Ashes 2013-14: Australian players’ report card
Australia boasted of some quality match-winners in their line-up © Getty Images
Australia regained the Ashes in grand style and beat old rivals England 5-0 in the 2013-14 series. All five victories were comprehensive and Australia did not give an inch to England. When a team completes a whitewash there are bound to be big contributions from many of the players. Over the course of the series, every player stood up to the challenge and proved his worth to the winning team. Shrikant Shankar analyses each and every Australian player’s contribution and hands the report card for the entire series.
It is not often that a team uses the same 11 players in a five-match series. But that is what Australia did. This was the first time Australia went unchanged in a five-match series and the fourth side overall. So, the report card for the Australians will only be valid for the 11 players that played in all the five matches.
According to batting order
Chris Rogers — 8/10
Chris Rogers, 36 years old, has finally arrived into the international scene © Getty Images
The veteran Chris Rogers did not begin the series all that well, but ended up becoming the third highest run-scorer with 463 runs. Rogers in fact scored one and 16 in the first Test in Brisbane. But he came good with a stoic 72 in the first innings in Adelaide. A score of two in the second innings did not do any harm as Australia won the match comfortably. Then in Perth, scores of 11 and 54 followed. Rogers really came into his own in the next two Tests. In Melbourne, he scored 61 in the first innings and while Australia were chasing a 231-run target, Rogers scored a wonderful century. His 116 runs came off 155 balls as he also struck 13 fours. Although he was not there when the winning runs were scored, he had done his job. This wasn’t a flash in the pan innings. Rogers then scored his second century of the series in the second innings in Sydney. His 119 off 169 balls helped Australia setup an improbable target for England to chase. Australia won comfortably and the whitewash was complete. Rogers will go down in Ashes folklore.
David Warner — 8.5/10
David Warner has resurrected his career during the recently concluded Ashes series © Getty Images
If Rogers scored the bulk of his scoring in the later part of the series, his opening partner David Warner did so in the early part. He began with scores of 49 and 124 in Brisbane. Then followed that up with 29 and 83 in Adelaide. In Perth, Warner scored 60 and 112 as Australia regained the urn. The next two Tests went a little drab for Warner. In Melbourne, he had scores of nine and 25. And in Sydney, his scores were 16 and 16. But it was still enough for Warner to finish as the highest run-scorer in the series. He was the only batsmen from both sides to cross the 500-run mark. His 523 runs came at an impressivestrike-rate of 74.39.
Shane Watson — 7.5/10
Shane Watson silenced his critics with a gritty century in the third Ashes Test at Perth © Getty Images
Shane Watson had an indifferent series with the bat. Although he finished with 345 runs from five matches, Watson wasn’t at his absolute best. For someone coming in at No 3, a lot more is expected. In Brisbane, he scored 22 and six while in Adelaide, his scores were 51 and zero. It is in Perth where Watson silenced his critics for a bit. In the first innings he scored 18. And in the second innings when Australia needed someone to really take the game away from England, Watson responded. He bludgeoned his way to 103 off 108 deliveries. His innings consisted of 11 fours and five sixes. He effectively helped Graeme Swann in his decision to retire early. A defiant 83 off 90 deliveries helped Australia chase down a tricky target in Melbourne in the second innings. In Sydney, he scored 43 and nine. Watson also took four crucial wickets and all were top-order batsmen.
Michael Clarke — 7.5/10
Michael Clarke (above), along with Darren Lehmann were the architects-in-chief for Australia’s turnaround of fortunes © Getty Images
Michael Clarke looked like the best batsman in the world in the early part of the series. After scoring one in the first innings in Brisbane, Clarke showed his true class with 113 off 130 deliveries in the second innings. He then scored 148 in the first innings in Adelaide and that in-turn was the highest score of the series. In the second he only managed 22. Scores of 24 and 23 followed in Perth. He was then made to look ordinary by James Anderson in Melbourne as he got bowled for 10 without offering a shot. He saw Australia through in the second innings with an unbeaten six. Then again scores of 10 and six followed in Sydney. Despite ending the series on a poor run individually, Clarke would have been delighted that Australia won the series 5-0. He scored 363 runs in total. His captaincy was also widely praised by the commentators and he became the captain who helped them stop a run of three consecutive Ashes losses. He fittingly caught the catch that completed the whitewash.
