Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Australian first test ratings

So what of the Aussies? Arriving on these shores, they were strong favourites to clinch a second consecutive series win, and their first away win since 2001. Ever since the arrival at the crease of Joe Root, Australia have been on the back foot, falling further and further behind in the game until the same man took the catch which wrapped up the increasingly inevitable result. So where did it go wrong for the green and gold? Where are their weak points and who do England have to keep an eye on?

Chris Rogers - 95 & 10: Rogers had a great game, setting Australia off to a solid start and making big inroads into England's first innings score. Came up against Broad & Anderson on top form at the start of the second innings. Will no doubt continue to be reliable, determined and hard to dislodge all series long. 8/10

David Warner - 17 & 52: The explosive opener hasn't really got going yet but still has the potential for a game-changing innings. England did a good job of stifling his desire for rapid scoring and this will definitely be the best way forward to keep him quiet 6/10

England will be hoping for more of this
Steve Smith - 33 & 33: The 2nd best batsman in the world certainly didn't look like it in the first match of the series. With so many similarities to Joe Root (matches played, incredible last 12 months, current average, part-time spin), it was the Englishman who won the first battle. Perhaps suffering from over-confidence and an impatience to dominate the bowlers so far, Smith will prove his class soon enough. 6/10

Michael Clarke - 38 & 4: Australia's captain faces a difficult task to get his guys up to scratch for the second test, both mentally and performance-wise. How he achieves that might be a reflection of how he can manage it for himself as well. He underperformed as both captain and senior batsman in Cardiff so will need to up all aspects if Australia are to get back into the series. 4/10 batting 4/10 captain.

Adam Voges - 31 & 1: Like Chris Rogers at the top a couple of years ago, Voges has been brought in as a reliable and consistent batsman with experience of English conditions, to add some solidity to the middle order. On current evidence, he's done anything but. Australia appear to need someone more in the Mike Hussey/Simon Katich mould to frustrate and resist, braking the momentum and atmosphere generated mid-collapse. Bowlers like Broad thrive on momentum (as seen in each of the last 4 Ashes series) so a gritty 60 off 150 balls or similar would be perfect to counteract. Voges just isn't that man. 4/10

Poor old LBWatto
Shane Watson - 30 & 19, 24-0 & 23-0: Watson is a curious case. Utterly brutal aggressive and dominant batting, relentlessly accurate and miserly bowling at his best, he so often seems to be lacking confidence or interest in the game. For someone with such indifferent body language he appears to have allowed the LBW thing to really get to him. What should be an outstanding number 6, offering a very useful bowling option, he's more of a burden than a blessing currently. Australia would take Stokes at 6 in a flash right now, but might have to make do with Mitchell Marsh instead. 4/10

Brad Haddin - 22 & 7, 5 catches: Age catches up with us all and the counter-attacking wicketkeeper-batsman role is not one that can be sustained forever. When Matt Prior realised that his time had come, we had Jos Buttler ready to come in immediately; it does not appear that there's a natural successor just yet. Haddin may well have a couple of decent knocks and I'm sure the infamous Joe Root drop was just one of those things, rather than a sign of things to come, but the reality is that Brad isn't the force he once was. 3/10

Mitchell Johnson - 14 & 77, 111-0 & 69-2: One of the central figures of attention prior to and during the game, Johnson had an evidently mixed game. On a pitch that didn't suit his natural bowling style he failed to adjust and as a result ended up with his worst ever figures in what wasn't that high a total from England. The ball that got Bell in the second innings gave England due warning against complacency and dismissed any thought this might be 2010-11 Mitchell. Similarly, his futile but impressive 77 demonstrated the damage he could do in a closer situation. 6/10

Mitchell Starc - 0 & 17, 114-5 & 60-2: The world's best ODI bowler will be quite pleased to look back and see 7 wickets against his name for what was a pretty mediocre performance by his standards. At this stage it looks like he'll be fit enough for Thursday and will continue to be a serious threat when he gets it right. Waiting for the odd bad ball works against most bowlers but Starc is as likely to rip your off stump out as throw in a half-tracker. 6/10

Josh Hazlewood - 2* & 14, 83-3 & 49-2: Could very well emerge as Australia's premier test match bowler by the end of the series. Everything we'd heard about his control of line and length was true and was easily the biggest consistent threat to the English batsmen. Would be surprised if he doesn't pick up 25 wickets in the series. 8/10

Nathan Lyon - 6 & 0*, 69-2 & 75-4: Lyon has made a solid place for himself in this Aussie attack. He is consistent and gets slightly surprising levels of turn and bounce, particularly with his overspin. He's no Shane Warne but he's certainly the more complete and
accomplished spinner between himself and Moeen. Both sides should be able to get on top of the respective spinners but with measured rather than pre-determined aggression. 7/10

Australia have more areas to work on than England but that just means more areas of potential improvement for the next game, which I would imagine most are expecting to be a lot closer and more competitive.

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