The rebuild starts hereEdward Jackson |
There were bound to be changes after the Ashes loss, even before this summer’s three Test series with the West Indies stalwarts Damien Martyn and Jason Gillespie were out of the Test frame but no-one expected as much chopping and changing as this.
The world champions may have struck back from their poor form over the English summer with a whitewash of an inexperienced West Indies side but using 15 players in three Tests is decidely un-Australian behaviour.
But for all the uncertainty surrounding the team’s best XI at the moment the series was a comprehensive victory for the hosts and the depth added by players like Mike Hussey, Nathan Bracken and Stuart MacGill will certainly bring a smile to Ricky Ponting’s face.
The following is a breakdown of how the 15 players fared during the series with a mark out of 10.
9.5 – Matt Hayden: The burly Queensland opener was back to his destructive best against an underdone West Indies attack. Two centuries, a fifty, an average of 89 and some strong slip fielding showed Matt the Bat is on course to reclaim his bully boy status.
9.5 – Mike Hussey: Took to Test cricket like a duck to water. After a nervous debut at the Gabba filling in for the injured Justin Langer, Hussey showed why he has so many first class runs with a powerful 137 in Hobart. Another century in Adelaide, this time unbeaten, means the West Australian now has a Test average of 120.33 and he should easily retain his spot for the South African visit.
9 – Brett Lee: 18 wickets at 20.94 was a strong return for Lee, who was criticised for not taking enough wickets in England. Continued his strong batting form as well.
8.5 – Ricky Ponting: A double century Test at the Gabba set the tone of Australian domination for the remainder of the series. Captaincy was never really tested but led by example with an average of 82.25 for the series.
8 – Shane Warne: The old pro was canny and crafty as ever. Took six wickets in Adelaide to demolish West Indian hopes of a revival and is on course for 100 wickets in a calendar year, an unprecendented feat.
8 – Glenn McGrath: Somewhat outshone by the fire of Lee but still claimed 13 wickets at just under 22. Wasn’t too shabby with the bat either, helping Hussey to his Adelaide hundred.
6.5 – Justin Langer: Injured for the first two Tests, Langer showed how valuable he is for the Australians with 99 in the first innings in Adelaide.
6 – Stuart MacGill: Somewhat underused but still took seven wickets at 27 a piece in the series. Helped Australia out of trouble with a 93-run stand with Mike Hussey in the first innings at Adelaide.
5.5 – Adam Gilchrist: Gilchrist’s poor batting was simply overlooked in this series. Second straight Test series without a 50 and averaged only 17 with the bat, still solid with the gloves though.
5 – Shane Watson: Didn’t do much wrong, didn’t do much to write home about. One Test, at the Gabba, before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the series.
5 – Nathan Bracken: A star turn in the West Indies second innings at the Gabba didn’t help the left-armer. Despite his figures of 4-48 in that innings, didn’t play again in the series.
5 – Brad Hodge: A patient half-century on debut ensured a second cap but failed twice in Adelaide. Jury is still out on Hodge’s Test ability.
4 – Andrew Symonds: Handed another chance with the injury to Watson and didn’t take it. A highest score of nine and an average of five with the bat and just one wicket with the ball isn’t the return the selectors are looking for from their all-rounder.
3.5 – Michael Clarke: Pressure and poor form finally told on the reigning Allan Border Medallist. Dropped from the team after the Hobart Test, Clarke has responded with a double hundred for New South Wales and could be back in the team by the South African series if he continues to improve.
3 – Simon Katich: An off-again, on-again Test career may have been fatally derailed by a double failure in Brisbane and Hussey’s emergence. Needs runs and another’s injury to get another chance.
So there you have it. Hussey’s emergence was a huge positive but question marks remain in the middle order and Gilchrist’s batting form must be of concern.
A much sterner test awaits when the South Africans hit these shores for three Tests starting in Perth on December 16.