South Africa in Australia 2012-13

Hussey and Clarke stellar for Australia

Australia's marks out of ten for the Test series against South Africa

Daniel Brettig

December 4, 2012

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

9
Michael Clarke (576 runs at 144.00, 7 catches)


Michael Clarke slices on through the off side, Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day, November 22, 2012
Michael Clarke played two massive knocks, but all in vain © Getty Images
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Much as Michael Clarke considered his 151 in Cape Town last year as both his best innings and the most irrelevant, due to the match result, so he may come to judge his run this series. Clarke pushed his batting to new heights in Brisbane and Adelaide with a pair of double-centuries as audacious as they were epic, and also marshalled his resources nicely to take Australia to the brink of a 1-0 series lead. But the bitter taste of a hiding in Perth and the sadness at Ricky Ponting's exit will not sit well with him. As Australia's best batsman, Clarke must now decide whether or not to move up the order.

8
Michael Hussey (295 runs at 59.00)

Like Clarke, Michael Hussey produced some wondrous feats of batsmanship in this series, but the failure to add to them on his home ground in Perth will haunt him. In Brisbane and Adelaide, Hussey started his innings as though he was already well established at the crease, his energy and poise at 37 putting younger men to shame. He also conjured a critical run-out in Adelaide to break Alviro Petersen's opening stand with Graeme Smith. Having played with such vitality against South Africa, Hussey's presence in next year's Ashes tour is now all but assured.

7
Ed Cowan (228 runs at 45.60)

Subject to much speculation over his place entering the series, Ed Cowan made a breakthrough century in Brisbane that confirmed the quality the selectors had backed him to demonstrate, and the aggression he knew lurked within an obdurate exterior. South Africa's speed-oriented attack was suited to Cowan's preference for using the pace of the ball to score runs, and different challenges now await against Sri Lanka and India. Earned his Cricket Australia contract for 2012-13 by appearing in all three Tests.

Peter Siddle (9 wickets at 38.00)

Peter Siddle's figures do not do him justice, as the heartbeat of Australia's attack he bowled himself into the ground in Adelaide in pursuit of victory, so much so that he could not be considered for Perth. Siddle's value was made plain in his absence, as Clarke sorely missed the Victorian's blend of wholehearted effort and now considerable skill. Had a quieter match in Brisbane, but remains the closest thing Australia have to a spearhead.

James Pattinson (5 wickets at 38.40)

The rib/cartilage injury James Pattinson suffered in the first innings in Adelaide can be isolated as a turning point in the series. Up to that moment he had been Australia's spikiest fast bowler, and had he been fit it is hard to imagine South Africa wriggling out of the second Test with a draw. But injuries appear a sadly inevitable part of bowling fast at the age of 22, and Pattinson's arrived despite a careful lead-in to the summer. So long as he develops the required durability, Pattinson's future is decidedly bright.

6
David Warner (206 runs at 41.20)

One sparkling century, one handy score and one abject dismissal at precisely the wrong time. David Warner's mixed bag in this series was of the sort that can be expected so long as he bats at the top of the order for Australia. His innings on the first day in Adelaide was spectacular, and influential, but struggles in Brisbane and Perth demonstrated how Warner will likely never earn the tag "reliable". Still, his strokeplay is singularly destructive when it comes off, and has a greater chance of doing so while Warner maintains an uncluttered mindset. Handy leg breaks, too.

Nathan Lyon (12 wickets at 40.50)

Injury and prevailing conditions cast Nathan Lyon in the lead bowling role in Adelaide, and he came close to fulfilling it ably. He bowled long spells, claimed regular wickets, and showed developing flair by delivering his backspinner "Jeff" with aplomb. Lyon's dominance of Jacques Rudolph was the most conclusive victory by an Australian bowler over a South African batsman, and his harsh treatment in the second innings in Perth was not unexpected after the pacemen commanded neither wickets nor economy.

Mitchell Starc (8 wickets at 26.12)


Mitchell Starc celebrates after getting Alviro Petersen bowled, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, November 30, 2012
Mitchell Starc bowled an effective spell on the opening day in Perth, but couldn't back it up on day two © Getty Images
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Perth witnessed Mitchell Starc at both his world-class best and his wayward worst. His pair of late inswingers to clean bowl Petersen and Jacques Kallis on the first morning were indicators of how Starc may be able to confound batsmen in years to come, but loose spells on days two and three demonstrated how much he still has to learn. Showed resilience to come back well and claim six second-innings wickets, and spirit to hit out for an unbeaten 68 with the match in its death throes. Should be persisted with.