Steven Smith — 8/10
Steven Smith played a few vital rescue acts for Australia when their top order failed to occupy the crease © Getty Images
When one comes in at No 5, it is not always easy to score the big runs. And the same goes for Steven Smith. There were doubts over his place in the Aussie batting line-up after the first two Tests. But when his team really needed him the most, he delivered. Smith’s 111 off 208 balls in the first innings in Perth helped Australia from a tricky situation to a position of command. He also was the Man of the Match for the victory. Even in Melbourne he did not impress all that well. But again in Sydney, when Australia needed someone to step up, Smith responded. Australia were in a spot of real bother at 97 for five, but Smith scored a fantastic 115 to turn the tide in Australia’s favour. When needed, Smith performed and that is why he edges Clarke a bit. His maturity as a Test batsman was evident in this series.
George Bailey — 6.5/10
George Bailey, apart from the 28 runs in an over off James Anderson, failed to spark with the bat in the series © Getty Images
If there was anything close to a failure for Australia in the series, it was George Bailey. He was the only top seven batsmen to score lesser than any England batsmen. Bailey only managed a modest 183 runs in his debut series with one half-century. His more important contribution, apart from grinning widely for the duration of the 10 Tests, was taking 10 catches and almost all at short-leg. He gets a few extra points for clobbering Anderson for a joint-world record 28 runs in one over in Perth.
Brad Haddin — 9/10
Brad Haddin was a new man in the recently concluded Ashes series. He was Australia’s best batsmen and excellent behind the wickets © Getty Images
Sometimes when the second highest run-getter in the series is a batsman who comes in at No 7, people might think something is wrong. But that was not the case with the 2013-14 Ashes series. Brad Haddin scored 493 runs at an average of 61.62 in the series. His strike-rate was 71.55. He also scored five half-centuries along with one hundred in Adelaide. Haddin had at least one score over 50 in each of the five matches. Many times England had Australia where they wanted them, but Haddin turned the momentum of the match and in-turn the series in Australia’s favour. He also had 22 catches behind the wickets.
Mitchell Johnson — 9/10
Mitchell Johnson probably had the most remarkable comeback into top flight cricket ever, bagging 37 scalps in the series © Getty Images
If someone had to trump Haddin to the Man of the Series award, he had to have an even better series, if that was possible. That is exactly what Mitchell Johnson did have in the five-match Ashes series. His inclusion was not guaranteed in the beginning of the series, but now he will be the first name on the team sheet. The left-arm fast bowler terrorised the England batsmen throughout the series. He finished with 37 wickets — 15 more than any other bowler. He took three five-wicket hails with a best of seven for 40 in Adelaide. Johnson destroyed the England top-order, middle-order, the lower-order and the tail consistently. He easily reached speeds of over 150 kmph and injured quite a few batsmen. His average for the series was 13.97 and his strike-rate was 30.5. Those were not his only contributions. He scored 165 runs with the bat and scored an important 64 in Brisbane sharing a 114-run seventh wicket partnership with Haddin. He also took some important catches. Johnson will be remembered as an Ashes legend for his performance in this series.
Ryan Harris — 8/10
This was the first series where the injury-prone Ryan Harris played all five Test matches © Getty Images
Johnson’s form almost took away most of the praise that Ryan Harris deserved. He was as consistent as ever and finished with 22 wickets — second only to Johnson. Harris also scored an unbeaten 55 in the first innings in Adelaide. His first ball to Alastair Cook in the second innings in Perth summoned up how good a bowler he is.
Peter Siddle — 7.5/10
Peter Siddle’s (above) love affair with Kevin Pietersen’s wicket will go into the rich annals of Ashes history © Getty Images
Peter Siddle is not the bowler to run through a batting line-up. But he is a bowler who will put in a shift for the team. Siddle exactly did that throughout the series. He dismissed his bunny Kevin Pietersen three times in the series and always took important wickets. He finished with 16 wickets.
Nathan Lyon — 7.5/10
In a bowling attack dominated by pacemen, Nathan Lyon played a crucial part in Australia’s clean sweep of the English © Getty Images
The real surprise in the bowling department. Nathan Lyon began the series by taking the odd wicket. But by the time the third Test came to a close, he had outdone the recognised Swann and Monty Pansear. In England’s second innings in Melbourne, Lyon took a five-wicket haul and also completed 100 wickets in Test cricket. The off-spinner finished the series with 19 wickets and had the England batsmen and commentators in total shock.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)