Let’s face it, as I look through the two teams and how they have performed during this two-match series, one has to seriously think about why the ICC aren’t seriously thinking about splitting the test teams into two divisions. No one wants to see cricket that is horribly lop-sided, and it can’t be good for the development of New Zealand cricket to be dealt such heavy defeats.
Here are the rankings out of ten for the players in the series in batting order.
Shane Watson – 5 – It is so hard to really give a player a ranking off one game, but Watson played well when he got the chance, making a brisk 65 in Australia’s crucial second innings in the second test. He bowled very little, and given that he only played one match, must have a tired body after a long Southern summer.
Phil Hughes – 6 – Again, only played the one match, but showed enough-ish in the second innings. The pressure was largely off in that innings, but he did score a fast 86* to see the Aussies home. He’ll definitely be in the selectors minds for the upcoming series against Pakistan, which could be good practice for the Ashes.
Simon Katich – 8 – You can’t ask for much more from the ‘kat’. He does it his way, and it seems to work, although VERY SLOWLY!! An average of 97 over four knocks is a great return, and his 106 in the second test were vital in winning Australia the match. His place looks secure well into the future.
Ricky Ponting – 4 – Seriously, Ponting must be buggered. He’s had a long, long summer, and a (let’s face it, pointless) tour to New Zealand must have been the last thing he wanted to do. If this was his state of mind, then his batting certainly showed it. With a top score of only 41, and a series average of 23, Ponting wasn’t in good touch, but his captaincy, which was far better than Vettori, gets him an extra point or two.
Mike Hussey – 4 – Yes, he only averaged 31, but his knock in the second innings of the last test was a standout, he really dug in, and forced the Aussies to a strong lead. He’ll want to show a bit in the series against Pakistan or the pressure will be back on him before the Ashes.
Michael Clarke – 9 – I should probably only give Clarke an 8, seeing as his average was less than Katich, BUT, cricket isn’t all about numbers. Returning from the media turmoil of his relationship break-up, Clarke was magnificent in his career best 168 in the first test. Clarke then showed a great sense of purpose in the second innings of the last test with a good 68.
Marcus North – 8 – Ok Marcus, fair enough, I have to say well done. I really thought you were gone, but you dug in and stuck it out for three very good innings. You aren’t flashy, but you did show grit, and I like that. An average of 105 in the series is quite outstanding, although the competition was meek. Let’s see how you go against the Pakistani’s, cause let’s face it, your spot will be under pressure come Ashes time.
Brad Haddin – 5 – Haddin is predominantly in the team for his batting, and in particular for his role as enforcer. He comes in when the Aussies need quick runs to declare and give themselves time to bowl teams out, and this is something he did well in this series, averaging 35 with a strike rate of nearly 80.
Mitch Johnson – 8 – I’m probably judging Mitchell fairly harshly here with an 8, given that he got player of the series with 20 wickets in two tests. But we have to look at him as partly as a batsmen too, and he didn’t make a run!! But his bowling was outstanding, particularly in the second test second innings, where he wiped the Kiwi’s away. He just keeps performing, and will now get a well-deserved rest.
Nathan Hauritz – 2 – Neither of the pitches served up were particularly good for spin bowling, but Hauritz was particularly ineffective. He took four wickets at 65, and that is off 93 overs…not a very good strike rate ‘Hurricane’. Hauritz really needs pitches that help him, because he just doesn’t have the skill to really create anything out-of-the-box himself.
Ryan Harris – 6 – Just better than average is how I’d rate this series for Harris. He is a workman like bowler, who will certainly lose his place to Pete Siddle, who plays this role with more skill, when he returns.
Doug Bollinger – 7 – Bollinger is not a complicated cricketer. He runs in and bowls with gusto, and did manage 12 wickets at 21. Bollinger has a great amount of heart, but I fear that with a fit Ben Hilfenhaus to return, and Mitch Johnson already a great left-armer, Bollinger may be waiting for other player’s injuries to cement his place.
