The Ashes 2010-11 January 8, 2011

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

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.

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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