Australia's marks out of 10

Katich and Co deliver for Australia

Peter English

April 1, 2010

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Australia swept past New Zealand in two games to maintain their unbeaten Test summer. Marcus North confirmed his spot while Ryan Harris and Phillip Hughes delivered promising performances for the future. However, the result was set up by a core group of Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger.

Simon Katich shows his power during his century, New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 3rd day, March 29, 2010
Simon Katich was on top of New Zealand - and Australia's run-list - during the two Tests © Getty Images

Simon Katich
Consistent and committed, he led the run list with 291 and was a key reason for Australia's strong finish in Hamilton. His 88 carried them in the first innings and his 106 ensured they regained all the power in the second. Still can't crack that massive score, but is an essential in any conditions.

Mitchell Johnson
Started slowly but finished on a high with 10 wickets for the match in Hamilton. The pitch was flat and lifeless, especially when New Zealand bowled, but Johnson made the batsmen jump and hop and wince while operating around 150kph. He started with 4 for 59 and wrapped up the game before lunch on the final day with 6 for 73. Deserves his rest before the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean later in the month.

Doug Bollinger
Captured his second five-wicket haul of the summer in the first innings at Wellington and gained breakthroughs in every subsequent innings. His movement, angle and bounce were always a threat and he narrowly out-performed Johnson with 12 victims at 23. Has become a popular and important member of the side and proved two left-armers can succeed in the same Australian team.

Michael Clarke
Proved he could cope with anything after the public break-up of his engagement. Returned for the first Test to post a personal best of 168, winning widespread admiration for his mental and physical deeds. Added 28, 63 and the wicket of Mathew Sinclair to provide more value in the second Test. The captaincy succession plan remains in place.

Marcus North
Saved his career with his century in Wellington and backed up with a much more fluent 90 in Hamilton in a pressure-relieving return. The selectors want the No.6 involved in the Ashes and he has the winter to work on some technical flaws that led to his extended slump before the series. Remains a boom or bust player, but is currently paying off.

Ryan Harris
The surprise performer of the summer who found his feet at Test level after jumping the queue through a series of stand-out one-day performances. A skiddy bowler who can be very fast, he gained six wickets on debut in Wellington and followed up with another three in the second game. Did not look out of place despite a limited season that began with knee surgery, and will look to cement an Ashes spot.

Michael Hussey
Was workmanlike without being fully comfortable. A 67 in the second innings in Hamilton was the high mark of his collection of 93 runs, but there was a potentially worrying pattern in his dismissals. All three exits were the results of edges behind.

Brad Haddin
Finished the series with a 40-ball 48 but had limited opportunities with the bat due to Australia's firing top order. Collected six catches in the second Test, but was untidy at times behind the stumps after a long campaign.

Phillip Hughes
Showed his explosiveness in the second innings at Wellington after exposing his vulnerability in the first. With 86 not out from 75 balls he produced an awesome performance to finish the 10-wicket victory, but won't be a true star until he can deliver consistent displays on the opening day. Must now wait for Katich or Watson to be injured, or Watson to be moved down the order.

Shane Watson
Got too excited in the second Test after missing the first game with a hip strain suffered in the one-day series. After such a stunning summer he thinks he can do anything - often he can - and departed both times to pull shots to Tim Southee. With time will find the balance between domination and recklessness.

Ricky Ponting
Still capable of brilliance, but is unquestionably a wonderful batsman on the wane. His judgement - and leg speed - has diminished and opposition attacks can now target him with the short ball and airy hits to the legside from straighter deliveries. Two run-outs gave him 13 dismissals of that type, which is the most in Test history, and restricted his scores to 41, 22 and 6.

Nathan Hauritz
Won respect for his three wickets in Wellington in 49 second-innings overs, about half of which were delivered into a gale-force wind. Didn't seem as comfortable as he had been at home, which was highlighted by 16 no-balls, and had only four victims. Contributed with 41 not out in the declaration at Hamilton.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 7, 2010, 13:55 GMT)

@longrun - well, interesting , if u didnt understand a single word, cant take ur views on my comments seriously. well, u can have ur own views on the 3. To me, Ponting is always second to Sachin n Lara. n oh yeah, even a month back , i heard of Shane Bond wanting to be a part of the under arm game and during last year chappel - Hadlee , a placard was placed saying under arm has not been forgotten yet !!

