It may have been a difficult winter for the England cricket team, but the underlying quality of the side has been emphasised by the naming of four players in the ICC Test Team of the Year.
England were somewhat aided by the fact that the judgement was made on cricket played between 14 September 2015 to 20 September 2016, but few will doubt the class of Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow.
The team was picked by former Test players Rahul Dravid, Gary Kirsten and Kumar Sangakkara. Intriguingly, they chose Cook as captain, reflecting his earlier successes rather than the struggles on the sub-continent that have left him admitting he is considering his future in the role.
During the year to September, an England side that had just won the Ashes enjoyed a superb series win in South Africa, with highlights including Stokes' sensational innings of 259 from just 198 balls in the Cape Town Test in January, the fastest score over 250 in Test history.
England went on to beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in the first home series of the summer and at 2-1 up with one Test to play against Pakistan they were just one match away from a series win that would have put England on top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time since 2012.
Even with the recent series in Bangladesh and India taken into account, several performances stand out. Joe Root's calendar year tally of 1,477 runs was just four short of the record set by Michael Vaughan in 2002 and included a magnificent 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford. Bairstow also came close with 1,420 runs, a record for a wicketkeeper. He also secured the most dismissals by a keeper in a calendar year.
The ICC team also included Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin, who wreaked havoc in the England batting over the past couple of months. His inclusion will act as a reminder that any team playing against India on their own pitches faces an extremely tough ordeal. Ashwin was also voted ICC player of the year and Test player of the year. Curiously, however, he was the only man picked from the team now ranked number one in the world.
Root was in the ICC team for the third year running, as were Kane Williamson of new Zealand and Australia's David Warner. South African Dale Steyn was selected for the ninth year running.
Fans booking corporate hospitality for the England v South Africa Test match at the Kia Oval may be excited to see the likes of Cook, Root and Bairstow taking on Steyn and co.
Having lost at home to England, the Proteas bounced back with a recent 2-1 series win in Australia, suggesting they will provide a strong challenge next year as two fine seam attacks go head-to-head.
The ICC also named its one-day international team of the year. Surprisingly, despite an outstanding year for England in white ball cricket, Jos Buttler was the only Englishman selected.