Tim McIntosh – 4 – If it weren’t for his gallant 83 in the first test, McIntosh would have rated much lower. He’s still a fairly young player, but he didn’t show much, and the Kiwi’s must continue to look for a worthy opener to accompany Jessie Ryder when he returns.
BJ Watling – 2 – Watling barely had an effect in this series, besides his good work at short leg in the field. 103 runs in four innings at the top of the order is just not good enough at this level, no matter the level of competition.
Peter Ingram – 1 – Ingram may well prove to be a handy T20 and ODI player, but a test player he is not. He looked way out of his depth against the new ball attack, and was rightly dropped for the second test.
Matthew Sinclair – 3 – Matt Sinclair made comeback number 4,000 in the second test, with the commentators (as always) claiming that he was coming to the team on the back of a ton of runs at domestic level. But, there are some players that are just that; domestic players, and Sinclair just can’t seem to translate that into the international arena. That said his 29 was pretty gritty in the second dig.
Ross Taylor – 7 – Taylor’s glorious 138 was an absolute highlight of this series for the Kiwi’s. It was just so fluent, and perhaps made even more fantastic by the contrast of it to the way the rest of the batsmen went about their job. He is a true star, and will continue to make a stack of runs in all the game’s formats.
Martin Guptil – 3 – I can’t really work out Martin Guptil. He looks to have the technique to be a really good test player. Furthermore, he’s made some serious runs at this level, in his short career, and he has also proven to be a handy ODI player. But, he just can’t seem to perform consistently. This series showed that although he looked good at times (such as his 58 in the second test) he just can’t seem to fight it out at a sustained level. New Zealand should persevere with Guptil though, as he has the makings of a good player.
Daniel Vettori – 5 – Hmmm…Dan Vettori…he have almost had enough of this test game. He is such a good limited overs bowler, and he’s leading a lame duck test team, whilst his buddies Shane Bond and Scotty Styris are over making the big bucks in India. He looked a little bereft of ideas in this series, both as a captain, and with the ball. But his batting was good, as he averaged 40, and showed that he is a legitimate number six, but for how long??
Brendan McCullum – 6 – Like Vettori, McCullum must be tempted to give this form of the game away. He is so destructive, and so wanted by the IPL. But good on him for sticking it out, even though he sometimes looks uninterested. His hundred in the first test was outstanding, but he scored only 80 runs in his three other innings. His keeping was ok.
Daryl Tuffey – 2 – Like Matt Sinclair, Tuffey has been in and out of this team like a yo-yo. He was largely ineffectual in the one inning that he bowled, but did make a determined 47* with the bat. Always looks an honest trier.
Tim Southee – 6 – Along with Ross Taylor, and perhaps Guptil, Southee looks a real prospect for the future of New Zealand test cricket. I remember him bowling well in Australia a few years ago, and he continued this, to a certain extent, during this series. 6 wickets at 36 doesn’t read much, but he did trouble the batsmen more than any of the other bowlers, and can hit the ball with the bat.
Brent Arnel – 2 – The Kiwi commentators were claiming Arnel as a ‘great find’, but five wickets at 50 doesn’t necessarily confirm their opinion. He looks fairly tame really, and only occasionally worried the Australian batsmen.
Jeetan Patel – 1 – It’s hard to know what Patel’s role is in this squad. He is certainly second fiddle to Vettori, and may just be waiting around until Vettori finally gives it up for the IPL. But he looked really slow, and didn’t really have many ideas in his one match. The real highlight of Patel’s performance was that he allowed me to watch Michael Clarke play his spin with grace and elegance, thanks Jeetan!
Chris Martin – 1 – Martin has taken over 180 test wickets, but by God, I don’t know how! He is just so bland as a bowler. In fact he really just puts the ball there and waits for the batsmen to make a mistake, which in this series THEY DIDN’T! Martin took one solitary wicket in 62 overs over the two tests, with an average of 260. Boy oh boy! This together with his laughable batting has to mean BYE BYE CHRIS!
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