From a year in which bowlers ruled the roost, we pick ten defining bowling performances.
Dale Steyn - 5 for 75, 3rd Test, Cape Town
A spell from hell. That's what Dale Steyn bowled on the third day at Newlands. It was a thrilling display of extreme pace and jagging outswing, with ball beating bat countless times. A slew of Indian batsmen came and went, unable to handle Steyn who was so hostile that it took Sachin Tendulkar, with all his tenacity and technical expertise, to keep him at bay.
On a blistering day, Steyn tore in like a banshee. His first spell of five overs was luckless but absorbing from start to finish. Steaming in every delivery, Steyn hustled Tendulkar. He made him hop, sway and duck but could not dislodge him. Ball after ball, it was a rigorous examination of Tendulkar’s temperament and technique and a high-quality contest between bat and ball.
Post lunch, with the new ball, Steyn was on fire. Cheteshwar Pujara was undone by a superb ball, which opened him up and rapped the pads. MS Dhoni didn’t know much about one that pitched and left him. Somehow Harbhajan Singh survived, and with Tendulkar helped India claw ahead. But the unforgettable passage of the day, and indeed the Test, was Steyn’s morning burst to Tendulkar.
Ravi Rampaul – 3 for 27 and 4 for 48, 1st Test, Guyana
Darren Sammy was Man of the Match for his five wickets on the fourth and final day as West Indies clinched a 40-run win over Pakistan at Providence Stadium, but this rare success would not have been possible without Ravi Rampaul.
His three wickets in Pakistan's first innings were crucial to the hosts taking a lead – after they themselves had made just 226 – and on the fourth day Rampaul stepped up. He had been quick and intelligent all match, capable of getting significant movement from the surface, and saved his best for Pakistan's second innings.
On the third evening, with Pakistan chasing 219 for victory, Rampaul sent back Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali as the visitors slumped to 2 for 3. Continuing from where he left off, Rampaul got the ball to jag around on the fourth morning in a six-over spell in which he removed Asad Shafiq for 42. Then, after lunch as the ball softened, Rampaul produced superb reverse swing to send back the resolute and threatening Adbur Rehman (47). Sammy's strikes were no doubt crucial, but without Rampaul, West Indies would not have been able to push for a win.
Stuart Broad – 6 for 46, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge
A gripping second day's play featured a hat-trick by Stuart Broad in spell of 5.1-2-5-5 that stunned India and kept their lead to just 67. Broad's burst in front of his home crowd changed the complexion of the game at the end of an eventful day, and set England on for a 2-0 lead.
India, trailing the four-match series 0-1, were comfortably placed at 267 for 4 at one stage, before Broad's career-best 6 for 46 wrecked havoc to the Indian innings. Having been bowled out for 221 and then allowing India to rally ahead, England needed something magical. And that's precisely what Broad delivered. Taking the second new ball, he removed Yuvraj Singh in the sixth over with one that seamed and reared away from the batsman. In his next over, Broad got MS Dhoni to nick to second slip, rapped Harbhajan Singh on the pads (replays showed there was a thick inside edge) and clean bowled Praveen Kumar to become the first bowler in Test history to take a hat-trick against India. The fifth wicket came when Ishant Sharma was taken out with a snorter, meaning India had been dismissed for 288. They had spectacularly lost six wickets for 21 runs.
Vernon Philander – 5 for 15, 1st Test, Cape Town
November 10, 2011 in Cape Town was just the third time in the history of Test cricket that all four innings of a match took place on the same day, and having a hand in the madness was South African allrounder Vernon Philander.
On Test debut, Philander claimed five wickets for 15 runs, with Australia at one stage reduced to 18 for 6 and then 21 for 9. Bowling a stump-to-stump line and getting the ball to deviate significantly, Philander ripped through the heart of Australia's batting as the hosts were skittled for 47, their lowest total since 1902. His match figures of 8 for 78 earned Philander the Man-of-the-Match award, as well as Man of the Series.
Pat Cummins - 6 for 79, 2nd Test, Johannesburg
Having been abjectly humiliated at Newlands, Australia stormed back in the final Test to level the series, and putting the skids on South Africa was debutant fast bowler Pat Cummins. Despite suffering a heel injury on the opening day of the second Test, the 18-year-old bowled through the pain to claim six wickets on the fourth day and hit the winning runs on a gripping final day in a Man-of-the-Match debut performance.
An injury to Ryan Harris had opened the door for Cummins and he grabbed it with 6 for 79 off 29 overs of sustained pace to become the youngest Australian to take five Test wickets in an innings. At one stage he was on a hat-trick, and in the process set Australia up for victory. His confidence with the ball was channeled into Cummins' batting too, when he displayed a maturity beyond his years in scoring 13 of the last 18 runs Australia needed for a dramatic two-wicket win.
