Australia in South Africa 2011-12 November 22, 2011

Young Cummins stands out for Australia

Marks out of ten for Australia following the 2011-12 tour of South Africa

Australia secured a drawn series with their victory in Johannesburg, a fine way to finish a tour that had more ups and downs than the Table Mountain cable car. The individual performances were mixed and ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the 13 players Australia used during the series.

Pat Cummins
The find of the tour for Australia. At 18, he was the country's second-youngest Test debutant of all time but any questions about his readiness for Test cricket were erased over five days in Johannesburg. The best bowler in both innings, he swung the ball and used his bouncers wisely, taking 6 for 79 in the second innings and seven for the game, and hit the winning runs. Man of the Match in his first Test, his future is bright.

Shane Watson
In a two-Test series, Watson made two important contributions: a five-wicket haul in the loss in Cape Town and 88 in the first innings at the Wanderers. His influence could have been far greater had he not strained his hamstring while bowling his fourth over in Johannesburg. The Australians missed his swing and accuracy, but by combining with Phillip Hughes for a 174-run opening stand he ensured a first-innings lead for Australia. All the more impressive was that Watson batted without a runner - they have been abolished - and pushed through the pain barrier caused by his right hamstring. It was a partnership that might get overlooked after the events of the final two days, but it played an important role in the win.

Michael Clarke
The captain finished with scores of 2, 11 and 2, but the lasting memory of his South African series will be his wonderful 151 over the first two days at Newlands. Importantly, it was scored in tough conditions as the South African fast men moved the ball around in the air and off the pitch. It was Clarke's best international century. The second-innings capitulation for 47 and subsequent loss might take some of the shine off Clarke's innings, but in isolation it was a brilliant effort. Clarke rallied his troops well in Johannesburg and handled Cummins appropriately.

Usman Khawaja
He won his chance at the Wanderers due to Shaun Marsh's back injury and he ensured he will be strongly considered for the next Test by making a calm and crucial 65, his first Test half-century, in the chase. Khawaja came to the crease in the first over, after Watson's duck, and immediately halted South Africa's momentum with a pair of boundaries, a classy on-drive and a well-placed cover-drive, off Vernon Philander. His partnership with Ricky Ponting was a key turning point.

Ricky Ponting
Made only one decent contribution for the series, but it came just when the team - and he - needed it most. He walked to the crease on the fourth day in Johannesburg at 19 for 2, and Australia's target of 310 seemed out of reach. But Ponting battled hard and found some of his old touch. He missed the chance to go on and score a century but his 62 was a key factor in Australia's win. It has also increased his chances of holding his place, after his 8, 0 and 0 in the first three innings of the series put him under intense scrutiny.

Phillip Hughes
Like Ponting, Hughes had only one score of note in the four innings. The Australians would no doubt like more consistency from him, but a century in the final Test in Sri Lanka and 88 in the first innings in Johannesburg is encouraging. It was a mini-flashback to the way he handled the South African fast bowlers in early 2009. More is needed from him, though he seems to be on the right path.

Brad Haddin
He was on track for a disastrous series with the bat until the final innings of the tour, when his 55 helped steer Australia to victory on the fifth afternoon. He played some fine drives and missed some flashes outside off, but all that mattered in the end was that he pushed Australia within touching distance of victory. But his two poor strokes to get out in Cape Town were irresponsible, especially in the second innings, when he left Australia at 18 for 6.

Shaun Marsh
It is hard to judge a man on one innings of a series, but Marsh's effort on the opening day in Cape Town was impressive. In tough conditions, he was the only man to offer significant support to Clarke, his 44 confirming him as one of the most reliable batsmen in the side. Unfortunately, he hurt his back during the innings. Bravely, he batted at No.10 in Australia's second-innings disaster but was lbw to a ball that stayed low, and flew home before the second Test.

Nathan Lyon
As an offspinner in a series dominated by the fast men, Lyon's workload was not enormous. In fact, he bowled only three overs in Cape Town, where he also top scored in Australia's second innings with 14. In Johannesburg, Lyon picked up two wickets in each innings, a good effort considering the conditions again favoured the fast bowlers.

Ryan Harris
Another man who flew home before the second Test, Harris took 4 for 33 in South Africa's first innings of the series, when they were dismissed for 96. He tried hard in the second innings without success, and remains a first-choice bowler when fit. It remains to be seen if that will be for the first match against New Zealand.

Michael Hussey
Coming off a remarkable tour of Sri Lanka, where he was Man of the Match in all three Tests, Hussey crashed back down to earth in South Africa. He scored one run in Cape Town, his dismissal in the second innings one he'd like to forget, and 20 in the first innings at the Wanderers. However, his 39 in the chase in Johannesburg gave Australia hope, before Haddin, Johnson and Cummins took them home. Overall a disappointing tour, but he remains one of the first picked in Australia's side.

Peter Siddle
Picked up four wickets at 51.25 across the two Tests and while he worked hard, he was not nearly as threatening as Cummins. Siddle will be one of the men waiting to see if he retains his place for the opening Test of the home summer.

