By Michael Stafford-Jones
- Australia’s brilliant bowlers propel them to victory in four of the five Tests
- Steve Smith produces a batting masterclass while Root fails to score a single century
- Alastair Cook’s superb 244 not out earns England a draw in Melbourne
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – England are thoroughly out-bowled and out-batted by a rampant Australia during a humbling 4-0 series defeat in Ashes 2017/18.
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Alastair Cook – 5/10 – Showed everyone he can still perform at the highest level with magnificent unbeaten 244 in Melbourne but only scored 132 runs in his other eight innings in the series.
Mark Stoneman – 4/10 – Battled hard against arguably the best bowling attack in world cricket but was unable to turn innings of 56, 53 and 36 into the hundreds England so desperately needed.
James Vince – 4/10 – Looked a class act when he made 83 on his Ashes debut, and when he made 55 in Perth before falling to Starc’s miracle ball. However, a succession of reckless wafts outside the off-stump meant he only scored 104 runs in his other 7 innings.
Joe Root – 6/10 – Scored 6 fifties in The Ashes without ever going on to make the kind of massive match-winning score that Steve Smith specialises in. Did his best to captain the team sensibly and imaginatively but did not have the sort of bowlers he needed at his disposal.
Dawid Malan – 8/10 – The biggest positive of the series. Demonstrated excellent timing and judgment during terrific 140 in Perth and showed exactly the right temperament for Test cricket during his three fifties.
Jonny Bairstow – 6/10 – Hit an excellent 119 at Perth when he was belatedly moved up to number six but did not make as many runs as he is capable of making in the rest of the series. His keeping was exemplary.
Moeen Ali – 1/10 – It is astonishing that he was never dropped. He averaged 19.88 with the bat and 115 with the ball and never caused the Australian batsman any real difficulty with his off-spin.
Chris Woakes – 4/10 – Bowled well in Adelaide to take 4-36 and OK at times during the rest of the series, but lacked the pace to cause Australia enough problems. Batted poorly and only averaged 16.28.
Craig Overton – 7/10 – Promising start to his Test cricket career. Dismissed Smith in Adelaide and then both openers in Perth and looked a real threat before cracking a rib. Courageous unbeaten 41 with the bat in Adelaide.
Tom Curran – 6/10 – Does not have the express pace needed in Australia but bowled accurately and economically in Melbourne and Sydney. Produced some excellent lower-order batting to make 39 and 27 not out in Sydney and looked up for the fight the whole time.
Stuart Broad – 4/10 – Despite a massive improvement to take 4-51 in the first innings at Melbourne, the 32-year-old had a very poor series with the ball and must be wondering whether his time in the team is almost up. Produced two of his best innings for a while when he scored 56 in Melbourne and 31 in Sydney.
Jake Ball – 1/10 – Looked way out of his depth in the Test arena when he played at The Gabba and should not be selected again at the moment.
Mason Crane – 4/10 – Despite unenviable figures of 1-193, the young leg-spinner demonstrated the sort of skill and character need to succeed in Test cricket. Bats like a number 11.
James Anderson – 7/10 – Took 17 wickets in the series, including his first 5-wicket haul in Australia in Adelaide, and averaged 27.82 per dismissal as he did his best to carry England’s lacklustre bowling attack.
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David Warner – 7/10 – Solid if unspectacular series from Australia’s second-best batsman. Scored one hundred and three fifties and averaged 63 without ever hitting top gear, which is a scary thought.
Cameron Bancroft – 2/10 – Aside from his unbeaten 82 during the easy chase in Brisbane when England were feeling utterly demoralised, the young opener only scored 97 runs in seven innings. Renshaw should be recalled to replace him.
Usman Khawaja – 6/10 – His superb 171 in Sydney – his first century against England – saved his series from mediocrity. Also scored two fifties as he ended Ashes 2017/18 with an average of 47.57.
Steve Smith – 10/10 – Utterly brilliant batting in four of the five matches gave his bowlers the perfect platform to decimate England. Scored one double-hundred, two hundreds and three fifties and averaged 137.40.
Peter Handscomb – 3/10 – Batted poorly in the opening two Tests before being replaced by Mitch Marsh. His tendency to stay on the back foot made him too vulnerable to LBW dismissals.
Shaun Marsh – 9/10 – Totally justified the Australian selectors’ confidence with exceptional hundreds in Adelaide and Sydney which set up two victories for his team. Also scored two fifties and ended the series with a princely average of 74.16.
Mitch Marsh – 10/10 – Blazed his way to his maiden Test hundred – 181 – in Perth and then followed it with another century in Sydney. His ineffective bowling did not matter.
Tim Paine – 7/10 – Superb glove-work throughout the series backed up by several useful lower-order contributions that successfully maintained Australia’s momentum.
Mitchell Starc – 9/10 – Almost ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the series despite missing the Melbourne Test with a bruised heel. When he gets it right, his bowling is fast and devastatingly accurate, which means he is always capable of taking a wicket.
Pat Cummins – 9/10 – Outstanding throughout the series. Bowled with pace and hostility and troubled every player in the England team. Deservedly finished as the leading wicket-taker with 23 victims to his name.
Josh Hazlewood – 9/10 – His consistent line just outside off-stump makes him the perfect foil for Starc and Cummins. He can also bowl a good bouncer, and collected an impressive 21 wickets.
Nathan Lyon – 9/10 – Demonstrated off-spin bowling of the highest order to take a remarkable 21 wickets on pitches much more suited to seam bowling. Bamboozled Moeen Ali and, incredibly, dismissed him seven times in nine innings.
Jackson Bird – 1/10 – The worst bowler picked by either side in the series. Returned figures of 0-108 as Cook helped himself to plenty of boundaries when he faced him.
The First ODI between England and Australia begins at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at 3.20am on Sunday 14th January.
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