Posted by longrun on (April 7, 2010, 7:10 GMT)

batmannrobin, please consult a thesaurus because i didn't understand a word you typed. rofl ;-). and wasn't this an article about australia's performance on the recent tour of new zealand? i don't hear any kiwi's still banging on about the under arm ball - leave the past in the past and move on. punter is an all time great as a batsman and fielder - sachin and lara couldn't handle the captaincy and their ego's so let go of the captaincy to hold onto their ego (wish they could hold catches like they do their ego). punter has overseen the biggest exodus of all time greats, probably ever, and still we're around the number 1 mark - the man is a modern day marvel i'd rather pay to see lara than sachin any day of the week - but that's in the past, bring on the footy

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 6, 2010, 18:43 GMT)

As i said he had the 90s team entirely on his shoulders.Do u even want to mention names of Punter's teamates. It wud be the who s who of the all conquering Aussie juggernaut .90s India was a one man show. Punter never had to go thru all this pressure.Despite all this , the hype , the hoopla n the ever present criticism , he is such a wonderful role model. Y do u think he receives such standing ovation wherever he goes - Sydney, hamilton, Johannesburg, colombo , London - even in Karachi - In the words of Mark Nicholas - " Not just a pretty special cricketer, but a pretty special person as well". Cricket surely wud not be as popular in India as it is if not for him. To me , First there is Sachin, then there is Lara n there is the rest then.

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 6, 2010, 18:33 GMT)

@join- Interesting u said u r sick of dis nonsense n then joined the debate.n to me Sachin s d best in both forms of the game.Punter lost 2 ashes series in a row n he was a captain n got roasted n he was d captain in both. n Ashes s the iconic series for Aus. They lost last year to India n SA n noby raised more than a whim. Ashes is iconic - like india losing to Pak. Just imagine Sachin's plight- Till 2000, he single handedly kept a entire kargely one sport cricket crazy nation glued to the game in a team which had likes of WV raman, devang gandhi,Vikram rathore,hrishikish kanitkar -to name a few-even VVS,Rahul,Sauvav all exploded only after the famous 01Aus series, when he scores runs, when he fails, when he scores a century,when he gets injured- ppl just cant keep sachin away.In the 07 world cup, when the team failed n he was not even captain n when everyone else - Saurav, Rahul, Sehwag, Dhoni all failed - even OZ players like IC asked only 'SACHIN' to retire entirely blaming him

Posted by join on (April 5, 2010, 12:30 GMT)

@batman Robin: U do really love a battle between sachin and ponting , dont u? Well, I for one , am sick of this nonsense here goes In tests Ponting > Tendulkar (he started 5 yrs later than tendulkar so dont go on stats) ODis Tendulkar >>Ponting. As a captain Ponting >>> Tendulkar (even though he had a better team). Peace. And mate , if tendulkar plays under pressure ,so does ponting ...after all , if u r captaining the aussie side, u never play easily....remember how much of a roasting he got for losing the ashes in 05? And if a guy takes so much roasting after losing 1 series , surely the pressure on him can be no less than tat on Tendulkar. See, in Aus , its not about if Ponting scores a 200* , its about if aus win . while in India , if someone scores a 100 , we give him heaps of credit and criticize others. whats the point of scoring a 100 if u lose the game?

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 4, 2010, 12:14 GMT)

well.all of us here r supporting our heroes n the talk sud have stopped with pros and cons of either Sachin r Ponting in this case. n ppl here have been posting stats to show sachin's record in SA.Does it mean it is a personal attack on Sachin.The moment u start talking abt batmannrobin as was did on the post @ April 03 2010, 09:16 AM GMT- tats when it s a personal attack.

Posted by Aus_TJ on (April 4, 2010, 9:09 GMT)

Ur criticising the Australian captain for his indiscretions and batting ability in a forum regarding the Australian cricket teams summer, boasting about Sachin, like we should all hate Ponting, and idolise Sachin. So who is giving the personal attack? I'm just trying to defend Ponting, because he is not here to do so.... Ponting is a better fielder, captain and player... He does what it takes to lead his team and country to victory... His first bat contract when he was 13 from kookaburra was for $10,000, and he gave it to his junior club to build new nets... He's in charge of the Ponting Foundation, fighting Childhood Cancer, and he has never 'chased' records, and is always subject to more scrutiny from the Australian media, particularly ex-captains than anyone else, because of Australias dominance...