5
Matthew Wade (121 runs at 30.25, 8 catches, 1 stumping)

Granted a vaunted commission when the selectors retained him ahead of Brad Haddin at the start of the series, Matthew Wade's first steps as Australia's No. 1 Test gloveman were not always steady. Endured a difficult match in Adelaide when he missed a pair of important chances up to the stumps, and played a poor stroke on the final day of the series in Perth. Nonetheless, Wade's fighting instinct is undoubted, and his first innings at the WACA was Adam Gilchrist in miniature. With Haddin pressing hard to regain his spot in New South Wales, Wade cannot afford an indifferent series against Sri Lanka.

Ben Hilfenhaus (6 wickets at 35.50)

In contrast to Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus' respectable figures flatter him. For long stretches of Brisbane and Adelaide he kept batsmen quiet without ever looking like getting them out, having lapsed via Twenty20 into some of the bad old ways of the 2010-11 Ashes series. Reports varied as to whether Hilfenhaus was unfit for Perth or simply dropped, and he has some work to do in order to regain the bite he showed against India and the West Indies last summer.

Mitchell Johnson (6 wickets at 27.33, 4 catches)

Apart from an altered approach to the bowling crease, the new and improved Mitchell Johnson looked very much like the old. He threatened in bursts at the WACA ground, notably bullying South Africa's debutant Dean Elgar, but did not move the ball much and oscillated in pace. Johnson's undoubted athleticism and durability mean he will remain a part of Australia's broadening pace bowling battery, but a consistent place may be as elusive for Johnson as consistent form.

4
Shane Watson (35 runs at 17.50, 1 wicket at 46.00)

The subject of acres of newsprint over the first two Tests, Shane Watson returned to the team with more whimper than bang in Perth. He bowled presentably, batted forgettably, and did little to suggest he should be Australia's long-term Test match No. 3. Part of Australia's problem is that via a glut of limited-overs cricket Watson has developed into a far cannier bowler than batsman, and for now he appears better suited to a commission lower in the batting order than first-drop.

3
Ricky Ponting (32 runs at 6.40)

For all the affecting fanfare surrounding his final Test match, Ricky Ponting's final tilt at the ICC's world No. 1 spot proved to be a series too far. His batting deteriorated to the point that even Ponting's self-belief was shaken, leading to an emotional retirement announcement before the Perth Test. One of the curious things about Ponting's decline is that his fielding and catching remained razor-sharp to the last, and his example around the team unsurpassed. Given his love for the game, it would not be a total surprise to see Ponting slip into the batting coach position vacated by Justin Langer.

Rob Quiney (9 runs at 3.00, 5 catches)

Unfortunately for Rob Quiney, the rave reviews he received for making a mere nine in his first Test innings was as good as things were to get. Nipped out for a pair in Adelaide, his chances of returning to the team in place of Ponting rest with the national selectors. Quiney's temperament is much admired, and his catching and bowling in the series were useful, but his batting retains the air of a club and T20 cricketer who has tried to manufacture a more serviceable technique for the longer form.

John Hastings (1 wicket at 153.00, 52 runs at 26.00)

A fair choice as the into-the-wind merchant for Australia at the WACA ground, John Hastings disappointed, not so much for the fleeting swing he gained but for how his control varied so much. At only a fraction fast than medium pace, Hastings needed to be precise, and far too often he wasn't, something exploited mercilessly by Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by henchart on (December 6, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

Ponting deserved a big zero for what he did as a Batsman in the series.

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (December 5, 2012, 21:50 GMT)

Time for the AUstralians to learn some manners. learn how to behave properly, and then come back. Until then, they should be banned from world cricket

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

On the whole, not a particularly consistent set of ratings.

@MrKricket: "you'd think Australia lost 0-3" - Erm, this is Test Cricket not limited overs cricket.

@Sunil Bobbala: There may be an enormous temptation and related risk for CA to try and model Watson on Kallis.

Posted by chris54 on (December 5, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

I suppose if Clarke in next year´s Ashes gets a couple of double hundreds at Lord´s, a quadruple hundresd at the Oval and takes a hat-trick at Old Trafford, then Daniel Brettig might, just might, consider giving him a 9,5.

