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New guard looking good
10 Dec 2005
By: Edward Jackson

At the start of the year Australia defeated their near-neighbours New Zealand with a much different team to that which triumphed over the Black Caps this month.

Any country which can leave players like Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn in domestic cricket but still win a competitive one-day series boasts strong depth.

The New Zealanders probably should have won in Wellington in the end and did do the job last night in Christchurch but on the whole Australian cricket fans had a glimpse at the future of their country's national team and it looked wholly positive.

Stuart Clark, Mick Lewis and Brad Hodge all settled in well while others like Cameron White and Mitchell Johnson showed some more time in domestic cricket might be the way to go.

More experienced campaigners such as Ricky Ponting, Brad Hogg, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee and Michael Clarke did their reputations no harm but Simon Katich and even the great Adam Gilchrist must be worried by a lack of runs in recent times.

Gilchrist in particular looks a tired shadow of his big-hitting self and early victories in the first two of the three Tests against South Africa may see the Western Australian rested to ensure he gets back to his best.

All up, Australia used 14 players on this tour, handed out a few new one-day caps and remained the dominant partner of the Trans-Tasman series for another year.

Player Ratings

8.5 Stuart Clark - The New South Wales paceman enhanced his reputation with steady bowling and handy wickets. Clark earned a spot in the 12-man squad for the Perth Test against South Africa after taking eight wickets in the three games at 15.

8 Michael Clarke - Showed selectors he's back in form with 184 runs at 92 during the series. His unbeaten half-century at Wellington and another half-century in Christchurch were vital while his run out of Brendon McCullum in the second one-dayer ensured victory for his team.

8 Michael Hussey - In the form of his life and just seems to keep getting better. Hussey now has an average of over 150 in one day internationals and his unbeaten 88 in Christchurch should have been a matchwinning effort.

7.5 Andrew Symonds - Glorious 156 in double quick time at Wellington but little else from the big Queenslander. The all-rounder's bowling efforts lacked penetration or economy but the beligerent century in game two will live long in the memory.

7 Ricky Ponting - The captain was solid in all the games and let down by his bowlers in game three. Two half centuries and 166 runs a decent return for the Tasmanian.

6.5 Brett Lee - From economical destroyer in Auckland to run letting beamer-bowler in Wellington, Lee's series was a real rollercoaster ride. Missed game three due to a breathing problem but showed the good and bad sides to his game in the series.

6 Simon Katich - Looking to cement opening role but didn't totally convince. 54 in Wellington and a start in Auckland but never kicked on as he should have.

5 Brad Hodge - Came good in game three with a patient 59 but still has a long way to go to prove he is an international one-day player.

5 Mick Lewis - Victorian was a match winner with calm bowling in Wellington but couldn't replicate his heroics in Christchurch. Saw 20 runs taken off his last over in Christchurch to give New Zealand their historic win.

5 Nathan Bracken - Three wickets at 43 in a batting series wasn't a bad return for the left armer. Was relatively inexpensive but didn't trouble batsmen as much as other new-ball options have in the past.

4.5 Brad Hogg - Highly underused. Only bowled seven overs in the series and sat out game three.

4 Mitchell Johnson - Late call up for the absent Lee and struggled to find rhythm in only appearance at Christchurch. Hard to judge after one match on batsman friendly wicket.

3 Cameron White - Made a duck in his first innings as an Australian batsman and bowled five overs for 38 runs. Not the best performance and the Victorian skipper will be keen to prove his ability during this summer's VB series.

2.5 Adam Gilchrist - Must be worrying selectors with his recent form. Made 11 runs in the series with a highest score of eight and looks a bit jaded at the moment. Might need a rest some time this summer to recharge batteries.

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