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 4, 2010, 6:54 GMT)

Ragav999.ah-wat a match 2 talk 4 umperrors - syd08 !! 13.1 Ganguly to Ponting, no run, down leg and huge appeals for a strangle, long way away from the pad, Ponting appears to have got the edge but the umpire is unmoved.The whole world knows Punter sud not ve been der in d first place to face Bhajji.n bangdecision-" "Successful over for India. I've seen replays now and they show the ball hit the pad just inside the line". so even if the review system had been on-Punter wud ve gone.n so can we talk abt the no of decisions that Sachin has received. I can talk of 3 in the 99 series in oz alonehead b4 wicket,ball missing bat in a'de,ballturing away in MCG).My response 2 users filtering stats to show sachin's record in SA was using punter stats in SL to show how stats can be used 2 show anything.n as in my earlier post even legends admit the pressure that sachin no arguments. PS- once someone makes personal remarks u dont feel like replyin 2 such ppl.Got 2 b taught @ schools !!

Posted by Ragav999 on (April 4, 2010, 2:56 GMT)

batman : I remember atleast 2 decisions in tests that bhajji was fortunate to get in his favour against Ponting. Check the lbw against Ponting in Sydney in 2008 and Bangalore in Oct 2008. Ponting inside edged one and the other ball was missing the stumps clearly. If you think just because Chandana got Ponting once or twice makes Ponting a poor player of spin, think of how many times Tendulkar got out to debutants and made him their first wicket. Tendulkar got out twice to Cameron White in test series in India then,I guess you love to forget these sort of stats. Even Hansie Cronje held the record of dismissing Tendulkar most no.of times in tests for some time. What do you have to say about that? About the expectations of Ind fans I believe once Tendulkar or any other Indian gets on to the pitch, they concentrate only on the game situation & the bowler and not think about all the fans out there.

Posted by Aus_TJ on (April 4, 2010, 1:52 GMT)

You concede to lose than batmanandrobin... I quote the Sydney test in 2008: "29.5 Harbhajan Singh gets Ponting again, he bowls the straighter one on off and middle stump, Ponting goes back and tries to work it on the leg side, he gets a massive inside edge on to the pad in front of middle stump but umpire Benson raises the finger this time. Terrible decision. 119/3"

PS: Pontings bowling avg and economy rates in Tests and ODI's is also lower!

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 3, 2010, 20:25 GMT)

@Ragav999 -D fact is his avg dis decade against SL is only 40.May b u want me 2 include d chandanas etc who got him out as well n " To understand how gr8 sachin s one has 2 watch sachin play in India"- Des were d words warne used in his top 100 list. " When that man goes 2 bat a nation comes 2 a standstill - completely chaos-a frenetic appeal bya nation of 1 billion to 1 man.He s GOD" - Haydos."Now i know wat it means to b Sachin in India" - Gilly during his farewell tour in 07. Ok. So all these legendary names acknowledge the pressure that sachin goes under everytime. The fact is der has probably been no player who s under as much as pressure as Sachin. n we can watch videos of d 15odd times that Bhajji has dismissed Punter n even if 1 s a bad ump decision, i concede i lose. D fact s der s none.n if not 4 many umpiring debacles like d hand b4 wicket et all, Sachin wud ve 100 intl 100s by now!@Aus_TJ - Get a life.No point in talking 2 one who uses personal remarks in a public forum !!

Posted by Ragav999 on (April 3, 2010, 17:20 GMT)

batman, you seems to be really delusional...Herath has got Ponting out only once in this decade & Murali just twice in the entire decade. I don't reckon this proves anything about his ability to play spin. Don't talk about Tendulkar playing under "pressure" .Every batsman / bowler faces the same scenario once out in the middle. One has to forget the outside distractions such as media & millions of supporters and I am sure most players do. Only the Indian fans sensationalise the fans & fan pressure felt by all Indian batsmen to make their achievements greater than they actually are.look at Bhajji's avg in Australia or for that matter anywhere outside India if you think of him as a good bowler. He got lucky to get Ponting with umpiring help in few tests in last 2 years. He is the luckiest bowler (due to umpiring) against all teams in home test matches. If Kumble was so lucky he would have beaten Murali's wicket tally too.:) Let us not forget Sachin's poor series in SL last year.

