Australia in South Africa 2013-14 March 6, 2014

Warner and Johnson a class apart

ESPNcricinfo marks the Australian players out of 10 following their impressive series win in South Africa


David Warner

Out cheaply in his first innings of the series, Warner carried all before him thereafter, passing 50 in five subsequent knocks and producing the performance of his career at Newlands. Glittering centuries in each innings were the major reason Australia had - just - enough time to close out victory, underlining Warner's destructive capacity as a key plank of the team's recent success. A personal victory over Morne Morkel was particularly influential, while his hyperactive, abrasive way with words epitomised the rascal spirit of his team.


Mitchell Johnson

If his Ashes act was impossible to follow, Johnson did not fall far short. In fact his display at Centurion was the peak of his summer if not career, setting a new mark for terrorising batsmen even though they knew fully well what to expect after his treatment of England. Johnson struggled for similar effect on a dull wicket in Port Elizabeth but regathered himself strongly for the third at Newlands, and coped with a staggering workload on the final day while retaining high pace.


Steve Smith

Growing with every innings, Smith is now being widely spoken of as a leader-in-waiting as well as one of the game's most sparkling young talents. As against England, he made first-innings runs a habit, notching substantial scores in each, most critically at Centurion in a big partnership with Shaun Marsh. The variety of his innings was also notable, from the aforementioned hundred to bolder efforts at Newlands when rapid scoring was needed. His leg breaks do not always land where he wants them to, but the one that dismissed Faf du Plessis on the final day of the series was his most important of all.


Ryan Harris

Indifferent over the first two Tests, heroic in the last. Harris could easily have been ruled out of this tour entirely in order to have knee surgery, but pushed on and overcame self-doubt as much as physical impediments at Newlands. Harris' 100th Test wicket made him the first fast bowler to manage the feat having debuted past the age of 30, and a case can now be made that pound-for-pound, he would be a match for any pace bowler Australia has ever produced.

Michael Clarke

Clarke began the series in charge of a powerful and confident team but out of form with the bat and faced by an opponent without peer in the world. He ended it having played what may become known as his defining innings, led his team with typical invention and toppled a team unbeaten since 2009. His slim scores in the first two Tests were troubling, but now only serve to enhance the memory of Cape Town, a stubborn refusal to yield to Morkel and the century that subsequently grew into 161 not out. He is close to achieving his goal of taking the Test team to No. 1.


Chris Rogers

Having acknowledged South Africa would be his most difficult assignment of all, Rogers stood up to the challenge, contributing more to Australia's success than his series tally indicated. Two century stands with Warner and another beyond 50 gave the tourists a solid foundation, while his hundred in Port Elizabeth served as a lesson to all about dealing with reverse swing and a ravenous home attack. He will be wanted for the 2015 Ashes if he can maintain the knack for run-making.

Nathan Lyon

In three out of four innings, Lyon is the best conventional finger spinner in the world. His flexible role within the Australian attack has allowed Clarke to both attack and defend with him, while numerous partnerships were broken by his spin over the first two Tests. However his struggles in the final innings, most pointedly at Newlands, will remain a major issue until he can find a way to work over batsmen intent on defence. H will have a major role to play during Australia's next Test assignment, against Pakistan in Dubai.


Alex Doolan

There is no doubt Doolan has the poise and technique to be a Test No. 3, proving it with his 89 at Centurion and a pair of other strong starts. All he lacked at times in South Africa was a willingness to take the initiative, and a belief that he is good enough to do so. Australia are intent on persisting with him, seeing in Doolan the elegance and composure of the Queenslander Martin Love. But he will need to find a way to be more assertive to succeed.

Brad Haddin

It always seemed likely that Haddin's river of Ashes runs would dry up, as his bold methods are susceptible to low scores if a decent share of luck does not fall his way. However, he still kept wicket wonderfully, and his snare of Dean Elgar in the first innings at Newlands was the equal of any in his career. A trusted lieutenant of Clarke, Haddin dearly wants to be part of a winning World Cup team in 2015, and will carry on with similar drive in Tests.

Shane Watson

Hampered by injury and missing the first two Tests, Watson returned to play a vital balancing role in the decider, offering Clarke an extra bowling option while resolving to bat fearlessly at No. 6. It is a post that should suit Watson in the later years of his career, and there were enough signs of promise at Newlands to raise expectations of more to come.

James Pattinson

Drafted in for the third Test after intensive training work alongside the bowling coach Craig McDermott, Pattinson added the "velocity" wanted by Darren Lehmann and struck telling blows in each innings, none more than Hashim Amla on the fourth evening. He was largely accurate, gaining reverse swing and maintaining the high pace that marks him as a future leader of the attack. One regrettable beamer amid an ill-tempered final day at Newlands provided a reminder that he must learn to ensure his aggression remains keenly focused.

