In South Africa, Australia discovered Pat Cummins and in this series James Pattinson was their breakout fast bowler. The prospect of the two young men sharing the new ball in the Test team when Cummins regains fitness is an enticing one. Pattinson swung the ball away from the right-hand batsmen and bowled full and straight enough to force the batsmen to play. He picked up Brendon McCullum's wicket three times, twice with near unplayable deliveries. Pattinson was the leading wicket-taker from either side, with 14 at an average of 14, and was the best thing Australia could take from the series.
Lyon was second only to Pattinson on the wickets tally with 10 at 12.60 apiece. His efforts were all the more remarkable because both venues favoured the fast men. Lyon continued to toss the ball up and entice mistakes, and in both Tests he ran through the New Zealand tail. His gutsy work with the bat in Hobart also nearly delivered Australia victory as he accompanied David Warner. The lasting image of the Test will be of the New Zealanders huddling to celebrate while a distraught Lyon was crouched on the pitch having just been bowled. But the loss came in spite of, not because of, Nathan Lyon.
Selected in Brisbane because of the injury to Shane Watson, Warner had a slightly nervy entry when he gloved behind trying not to play the ball in the first innings. By the end of the series, he had carried his bat for a maiden Test century and nearly saved Australia from defeat in Hobart. It was as much the shots that he neglected as the ones he played that impressed viewers. Rarely did he hit the ball in the air and his patience was impeccable. Warner deserves to hold his spot for Boxing Day.
The leader of an inexperienced attack, Siddle did not take more than three wickets in an innings but his consistent hard work was a key reason Australia's attack was so potent. In Hobart, he reached 150kph and appeared to have mastered his outswinger. It was an admirable performance over the two Tests from Siddle, who entered the series needing to show that Australia's fast-bowling future did not lie entirely with the younger men like Cummins and Pattinson. He achieved that goal with nine wickets at 23.22.
The captain remains Australia's most in-form batsman, but he needs support in the middle order. A century in the first innings at the Gabba set the tone for Australia's strong victory, but in Hobart he failed and so did his team. As leader he rotated his bowlers well and his canny, occasional use of the part-timer Michael Hussey helped cover the gap left by the absence of Watson.
While Clarke scored a hundred at the Gabba, the vice-captain Haddin also made a valuable contribution with a composed 80 that helped set up Australia's win. His glove work was generally reliable, and a leg-side stumping off the medium-pace of Hussey was breathtakingly good. But he continued to prove a frustration: in both innings in Hobart he was out to irresponsible strokes when Australia needed to show more fight. He had done the same in Cape Town last month. To some degree, that is just the way Haddin plays, but it is not unreasonable to expect more of such a senior player.
A half-century in Johannesburg and one in Brisbane eased some of the immediate pressure on Ponting but, by the end of the New Zealand series, questions were again being asked about his future. His 78 at the Gabba was encouraging but both his dismissals at Bellerive Oval looked wretched. He was lbw in the first innings when he appeared to be in two minds about whether to play or leave, and his loopy lob in the air when trying to play a strong drive through the off side in the second innings was awfully ugly. There is only so long Ponting can remain in the team on the promise of a big score to come.
An encouraging start to his Test career in the first innings in Brisbane gave way to a less consistent performance throughout the rest of the series. Starc showed an ability to swing the ball but also sprayed it, reminiscent of his fellow left-armer, Mitchell Johnson. He finished the series with four wickets at an average of 50, and when Ryan Harris returns to fitness, Starc should be the man to go from the attack.
Australia's new No.3 continued to show promising signs but was still searching for that big score to confirm his place in the side. It could have been on the way at the Gabba, when on 38 Khawaja was unlucky to be run out when Ponting called him through for a tight single. He concentrated for 78 minutes in the first innings in Hobart for 7, before edging behind, and fell to an uncharacteristically rash drive in the second innings. Should retain his place for Boxing Day if Shaun Marsh does not return from injury, but could miss out when Marsh does come back.
Mr Cricket will hope to quickly forget this series, the lowest-scoring one of his career. He made 15, 8 and a golden duck and, following on from another poor series in South Africa, it has put him under the spotlight heading in to the India series. However, Hussey was Man of the Match in all three Tests in Sri Lanka, so has some credits in the selection bank. He squeezed ahead of Hughes in the rankings because his gentle outswing brought Australia two important wickets.
Caught Guptill, bowled Martin. What more is there to say? Hughes cannot be picked against India, and it could take years for him to regain the faith of the selectors.