The Ashes 2013-14

Mitchell Johnson's reign of terror

ESPNcricinfo evaluates the performances of Australia's players after their 5-0 Ashes whitewash

Daniel Brettig

January 6, 2014

Comments: 53 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson says it's 5-0, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2014
Mitchell Johnson provides a final reminder of the Ashes scoreline © Getty Images
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10

Mitchell Johnson

In a word, terrifying. So fast did Johnson bowl and so finely calibrated were his previously untrustworthy sights that England's batsmen and bowlers were often made to look like club cricketers who had stumbled their way into batting in Tests. Starting with a nightmarish burst on day two in Brisbane and concluding with arguably his finest new ball spells of the series at the SCG, Johnson did not slacken off at any point, a tribute as much to his long-standing physical durability as his new-found mental strength.

Brad Haddin

In any other era, Stuart MacGill would have taken 400 Test wickets. In any other Ashes, Haddin would have walked away with the man of the series award. Bailing out Australia's batting every first innings of the contest, Haddin's batting bore the fearless look of a man with life and cricket in perspective. He was also wonderfully nimble behind the stumps, claiming fewer catches than he had done in England only because edges flew more frequently to the slip fielders beside him. Michael Clarke's best lieutenant, Haddin also added much wit and wisdom to the dressing room.

9

Ryan Harris

Unrelenting in his effort and unwavering in his skill, Harris repeatedly punched through England's top order batting to allow Johnson to surge through the breach. Lacking only the extreme speed of Johnson, Harris is otherwise the complete fast bowler, across the series earning comparisons with anyone from Malcolm Marshall to Sir Richard Hadlee. Although aged 34 and nursing a battered body, Harris now wants to push on to the 2015 Ashes tour. Provided his fitness holds up he will be the first man chosen.

8

Nathan Lyon

Flight, turn and bounce reaped 19 wickets for Lyon as he outshone Graeme Swann to be the most accomplished spinner on either side. Lyon's confidence grew throughout, as he benefited from the decision to have his mentor John Davison at hand for most of the series. Gave his all with the bat and in the field also, while also settling happily into his role as the team song master. Still only 26, Lyon is on his way to becoming Australia's most prolific offspinner of all.

Chris Rogers

Unobtrusive but endearingly consistent, Rogers wore down England's bowlers in the manner of the best opening batsmen. He struggled initially for batting form and rhythm, but fought out the series admirably to compile centuries in Melbourne and Sydney. Having waited so long to add to his one Test, the garland of leading run-maker over the two Ashes series was just reward for his persistence.

Peter Siddle

Unsung but indispensable, Siddle bowled spell after spell of wholehearted and questioning fast medium. His role in building up pressure by bowling "boring" was rewarded most of all by the wicket of Kevin Pietersen, England's most dangerous batsman developing a major problem with an adversary he was prone to underestimate.

Steven Smith

Consistency is still to flow completely through Smith's batting but his best in the series was worth waiting for. First-innings centuries in Perth and Sydney, on pitches favourable to fast bowling, spoke volumes for his progress from the fidgety stripling who was directed to "come into the team and be fun" in 2010-11. Has a long Test career ahead, not only as a lively batsman but also the most likely next long-term captain of Australia.

7

Michael Clarke

Though his returns tapered off somewhat around the time the series was won, Clarke made critical runs when it mattered most while also leading his team with typical aggression and nifty tactics. A calculated attack on Swann in Brisbane neutered England's most critical bowling option, before his barked threat to the arm of James Anderson revealed Clarke's ruthless side to the Australian public. His catching at slip was never less than exemplary. At series end there was no prouder man in Australia.

David Warner

Fitter, happier and more productive, Warner confirmed his threat to England by scoring swiftly and decisively to build Australia's leads. Reaping the rewards of pre-season work with his personal batting coach Trent Woodhill, Warner batted with a clear mind and intent to attack, no longer muddled by defensive thoughts. If this meant the occasional low score, the rewards outweighed the risks. A few more first-innings runs will further enhance his improving reputation.

6

Shane Watson

A useful rather than overwhelming contributor, Watson cracked the most brutal century of the series in Perth and also played busily to help Rogers guide Australia home in Melbourne. His change bowling was invariably handy, claiming useful wickets at important times, while his problematic body held up decently to the challenge of five Test matches.

