There are a few surprises in the list of the top 10 wicket-takers in 2012. 2.
Swann began his domestic career for Northamptonshire. As a teenager, he was part of the U-19 World Cup winning side in 1998, a tournament that took part in South Africa. Against Leicestershire in 1998 he scored 92 and 111, his maiden first-class half-century and century. Touring South Africa and Zimbabwe with the England A-team that winter, Swann took 21 wickets at 25.61 and averaged 22 with the bat. England’s best spin bowler had a good year with 59 wickets at an average of 29.93 in 14 tests, which is only slightly worse than his career average of 29.13. As was the case with England’s batsmen, he benefited by playing more tests than the top performers from any other country.
Broad originally started his career as an opening batsman, following in the footsteps of his father, the former England opener and current ICC match referee Chris Broad. It was not until he was 17 and had a growth spurt that he started to consider being a fast bowler. Broad had been associated with Leicestershire since he was 8 years old having represented them at Under-9 level. Broad learned most of his adult cricket at Melton Mowbray club Egerton Park who also produced England seamer Tim Munton. He played for the club from the ages of 9–19; in his final two seasons he opened the batting with fellow Leicestershire player Matthew Boyce and spearheaded the attack. He was awarded with the Leicestershire Young Cricketers Batsman Award in 1996.
The third Englishman in the top 10 is another fast-medium bowler. He finds himself behind team-mate James Anderson only because he played fewer test matches in 2012. He took 40 wickets at an average of 31.7 in 11 tests with two 5 wicket hauls and took 10 wickets in a match once.
Saeed Ajmal has played for Faisalabad since his debut in 1995 at the age of 18. Ajmal represented the Faisalabad Wolves in the 2005 ABN-AMRO Twenty-20 Cup, his team won the final in which he was man of the match. When Faisalabad won the final of the ABN-AMRO Patron’s Cup in March 2006 Ajmal was named the tournament’s best bowler and was given a Rs 25,000 prize. He has also represented Khan Research Laboratories, who were runners-up in the final of the 2008/09 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy; though his side lost the final, Ajmal took 5/105 and 2/55 and in the process passed 250 first-class wickets.
An impressive performance by this Pakistani spinner given that his team had a very quiet year. He took 39 wickets at an average of 20.56 in only 6 tests with two 5 wicket hauls and 10 wickets in a match on one occasion. His average was the best by any of the top 10 bowlers in 2012.