Posted by __PK on (April 3, 2010, 11:18 GMT)

Lots of jealous Tendulkar supporters out there who can't stand the fact that Ponting has managed to become the most successful captain in Test history, as well as being a brilliant batsman, compared with Tendulkar's complete failure at the helm.

Posted by Aus_TJ on (April 3, 2010, 9:16 GMT)

I agree with Sakib241... The future is looking grim for the team without the Little Master... Once Dravid (Gun) and Laxman (Gun) go... The team will struggle, as much as Sachin did as captain...

PS: @ batmannrobin.. You really have a man-crush huh?

Posted by   on (April 3, 2010, 9:08 GMT)

Robin im not comparing tendulkar to ponting some dude here brought it up about tendulkars average diffrence in aus and sa and i was answering to that.Btw ponting is one of the few if not the only modern non south african batsman to have an average over 50 in sa so he does play the pace and bounce better than tendulkar imo.Tendulkar is a far better player against spin

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 3, 2010, 7:55 GMT)

@ shaheeb -Sachin avg @ Perth - 50.4 , avg @ Melbourne - 47.2. He has scored centuries in every Aussie venue except Brisbane where he has played only one test n on the bouncy pitches of Johannesburg ( 111 out of a team total of 216) , 169 @ Capetown out of a team total of 340 against Donald, pollock n co n 155 @ Bloemfontein against Pollock , Ntini n co n the bowlers who bowled to him on these pitches - Mcgrath, Donald, Mcdermott, Hughes - to name a few all rate him the best they have ever bowled to while Mcgrath rates him best along with Lara.I dont no what hue n cry it s abt his avg in SA. He still avgs 40 which is not special ,still decent. What of Punter's avg in India - a chris martinesque 20 n everytime Bhajji bowls to him not just in India even in Aus he has come a cropper. n As i said if u r goin to filter stats, y not filter Punters stats in SL as well. It was one good series in 99 which goofed it up. This decade he has been a cropper against Murali n Herath

Posted by   on (April 3, 2010, 4:56 GMT)

The reason behind Tendulkars average diffrence in Aus and SA is becourse there are wickets in australia that behaves a lot like asian wickets.Baring one 100 in perth,most of tendulkars runs have come in sydney and adelaid wich are slow and low and Perth it self is a shadow of its former self in the last 2 decades or so.But in SA almost all the test wickets are fast and bouncy

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 2, 2010, 21:01 GMT)

@AusTJ- Bingo!!.I know n i ve won many. So not really interested in medals any longer! n i just posted stats back 2 show how one can use his own if n where clauses 2 prove his point. just a 'reply' back to ur filtering of stats. n when u grow up as a school boy u hear stories of sportsmen whom u look up to as role models having a serious drinking problem and being thrown out of a bar while on tour in another country - things ur mom told r tooo bad -cant admire such guys even if he is Einstein @ work n that was not last of his misdemeanors and when u hear his teammate a MR S Waugh' n the wonderful things he does @ a Leprosy home added to his incredible sporting skills,ur admiration for this guy n not so for the other grows manifold.n Don is the greatest of all time n universally acknowledged -Any kid wud say a guy who can average 99.94 has to b d greatest n when d second best is some 60 odd.Y to bring nationality at all into this context? n GOD Knows how bhajji came into picture here

Posted by Sakib241 on (April 2, 2010, 16:49 GMT)

Wow! The Aussies are winning matches without their best batsman performing. It's a good sign for the future. Wonder how India would do without the master Tendulkar.

Posted by Aus_TJ on (April 2, 2010, 16:23 GMT)

@ Ponting hater batmannrobin... How much do you Punter mate? Every article you dig into him...Maybe dont read them? Fair enough your stats prove that you're good at research.. Congrats.. U deserve a medal...I wasnt putting down your beloved Sachin, I was trying to prove that Ponting should be judged at what he has done batting at number 3..Ponting didnt officially play fulltime at number 3 until mid 2001, a few months after the the Don (Who is the greatest ever) died in Feb 01, and what he did at the spot is the reason he won player of the decade by a panel more experienced than yourself.. The Don probably never saw him bat, unlike Sachin, who undoubtedly would've won player of the decade in te 1990's, during which the Don was still alive... So dont use an Aussie hero like the Don as leverage mate.. .. Also, Bishan Bedi (Indian legend spinner) thinks Harbhajans action is illegal

Posted by shahidmahmood on (April 2, 2010, 7:00 GMT)

What is it with sachin being in every article? Sachin never played fo Australia so he simply is irrevelvent.

