the Ashes in 2013 but gave it away the same year. The side won it back in 2015 but lost in 2017. Australia managed to draw the series against England in England in 2019 and thus kept the Ashes. Two of England’s memorable performances came against India and Sri Lanka towards the end of the decade.
W/L Ratio: 1.266
3. Australia – 8/10
A lot happened for Australia in this decade. The likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clark and several others have retired. There was a tragedy in between with the death of Phil Hughes. Even towards the end of the decade, there were a few troubles with David Warner and Steve Smith retiring. While this wasn’t a decade where they dominated as they did in the previous one, it was still a good decade for the Kangaroos.
The Aussies started the decade with wins against Pakistan and New Zealand. In the MCC Spirit of Test Cricket series, they won one game and lost the other. But the team struggled in the subcontinent with losses against both India and Sri Lanka in 2010.
This is also the decade when an intense rivalry between them and South Africa boomed. Their worst nightmare came true in 2013 when India whitewashed them in a four-match series. And then in the following year, Pakistan whitewashed the team once again in a two-match series.
Then began a decent phase from the end of December 2014 where the team has figured things out and got the combinations better. The Ashes story has been mentioned in the England section and it is Australia which has the urn at the close of this decade.
One performance the Kangaroos would be proud of is when they toured India in 2017. They started off really well but would be disappointed with the fact that they couldn’t maintain the same kind of intensity. The defeat to India in a Test series at home is definitely one of their worst performance but they’d settle for the fact that they played with a depleted side.
W/L Ratio: 1.447
2. South Africa – 9.5/10
South Africa was one of the best performing teams in the early parts of this decade but drifted apart eventually due to the transition phase. In the first six series of this decade, their only win came against the West Indies and they drew the rest. Then came the indomitable phase starting from December 2011. The team won six home and away series till the start of 2013.
After this, there was a draw against Pakistan but they bounced back by defeating India at home. In 2014, Australia defeated them 2-1 while playing in South Africa. In the next 17 series after this defeat, the Proteas won 12 series despite the transition phase. Their only losses came against England (x 2), India and Sri Lanka. A series against Bangladesh finished in a draw in between.
The Proteas, however, didn’t finish the decade well. They were whitewashed by both Sri Lanka and India in 2019. The effects of the transition really showed at this stage. Nevertheless, South Africa was easily the most consistent side of the decade and truly owned it.
W/L Ratio: 1.760
1. India – 9/10
Until the first half of 2011, Team India had a dream ride. Under MS Dhoni, the team seemed invincible. They won in Bangladesh and drew a hard-fought series against South Africa. The team toured Sri Lanka after that in 2010 and drew one more highly competitive series. Towards the end of 2010, they won against both Australia and New Zealand at home. Later, they drew the away series against South Africa. Under Suresh Raina, they started well in 2011 by defeating West Indies.
But soon after that, the tough times began with India’s overseas performance coming under scrutiny. The team was whitewashed by both England and Australia. This was also the period when the side was undergoing transition and MS Dhoni was criticised for his captaincy.
While they were continuing to do well at home, the loss against England at home rubbed salt on the wounds. However, they whitewashed Australia at home which brought some relief. After a few more away losses, MS Dhoni called it quits and Virat Kohli was given the leadership.
All the bowlers with whom Dhoni persisted with for a long time started paying dividends in the Kohli-era. Furthermore, his aggressive captaincy instilled confidence in them. Virat had a dream start and the team rose up the ranks under his leadership. However, despite having one of the best teams ever, they still lost the important away series against South Africa and England.
But later in 2018, they managed to defeat a depleted Australian team. Undoubtedly, Team India has seemed one of the best sides in this era and its team members are playing some of their best cricket. Starting from 2015, India didn’t win just four series and has been brilliant at home.
W/L Ratio: 1.931
*All stats mentioned are till 8th December 2019.
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