Ashes 2019: First Test – Player Rankings

The grades are in!
How has Adrian Meredith graded each players performance in the First Test?


10 – Steve Smith – 144 & 142 – You don’t get much better than this. His first test back from suspension, no longer able to captain, with people in the crowd and in the opposition team taunting him, there were fears that he might not do too well, but he looked good from the moment he walked out. At 8/122 Australia looked in a lot of trouble, but Smith worked with Siddle (44) and Lyon (12) to take Australia all the way to 284 before falling for an incredible 144, scoring more than half of his side’s runs, before backing it up in the second innings to take Australia from a 90 run deficit to a 397 run lead and he almost single-handedly won Australia the match.

8 – Nathan Lyon – 3/112 & 6/49 – The pitch wasn’t all that good for spin but still Lyon stood tall. England’s spinner Moeen Ali didn’t do a whole lot but Australia’s did. It helped that Smith had led Australia to such a huge total, though.

7 – Travis Head – 35 & 51 – Steady, safe, reliable are words that can be used to describe Travis Head. He came in with Australia 3/35 and combined with Smith for a 64 run partnership and then backed it up in the second innings with more of the same, adding another 130 runs after Australia were in some trouble at 3/75, still trailing by 15 runs. To think that some people wanted to drop him.

6 – Pat Cummins – 3/84 & 4/32 – The second innings wickets were quite cheap, as the pressure was off, but he still had to take them. He bowled well and it is little wonder he is ranked as the number 1 bowler in test cricket. He struggled without the influence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, but the second innings helped him a lot, and perhaps he can cope without the other two in the big 3.

5 – Matthew Wade – 1 & 110 – Cheap runs with no pressure on him is why his score is as low as 5, but he still scored a century just the same. It was his first test century for 6 1/2 years, and it was a part of a 126 run partnership with Steve Smith that took Australia from a nervous 115 run lead to a triumphant 241 run lead. He added 66 more with Tim Paine, a man who he had spent most of his career fighting for a spot with, both domestically and internationally. This is the first time ever he has played domestically or internationally without keeping wickets, and the first international side he has been in with Tim Paine. Cheap runs, yes, but runs just the same. He finished 3 runs short of 1,000 runs in test cricket.

4 – Tim Paine – 3ct, 5 & 34 – Paine will be thankful that Alex Carey was not included in the squad, though the form of Matthew Wade will make him nervous. He probably won’t be dumped mid-tour but his days are numbered and it might be a good idea for him to retire come the end of the Ashes, as he had a decidedly ordinary match.

4 – James Pattinson – 2/82 & 0/29 – He looked good, but not great, and certainly not as good as Starc and Hazlewood. While he did score 47 not out off 48 balls in the second innings, they were the cheapest of cheap runs and don’t really count. He probably did enough to keep his spot, but he’ll want to show a better return in the next test.

4 – Peter Siddle – 2/52 & 0/28 – His 44 in the first innings was important, and it led me to give him an extra point. Even still, I have to wonder if Mitchell Starc should have been there instead.

3 – Usman Khawaja – 13 & 40 – He looked horrible in the first innings but improved in the second, though how he got out was just as terrible. There will be a lot of nerves about giving him another test. Perhaps it was the fact that he had to bat with Bancroft both innings that hurt him. Perhaps he is just not in very good form. With Marnus Labuschagne the highest scorer in County Cricket this season waiting in the wings, there will be a lot of pressure on Khawaja. Thankfully Australia won so he should keep his spot but only just.

1 – David Warner – 2 & 8 – The in-form opener let the taunts get to him, not the least because he was opening the batting with the guy who caused him to spend the past 12 months out of cricket. Whose bright idea was it to do that? Thankfully we had Smith to rescue things, but it is clear that Warner and Bancroft can’t bat together and you have to pick one. Warner is my pick, and I think most others will agree.

0 – Cameron Bancroft – 8 & 7 – Get this guy out of my team! It wasn’t just that he only managed 15 runs across two innings that was the problem, but he also hurt his opening partner, the in-form superstar David Warner, causing him to get out cheaply too. Thankfully he was out before Smith came in or it could have been worse. There is absolutely no way you can justify keeping him in the side for the 2nd test. It was a massive hunch to include him, and we need him gone for the 2nd. Smith can’t rescue us every time.

Can’t get enough cricket? Be sure to check out our Hits and Misses from the First Test.


8 – Rory Burns – 133 & 11 – His first test century, improving his test average from 22.28, as he became only the 9th player and 4th Englishman to bat on all 5 days of a test match, and he did it without rain. It was a lot better than was expected of him but whether it’s enough to keep faith in him long-term is another issue entirely.

8 – Stuart Broad – 5/86 & 1/91 – He was magnificent on the first day but then fell away in the second innings, after Smith blunted him tremendously well. He still looked good, though.

7 – Chris Woakes – 3/58 & 1/46, 37* & 37 – He was wonderful against Ireland and he was wonderful here, and is playing like a proper all-rounder. He bowled scarily well on the first day too.

6 – Joe Root – 57 & 28 – He looked good in his 57 and his second innings 28 wasn’t bad either, but they still weren’t the kinds of scores that he needed. Like it or not, he is the only in-form batsman in the English side and they rely on him. He is England’s equivalent of Steve Smith but while Smith scored twin 140s, Joe Root didn’t. Not too bad, though.

5 – Ben Stokes – 50 & 6, 1/77 & 3/85 – There were times when he looked decidedly average but he still took wickets and scored runs and that’s what you want from your all-rounder. He was especially important after the injury to James Anderson early in the test.

5 – Jonny Bairstow – 5ct, 8 & 6 – He certainly won the wicket keeping duel with Tim Paine but his batting let him down. Considering that Australia only lost 7 second innings wickets, the fact that he took 4 catches is commendable. He will want to score more than his match total of 14 runs, though.

4 – Jason Roy – 10 & 28 – The hunch to pick him based on ODI form in the World Cup was a bit strange and, in spite of doing well against Ireland, in this match he was not so good. He might just hold onto his spot, but he was disappointing.

3 – Joe Denly – 18 & 11 – How he is in the side is anybody’s guess. He may be the next one to go, especially as Sam Curran was man of the match in the Ireland test. While it’d mean an extra bowler, it’d also mean that England don’t have to put up with Denly. Surely they’ve got better batsmen going around.

2 – Moeen Ali – 1/42 & 2/130, 0 & 4 – Compare his return with Nathan Lyon’s and you’ll see just how bad he was. He looked bad when he bowled and he looked bad when he batted. Going in with a proper spin bowler might be preferable to this.

0.5 – Jos Buttler – 5 & 1 – Buttler was the extra batsman (compared to against Ireland) and, with scores of 5 & 1, England might have been regretting not going in with Sam Curran instead. Just the same, he is a great batsman when on form so might get a second test, but he’ll want to do better than this.

0 – James Anderson – 0/1 – He was under an injury cloud and then, after bowling just 4 overs, he was out. That’s just not good enough. You are supposed to be able to handle 5 days, not 1 hour, and he has a lot to answer for in declaring himself fit then doing this. He should have stayed out of this one and come back when he was properly fit. England might have won the test not only if he had not broken down so early but if they had had a replacement, such as Olly Stone, who took 3/27 against Ireland and then was dumped. Sam Curran, the man of the match against Ireland, would have done well too, as would Jofra Archer.

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