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The Ashes 2010-11

Hussey the only light in darkest series

Australia's series started well but quickly became one to forget. Michael Hussey stood well above his team-mates, but even he couldn't stop the side from falling to a record three innings losses

Peter English

January 8, 2011

Comments: 36 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting started well but was squared up and edged behind off Chris Tremlett, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, December 26, 2010
Ricky Ponting's failure with the bat was Australia's biggest disappointment © Getty Images
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9
Michael Hussey
The man who started the series clinging on to his place and finished as the team's leading run-scorer. Hussey had 517 runs by Christmas and looked destined for truly unforgettable things, but he tailed off to finish his collection at 570 at 63.33. He peaked with 195 in Australia's time of need at the Gabba and held them together over the next two games. Showed he is of immense value to the team for at least another year.

7
Shane Watson
Watson was the most consistent of Australia's batsmen but could not provide a dominant score. In a successful team his string of four fifties would have been considered massive under-achievement. In this side nobody was complaining about him not going on because at least he did something in most innings. He was involved in three run-outs, which showed in part why he should not be considered as Australia's next leader. Also chipped in with three wickets.

6.5
Brad Haddin
Started in style with a well-paced century at the Gabba and made other useful contributions to finish with 360 runs. Ended up only slightly behind Matt Prior in the battle of the glovemen, mainly because he managed 6 and 30 in the final game when he was the vice-captain and No.6. Gathered just nine dismissals for the series, which did show the standard of Australia's bowling, but he missed a handful of opportunities to add to the tally.

6
Peter Siddle
After the first day it looked like Australia would win the Ashes on the back of Siddle's bowling. Six wickets and a hat-trick made him a hero on his return from back stress-fractures. For the rest of the time he was usually honest, except for the MCG where he returned 6 for 75 in England's 513. Outside of those huge hauls he managed only two breakthroughs, leaving his side wanting so much more.

5
Ryan Harris
Missed the first game due to a knee problem, was Australia's best bowler in Adelaide and the second-best in Perth. Swung the ball at pace and refused to be intimidated by England's high-quality batsmen. After creating 11 wickets and an enhanced reputation, Harris was forced off the MCG with a stress fracture in his ankle. There were many sad sights for the home side during the campaign, but seeing Harris limp off the ground was one of the worst.

4.5
Mitchell Johnson
Gets most of his votes for that performance in Perth. At his WACA home ground he was unplayable, especially in the first innings when he swung his way to 6 for 38 in 17.3 mesmerising overs. He'd been dropped for the first time in his Test career in Adelaide, and found the perfect breeze to move the ball into the right-handers. After taking nine victims for the game, he lost his mojo as quickly as it had returned. His 15 wickets sat alongside two half-centuries, but it was really a series to forget.

Usman Khawaja
A rating based more on potential than the actual results of his debut at the SCG. He made a beautiful 37 in his first innings, looking like a player of rare quality, and added another 21 in his second bat. It will be exciting to see how he develops and hopefully the first step in that progression is him staying at No.3 if Ricky Ponting returns.

4
Steve Smith
Is he a bowler, a batter or an allrounder? After three Tests nobody knows. He started at No.6 and was out of his depth, moving to seven for the final match and top-scoring with 54 not out when the game was lost. In Perth he was the only spinner and didn't get an over. He bowled 31 for the series without getting a wicket. Definitely a player for the future, but still not sure what as.

Simon Katich
May have played his last Test in Adelaide, which he hobbled through with a desperately painful heel injury. Was unfortunate to be run-out without facing a ball in the first innings, but showed extreme guts to limp his way to 43 without a runner. Picked up a half-century in Brisbane, but at 35 his days could be numbered. He will have to wait for Cricket Australia's contract list to come out in April or May to see how he's valued.

Michael Clarke
Ended the series in charge after Ponting's finger injury, which unfortunately put him in the firing line when the urn was handed over. He deserved to be targeted for his batting, but not his budding leadership. Clarke started the contest with a bad back and never really got going, finishing with 193 runs at 21.44. The peak was an 80 in the second innings in Adelaide, but that didn't end well either, with him falling to Kevin Pietersen in the final over of the fourth day. Needs to find form, but remains an incredibly important player for Australia.


Ryan Harris pulled up with an ankle injury mid-way through his 29th over, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 3rd day, December 28, 2010
Ryan Harris' ankle injury was a major blow to Australia's chances © Getty Images
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Ben Hilfenhaus
Began the series on a high by dismissing Andrew Strauss with the third ball of the opening day, but didn't get another wicket until the second innings in Perth. The team valued his effort at plugging up an end as he went at 2.62 an over, and team-mates argued he contributed to the wickets of his bowling partners. Mostly the problem was his sameness, especially when the ball didn't swing. Finished with seven wickets at 59.28 and should soon lose his first-choice rating.

