lead image: ‘Caught Guptill Bowled Martin’ (c) news.com.au
DAVID SIDDALL appraises Australia after their first defeat to New Zealand on home soil for 26 years and asks who is safe and who is sweating on their place for the India series.
Australia seem to take one step forward, two steps back right now. The bemused look on Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s face as he was handed the Trans-Tasman trophy ( despite their first loss to New Zealand on home soil for 26 years, they retain the trophy) indicated that they have perhaps reached a new lowest point, surpassing the 47 all out in Cape Town only a month prior.
Only a few players in the Australian squad can feel safe in their spots for their upcoming series against India. Lets take a look back over the series and see who performed and who didn’t; and who is safe and who is sweating on their place. Here are Australia’s marks out of ten:
C Guptill B Martin. Phillip Hughes got out in this fashion 4 times out of 4 and now is not only Chris Martin’s bunny but also Guptill the fielder’s bunny. 41 runs in the series and some serious mental and technical fault surely mean that for the time being Hughes has to go back to domestic cricket, score buckets of runs and make a comeback like those before him – Hayden, Langer and Steve Waugh to name just a few he can emulate. Gone.
A coming of age innings for Warner in Hobart sees him make 123 not out but fall agonisingly short of the 241 runs required for victory. The stigma of being the epitome of the one dimensional T20 player has surely been dispelled. He has to retain his opening berth in India. Didn’t deserve the man of the match award but was head and shoulders above any other Australian batsman on display. Safe.
A technically more sound player than Phillip Hughes but 68 runs (averaging 23) in the series does not mirror his reputation for being a stroke-maker in Shield Cricket. With the return of Shaun Marsh, he’ll be sweating on his place. Sweating.
99 runs at an average of 33 suggest a below par series for Ricky Ponting. After recording back to back fifties in Johannesburg and then Brisbane you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ricky had turned a corner. But the way he got out in Hobart was very disconcerting. In the first innings, he fell off balance and was plumb in front to the bowling of Tim Southee and walked because it couldn’t have been more out. In the second innings he toed a long hop straight to cover, a ball he wouldn’t ever get out to if bowled again. He’s probably got the summer in the side but he might be sweating on his place.
A fine century (139) in Brisbane despite being dropped 4 times set up Australia’s first test victory and 161 runs in the series reflect a good showing. He will be slightly disappointed with his grave misjudgement shouldering arms to Bracewell in the first innings in Hobart, but got an absolute ripper in the second innings. It’s hard to fault the Clarke captaincy. He rotated his bowlers well, attacked with Nathan Lyon and dismissed New Zealand cheaply on each occasion. But the batting will be a huge concern. Safe.
The Phillip Hughes headlines and the “if” or “when” concerning Ricky Ponting seems to have deflected attention away from Mike Hussey. Not too long ago Mike Hussey got 3 man of the match awards in Sri Lanka. But his two latest series have been the worst in his career. His 23 runs in the series against New Zealand was woeful and he will surely be sweating on his place. You can’t help but think he typically would have been the man you want for the second innings scenario in Hobart but he got an absolute snorter of a delivery first up from Bracewell yet again.
109 runs for the series, including a well fought 89 in Brisbane, represent a decent haul for Brad Haddin that mirrors his career average. His keeping was sharper than in South Africa and his stumping off the bowling of Mike Hussey was pretty tidy too. Getting out to the not hugely threatening Tim Southee in the 2nd innings in Hobart was yet another example of a Haddin brain fart though. When will he learn to bat the way the situation demands? He’s safe for now but will be sweating on his long term future.
Really relished being the leader of the Australian attack. Was aggressive and the quickest of the Australian bowlers. Unlike previous series Peter Siddle got wickets and struck at greater intervals than his career strike rate of above 60. Nine wickets for 207 runs is a decent haul and he is a safe bet for the India series.
Man of the series. Two five wicket hauls in two games. Full out-swinging deliveries at decent pace. 14 wickets at an average of 14. James Pattinson should be delighted with his start to Test cricket and will be a safe bet for the India series.
Despite encouraging signs in Brisbane dismissing McCullum and Ryder, Mitchell Starc was the least effective of all the Australian bowlers in this series (4 wickets for 200 runs). The potential is clear for all to see but the rhythm just seemed to be lacking. He can put it down as a learning curve and an introduction to test cricket at 21. If Ryan Harris is fit, he’ll probably come in for Starc. He’ll be sweating on his place but not disheartened.
In Nathan Lyon, Australia have discovered an offspinner who isn’t afraid to attack. He bowls an attacking off stump line, turns the ball and is not afraid to give it some air above the batsman’s eye-line. Clarke backed him and Lyon delivered with 10 wickets for 126 runs. He is also a born fighter and was so immensely disappointed at not being able to guide David Warner to the target of 241 in Hobart.He’s definitely a safe bet for India.
What Would Your Starting Lineup for the Boxing Day Test Look Like?
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