Posted by Yakka-04 on (December 5, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

Really bad marking system. How on earth can someone come up with rubbish like this. Watson a 4 how on earth and why. He did absolutely nothing. Clarke, Hussey and Siddle are the only ones deserve over 5. Rest needs to wake up.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (December 5, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

Hastings scored more runs than Ponting. Ponting gets 3 points, & Hastings gets none??? Hastings scored more runs than Shane Watson, and they each took a wicket. Watson gets 4 points, and Hastings gets 0 points?? Hastings scored more runs than Warher, Clarke & Hussey in the 3rd test, in fact he was Australia's 3rd highest scorer in the 3rd test, and he gets NOTHING???? This has got to be a joke, right? Jeez - give the guy a break!

Posted by Tova on (December 5, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

I think that some of these marks for players are ridiculous... Ponting did absolutely nothing for the series and still got 3? For an up and coming player, Wade had a good series. The Smith stumping was the only glaring error. Edges when keeping up to the stumps either stick or they don't, especially off a medium fast bowler... And he batted very well to make 68 in the Perth Test when coming in at 6 for 45... He is not the reason Australia didn't win the Adelaide Test as suggested by someone here... There was ample time to bowl the Saffers out... Watson a 4? What did he do to deserve that score? At the end of the day this marking system is just the opinion of the author... Doesn't make it accurate...

Posted by Wefinishthis on (December 5, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

Gilly4ever - said everything I would have. Spot on.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 3:47 GMT)

With Punters retirement, a hole opens up in the middle order, just as it has opened up in the opening pair. Even Hussey is growing old and cant possibly maintain his energy for too much longer, though he is incredibly fit and a remorseless run accumulator. Does Aus have the replacements for Ponting and Hussey? Siddle and Hilfy are more steady than spectacular. Mitchell Johnson should take charge of the bowling with these guys in support. Spin also seems bleakish, Lyon is quite run of the mill but then anyone would be, compared to Warney.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 3:23 GMT)

In tests, Watson is not a Top order player for sure, he can come @ 6, Clarke move to 4, Hussey to 5, then CA has to groom a proper batsmen for no 3 position. 7 position belongs to wicket keeper then follows the tail. This will look much balanced side

Posted by Clyde on (December 5, 2012, 3:18 GMT)

I would like to see Australia play some talent, not people who have been manufactured and can only be grey, half-decent performers. I am not one of the many fans who want Australia to win. I want to watch some decent cricket played by Australians, and I think this is what we liked about Ponting more than his figures. I am sure there is talent about, and I am equally sure that selectors are scared to select it, for fear it will get four ducks in a row or bowl to third slip half-a-dozen times in three overs. Let's not worry about this. Rather, play to entertain. To me, talent means style, and a player's knowing what his style is and playing it to the full. Give us the branding and give us the product.

Posted by landl47 on (December 5, 2012, 2:17 GMT)

Sentiment appears to have been the basis for marking Ponting rather than results. On pitches where not only hundreds but big hundreds were scored, for a #4 batsman to average 6.4 is just pitiful. And how was Quiney worth 3- one point for every three runs he scored? On that basis, Clarke should have got 192 points. I was very impressed with Starc's resilience in coming back from a hiding to take a 6fer- that's real class. Cowan and Siddle were worth 7s, but the problem is that's all they'll ever be worth. Lyon bowled well and he should have been a 7, too. However, the fact is Clarke and Hussey held the batting together and without them Aus would have been in trouble. A great series for both players.

Posted by balajik1968 on (December 5, 2012, 1:24 GMT)

I didn't watch the series, but as far as I can see the Aussies have a problem in batting. Take away Clarke and Hussey, the batting struggles for consistency. Hussey is 37, 1 or 2 years away from retirement, or maybe the 2013 Ashes series. I was really surprised when the middle order did not try to grind it out. The victory margin big as it was, was made a little less embarassing thanks to some carefree batting by the tail, when the match was lost.

Posted by MrKricket on (December 5, 2012, 0:55 GMT)

By these ratings and comments you'd think Australia lost 0-3 whereas they should have been 2-0 going to Perth with a bit more luck and experience. Kudos to the SAs though, they deserved it by holding their nerve in Brisbane and Adelaide. Just like the Windies teams of old.