3
Ricky Ponting
Sadly, he was the biggest disappointment of the summer. Maintained his grace off the field, but finally snapped in Melbourne under the pressure of his lack of runs, his fragile team, and fractured little finger. His extended argument with Aleem Dar earned him a 40% fine and his series ended with surgery as he missed the Sydney Test. A great batsman, he was desperately disappointed with his 113 runs and will consider his place in the order before the next series - if the selectors let him get that far.

Michael Beer
Australia's fourth-choice spinner of the series - after Marcus North, Steve Smith and Xavier Doherty - and definitely the least worst. A surprise pick for Perth, given he'd played only a handful of first-class games, but wasn't called until the last match in Sydney. His first wicket was delayed by a no-ball and then a disputed catch, but he was finally able to celebrate properly when Paul Collingwood holed out to mid-on. Showed enough, with some flight, dip and a little spin, to be worth another go.

Phillip Hughes
Had a huge chance to secure a spot as Australia's next medium-term opener but didn't nail the big score. Is struggling to make technical and mental changes during such big games, which is hard even for experienced players. He has lost some of the mad slashes and tightened up against the short ball, but was too keen to push at deliveries angling across him. Will need to do a lot better than 97 runs in six bats when he gets his next chance.

2
Marcus North
The selectors finally lost patience with North after a year of hit-and-miss performances. He scored 49 runs in the opening two Tests and his career ended when he was replaced by Steven Smith. Will be missed by his team-mates, but was too inconsistent to remain a viable option.

Xavier Doherty
It's easy to feel sorry for Doherty, who was catapulted in under a Ponting request. Was quickly shown to be what he is: a steady domestic spinner who is better suited to one-day games. Picked up Ian Bell and James Anderson on his first day as a Test player, but things quickly went downhill. One of his jobs was to get Kevin Pietersen, which he did in Adelaide, after he had made 227. The experiment ended with 3 wickets at 102.

Doug Bollinger
Until the Adelaide Test, Bollinger had been Australia's most successful fast bowler of the previous year. Turning up unfit didn't help and Ponting said he "hit the wall" during his only innings of bowling, giving away 4.48 runs an over in his 1 for 130. Was dropped and returned to the squad for the SCG match, but didn't play.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by 5wombats on (January 11, 2011, 19:08 GMT)

@Rooboy; I have NO DESIRE to have Aus fans fall at anyone's feet. I never once accused anyone of being ungracious on this website. I am not associated with @tdobbo's unfortunate comments. @Rooboy; I GREATLY respect the Australian cricket team who, by virtue of Australianism are virtually impossible to beat - anyone who knows anything about cricket at least knows that. I've lived and worked in Aus so trust me I know. I HUGHLY respect the Great Australian Cricket Fan dozens of whom, like you, come on here and make incisive and honest observations. However, there are less than a handful of posters who make wild claims, claims they never substantiate, claims that are provocative, claims that ignore the evidence, and yet when challenged they never front up. You know who they are. @Marcio is a truly passionate fan, everyone can see it - and I truly respect him for this. His postings mention stupidity, dumbness and luck - but NEVER how well England had to play to beat a fomidable opponent.

Posted by tdobbo on (January 11, 2011, 11:24 GMT)

Good point JohnnyNield, according to the Aussies "there is no crisis.." I fully expect them to retain the same squad for the 2013 ashes, with Wee Wicky leading them out. He will be going for the never before attempted double hatrick!

Posted by Rooboy on (January 11, 2011, 5:01 GMT)

@tdobbo - so anyone who doesn't agree with you 100% is in denial huh? Of course Eng were superior. Don't see anyone actually denying that despite your defensive, overly sensitive comments. Nice stereotyping of the entire Aus population too, based seemingly on your imagination only. Funny to hear these people accusing Aus fans of being arrogant now coming out with all sorts of cocky comments ... tdobbo disrespects half the Aussie team with names like wee wicky, mrs cricket etc, states that his grandma could have done as good a job as Harris and then whines about Australians being ungracious?! I guess the irony went over his/her head ... such comments seem even more hypocricital when you consider the complete lack of grace shown by English crowds booing Ponting all last winter. Congrats to England, too good this time. But maybe win more than one series against average opposition, or get above #3 ranking for a while, before you get too carried away though

Posted by Rooboy on (January 11, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

*sigh* it's a real worry when statement of facts are construed as ungracious etc. Marcio's points ring true, but it seems unless all Australian fans lie prostrate at the feet of the English team and proclaim them the mightiest team ever, we're gonna be accused of being unsportsmanlike. @5wombats - show me where Marcio stated here that Aus were the better team. You're making things up so that indicates the strength of your argument!! Of course England were the better team and thoroughly deserved to win the series. Every Aus fan I know will concede that. But that doesn't mean that a) Harris is a good bowler and deserved a better rating b) Aus were unlucky with some tosses, notably Melbourne (England still may have won there regardless but it doesn't change the FACT that batting 1st was a huge disadvantage) c) Aus played mindless cricket at times which greatly aided Eng.