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 2, 2010, 6:13 GMT)

If stats can be filtered,they can be used to prove anything. Like some users mentioning Sachin's average while fielding first and against Mcgrath, Ponting averages 20 in India and 27 against Ambrose,Walsh and recent nemesis Roach and averages 38 in live matches against Pak when the series was alive and 171 in dead rubbers against stats can be filtered to prove watever we need to. n Ponting won world cups,one almost by himself -I dont which is being mentioned here -waugh n Warne in 99, Bichel,symonds and Bevan in 03 ( Except the finals Punter had hardly a substantial score in the entire tournament) and Haydos n Gilly in 07 would be very very sad to hear this.Sachin was the leading scorer in 96 and 03 n was man of the series in 03. D greatest batsman ever 'The Don' and the best leggie ever 'Warney' rated the best batsman they had ever seen and the argument ends there. n no sportsman let alone cricketers performs under the pressure that Sachin has to face in India

Posted by Ragav999 on (April 2, 2010, 5:18 GMT)

@cric_yogi: Check Ponting's stats against SL in SL. His average in tests in SL is above 54. I guess that definitely will shut those who say he can't play spin. His test record in Asia is 41. You will be surprised that a great Indian batsman averages only 39 in SA. No prizes for is Sachin Tendulkar. If Aus & SA conditions are similar, why does Tendulkar have a such a different record there?

Posted by Aus_TJ on (April 2, 2010, 4:03 GMT)

Everyone always compares players, and says Ponting would have struggled against Warne and Mcgrath, yet he was scoring hundreds against them both in first class cricket at 18 years old, and has scored hundreds against Ambrose, Walsh, Murali, Akram, Donald ... Sachin does play well against Australia, but he averages 64 overall batting first, yet only 47 when they've fielded first.. Ponting averages 64 when they lose the toss, and 48 when they have won it.. It's easya lot easier to score on a first day pitch ...Ponting does struggle against spin, but only when he comes in down the order. He admits to struggling batting at 5 and 6.. He's won world cups, one almost by himself, and he averages nearly 60 at number 3..

Posted by pranesh_csk_india on (April 2, 2010, 3:12 GMT)

come on now....3 years ago, the same things were being said of sachin....look at where he is now...Ponting will come good again, its just a slump..

Posted by cric_yogi on (April 2, 2010, 0:42 GMT)

@ Ross Vaughan .. Please check the stats of Ponting , how many runs he has made in his home conditions (also in SA which is quite similar to Aus) .. Just try to get a feel how many runs he has scored in Asian pitches ...He is a pathetic player of spin bowling..Even in NZ , when medium pacers of low quality were bowling he was batting well ...the moment Vettori came , he was clearly struggling and this thing has happened in his entire career... well to catch in century mark , he will score more as again he has boost of 5 Ashes test in Australia .....

Posted by firey1 on (April 1, 2010, 23:17 GMT)

Can you now rate the Kiwis? :)

Posted by Markus71 on (April 1, 2010, 22:35 GMT)

U certainly marked the Captain hard! Regd'ng his batting, he'll come into good form again. Maybe Clarke is the man at 3! But that wouldn't be until after the Ashes.That change up would include the dropping of either Hussey,North or Katich,( look at their ages & S/R's.Remember we may be going into a new era,with a Test Chmshp promoting an emphasis on Wins.) Saying that Hughes should be in, Smith looks like a Unique cricketer a no.6 a Spinning All-Rounder!! Watson to stay fit, Johnson to learn the in-swinger & a few other youngsters to join before Ponting takes Leave. Australia may be heading back to no.1, if not at the Ashes,very soon after

Posted by Winsome on (April 1, 2010, 19:21 GMT)

Well, I'm an Aus fan and I think Punter is slipping. He has come down from very high standards though. I'm not sure that we have a died in the wool replacement either as I would rather someone took Hussey or North's spot before the Ashes come around. I don't see how we can afford both of them anymore.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 18:34 GMT)

we should deduct -2 or 3 for each score this is NZ after all and if we are honest they are pathetic............Ryan Harris 7 fair go if there were any decent test sides around he would get towelled

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 16:02 GMT)

@ Bishi... plz check some stats before posting.. sachin has struggled against pakistan and SA .. two of three best bowling attacks of his time.. ponting has a more even record (ya i agree his record in india is not tht gr8), and believe u me he is far from finished. He may not get his 100s record, but his run record is definitely within his grasp. and mind u, i personally believe he has an outside shot at his ODI run record too.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 14:17 GMT)

