Player Ratings – Ashes 2010/11 seriesMarco Trevisiol |
Shane Watson (6.5) – A decent but frustrating performance. With the exception of the 1st innings in Melbourne he looked constantly threatening as he was able to play shots all round the wicket to the new ball and his defence looked solid. Yet there was little substantial to show for it – his plethora of scores between 35 and 60 look especially unacceptable compared with the run glut opposition opener Alistair Cook provided. Still, the only Australian batsman who remained viable against the English attack throughout the series. Underused with the ball as he was more accurate and capable of containment than Australia’s main pace attack.
Simon Katich (5) – Series curtailed by poor running between wickets and then injury. His ability to graft long innings and the value he placed on his wicket was missed in the Australian batting lineup, although it’s unlikely his absence was decisive in the series.
Phil Hughes (3) – Picking him when out of form was asking for trouble, and so it proved. Seemed to be slowly getting better as the series progressed but his 2nd innings at Sydney showed him all at sea against England’s pace attack and the claims of progress were premature. Badly need runs in the rest of this domestic season to get career back on track.
Ricky Ponting (2) – Disastrous series as both captain and batsman. In truth his struggles with the bat weren’t that much of a surprise as he had been on the decline for roughly 3 years. But to see him look like a cat on a hot tin roof against England’s pace attack was a sad sight to see for someone who was noted as one of the great players of fast bowling. As captain has to take a large proportion of the blame for the side’s poor performance – his mindset pre-series seemed a negative and siege mentality one, railing against critics of his leadership when the vast majority of support in the Australian media had been positive. Time is up as captain, but will the authorities be prepared to move him on?
Usman Khawaja (5) – While his debut innings was overhyped due to the local media and public’s desperate need for some good news for this summer, it can’t be denied that he showed he belonged at this level. His flurry of scoring strokes in his first few deliveries delighted fans like little else this summer and he played with composure in his two innings. His dismissals showed his inexperience and asking him to bat permanently at three may be asking too much, but he is a hopeful sign for the future.
Michael Clarke (3) – Even more disappointing with the bat than Ponting as considering his age and being Australia’s best batsman over the past 2-3 years, lots of runs should have been expected from him throughout the series. Alas, he only produced one significant knock of 80 in Adelaide which was soured severely by being dismissed by a part-time off-spinner at a crucial stage. Should be given the captaincy now but his batting woes are going to make that a difficult process.
Marcus North (2) – Was lucky to be in the Ashes side at the start of the series as his weakness against the swinging ball and spin early in his innings had been constantly exposed, especially against Pakistan. Therefore his failure to contribute significant in his two Test appearances surprised few fans. Almost certainly the end of his Test career.
Steve Smith (4.5) – He showed some flair and spunk with the bat in the 2nd innings of all Tests he played, but this Australian side needs substance and stability and in the 1st innings of all Tests he wasn’t able to provide that. With the ball, didn’t disgrace himself but his leg-spin lacked variety and bit. Wasn’t helped that his bowling is constantly used in negative situations where English batsmen were on the attack. He’s a talent worth preserving with but needs to be defined what his role is in the side as his function seems to change every Test.
Mike Hussey (8) – While he fell away badly in the final two Tests, this shouldn’t obscure from the fact that he had an excellent series overall and was Australia’s best player. Effectively carried the batting in the opening three Tests with great determination and his aggressiveness to Graeme Swann early in the series was a prime reason why England’s star spinner only played a minor role. His peak was in Perth where in a match dominated by poor batting by both sides, he delivered a masterclass of how to bat on the bouncy pitch. Eventually he wilted and his very poor 2nd innings Sydney dismissal suggested that he had been worn down by the demoralised state of his side.
Brad Haddin (6.5) – One of the very few Australian players whose reputation didn’t diminish over the course of this series. His century in Brisbane was the finest of his career – against high-class English bowling (particularly from Anderson) he reigned in his natural, aggressive instincts to support Hussey in easily Australia’s best partnership of the series. Post-Brisbane, while he played some good innings the looseness and lack of foot movement reappeared in his batting and England were able to gradually get on top of him. With his keeping, he made a few errors early in the series but it was overall solid.