Posted by johnnynield on (January 10, 2011, 22:23 GMT)

Sorry Aus, but you have to learn from England! Without a team of world-beaters, you have to make the best of what you have. No Hauritz? No Stuart Clark? These could have helped improve your team.

What England did in 09 was make sure everyone chipped in. Only one bat over 260 runs but almost the whole team scored 250ish. Here Anderson finished comfortably leading wicket taker without a five-for due the fact that all bowlers chipped in. Whereas Australia seemed reliant on one or two batsmen and a great spell of bowling. More teamwork required.

Posted by 5wombats on (January 10, 2011, 10:45 GMT)

@gregt123; Good points and fair. Point 4) - The major point - England just played really well and didn't let Aus get going. 3 Innings defeats for Australia suggests that England were the better side. @Marcio ..... Not much point saying anything to you is there really - inspite of the clear evidence - you are going to stay with this idea that Australia were the better side and were just stupid and unlucky !? Yeah - OK, whatever you say mate. Hard to know where to start with Australia really; Kick out Ponting. Maybe persist with Clarke as skip, don't know about him - I think the little man might have ruined him. Players for Aus to stick with; Harris, Hughes, Khawaja, Watson, Hussey (obviously), Haddin, Siddle (Maybe). Dump the rest. Dump the CA heirarchy, coaches & selectors. It'll be hard and take time to build up a new team so fans are going to have to be patient. England fans had to wait for 24 years for a series win in Australia, and so know what being patient is like- it sucks.

Posted by tdobbo on (January 10, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

Le Pom, I agree with you 100%, but be careful about using logic in your comments...some just don't get it. Once of the things demonstrated again in this series is not only are the Australians and their supporters ungracious in victory but also in defeat. When is this state of denial going to end? How much of a thrashing will it take??

Posted by MinusZero on (January 10, 2011, 3:23 GMT)

I think 4.5 points for Johnson is a bit generous. There was no mention of the fact that he conceded over 4 runs per over for the series. In ODI's that would be great, but in an ODI he would have gone for much more if he is conceding over 4 in tests. Hilfenhaus was also generously given 4 points. Consider that Hilfy is the opening bowler, that suggests he is a strike bowler. That... he is not. A clean out is needed. Australian cricket is already down in the dumps, why not bring in a few new bowlers and give them more than a few games to show what they can do. Hughes should also be given more time to develop. How many chances was Watson given? about 20. Even now, he isnt an opener. Young players need more chances, it would scare any youngster knowing that if they dont perform in 2-3 games, they are out. What is there to lose, we are already losing anyway.

Posted by LePom on (January 9, 2011, 22:41 GMT)

@Marcio - So Australia performed abysmally only because they got the worst of the pitch conditions in every test (whilst having the lions share of coin toss wins)? Mind you, England just underperformed at Perth, nothing to do with the conditions that they batted under? Of course that explains it all! Yeah Right. The better bowlers got more wickets. The better batsmen got more runs. Australia got beaten by an innings 3 times in the series, only the second team ever to be humiliated in that way. On the way they conspired (by their woeful batting) to deny Cook the opportunity to beat Bradman's series run total record-. One has to wonder how many runs he might have scored with the opportunity afforded by another 3 innings. Hussey would have only rated 7 in if both teams were being scored together, and Siddle a 6. The others probably 10, (between them).

Posted by 5wombats on (January 9, 2011, 20:53 GMT)

The Thoughts of Chairman Wombat... Hussey=8 saved Aus from an even bigger hiding and unfortunately only has 1 max 2 years left. Katich=6 unfortunately a bit too old to come back. Hughes=5 but has potential if only he was coached properly. Watson=6.5. needs to develop stamina at the crease - like Cook. Worth persisting with. Ponting=3 GONE.... Clarke=3 ought to be gone, if he was in the England team - he would be. Needs to believe he is not an outgrowth of Ponting. Haddin=6. Johnson=4.5 ought to be gone and wouldn't get into England top 10 bowlers due to inconsistency caused by poor action and mental inadequacies. Khawaja=? might be OK. Harris=6 pity about the injuries. Smith=4 gone but young. Siddle=5.5 marginal. Basically he's all attitude, bad attitude. With decent coaching in a year or two he might be OK. Hilfenhaus, North, Doherty (for whom I feel sorry)=2 GONE. Bollinger, Beer=? Should have played Hauritz, O'Keefe. Anyone scoring 6 or over is worth persisting with.

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