Mitchell Johnson
Must surely be out of chances, if not now then soon. Johnson scored useful runs in both innings at the Wanderers - his unbeaten 40 was a key reason Australia won the match. But he is in the side to take wickets, and a series tally of 3 for 255 was inadequate. He changed his run-up halfway through the Johannesburg Test, a sign of his uncertainty, and is the man most under pressure leading in to the New Zealand series.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hector on November 24, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    @zenboomerang...Exactly! Both are great...Wade and Paine. Wade is fit...Paine isn't. As for your scores...Yep, fair assessments and I take your point. At least you assessed the whole team. Mmmm...your'e even more brutal than me. This is not a criticism in any way....merely a comment. Certainly a 100% better assessment than the writer of the article who I bet having read the arguments on this forum would change his assessments.

  • John on November 24, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    In general, I don't have too much trouble with these marks, though Haddin didn't merit a 5.5 based on just one decent innings and a pretty shoddy performance with the gloves. However, to give Ponting a 6 when he failed dismally in three innings of the 4 and in the other got out chasing a wide ball when the side needed him to dig in and sell his wicket dearly just blows my mind. Andy Strauss against India had a highest score of 87, a lowest of 16 (that would be higher than 3 of Ponting's 4 innings combined), an average of 38 for the series and he also captained England to a 4-0 win.... and he got 6 as well! Whoever is doing these ratings needs to strive for a bit more consistency. Ponting, as the senior member of the side batting at the key position of #4, got 70 runs in 4 innings at an average of 17.5. That's at best a 4 and more realistically a 3. Why are his failures treated so much more lightly than anyone else's? Because he used to be a great player?

  • Roo on November 24, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    What an illogical story, you cannot get +5 scores for 3 out of 4 failures... Peter Roebuck would be LHAO... Batters have to get runs consistantly & bowlers wickets... Watson 5.5... Clarke 4.5... Hughes 4... Ponting 3... Marsh = 5... Khawaja 5... Hussey = 2... Haddin 2... Johnson 1... Siddle 3... Lyon 5... Harris 5.5... Cummins 8 for his match winning performance...

  • Roo on November 24, 2011, 3:14 GMT

    @Okakaboka... Wade & Paine are both Tasmanian... just as Cowan is from NSW, Cosgrove SA, etc...

  • Nirzar on November 24, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Pointing got 6? for what? is it for batting well in nets or mentoring players????joke... People have started to justify his place in team by any means.. 4 innings,total 70 runs..62 in last game..he did not finish job even in last was because of Haddin/Johnson/Cummins, aussie could cross finish line..don't know what kind of marking is this.

  • David on November 23, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    @okakaboka - yes i agree with you, it is an outrage!! i cant believe johnson was only rated the same as siddle!!! both did nothing with the ball but siddle also did nothing with the bat too whereas johnson scored 2 valuable innings. what a joke. siddle should have gotten 3/10, not 4/10. siddle had a series almost on par with the last victorian to tour south africa.... one BRYCE MCGAIN. the reason there is a "national push to have no victorians in the team" is because they are getting heavily thumped in all domestic formats. if you focused more on australian cricket as a whole and whats better for the country (nationally) as opposed to victorian cricket only, then people might take you seriously. yes james pattinson has potential, but to suggest him and peter siddle are both better than cummins... hahahaha that is a good comedy routine. also, i forgot to ask you what happened with your push to replace clarke with cameron white? you went quiet on that issue

  • Shanmuga on November 23, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    Brydon, even though some of your marks are funny, I truly appreciate your sincerity in pudblishing viewers harsh yet honest comments like that of Okakaboka! Some of your colleagues will do well to follow your example! By the way, how on earth a specialist batsman averaging 17.5 over 4 innings can get 6 out of 10 is beyond my comprehension! Then, Cummins should have got 20 out of 10 for his out of the world performance!

  • Dru on November 23, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    Not going to debate the marks and two tests makes it ever harder but Haddin and Siddle showed little to suggest they should play against NZ. I am a Johnson fan but even I am getting tired of waiting for this guy to swing or seam something useful. Ponting looked good just once but he looked really good that once and back to his oldself and based on his record, has done enough to play the summer. Cummins is a the runaway star but I thought Kawaja showed some real class and plenty for the future there. Still have doubts over Hughes but cant ignore his vital 88 on back of his hundred in SL.

  • Randolph on November 23, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    @Okakaboka - I am anti-Siddle but I am not anti-Victorian. In fact I have been a Pattinson fan for a long time. I also believe Wade should be in the side over Paine at the moment. That said, Siddle is rubbish and has to go, I am sick of seeing him carted around the ground for no wickets.

  • Randolph on November 23, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    @tfjones1978, mate you have got it spot on, I couldn't agree more. What was Brydon thinking when he created this list? Had he had one too many Castles? Apart from Hussey those last 4 can get the chop as far as I am concerned.

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