Another close Test match from two very even teams, a massive batting collapse was all that stood in the way between Australia and their first win of this Ashes series. So how did each of the Aussie players perform? We take a look at the Australian Cricket Team grades for the 4th Test.
Chris Rogers: A
Batting: 110, 49
A great Test match for Australia’s newest opener. A maiden Test century in the first innings followed by a hard fought 49 in the second as a part of a century opening stand with David Warner. Rogers looks to have cemented his spot as an Australian opener for the near future, only displaying any sort of hesitation when stuck on 96 before sweeping Swann for four to bring up his first ton in the baggy green. What may have been equally as impressive was his 2nd innings partnership with Warner. A great opening combination seems to be in the works, with the quick scoring of Warner complemented by the steady head of Rogers scoring at a more traditional rate. Hopefully we see many more of these partnerships to come
David Warner: B+
Batting: 3, 71
Copped an absolute gem in the first innings for a batsman still finding his feet early in the innings, but showed just how damaging he can be as Australia’s opener with a composed 71 giving Australia the perfect start to their run chase. From the two tests we have seen of Warner so far, it’s quite noticeable that he has worked on his defence, and reeled in his looser shots we would see of him early in his innings. Perfectly capable of punching the ball to the boundary on the off side early on, he doesn’t need those big slashes outside off stump which could bring him unstuck. He was one of the few batsman in Australia’s second innings to show real composure at the crease, showing just how far he’s come, even since the Indian tour.
Usman Khawaja: C
Batting: 0, 21
Another disappointing test for Khawaja. Similar to the first test, he showed intent in the second innings, allowing him to score more freely and play a game which could see him selected in the future. However, he would certainly be lacking in confidence knowing that he can’t bring this game every time he bats. Is the number 3 position the correct place for him in the Australian side? Well, his technique would have to be the tightest outside of Michael Clarke’s but unfortunately the mental application is not there yet. Some questions should be asked about his ability to play the spin of Graeme Swann, where he looked uncertain once again. Coming in after a 109 run opening partnership should have given him the freedom to play with an open mind, but he may need a few more years before his self-confidence allows him to do this.
Michael Clarke: B-
Batting: 6, 21
Played a very uncharacteristic shot in the first innings and copped one of the balls of the series in the second, Clarke had a test match to forget, at least in the batting department. His loose shot in the first innings was strange given that Rogers was set and there was potential to put in a real England-killing partnership, but it was not to be. The second innings he couldn’t do anything about. Just beaten by a better ball.
His captaincy throughout the test was exceptional yet again. His perseverance with Lyon against Pietersen payed dividends in both innings, and his plan (let’s call it a plan) to remove Trott down the leg side came off yet again. Was a shattered man in his post-match press conference, and he’ll look to rally his troops for a victory in the 5th Test which they thoroughly deserve.
Steve Smith: C-
Batting: 17, 2
Pretty poor effort from Smith, especially in the second innings when we needed him the most. Playing a loose hook shot was not what Australia needed when England were getting on a roll. Our previous Test grades had mentioned the tightening of his technique. Well, this was when you needed to show it Steve Smith. Simply irresponsible.
Surely the 5th Test will see either Smith or Khawaja dropped, but as Michael Clarke stated in his press conference, they’re selecting the best cricketers available. Added to the misery is the injury to Watson, which may be a blessing in disguise for the cricketing future of these two men.
Shane Watson: B
Batting: 68, 2
Bowling: 1/21, 0/22
Finally, some heart from Watson, but the Aussies needed it in both innings unfortunately. His knock in the first innings showed what he’s capable of, even when batting lower in the order. A 129 4th wicket partnership with Rogers was just what he needed to get his batting going again, but unluckily again for Watto, he broke down bowling in England’s second innings with a hip/groin complaint. Highly unlikely to take his place in the side for the 5th Test, his absence will give the selectors a bit of a headache. Could the play James Faulkner? For the integrity of Test cricket, we hope not. In a batting order struggling to put together runs, bringing in a bowling all-rounder will weaken it even further, and with Steve Smith at 5, Australia would boast only 4 legitimate batsmen.