R Ashwin – 6 for 47, 1st Test, Delhi
In India's first Test at home since 2000 without either Anil Kumble or Harbhajan Singh, a debutant offspinner walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award. In the first innings it was Pragyan Ojha who starred with six, and in the second R Ashwin did the same.
The over that turned the match on day three was Ashwin's 12th, the 30th of the innings and 16th of the day, a double-wicket maiden. No doubt watching how Darren Bravo was keen to get his pad forward, Ashwin lured the batsman forward with a straighter one that thudded into the front leg. Next to go was Marlon Samuels, foxed by the carom ball which broke away and hit off stump. After that double-wicket maiden, he was given another spell and took three for 26 – including the big one of Shivnarine Chanderpaul - to give himself match figures of 9 for 128, the second best for an Indian on debut following Narendra Hirwani's 16 for 136 against West Indies in 1988.
James Pattinson – 5 for 27, 1st Test, Brisbane
James Pattinson could be considered lucky to make his Test debut for the two-match series against New Zealand after Pat Cummins picked up an injury, but after Man-of-the-Match effort few could argue against dropping him.
Thanks largely to an inspired spell from the 21-year-old Victorian, Australia clinched the opening Test by ten wickets on day four in Brisbane. New Zealand were disastrous on the fourth morning, playing a series of rash strokes to help Pattinson reap the rewards. He bagged four wickets in his first three overs before dismissing Dean Brownlie three overs later for incredible figures of 5 for 27 from seven overs. In his first over of the day, Pattinson bagged the wickets of Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, each with steaming deliveries, to be on a hat-trick. Jesse Ryder evaded the hat-trick ball, but New Zealand had no answer to Pattinson.
Doug Bracewell – 6 for 40, 2nd Test, Hobart
That New Zealand were able to celebrate their dramatic seven-run win in Hobart was down to an exceptional spell from Doug Bracewell, a 21-year-old fast bowler in his third Test. After a fine display in the first innings, Bracewell had been somewhat lackluster on day three. But on the fourth day Bracewell was all pace and gusto, getting the ball to swing and bounce sharply to show up Australia's batting line-up. In a brilliant spell, Bracewell extracted the trio of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey as the hosts crashed from 159 for 2 to 159 for 5.
His performance vindicated his captain's pre-series billing as bowler to watch out for. Bracewell's father, former spinner John, had only featured in three New Zealand Test wins over Australia; in Auckand in 1986 his match haul of 10 for 106 spun the hosts to a rare win and in 1990 his 6 for 87 had also played a key role in a 10-wicket win in Wellington. The Bracewell family now has another proud achiever against their Trans-Tasman rivals.
Ben Hilfenhaus - 5 for 75 and 2 for 39, 1st Test, Melbourne
Recalled to Australia's Test squad a year after he was dropped following loss of form and pace, a rejuvenated Ben Hilfenhaus turned in a superb performance that helped lift Australian spirits over the course of the Boxing Day Test. Discarded after last year's Ashes debacle, the Tasmanian had undergone a nine-month program with his Tasmania coach and captain, and the rewards were there for all to see.
In India's first innings, Hilfenhaus finished with a career-best 5 for 76 from 26 overs, including a stunning 4 for 25 from 12 overs on day three which started on the second ball of the morning when he produced the perfect delivery which pitched and straightened to clip the top of Rahul Dravid's off stump. He was lethal with the old ball, removing Dravid and Virat Kohli, and with the second new ball he got rid of MS Dhoni as India lost seven wickets for 68 runs.
Hilfenhaus' effort in the second was just as telling. Running into a breeze blowing from the Members End, Hilfenhaus bowled 13 overs on the trot to allow James Pattinson and Peter Siddle to wreak havoc from the other end in short, sharp bursts.
Rangana Herath – 5 for 79, 2nd Test, Durban
Before the Test series began, South Africa A batsman Dean Elgar marked out the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath as the threat to watch out for. After a crushing defeat in the opener, in which Herath went wicketless, Sri Lanka appeared battered and bruised. That they roared back to win their first Test in 15 attempts owed largely to Herath who took nine wickets in Durban.
His four wickets in the first innings helped Sri Lanka take a lead of 170, and in the second, with the hosts chasing a mammoth 450, Herath really turned it on. His 5 for 79 helped Sri Lanka wrap up a maiden Test victory in South Africa as the hosts slumped to 241.
Spinning the ball sharply, Herath varied his flight and angle to persistently strangle the South African batsmen. His persistence was rewarded with the massive wicket of Jacques Kallis – who bagged a pair – and just before tea Herath extracted Mark Boucher. He later snapped a resolute 99-run stand between AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn, then removed Steyn and Marchant de Lange in three balls to level the series with a day to spare.