4

George Bailey

Limited in his stroke range and vulnerable outside off stump, Bailey found the going harder than many teammates. Only one half century from five Tests was a poor return, even if he contributed usefully to the team's cause at times while also catching well at short leg. The only member of the Ashes XI whose place is in doubt for the South Africa Tests.

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

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Posted by neil99 on (January 10, 2014, 2:39 GMT)

Meety - it got the rise it was looking for. Check out some of your compatriots postings on any England article for a proper insight. Talk about a colonial chip on the shoulder.

Posted by Meety on (January 9, 2014, 8:02 GMT)

@neil99 on (January 9, 2014, 0:38 GMT) - lol, you poor bitter man!

Posted by neil99 on (January 9, 2014, 0:38 GMT)

Some of these marks are a joke.

Warner did nothing in the final few tests, proving his mantle as a one day bludgeoner who can only play on home pitches. He'll be blown away overseas for scores well below 10 as his none existent plan b shows he's nothing more than a jumped up T20 player

Johnson was considerably aided by pitches doctored on Lehmann's instructions. this guy will do little away from home and probably return to his spray-a-way days.

Lyon couldn't even take wickets in India, he's a way below average spinner who benefited from England's self destruction.

Steve Smith the next captain of Australia. Let's hope so, because he's clueless and has a terrible technique that falls apart overseas.

Posted by ScottStevo on (January 8, 2014, 22:34 GMT)

kasifdotinfo, not sure where you're looking, but on this site Johnson was clocked in the 2nd test at 96.8mph and regularly hitting 94mph - regularly! Let's see Morkel and Finn (who at present will be lucky to get the new ball over 90mph) do that...Nice of you to come here and throw stats that are complete garbage around here like a big shot, know it all, only to make yourself look, well, like you do now. Completely sad. Bell has come out in his article (also on this site if you'd bother to research before running your mouth) stating it was some of the fastest bowling he's ever faced!

Posted by Meety on (January 8, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

No arguements from me about the scores. Maybe Bailey was a shade lucky for 4. I would maybe of considered Lyons up at 9, as he & Siddle held the pressure on England so there was no let ups & allowed MJ to bowl in short bursts. Lyons fielding (particularly that catch at leg slip) was a revelation! Lyons is almost odd on to be Oz's first ever 200-wicket taking offie & could well take 400 by the time his career is over.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2014, 5:09 GMT)

Clarke and Warner should be a 7.5 atleast, Warner was the top run scorer for the series. Watson and Baileu should both be lucky to get a 3. Bailey isn't up to it and Watson as a batsman, 4 centuries in 8 years, not real good. For the SA tour, these two should stay home and players like Cosgrove, Lynn, Maddinson or Hughes looked at. Of course it won't happen.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (January 8, 2014, 1:13 GMT)

Our top 6 is still fragile. If Doolan is next in line as a batting replacement then we are very thin indeed. He would be a dead weight like Quiney. Hughes is the best batsman in Shield but he is strictly an opener. Courses for horses he should open with Rogers, Warner at 3 and Watson 6 if there is any change to the line up.

Bailey was an abject failure. He never even looked like scoring runs, 2/10. Apart from that these grades are accurate.

Posted by GrindAR on (January 7, 2014, 23:58 GMT)

SW and DW should be at 5 and Bailey 2.5. NL, PS, SS should be on 7... they all rescued and complimented when things got tough. But SS at top could have been better than he did, but he was crucial for 2 wins, as did NL & PS one each and rest were average contributions. MC should be at 6. His decision making was good, probably gotten easier as most of the tough goings were at batting times, and he did not stay for longer as he should have done. Eng being clueless does not warrant liberal grading for players. Remember it is only Eng batting that failed as if there was no one with a back bone in that team. Their bowling was on-par. Eng looked like India or SL, as their batsmen were Jumbo washed and dried in sanitize settings and then dumped in the contaminated mud.

Posted by handyandy on (January 7, 2014, 21:57 GMT)

Both Warner and Clarke deserve better than 7. They performed in the first three tests ... when it mattered. Clarke's captaincy was also outstanding and Warner was the highest run scorer in the series.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

Warner not getting the prop for his first 3 tests and also being the leading run scorer for the series a higher score. Clarke should be a bit higher as well batted well at the start of the series and his captaincy was first class and Smith should be lower as well.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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