@Bishbapitama tendulkar averages around 37 against mcgrath so he hasnt done that great either.Any way i think ponting should go down in the order.Hes been a fantastic batsman for years and as a neutral 1 of my favourite over seas players.Oh and minus zero knows no cricket

Posted by Strayan_in_USA on (April 1, 2010, 13:53 GMT)

The thing that pleases me the most about Shane Watson is that he was injured for ONE test and not gone for six to nine months. That deserves a couple of extra points in itself. Watson is way too valuable of a cricketer to lose for extended periods of time. He can be a game changer with bat, ball and in the field. You cannot underestimate the importance of that to a test side. The thing that I think a lot of people are overlooking is the fact that Australia has quietly rebuilt itself into a good team again. They may not be dominant like they were but they will be good enough to win against anyone, anywhere again. In my mind all they are lacking is a spinner who can take apart a team on day five on a deteriorating pitch. Hauritz has overachieved, but is probably not quite the bowler the Aussies need to return to the level they are used to. With a little patience and development I ma hoping that Steve Smith can be that guy.

Posted by aj_kramer on (April 1, 2010, 12:21 GMT)

Agree with capnles about Ponting dropping down to 5 in the batting order. Greg Chappell & Border both did it for the last few years of their careers & Pontings stats for last 12-18 months are below his career average. Now is the time to get Clarke at 3, or if he wants to bat at 4, M. Hussey (ex-opener) or North (bats at 3 for WA).

Posted by Itchy on (April 1, 2010, 11:46 GMT)

Minus Zero = goose. While I have never been a Watson fan, he has been very consistent over the last 12 months. Compare his career stats against Flintoff and he still rates better, so I guess he can't be too bad.

Harindu Wijesinghe = enormous goose. The best Aussies are not playing in the IPL - only the older tired ones who can't make it in the longer form of the game anymore (or at all). It will be interesting to see if the likes of Hayden, Warne, Gilchrist and Symonds will be around next IPL season as they have little exposure to any other cricket and may not be desirable players for the franchises.

Posted by bishbapitama on (April 1, 2010, 11:25 GMT)

Yes, Ponting has been going thru a bad patch for some time. He did score a 200 against Pakistan but he was dropped when on 0. Am sure he will find it hard to catch Sachin's tally of 100's in tests. Also, people talk the nest batsmen needs to play against the best bowling. During the days of Warne / not sure how he would have performed against these two legends....If we remember he has nt played as well in India agaisnt the spinners but also struglled a tad in Austrlia against India in the test series. Sachin has scored runs agaisnt AU / Pak / Eng / SA....both home and away....which makes it commendable to laud him better then Ricky. Pleae have your say and I shall try replying back.....Bishi

Posted by Itchy on (April 1, 2010, 11:09 GMT)

Don't think Ricky is losing it yet but has not looked at his best while batting. His captaincy, which has been questioned before, has been exemplary - early declarations against both NZ and Pak earlier in the summer put opponents on the back foot and they never recovered.

Posted by capnles on (April 1, 2010, 10:46 GMT)

I agree with the article regarding Ponting's batting, but also acknowledge some of the other comments - his captaincy has certainly improved as time has gone on, but the time might be right for him to drop down the order (maybe to 5).

I'm not convinced by the long-term selection claims of either Hussey or North. A decent series against the might of New Zealand doesn't save North in my opinion, but Hussey is most at risk - Steve Smith looks to have the inside running as 1st choice reserve, but I'd love to see George Bailey given a run.

Hauritz is no Shane Warne, but he is such a tenacious bugger - I love his determination (who can forget his bowling in the Ashes, shortly after dislocating a spinning finger). The great Australian sides of the early 90's were built on these substance-over-style types, with Border, Boon, Hughes, Steve Waugh - all fierce competitors, all up for an almighty scrap - this is the spirit Hauritz carries. He'll cause the poms problems next summer

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 8:56 GMT)

I think it's crazy to claim that Ponting is slipping. Two tests ago he made 209 and 89, with only three digs since then. He may be lacking some personality, but he's still one of the most technically gifted batsmen in the world.