Ben Hilfenhaus (1.5) – After starting off in the best possible style with dismissing Andrew Strauss in his opening over in Brisbane, it was all downhill from there. A major disappointment, his new ball bowling was dull and bland. Due to his very predictable swing-from-the-hand and regularly bowling too short and wide, England’s batsmen had no trouble dealing with him. His only really impressive spell of bowling was when he went around the wicket in the Sydney on the 2nd day. Very lucky to maintain his spot for Sydney and Australia will surely look elsewhere in upcoming Tests for a more penetrative new ball bowler.
Peter Siddle (6.5) – While not an entirely successful series, earned respect for his efforts. Was excellent in Brisbane and Melbourne as he was rewarded for consistently pitching the ball up However, he only took 2 wickets in the other three Tests as his line and length were too erratic and he too often fell into the trap of being a Merv Hughes wannabe bowler trying to intimidate bowlers through a bouncer barrage. Still, relatively speaking he was one of Australia’s brighter spots this series. Earns an extra half point for his fine efforts in the field and with the bat.
Mitchell Johnson (4.5) – Despite being the prime reason Australia won in Perth, a real letdown overall. His struggles in Brisbane were much-maligned and saw him dropped, but his performances post-Perth were arguably more disappointing because it showed that even on the back of a Man of the Match performance, he couldn’t be relied upon consistently anymore, due to technique and application issues. That he has to be effectively hidden as a first change bowler instead of a new ball bowler is symptomatic of his problems. With the bat while he played a couple of nice innings, but considering he was touted as a potential all-rounder just a couple of years ago, five innings out of seven where he failed to reach double figures really isn’t good enough.
Xavier Doherty (1) – A surprise selection after Nathan Hauritz was omitted, the risk taken by the selectors ended in failure. As a Test off-spinner, bowled like a one-day spinner (which is largely what he has been at state level), using no flight and constantly darting the ball in. As a result he barely beat the bat and even his line went astray so he wasn’t even able to keep things tight. Highly unlikely to appear at Test level again.
Ryan Harris (7) – Probably Australia’s most impressive bowler. Was easily Australia’s best bowler in the rout in Adelaide and backed up Mitchell Johnson superbly in Perth through seam and swing movement and surprising pace to destroy England in the 2nd innings. Alas, after disappointing with the ball in Melbourne he broke down and played no further part in the series. At age 31 and multiple major injuries, his time as a viable Test bowler seems limited.
Doug Bollinger (1.5) – Australia’s biggest disappointment. After being the best bowler for Australia post-2009 Ashes, he was somewhat controversially left out of the Brisbane side. Brought back for Adelaide, he started off superbly with an early wicket but by the time of his second spell he wasn’t swinging the ball and his pace had notably dropped, leading to easy pickings for the English. Comments from the Australian camp afterwards suggested his fitness wasn’t up to standard and he was on the outer for the rest of the series.
Michael Beer (5) ‘ In challenging circumstances, made a fairly impressive debut in Sydney. While he didn’t spin the ball much, his flight and aggression stood out and even when the English batsmen were looking for quick runs at the end of their innings, he managed to restrict them well.
Alistair Cook (9.5) – An astonishing series from England’s opener, especially as he came into this series in a form slump and was widely perceived to be one of England’s weak links. His discipline was highlighted by a wagon wheel of his series run scoring which showed barely any runs scored straight down the ground. Clearly he felt this was a weak spot for him and he was going to score through other areas like the cut and pull shots, which he played superbly all series. Only his relative failure in Perth prevents him from getting a perfect score.
Andrew Strauss (8.5) – After being overlooked for the captaincy and having a dismal time with the bat on the 2006/07 Ashes, this series was a personal triumph. Apart from his blazing cameo at Sydney, he never looked in top form with the bat but he made regular valuable contributions. His most significant was his aggressive 2nd innings century in Brisbane, which was pivotal in seeing England’s batsmen gain a psychological hold on Australia’s bowlers, something they never let go (except for Perth) for the rest of the series. As captain, apart from the odd conservative moment was flawless in leading a clearly committed and united side.
Jonathan Trott (8.5) – All the focus pre-series from Australia was on Kevin Pietersen but Trott was far more pivotal to England’s success. Continues to be underrated with media talk that Ian Bell should replace him at No. 3 when as his performances this series show, he’s done everything right in the role. Not only is he a composed presence who has the mental strength to bat for long periods, but when the situation requires is able to bat with aggression and intent. A classic case of this was in the 2nd innings in Brisbane when, after the excellent platform laid by Strauss and Cook, he didn’t allow Australia any respite as he scored runs at will and helped complete the demoralisation of the Australian bowling attack.