Shaun Marsh

One stellar Test match, one horrid one, and one sitting on the sidelines. Marsh played the innings that set up Australia's series in Centurion, but a pair in Port Elizabeth had him dropped for Newlands. The feast and famine narrative was in keeping with Marsh's career, but the class he exhibits at his best will ensure he is a part of Lehmann's plans for some time yet.

Peter Siddle

Perhaps the only troubling element of Australia's series was Siddle's continued fade in terms of pace and impact. Though he still delivered persevering spells and made the odd important breakthrough, notably to support Johnson at Centurion, his decline from fast towards medium was enough of an issue for the selectors to drop him from the final match. He nonetheless remains highly valued and will be given the chance to push for his return after time away regathering his strength and, hopefully, his speed.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shulz Van on March 11, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    This OZ team is getting better and maybe the best team after SA. The reason I would not write off SA because what they have done through the years. Australia still have a long to go to dismantle SA from the no. 1 tag. 1 test loss without Dale Steyn does not take anything away from SA. As a Team I regard SA the best...The way they fought without their spearhead was amazing. I dont think Aus would have done this without their Spearhead. BUT gotta give credit to the OZ team they have done what none had done before but also if we look back they where also beaten by this SA team in their own ground. So its an even head to head but to differ SA from Aus we have to look at the other results where SA truly deserve to be the best and maybe for a long time,.

  • Craig on March 10, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    Lol @Hello13. Enjoy eating those sour grapes.

  • Grant on March 8, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    All the rankings deserved though 10/10 should be reserved for flawless performances and neither Warner nor Australia challenged Warner's match fee penalty. The world No1's exposed a few weaknessness (batting aginst reverse swing) however a very good all-round team performance with some outstanding contributions. Well done.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Warner will average over 50 soon and thats incredible...i guess the jury's out on how Mitch and gang will fare on slow pitches iin Asia.If S.A have one particular weakness,it is bowling to left handers,especially with the new ball. Whilst the Aussies have plenty of depth,it remains to be seen how they will fare if Johnson gets injured since he is very much the spearhead.Harris looked superd at Newlands as well.

  • Philip on March 7, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    I see from the earlier comments that Australia still have some negative nellies'. The Aus team are plying a great game, Have Batsmen who can at, Bowlers ho are on top of the world and the fielding is often blinding. They play as a team, if one is having an off day, others will cover you only have to look at Clark. He has had a horror run with the bat and yet the scoreboard keeps ticking over. Was it not a bare six months ago that we all knew that if Clark failed, the whole team followed? Johnson, Harris, Pattinson, Siddle, Watson, Lyon, Clark, Warner all bowl to a plan to compliment each other, true statistics would show that this is one almighty bowling attack The team can effectively bat all the way down to number ten, Aus have a really great tailend. Having said all that I haven't even mentioned he fear that Warner instills in opposition bowlers. Taken individually Ausralia has some great individuals but as a team Australia is one Awesome TEAM. Good luck to their opposition,

  • Prasanna on March 7, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    @sergio11 , we can't really say for sure about how things would pan up. Where we currently are was unthinkable 6 months ago. So let's not speculate things. Watch things as they unfold.

  • Athul on March 7, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    i really like to see how AUS goes in UAE against PAK..the prob is PAK dont have a good batting line up even under those conditons..if their batters can step up..lets see how it goes...against spin in turing way the current or even the greatest aussie team can be as dominating like this...having said that..they've got few good players of spin in the side..Clerk and Smith up there among the best players of spin..Marsh,Haddin plays ok..Doolan,Rogers no idea about there skill set..Watson,Warner not sure about there abilities..but Warner need to do well against spin,on turning tracks..if he can do that..Aussies will hav a legend in the making for sure..

  • Clifford on March 7, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    The criticism of Lyon and Siddle are somewhat telling. Going into last summer's Ashes against England he was Aus' highest wicket taker for some period but then they tried the Agar experiment. After he got his rythym back he compared favorably to Graeme Swann head to head. Maybe he's had a few off matches the way even good bowlers do... or maybe he needs to be managed (?). I wouldn't say he can match the best subcontinental spinners but Aus need him to be their Swann for the next few years.

    I think Siddle has suffered a bit since Harris and Johnson have come back into the team. Maybe it's being third fiddle and not getting the new cherry but they'll want him back to where he was to make up for the loss of Harris which could be permanent (unfortunately)

  • Christopher on March 7, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    I have never doubted Warner is a talented batsman but he remains very immature on an intellectual level.

  • Wesley on March 7, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Pakistan in the UAE will be a good tester first up. That series hinges on Pakistan finding a batting line up to resist on what will be rather dead tracks and lifeless for seamers, if Pakistan can bat well they will then toss the question to Australia, can Australia survive Ajmal and Rehman

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