Posted by lodger67 on (April 1, 2010, 8:06 GMT)

at Minuszero, Watson scored 77 runs from 2 digs and you reckon his 4.5 is too high? In regards to your overall comments, have you been following his form lately? His last 6 Tests = 686 runs at 62.36 AND 11 wickets at 27.54. I'd take that for the national team, any day of the week. Sure, he had a slow start a few years ago, but the fact that his career averages are now almost 40 with the bat and 34 with the ball, after such a mediocre start, means he is now well and truly cemented in the side. I wonder which other all-rounder in Australia could challenge those kinds of stats at present? I don't see any genuine names being put forward ...

Posted by cook on (April 1, 2010, 8:00 GMT)

If I was an Aussie selector, Hauritz would be gone. I have never been convinced with him. The over where he got hit for 6 after 6 is a perfect example of how he bowls. He bowled wide of off stump ball after ball, and he got dealt with. Give Steve Smith a go. He is young and a very good batsmen to, which gives Australia the option of playing an extra bowler if neccessary.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 7:34 GMT)

Completely agree with popcorn - Ricky gets extra points for masterful captaincy. It has been well reported that he spent an inordinate amount of time talking individually with Clarke & North prior to the First Test. His magnificent leadership in identifying these two as particularly pressured mentally and working closely with them to sharpen their focus, helped produce match-winning performances and a strong series from both. Perhaps the time spent in the nets with North, addressing Marcus' technical issues was to the detriment of Ricky's own batting preparation - but I'm certain you'd never hear that from this captain. Perhaps a captain needs one score for his captaincy and a second for his primary trade (batting or bowling) in this type of review. If it has to be one score for his contribution to the series, then Ricky's value over this Test series is so much more that a "4".

Posted by BigHeartUTS on (April 1, 2010, 7:12 GMT)

Regards MinusZero- obviously not a cricket fan.... if you where you would have realised that watson has been australia's best batsman over the summer, asked to open something he has rarley done before and has excelled.. before you comment next time make sure you know what you are talking about.. waiting your response.

Posted by Rev0408 on (April 1, 2010, 7:00 GMT)

MinusZero - if you're going to quote stats, at least do so with a bit of thought. Watson's career batting average is under 40, but for the 09 and 09/10 season it is 54. He has also taken 13 wickets @ 29 this season (bowled only 8 overs in 09 season). They didn't award him the Allan Border Medal as a joke. Obviously you are yet another person with a chip on their shoulder who isn't afraid to let their opinion get in the way of the truth. Who would drop someone averaging over 50 with the bat?

Posted by firey1 on (April 1, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

"Yeah, Ricky Ponting is losing it."

Wishful thinking on your part, Just tired, It's been a very long summer and a very long year prior to that. Australia are playing to much cricket these days.

Oh! And IPL sucks bad.

Posted by popcorn on (April 1, 2010, 4:15 GMT)

How come you do not give marks for Ricky Ponting's brilliant captaincy? His declaration timing in the first Test was shrewd. His field settings and bowling changes were the work of a Master. Anyone saying he preferes watching IPL - Sloggers Park and dancing girls - to Test Cricket should have his head examined.

Posted by MinusZero on (April 1, 2010, 4:01 GMT)

I wouldnt have scored Watson so high. He failed with the ball as well and went for more than 4 an over. He has to decide to be one or the other, he is not world class in either discipline. A batting average under 40 and a bowling average over 30, this is the best we can manage for the national team??? He should stick to ODI's and the selectors should get some guts to make the tough decisions and stop Pontings boys club. The best players are left out of the team because they aren't Pontings pal

Posted by Dattaprasanna on (April 1, 2010, 3:24 GMT)

Well Ponting was run out twice. I won't read too much into this series. However, Ashes will be the next test. Again even the legends are allowed to have a bad patch. Tendulkar came back from one. If Ponting howerever looses it in Ashes he may get a few calls for retirement. World is harsh.

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (April 1, 2010, 3:12 GMT)

Punter's average is slipping a bit. And of course, the likes of North and Katich are doing really well. The fast bowling has been pretty good so far. All the bowlers have looked fairly impressive.

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 2:19 GMT)

Excpet for Mitchel Johnson the rest are not entertatiners. I'd rather watch the IPL to see the best Aussies . Such as Warne, Gilchrist, Symonds , Hayden , Tait , Nannes ,Lee

Posted by   on (April 1, 2010, 2:16 GMT)

Yeah, Ricky Ponting is losing it.

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