Kevin Pietersen (6.5) – There has been a tendency to overrate and overhype Pietersen’s significance over the past couple of years and that continued in this series. His double century in Adelaide was certainly highly impressive, not only because of the runs accumulation but the flair and aggression he displayed to fully ram home the advantage his side had. But apart from that innings, his record was mediocre and he was especially disappointing in Perth where he played a reckless swipe across the line to be dismissed LBW in the 1st innings when his side needed stability and had another soft dismissal in the 2nd. He fills an important role in the side, but probably could move down a spot.
Paul Collingwood (3) – A series too far for England’s veteran. His technique got exposed on Australian pitches during the 2nd half of the 2006/07 series and so it proved again as he always looked vulnerable on the seaming and bouncing pitches here. His decision to retire after Sydney was the right one.
Ian Bell (7.5) – Arguably England’s most impressive looking batsman from a technical and style viewpoint, this series provided ample evidence that he needed to be moved up the order. Looked constantly assured against pace and spin and has all the shots around the ground. He displayed on occasion a habit of getting bogged down by playing technically perfect shots that kept going straight to fielders when a bit more ingenuity was required and a couple of dismissals were disappointing. But overall he demonstrated he is more than ready to take a more significant role in the batting order.
Matthew Prior (6.5) – While he finished off the series in grand style, a slight disappointment. Didn’t deliver with the bat in Brisbane and Perth – his loose shot in his first-ball dismissal (when part of a hat-trick) in Brisbane was particularly ill-judged. After a no-ball letoff in Melbourne, hit form in his final two innings which showed that he has the talent to be a Top 6 batsman. Apart from a botched missed stumping in Melbourne, generally sound with the gloves. Overall, a solid series but could’ve done more with the bat.
Stuart Broad (3) – Heavily hyped player leading into the Ashes whose series was curtailed by injury in Adelaide. Up until then he hadn’t impressed as he bowled short of a length constantly which ensured he kept things tight but wasn’t a wicket-taking threat. Considering that Tremlett was far more impressive when replacing him, his injury was a blessing in disguise for England and may not be a certainty to walk back into the side when he regains fitness.
Steven Finn (5.5) – Was England’s leading wicket-taker in the first 3 Tests but in reality this flattered him as he got several cheap tail-end wickets in Brisbane. Showed promise but lacked the discipline of his bowling teammates and was a weak link in Perth as he leaked runs due to constantly bowling too short, leading to his omission for the rest of the series. Still, much to look forward to.
Graeme Swann (5) – One of the few disappointments for England this series. Widely expected to be England’s strike bowler, he was only intermittently effective with his cleaning up of Australia on the final day in Adelaide the high point. The ability of Mike Hussey to attack him successfully in the opening few Tests seemed to have an impact on him as he was often quite defensive in his mindset. He played a role as a defensive stock bowler in the last couple of Tests while the pacemen went on the attack, but overall didn’t meet expectations.
Chris Tremlett (9) – Undoubtedly the find for England this series. Coming in for the injured Stuart Broad in Perth, he immediately demonstrated himself to be a superior option by bowling with great hostility throughout the series, using his height for intimidating effect. Had an exceptional series statistically but this doesn’t demonstrate his impact as he bowled superb spells in Melbourne (2nd innings) and Sydney (1st innings) without getting due reward. An automatic first-choice Test bowler for the forseeable future.
Tim Bresnan (8) ‘ Called up to replace Steve Finn, proved to be a more than worthy replacement. In effect he was the missing piece of the puzzle of England’s bowling attack as he was able to deliver the consistency and pressure that Finn hadn’t. His full length and constant bowling at the stumps with late swing proved a lethal mix for the Australian batsmen and he was deservedly receiving of a bundle of wickets in his two Tests.
James Anderson (9) – Behind Cook, England’s star player of the series. His series stats don’t properly reflect how good he was as he often bowled without luck, especially in Brisbane and Perth. Was a genuine leader of the attack, always troubling the Australian batsmen with his accuracy, intensity and ability to swing the ball (new and old) late both ways. This was complimented by his physical and verbal presence as he was never shy of engaging in verbal exchanges and intimidation with his opponents. That he’d had little success against Australia previously and they didn’t rate him made his impact all the more significant.