Ranking Every Test Nation's Weakest Link

Antoinette Muller@mspr1ntFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

Ranking Every Test Nation's Weakest Link

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    Every single team has a weak link. For some teams, that weak link is one specific player or an alternation between a couple of players. For others, it's whole entire line-up of players, while still others struggle with specific areas.

    Some teams, like Zimbabwe, don't even have a particular problem with the players themselves; instead, the problem extends to their board. 

    Every single cricket fan will have an opinion on who or what the weakest link is in their line-up. Share your thoughts in the comments on who you think is the weakest link in your team.

10. Bangladesh: A Fast Bowler

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    At the foot of the Test rankings are Bangladesh, who need reinforcements in just about every position. But the one thing they simply don't come close to having is a pace merchant.

    The Bangladesh bowling attack is packed with all kinds of spinners and then there is Al-Amin Hossain who recently made his debut. At best, he can be described as medium pace.

    Speed is something which cannot be coached and while he might find a few extra kilometres per hour with a slight tweak in his run-up, it's unlikely that he'll be hitting the 140km-plus mark soon. Every team needs a genuine quick in their line-up. Bangladesh already has 99 problems and a quick is one.

9. Zimbabwe: The Cricket Board

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    Zimbabwe Cricket has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. It has little to do with the players themselves and everything to do with the people who run cricket in the country.

    To put it mildly, they have not been managing their finances particularly well, nor making sure the players are well looked after. A player strike recently began when players were not paid and the ICC had to step in to give them a loan. Zimbabwe Cricket find themselves in debt of US$18 million, something which is damaging not only the domestic game, but the possibility of touring teams coming to the country.

8. New Zealand: A Spinner

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    Since there is no more Daniel Vettori in the Test set-up, New Zealand have struggled to find a spinner able to play a holding role.  

    Ish Sodhi is the man currently tasked with the role, but he has not exhibited the skill to control with the ball and if it's somebody to tie down one end you're looking for, he's certainly not it.

    Vettori gave the side remarkable balance, and though the team are resurgent under new captain Brendon McCullum, they clearly miss Vettori.

7. West Indies: An Opening Bowler

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    Tino Best is currently the West Indies opening man. While he might be able to bowl pretty quick, his control is mediocre, his skill is average and he is heading toward his mid-30s. He averaged a staggering 57.72 with the ball in 2013 and has never seen his average dip below 37.00.

    That really isn't Test match standard. With a country that has such a vibrant history of quicks, it's a tragedy they don't seem able to find someone better. 

6. Sri Lanka: An Opener to Back Up Kaushal Silva

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    Kaushal Silva's current opening partner is Dimuth Karunaratne. The 25-year old has played just 10 Tests and although he scored four fifties in that time, he hasn't been the most consistent.

    Just two fifties in his last 12 innings isn't overly convincing. Openers need patience, and while he has shown that he can bat for long periods of time even when the runs aren't flowing freely, getting runs on the board matters too.

5. Pakistan: A Wicketkeeper

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    Pakistan have tried the Akmal brothers and they brought no joy. Sarfraz Ahmed has also been recruited back to the fold, but Pakistan still lack a top-quality wicketkeeper. Keepers are the heartbeat of any team, they need to be constantly on the go and then make match-turning runs in the middle order when it comes to batting. 

    Ahmed has gone past the 50-run mark just once in his six Tests. Adnan Akmal averages 24.62 in 21 Tests. The glovework of both leave much to be desired. Really good keeper/batsmen are a rare find, but Pakistan can't even find an adequate one at present. 

4. England: A Number Three

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    With the departure of Jonathan Trott during the Ashes, England had some pretty big boots to fill. They first tried Joe Root to come in at number three as he continued his seesaw up and down the order. After a few flops, he was no longer good enough and was dropped. Ian Bell filled in for him with a little bit of shuffling of the rest of the order.

    Bell, one of England's best players, does fill that role nicely, but it's hard to see him staying there for too long. The whole batting order faces a reshuffle, but Trott has been the glue that held the batting together in recent times.

3. Australia: A Number Six

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    During the Ashes in Australia, George Bailey batted at six. He was something of a disappointment in a series where Australia rarely failed, scoring just 183 runs at an average of 26.14. Bailey has now been dropped for the South African tour and who is next at six is yet to be decided. 

    Australia's number six position has been a bit like musical chairs over the last year and it's unlikely to be settled anytime soon. Phil Hughes and possibly Shane Watson are all in contention to take up the honour for the three Tests against South Africa, but considering hostile conditions and selectors indecision, it's hard to see anybody lasting for too long.

2. India: A Fast Bowler

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    Ross Setford/Associated Press

    Mohammed Shami is showing promise and Zaheer Khan isn't doing too badly since his return to international cricket, but India still lacks an aggressive, scary fast bowler.

    Ishant Sharma has tried and failed on a number of occasions.  He played six Tests last year and averaged 48.16, taking just 12 wickets.  Sharma has never averaged below 30.00 in a calendar year. India have some found a bowler of some promise in Shami, but back-up is essential.

1. South Africa: A Spinner

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    South Africa shift between Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir in the spin department. Peterson is preferred in South African conditions while Tahir is looked at when there is some turn in the track. Neither have managed to make the spin position their own, though.

    Peterson certainly offers a bit of impetus with the bat and can help out when the tail needs to wag, but isn't exactly an A-grade spinner. In 2013, he averaged 40.80 in just seven Tests. With South Africa's pace line-up being as destructive as they are, the Proteas have managed to get away with the lack of a real frontline spinner. 

    However, there isn't currently anyone to play a consistent holding role in the spin department.