Ratings based on a series will always be controversial, some players have a great Test then a poor one. Does one cancel the other out?

I also think Warner may be better served coming in down the order. But where are the 1,2,3 batsmen then?

Posted by Marcio on (December 5, 2012, 0:44 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa, more of the same from you. Is it really that hard for you to admit that Australia were the better team right up till the 12th day of the series, and they played some scintilating cricket? The last 3 days of the series doesn't change this fact. At least you didn't bash any other posters this time, just the AUS players.

Posted by pauln2 on (December 4, 2012, 23:55 GMT)

Were these marks out of nine? I honestly don't know how much more Michael Clarke could have done. Add imaginative captaincy - especially when trying to use a limited attack to best advantage - to a mountain of runs and he had an amazing series.

Posted by Yakka-04 on (December 4, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Aussies are rated far to high by the media. Only 2 or 3 players really kept the Aussies in it. Our cricketers don't really care what happens because they always have the full backing of the selectors. It's about time that Australian Cricket started to kick some back side and seriously threaten the line up. This will wake a few of them up and make them realize that they are playing for Australia. South African's were very serious and professional while the Aussies were treating this series like who cares even if I fail I am safe. Cowan and warner didn't do enough at the top, one batsman down with ponting playing, wade can only keep but not really bat. To much was left on Clark and Hussey. Siddle was the stand out bowler while Hilfenhaus was a waste. Hasting, starc and Johnson should not have played at all. Unreliable. Australian has really a lot of thinking and soul searching to do.

Posted by MinusZero on (December 4, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

I wouldnt have given Ponting or Quiney 3. I would have also docks Clarke an extra point for the atrocious way he got out in perth. To get out stumped charging the bowler when Australia needed him the most was childish.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

how on earth can Ponting and Quiney score 3? top order batsmen averaging 3 and 6.5? wow.

Posted by Talubar on (December 4, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

Clarke deserves his mark for his captaincy alone. Bringing what is a mediocre team even close to beating a team composed of, with 1 or 2 exceptions, true champions, is bordering on miraculous. Easily Australia's most aggressive and innovative captain since Mark Taylor.

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 4, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

nathan lyon got a six how?

Posted by Meety on (December 4, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

@by straight_drive4 on (December 04 2012, 10:16 AM GMT) - harsh but true re: Wade. He needs to dust himself off & lift for the Lankan series. @TommytuckerSaffa on (December 04 2012, 11:58 AM GMT) - mate, this is totally a subjective viewpoint & a scored by two different people. Chill! @Happy_AusBang on (December 04 2012, 09:50 AM GMT) - Tahir was woeful, whereas Punter generally looked sound & got out to the first good ball he faced, there's a difference!

Posted by SICHO on (December 4, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

Most guys here got more than they deserve. A 4.5 would've done good for Lyon and Pattinson, 4 for Warner,5 for Siddle, 6 for Cowan and 2 for Ponting. That's better.

Posted by samincolumbia on (December 4, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

It's a joke that Clarke was given the MOS for scoring runs on ROAD pitches. Starc is a great find for the aussies....as a batsman.

Posted by sunnydays on (December 4, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

@Happy_AusBang: Mate, Tahir gets a zero for being pathetic. Ponting gets a 3 for declaring that his time is up; after all that realization has to be worth a few points!

Posted by SurlyCynic on (December 4, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Quite harsh on Quiney, I'll remember that 9 at Brisbane a long time. It's right up there.

Posted by Fourworldcups on (December 4, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

Happy_AusBang - the difference between Tahir and Ponting is pretty clear. Ponting was as good as ever in the field, but batted poorly and was exposed by a very good bowling attack, and was by his own admission not up to par and hence the reason for retiring. Tahir on the other hand was an absolute trainwreck in Adelaide.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

how can a bowler who has second best bowling average and 4 catches...out of which 2 were absolutely brilliant get only 5....person who has given rating looks very biased towards the names rather than performances...ponting and quiney getting 3 and tahir 0 is also one of the glitches...

