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The Ashes aftermath

Australia's marks out of ten

Peter English

September 13, 2005

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It was a great series, but one Ricky Ponting would like to forget © Getty Images
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9.5
Shane Warne
Stood so far above his team-mates it was embarrassing. Carried Australia with 40 wickets at 19.92 and 249 runs, but was unable to fulfil his promise of never losing a series to England. His hex over the batsmen remained as he picked up Andrew Strauss six times, inflicted new wounds and reopened old ones. Showed immensely committed application with the bat - 42 at Edgbaston gave Australia hope and 90 at Old Trafford restricted the damage in a draw - and passed 600 wickets. Didn't deserve the sorry end or the dropped catch to reprieve Kevin Pietersen on 15.

7.5
Brett Lee
No player was battered more as he battled bravely with the bat in heart-breaking circumstances. The constant in a fast-bowling attack that faltered with poor form and injury, Lee picked up 20 wickets at 41.10 as he attacked in every spell. Devastated after Edgbaston, when he was 43 not out when Michael Kasprowicz was dismissed, he was comforted by John Buchanan on the final day at The Oval, but can be proud of his efforts in his first series for 18 months.

6
Glenn McGrath
Provided the biggest twist of the series when he stepped on a ball at Edgbaston and was ruled out. Australia missed him desperately, just as they did two matches later at Trent Bridge when an elbow problem was the culprit. Joined the 500 Club in spectacular fashion at Lord's with 5 for 53 in the first innings to save Australia and point them towards victory with another four in the second. Added nine more in his two other Tests, averaged 36.00 with the bat and will forever wonder about a freak act ruining his England farewell.

Justin Langer
Australia's most consistent batsman in an order that fired mostly blanks. Finished the series with a century at The Oval, which he did to save his career on the same ground in 2001, and collected 394 runs at 43.77 to lead both tables. Fought hard and enjoyed the bullets sent at him by Harmison, Flintoff and Co, but must have wished he turned valuable half-centuries in Tests two and four into priceless big hundreds.

5
Ricky Ponting
Under pressure from the first morning when his cheek was cut by Steve Harmison, Ponting's series followed a similar painful pattern. Secured a brilliant draw with his best innings as captain at Manchester and swept to victory at Lord's, but had little else to cheer as his back-up bowlers failed and batsmen slipped to reverse-swing. His captaincy was heavily criticised, especially when he bowled first minutes after losing McGrath at Birmingham, and he snapped from the strain at Trent Bridge to deliver an all-encompassing spray over substitute fielders. Has taken one of the most awkward positions in Australian cricket history as the man who lost the unloseable.

Michael Clarke
Batting was bright throughout but must hone his play against swing bowling to achieve sustained greatness. Almost made it to the Lord's honour board in the first Test but lost patience and fell for 91 from 106 balls, and ended the series with 335 runs. Suffered a back injury at Old Trafford that forced him into bed for most of the match, but showed his fight by batting in winces during both innings. On his debut Ashes tour, he must have thought he got on the wrong plane at times as Australia's 16-year dominance ended in a thud.

4
Simon Katich
Would have been the man dropped if Australia played five bowlers and failed to cement his spot at No. 6. Shuffled across the crease and was bamboozled by reverse-swing early in the series, but picked up 45 and 59 at Trent Bridge to boost his haul to 248. Needs to do better.

3.5
Matthew Hayden
Saved himself for a couple more Tests with his century at The Oval to end a horrible series. Loyalty won him a start in the final match and he repaid with 138, 42 runs short of his combined effort in the previous eight innings. Made starts without going on when it mattered and will be under the microscope whenever he fails during the Australian summer.

Shaun Tait
Bright debut at Trent Bridge and bowled at serious pace - at his peak he was in the mid 90mph range - during his two Tests. Took the wickets of Trescothick and Bell during his opening day as a Test player to show his brutal potential and also dished up loose deliveries that form his intriguing package. Must add fielding and batting to his list of things to improve.

3
Adam Gilchrist
Forgettable with the bat, he struggled with the round-the-wicket attack, falling four times to Andrew Flintoff, and stained his keeping with sloppy performances. Four bad misses at Old Trafford were the darkest marks, although he showed his brilliance with a fantastic one-handed take on the last day at The Oval. The series proved how much Australia have relied on his rescue acts; he has failed to make in-roads in the only two series he has lost in 73 Tests. Australia craved so much more from their vice-captain.

Damien Martyn
Australia's hero of the 18 months before the Ashes, he was suddenly limp at No. 4 and faces an examination as the selectors consider regeneration. Suffered from two bad lbw decisions when he hit the ball, but found himself in regular trouble against England's probes. Soft dismissals at Birmingham (a run out) and The Oval (a wafted pull) highlighted his attitude and he finished above only Kasprowicz, Gillespie and Tait on the averages with 178 runs at 19.77.

2.5
Michael Kasprowicz
Stock dropped dramatically as he was unable to control his line or length on a tour that never got going for him. A rash of one-day matches and lack of tour games restricted his lead-up bowling and was not considered as cover for McGrath at The Oval. Added four wickets to his tally, but will be remembered most fondly for his courageous 20, which ended in a controversial caught behind as Australia lost at Edgbaston by two runs.

1
Jason Gillespie
In three Tests turned from world-class back-up to support staff in a disastrous fall. Three wickets cost 100 each and he provided England with an easy target - they belted him for 4.47 runs an over. A popular and devoted team man, it's a shame that it will take a stunning recovery for him to add to his 69 Tests and 251 wickets.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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