The Ashes 2009

Clarke and Hilfenhaus sparkled

Peter English

August 24, 2009

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Michael Clarke reaches fifty, England v Australia, 4th Test, Headingley, 2ndday, August 8, 2009
Michael Clarke: comfortably Australia's best player © Getty Images
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8.5

Michael Clarke
Australia's best player, even with two slips at The Oval, collected 448 runs at 64.00. He showed he could perform in any situation, delaying England at Lord's and saving the game at Edgbaston with centuries, and picking up 93 in tough conditions in Leeds. Still doesn't know what it's like to win the Ashes over here, but will probably be leading the team when it returns in 2013.

8

Ben Hilfenhaus
The most challenging bowler of the series, consistently swinging and upsetting the batsmen, and the most successful with 22 victims. Was tipped for success on this trip a couple of years ago and exceeded the expectations, having started the tour as the fifth choice. His next test is to prove he can work on surfaces not offering seaming benefits.

7.5

Marcus North
A great find, he gave steel to the middle order in three Tests, but missed out in the other two. So far in his seven games he either fails or goes big. Centuries in Cardiff and Leeds showed maturity and class while his offspin was also useful at times. Could develop into a leader of the team.

6.5

Peter Siddle
A slight disappointment and not as good as he was in South Africa. Started with speed and inconsistency and finished with a better line and more success. Ran through 20 wickets at 30.80, but wasn't the promised dominator, although his 5 for 21 at Headingley set up Australia's innings win.

6

Ricky Ponting
A below-average series for Ponting, but a pretty good one by anyone else's standards, with 385 at 48.12. Opened with a beautiful 150 but then failed to cash in his starts. His half-centuries in Leeds and The Oval were the most fluent of the matches, but he was powerless to stop his revenge mission, and leaves with an unwanted record of losing two Ashes series in England in a row.

Nathan Hauritz
A big success of the tour - even though he played only three games. Was expected to be outclassed, but hung in and returned 10 wickets at 32.10, more than anybody's wildest dreams. Showed control, brains and courage, particularly after dislocating his finger on the opening day at Lord's. Left out in Leeds in a correct move, but was a costly omission at The Oval.

5.5

Shane Watson
A surprise success story as opener, with three consecutive half-centuries and two more starts after coming in for Phillip Hughes at Edgbaston. Not a natural at the top of the order, he will be better suited when a position arrives in the team's middle. If he can fix his lbw problems with balls coming back at him, he will become a long-term player whether he bowls or not.

Brad Haddin
Brilliant batting early in the series, registering a hundred and a half-century in the first two Tests, before it tailed off after his broken finger on the morning of the game in Birmingham. Showed courage to come back in Leeds, but there is little good to say about his keeping. Gave up 76 byes in the series (Matt Prior allowed 44 in the same number of innings) and was far inferior glovewise to his understudy Graham Manou.

5

Simon Katich
Opened the series with a fine hundred in Cardiff, but didn't match that again, with his second-best score coming with 50 in the final innings at The Oval. Wasn't able to prevent a second defeat in England but leaves this contest in much better shape than in 2005. Was also a strong presence in the field, particularly in south London.

4.5

Michael Hussey
A brilliant final innings at The Oval could not save the game for Australia, but eased the pressure on his struggling career. Before the final day there were only two half-centuries and a lot of confused early dismissals. More action in the Sheffield Shield should help him rediscover his extreme focus and the position of his off stump.

Mitchell Johnson
A shadow of the man who dominated South Africa as he couldn't deal with the expectation of being the attack leader in such an important series. Began to improve at Edgbaston, following his horror at Lord's and some off-field problems, and finished the fourth Test with a five-for. There were glimpses of spark at The Oval along with more short and wide offerings. Through it all he still managed to finish with 20 wickets.

4

Stuart Clark
Called for the final two matches and peaked in his opening spell with three wickets before lunch at Headingley. Life was harder after that, but his accuracy remains even if his speed has dropped following elbow surgery. May still have a role back home, but will no longer be an automatic pick in the attack's top three.

3

Graham Manou
Received an unpredictable debut thanks to Haddin's last-minute broken finger and put in an old-school wicketkeeping performance that was almost flawless. Captured three tidy catches but is unlikely to see any more action unless Haddin is hurt again. It's a shame.

2.5

Phillip Hughes
Started the series as Australia's gun young batsman but his participation stopped after two Tests of being roughed up by Andrew Flintoff. In three innings he scrapped 57 runs but was too loose to be depended on and was replaced by Watson. Will come back once he's polished his agricultural method.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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