Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 24, 2015

The 99.94 Ashes Report Cards – Australia

Hopefully he won't need to don the traditional outfit of the Australian captain who lost the Ashes when he returns to Sydney

Hopefully he won’t need to don the traditional outfit of the Australian captain who lost the Ashes when he returns to Sydney

David Warner (418 runs at 46, o wkt, 3 cts) – The next vice-captain, a recent father and a much changed man from the firebrand of 2013. This new Warner retains the positive outlook, but knows that not every ball deserves to have the cover smashed off it and sometimes you have to earn the right to bat. Still has a problem with scoring big in the first innings – when every run always matters – and can be cramped for room by the short one under the armpit, but has an otherwise sound game and can look forward to scoring plenty of runs in Ashes series to come. Remains magnificently aggressive in the field but with little of his old tedious sledging evident.

Chris Rogers (480 runs at 60, 1 ct) – Had a bit of trouble against the moving ball – which opener doesn’t – but can call upon all that experience to play through difficult periods and then cash-in with his risk-free punches and prods. It seems somehow unfair for age to catch up with him when he’s in such good form and his country need him so much – especially after spending so much time in the wings (like Stuart Law and many others) when a side of great players pretty much picked themselves. In a parallel universe, he and Alastair Cook are compatriots racking up century opening stands for fun and there are plenty of seats available to watch them!

Steven Smith (508 runs at 56, 1 wkt at 16, 1 ct) – Admitted that his highly individual technique of walking across the stumps to take balls from outside off to midwicket had become a little too extreme by mid-series and that he used the break between the Fourth and Fifth Test to make some adjustments. Australia need their incoming captain to maintain his remarkable output, protecting a middle order in transition. His self-awareness, concentration and big match temperament suggest that Smith has every chance of doing so.

Michael Clarke (138 runs at 17, 4cts) – Everyone knows what a wonderful thing hindsight is, but this was obviously a series too far for a man desperate to avenge 2005, 2009 and 2013. As a batsman, his bad back limited his movement and as a captain, his selectors limited his options. Never threw in the towel and rallied his defeated troops for a fine consolation win at The Oval, but he must be wondering what an attack that read Harris / Starc, Johnson, Siddle, Lyon, M Marsh would have done – especially if his own toes could twinkle as they once did at Number Four. His book (presumably as media savvy a man as Clarke will write one) might have some interesting things to say about this tour.

Adam Voges (201 runs at 29, 7 cts) – Before the series began, Voges looked like a solid Sheffield Shield / County Championship cricketer who had put together a fine set of scores and seized his chance against the weakest West Indies attack in living memory. And so it proved, until too little too late when the jig was pretty much up. With Rogers and Clarke both going, Voges’ experience may get him a few more Tests but the feeling persists that it’s time for Australia to move on and give some emerging batsmen the chance to prove themselves.

Shane Watson 49 runs at 25, 0 wkt, 2 cts) – Did he really play in 2015? He did, but his LBW + review pantomime had run its course and he ceded to one Marsh or the other. Already his Test career seems lost in history, but don’t rule out a return for the Project Player whose project seems to remain incomplete all these years on.

Shaun Marsh (2 runs at 1, 0 ct) – Not good enough for Test cricket. Most judges knew that.

Mitchell Marsh (48 runs at 12, 8 wkts at 19, 1 ct) – Caught the eye in the warm-up matches as a batsmen, but looked much more of a bowler in the Tests, where his close to the stumps high action and nagging line and length was perfect for English conditions. If he misses out on long career in Test cricket (possibly due to Australia’s traditional suspicion of red ball all-rounders), he would walk into any county side in England and do a very fine job.

Brad Haddin (29 runs at 15, 5 cts) – Dropped Joe Root in what proved the pivotal moment in the crucial First Test and then took leave due to family concerns. His non-recall, the selectors favouring Peter Nevill, no spring chicken but eight years younger than Haddin, appeared to sow some discord in the Australian camp just as they needed to pull together to deal with England’s somewhat unexpected skills and fight. A man who often hurt England will not do so again.

Peter Nevill (143 runs at 24, 17 cts) – Slick behind the stumps and an obdurate presence with the bat who showed the patience many of his colleagues lacked when faced with unfamiliar batting conditions. He has staked a claim to be the next Australian wicketkeeper-batsman, but he’ll have Matthew Wade snapping at his heels unless he can convert good starts into big scores.

Mitchell Johnson (141 runs at 18, 15 wkts at 35, 1 ct) – The Terror of 2013-14 was, if not quite tamed, certainly subdued by a combination of pitches giving him less assistance and his peculiar sensitivity to the English crowd’s bating of him. The bark really only turned into bite in that extraordinary over at Edgbaston when he bounced out Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in double quick time. Other than that, Clarke’s strike bowler had to deliver 56 balls for each wicket – and that’s quite a few for a man who deals in four over spells.

Mitchell Starc (157 runs at 22, 18 wkts at 31, 4 cts) – Jaffas and four balls with not a great deal in between, he may share too much in common with Johnson for both to be accommodated in the same XI. His action can collapse a little in the delivery stride which leads to problems with his line, something that he’ll need to work on when his bouncer – yorker mix isn’t working.

Josh Hazlewood (45 runs at 15, 16 wkts at 26, 1 ct) – Arrived with a big reputation and bowled some decent spells (as his figures suggest) but found himself out of the side when the selectors finally called up Peter Siddle to do the third seamer job to which he is so suited.

Peter Siddle (1 run at 1, 6 wkts at 11, 0 ct) – Ran in hard and gave away precisely nothing in a fine display of seam bowling that proved the selectors were too quick to write him out of the series and that his old-fashioned line and length skills may be a little too subtle to be fully appreciated in this age of crash-bang Test cricket.

Nathan Lyon (47 runs at 12, 16 wkts at 26, 1 ct) – Outbowled his English counterpart by 19 runs per wicket (16-12 in total too) with his mix of sidespin and overspin from a reliable, repeatable action. The ex-groundsman will never carry the threat of Shane Warne, nor entrance the public with the blond one’s sense of drama, but he’s as good an off-spinner as there is in world cricket just now and will add many more wickets to his Australian record for that style of bowler.

 

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Responses

  1. Shaun Marsh has officially earned the nickname Salt

  2. “Everyone knows what a wonderful thing hindsight is, but this was obviously a series too far for a man desperate to avenge 2005, 2019 and 2013”

    I like how you’re already calling 2019 for England. Hard to disagree

  3. These are very good. You seem to be one of the few raters who actually watched the series.

    • Thanks. I saw very little of the actual cricket if truth be told!

      • Really? Did you listen? You seem to have picked up similar things to me and I watched a lot of it.

        • Mainly followed the Guardian OBO. I saw highlights of the First and Fourth Tests and was at The Oval for the last two days. Work and a faulty internet connection on holiday limited my exosure to it.

          Glad we agree.


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