The Investec Ashes 2015 August 24, 2015

Rogers peaks in series of change

ESPNcricinfo rates the Australia players involved in the Ashes series

9

Chris Rogers
Like Michael Hussey, Rogers is leaving on top of his game, and it is to his enormous credit that he managed to conjure up his best series at the last given all that had gone on leading into it. A concussion in the West Indies could have had a debilitating effect, as could the distraction of a mini-tour group scuppered by the MCC. But at Cardiff and Lord's, Rogers played a pair of terrific first innings, then shrugged off an inner ear problem to contribute solidly over the final three. His final innings at The Oval was typical - a slogging knock to get the team past lunch and coax out David Warner's best performance of the series, setting up a win.

8

Nathan Lyon
Given that one of five the Tests was played on a pitch where he was barely used, Lyon's return of 16 wickets ranks among his best series displays. Always a threat to the England batsmen, Lyon brought both the possibility of wickets and the reality of control, as evidence by the numerous times batsmen were dismissed when trying to collar him. Equally pleasing was the fact he was able to bowl out batsmen playing defensively - none better than Alastair Cook at The Oval. With 162 wickets in 46 Tests at the age of 27, Lyon can only get better. He will now hope to establish a partnership with Steven Smith after a highly fruitful relationship with Michael Clarke.

Peter Siddle
Six wickets and an economy rate to die for made Siddle the star of Australia's fifth Test win. It also posed the question why he had not been chosen earlier, after the forced retirement of Ryan Harris left the bowling attack short of English seam-up knowhow. Siddle has gone through a million emotions on this tour, wondering often whether his career was at an end after being ignored at Trent Bridge, and touring without a Cricket Australia contract. But his effectiveness at The Oval - and the effect he had on the rest of the attack - will linger in the memory of spectators and presumably selectors.

Steven Smith: two fine hundreds, but key failures when Australia needed him © Getty Images

7

Steven Smith
Australia's leading run scorer, Smith started and ended the series as the world's No. 1 ranked batsman. But a pair of cash-in hundreds at Lord's and The Oval obscured a lowly run of scores in Birmingham and Nottingham that mimicked the fortunes of the team - awesome in London, awful in the Midlands. Smith will learn a lot from this yo-yo series, and even in the final Test there was evidence of a more sustainable method to tackle a swinging ball. He must now also be able to juggle his batting with the demands of captaincy. He would appear to be up to the task

6

David Warner
A serviceable series from Warner in which he tried with some success to temper his methods for English climes. After looking subdued in Cardiff then speedy in Birmingham, it all came together at The Oval in an 85 that will rank among his better Test innings. Warner's three failings were a lack of first-innings scores to that point, an inability to go on to a hundred - he is still without any in the UK - and a faulty sawn-off pull shot that got him in trouble numerous times. Still, Warner at least worked on thinking his way through the series, and ended it a better batsman than he started. His on-field behaviour was largely acceptable, too.

5

Mitchell Johnson
In the previous Ashes series, Johnson was irresistible for five Tests. This time he was brilliant in one match at Lord's, then intermittently spectacular in others, a major change in the way the series played out. The pitches played some part in a more muted display, but so did a curious diffidence about using the fire and brimstone method of Australia. Once, on the second morning at Edgbaston, Johnson summoned his most fearsome, but at other times he seemed caught between swinging the ball and keeping the scoreboard tight. This was a reflection of the balance of the bowling attack as much as any dips in Johnson's pace or effort.

Mitchell Starc
As Starc can do, he bowled numerous unplayable spells, but none of them proved genuinely match-defining. An ankle injury affected him at Cardiff and he did well to rebound from that to play all five Tests. But the problem of matching Starc's very best to the most critical times of a Test match remains, and until he can do so he will stay a somewhat enigmatic pace bowling force. A few more runs to defend will help too.

Defying predictions, Mitchell Marsh's bowling ended as his stronger suit © Getty Images

Peter Nevill
Coming in for Brad Haddin in difficult circumstances, Nevill acquitted himself very well as a gloveman of high standards and a middle-order batsman of grit and application. He did not always get everything right - there are some minor footwork issues he can improve upon as a wicketkeeper, and on seaming pitches he was occasionally made to look foolish. Nevertheless, Nevill performed the role with aplomb, and can expect an extended run as the man to replace Haddin. His understated contributions to the team room are also admired.

Mitchell Marsh
Started the series not being picked because of his bowling, but ended it as a most effective seam and swing counterpoint to Siddle. Marsh developed greatly as a bowler across his three Tests, but his batting looked deficient in technique and occasionally temperament, leaving many to conclude a couple of years in county cricket would be useful. His omission for the Trent Bridge Test has been recognised as a mistake by the selectors.

Josh Hazlewood
After a stunning West Indies series, Hazlewood was inked in as a member of the pace attack, but lost form and confidence the longer the Ashes went. He had all the natural attributes required by a pace bowler in England, but the Dukes ball swung more than he was used to, conspiring to rob him of the control that make his height, bounce and line so challenging elsewhere. Ending the series on the sidelines was a source of disappointment, but he will be better for it next time he comes to England.

4

Adam Voges
A disappointing series with occasional glimpses of the quality that made the failures all the more frustrating. Voges had plenty of English experience to call on, and in his final two innings of the summer showed how he could play. But until that time he had been unable to exert any influence, and was found wanting by the relentless line probed by James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Even so, Voges was maybe an hour away from setting up the Edgbaston Test in the company of Rogers. His indeterminate stroke and edge that day will haunt him for years to come.

3

Michael Clarke
Quite simply a dreadful series from Clarke, so much so that it effectively pulled the curtain on his career by leaving him unable to justify his own place in the side. There were also a few tactical missteps of the kind he had seldom made previously, all pointing to the fact that the emotional and physical toll of the preceding nine months had left him less than fully capable. Unable to summon even one substantial innings, Clarke at least signed off by leading the side well at The Oval, and was warmly received by team-mates and opponents who appreciated his value.

Shane Watson
Like Haddin, it was possible to question how Watson was even in the team for the first Test given his struggles over the preceding 18 months. As it was, he made a pair of starts, was lbw twice and left Cardiff with no complaints about losing his spot. That being said, it was arguably his bowling that caused Watson to be dropped more than anything: England took numerous liberties with his careful medium pace, and Mitchell Marsh proved a rather spikier proposition. A better bowling contribution there and Watson might have found himself using his new-ball technique at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.

The tour proved a likely sad end to Brad Haddin's career © Getty Images

2

Brad Haddin
A sad tale. Haddin was fortunate to be in the first Test team, and a critical dropped catch followed by two ordinary innings left him without any reasonable claims on his place. But personal leave for the Lord's Test and then the announcement he would not be reinstated caused problems within the team, as the coach Darren Lehmann was forced to justify the sequence of events to the players. Haddin seemed less perturbed about it than others, and in truth he will know he might just as easily have been dropped in the West Indies, had selectors been harder on him.

Shaun Marsh
Given barely an hour's notice that he would be batting on the most challenging of surfaces at Trent Bridge, Marsh was unable to retool his WACA technique for the seaming English ball, and a pair of hard-handed nicks into the cordon made for a short and ignominious contribution to the series. He remains well liked by the team and selectors, but at 32 has had plenty of opportunities to prove himself. It is unclear whether he will get anymore.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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