Posted by big_al_81 on (December 4, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

I think some of the Aussie fans on here have forgotten that this series was very close to being at least drawn by your boys, disappointing as they may be compared to the sides of 5-10 years ago. Clarke surely deserves a 10 for being the most imaginative captain in world cricket as well as the best batsman in this series - he scored his runs against a much better attack than Amla (the lamentable Tahir apart). Fair enough to say that the fellas down the bottom were probably more like 1s or 2s than 3s. Whoever said that Watson isn't a top order batsman is right - he should go back where he started at 6ish. The aussie top order looks a real problem going forward. Once you get to Clarke and Hussey it's more rosy though - why don't they bat 4 and 5? If not 3 and 4? I'm sorry to see Ponting getting a hammering from some - even those who (rightly, with hindsight) are aggrieved he didn't go earlier should be able to see he at least adds value in the field while Tahir only adds comedy value.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 4, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

This is farce, aussie player ratings are far too high. Warner gets a 6 for absolute reckless player, out twice at the beginning of days play. Siddle is scored too low and Cowan is scored far to high. Lyon gets a 6 and Peterson gets a 5.5....??? How does that work? Patterson gets a 7? Is that for being injured cause he averaged 40!! Wow.

Posted by creekeetman on (December 4, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

my thoughts exactly thruthecovers, the pitch was still great for batting, 3 runs per over with the loss of 2-3 wickets could have been acheived had sensible batting prevailed. a score of 310-350 for 3 down at stumps might have led to a dramatic final day... early runs and no further loss of wickets and oz could've pushed for an amazing victory, early loss of a wicket or two, and a rear guard save the test aproach like Faf's could've been attempted... either way senseless batting denied fans those possibilities.

Posted by Sanj747 on (December 4, 2012, 11:15 GMT)

@creekeetman couldn't agree more. Spot on.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 4, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

I am sorry but why is John Hastings down the bottom? Rob Quiney was clearly the worst player for Australia by a mile, then Ricky Ponting. How could Hastings be down the bottom when he scored 52 runs? He at least should be ahead of Quiney and Ponting. I also have to question why Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, who were both awesome, are languishing in the middle, and why the decidedly ordinary Peter Siddle was so far up the top, let alone the decidedly average Ed Cowan - other than that century, of course. Pattinson was the best bowler on display, then Starc, then Johnson. Siddle is not in the mix. Siddle wasn't missed in Perth - we just wished he hadn't played in any of the tests.

Posted by creekeetman on (December 4, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

Watson, is not a test opener, and he is not a number 3 either, cant understand how that has'nt been figured out yet. he should bat at 6, and a proper batsman needs to be groomed for the number 3 position.

Posted by thruthecovers on (December 4, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

Don't know what to make of Aus batting display on that 4th day...logic says that if they were to bat conservatively, maybe 3 rpo, with minimal loss of wickets they would would've been somewhere close to 300 if not more with only a little more than that to get on the last day. In the end they were so overly aggressive, bordering on arrogant, that a thumping loss was evident quite early. Warner, Ponting and Hussey might claim they were victims of good bowling but they were all unnecessarily attacking, never earned and got out because of it. Is it not in their nature to do 'boring'? Picture 310/3 with Watson/Cowan and Clarke at the crease at stumps. Had they gone hard then on the 5th Day, one might have understood the attacking approach a bit better because victory would have been in sight then. Or maybe it was intent to get back at SA for Amla, Smith and AB's onslaught the previous day. Wickets in hand was always going to be key for a favorable Aus outcome. To bad no one told their bats

Posted by straight_drive4 on (December 4, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

Mathew wade cost Australia the second test and hence the series. Missed an easy stumping of Graeme smith who went on the make a century and missed the catch of du plessis - we all know what happened there. Poor series from a man trying to make his mark.

Posted by rohanbala on (December 4, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

Only the captain led from the front, while the others' contribution was of too little importance to the team. Mathew Wade's keeping seems to be okay and advice from senior glovemen can enhance his reputation. However, his batting is far below expectations. In both the innings in the Perth test, he got out to wild shots. Warner gave the impression of canning the SA bowling, but it was not to be. Shane Watson appeared to have tightened up his bowling within the short spell he bowled in the Perth test, but his batting remains a big worry. On the other hand, John Hastings batted reasonably well, but his bowling was not up to the mark. I am sure, the selectors need to make suitable changes to counter the spin attack of Srilanka.

Posted by Happy_AusBang on (December 4, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

The only thing I can't understand is how Ponting got 3 and Tahir got 0. Is this the reputation that goes in judging a player? Ponting's average over the series comprising six innings is 6.5 which is probably worse than a bowler's NIL wickets in the only match he played.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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