Brad Haddin: B-
Batting: 13, 4
Wicketkeeping: 6 catches
A disappointing backup from the previous Test, Australia simply needed more from Haddin in both innings. His dismissal in the first innings was a really strange one, where a lapse in concentration saw him forget how to play spin bowling. He had a great opportunity in the first innings with Chris Rogers, but couldn’t capitalise. In the second innings he copped an extremely unfortunate LBW decision probably brought about from excessive English appealing towards Tony Hill, but not much can be done about that. It’s almost like there are two Brad Haddin’s. A free flowing natural cricketer who is one of the best counterpunchers in the game, and the restrained, awkward, and hesitant Haddin we saw in this Test. He could be forgiven for getting out playing his natural game, the same luxury afforded to Warner, but this hesitation is killing him.
Peter Siddle: C
Batting: 5, 23
Bowling: 1/41, 0/59
Really struggled in this Test match, his sole wicket was that of Prior in the first innings. Siddle really struggled to make any impact on the English batsman, maybe because of the state of the pitch throughout the test did not suit his style. The two most successful bowlers of the test were Broad and Harris, both who offer more in terms of bounce or pace than Siddle, giving them that little bit extra on a pitch not doing too much. Almost a good situation to be in, Siddle wasn’t as heavily relied upon as he has been in the past, with other Aussie bowlers taking the majority of the wickets.
Ryan Harris: A
Batting: 28, 11
Bowling: 2/70, 7/117
What an amazing performance from Ryan Harris. Career best figures in the second innings set up a reachable target for the Australian batsman, but was unfortunately let down. If he can stay fit for the entire Australian summer, Clarke’s men are in for a real chance of reclaiming the Ashes, because this man is something special. Let’s take a look at some figures. In his 15 matches, he has taken 67 wickets at an incredible average of 22.32 and a strike rate of 46. Compare this to the world’s best bowler in Dale Steyn, who averages 22.50 with a strike rate of 41.16. Steyn by his 15th test had 71 wickets, only 4 more than Ryan Harris. Add in some handy tail end batting throughout the test and he had a pretty incredible 5 days. Please Rhino, no injuries.
Nathan Lyon: A-
Batting: 4, 8
Bowling: 4/42, 3/55
This was a really exciting Test for Australia’s spinner, who ended up taking 7 quality wickets through great offspin bowling. His four wickets in the first innings were those of Trott, Pietersen, Bell and Bairstow. Ripping through the middle order will no doubt give Gary the confidence he needs after a rather luckless performance in the 3rd Test. This time round, they all fell his way. Getting Pietersen out in both innings will probably be a career highlight for Lyon, given how much he was being attacked. His dismissal of Jimmy Anderson in the 2nd innings was an absolute beauty.
Jackson Bird: B
Batting: 0*, 1*
Bowling: 2/58, 0/67
The amount of wickets doesn’t justify how well Bird bowled throughout the Test, but he struggled to get the purchase off the wicket he demonstrated in the Australian summer. That nagging line and length kept his economy low and piled on the pressure to the English batsmen, but just couldn’t get through on a regular basis. Again, like Siddle, he wasn’t needed as much as what would normally be expected, but he will no doubt be selected again in the 5th Test.
Tony Hill: F
What an absolute joke. Five of his decisions throughout the Test were reversed, and England took advantage of frail umpire with no confidence in the second innings, appealing for absolutely everything. With such a tiny pool of umpires to choose from in this series, it may be time to allow umpires from England and Australia to adjudicate Ashes Test matches. With the implementation of DRS, it is virtually impossible to be biased, and really, these are professional umpires who want to see the correct decisions made.
Thankfully for Tony Hill, he didn’t completely ruin the Test match. DRS hasn’t been a massive talking point in this 4th Test, and that’s probably a good thing. If anything, it exposes who the real hacks in the umpiring department. The absolute howlers were reversed, namely Root and Prior in the first innings and Rogers in the second innings. One thing which I believe should be looked into is when the batsman is not playing a shot, is given not out on an LBW appeal, and the DRS returns an ‘umpire’s call’. Never a good look for a batsman, all benefit of the doubt to the batsman should be removed, given his decision to leave a ball, and is clearly outfoxed by the bowler. You give up all right to be given the benefit of the doubt as a batsman in this case, and the DRS should be adjusted to account for this.