9 – Jofra Archer – 2/59 & 3/32 – He maintained his pace, ferocity and accuracy all match long, and was probably only matched by Pat Cummins for his overall bowling efforts. The fact that he concussed Steve Smith was good for England too, and he also hit him on the body before that. The only negative for him is that he didn’t seem to care when Smith was hit, though later on he did offer some token support. Is he an uncaring opponent? Or was he just caught up in the moment of being ferocious? Either way, he sure was ferocious.
9 – Jonny Bairstow – 3 ct/1 ct, 52 & 30 not out – His batting alone was brilliant, but so was his keeping, as he produced a brilliant all-round performance that should have been a contender for man of the match honours. His 30 not out, off just 37 balls, actually set up the declaration, unlike Buttler’s 31 off 108, or Stokes’s 115 off 165. Silly people deciding the man of the match based on looking at the scoreboard rather than watching the match.
8 – Stuart Broad – 4/65 & 0/29 – Considerably less effective in the second innings, Broad was brilliant in the first, and seemed to lead Archer to greatness. An attack leader and great bowler, he was well and truly on form, carrying on from his great returns in the 1st test.
8 – Rory Burns – 53 & 29 – In difficult batting conditions and against hostile bowling, Rory Burns held himself together, and, compared to the two Australian openers, neither of whom passed 20 in either innings, he was brilliant. He was also brilliant compared to his own opening partner JJ Roy, who managed 0 & 2. While he didn’t top score, he certainly put a high price on his wicket and allowed other players to capitalise later on.
7 – Chris Woakes – 3/61 & 0/11 & 32 – A long way below his first test efforts, Woakes was still good. His 32 first innings runs were useful too, better than most of the top order managed.
6 – Jack Leach – 1/19 & 3/37 – He looked poor in the first innings but came good in the second, and became England’s best chance of victory, when he dismissed Bancroft, Labuschagne and Wade, all wickets giving England hope. It didn’t work out but it lifted the spirits. It remains quite confusing why he missed the first test, especially given that he was man of the match against Ireland.
5 – Ben Stokes – 13 & 115 not out, 0/17 & 0/16 – In this case I disagree with the decision to give Stokes the man of the match award, as he scored the cheapest of cheap runs in the second innings as England set a declaration. This is the kind of decision that is made by people who looked at the scorecard but didn’t watch the match. He was decent, yes, but he was nowhere near man of the match level. He didn’t even take any wickets, and his only innings under any kind of pressure saw him get just 13 runs. Yeah nah.
5 – Joe Denly – 30 & 26 – Denly threatened adequacy in this effort that is probably enough to see him keep his spot in the side. He also bowled 2 overs, both maidens, for reasons that are best known to himself and his captain. He was decent but not good. On a difficult pitch to bat on, he probably did enough to keep his spot.
4 – Jos Buttler – 12 & 31 – While it was good to see Buttler get a better score in the 2nd innings, and show glimpses of some kind of form, we need to remember the circumstances when he came out to bat, when the score didn’t matter and it was the run rate that mattered. 31 off 108 balls when you’re trying to set up for a declaration isn’t exactly good enough. It looks good on his stats but it wasn’t really good.
2 – Joe Root – 14 & 0 – If I included captaincy, I’d have taken an extra point off, as his decision to bat slow when setting up the declaration, then being far too late in doing it robbed us of the slim chance of a result. I don’t know why some people lauded it as “enterprising captaincy”. It was about as defensive as you can get, the mark of a captain scared of losing. Oh and he batted badly too. Perhaps that was why he made such a blunder. It still nearly worked, though, but that doesn’t make it a good decision.
0.5 – JJ Roy – 0 & 2 – With an average of 19.50 from 3 tests, JJ Roy’s place in the English team must surely now be under real threat, and there is every chance that he will not play in the third test at Leeds. He was picked on ODI World Cup form, which is never a good way to decide on the skills of batsmen. The only argument to picking him is if Rory Burns says he wants him to stay. This was horrible.
10 – Steve Smith – 92 – He should have been man of the match. Is there some rule that says that someone who is substituted out of the match can’t win the man of the match award? That is surely the only reason that he wasn’t awarded it. Smith’s 92 was worlds better than Stokes’s unbeaten century. Given the circumstances, when Australia were 5/102 chasing 258, to score 92, while being concussed, is sheer genius. England were bowling well too, especially Broad and Archer. This is the batting equivalent of Mitchell Johnson’s amazing bowling series in 2013/14. Should have been man of the match.
9 – Pat Cummins – 3/61 & 3/35 – He is consistently good, and his prediction to be the 5-test bowler looks good. He held Australia’s at times mediocre bowling together. It still seems that he’d be better served by having the services of both of his usual partners in crime in Hazlewood and Starc, though. Perhaps for the 3rd test.
8 – Travis Head – 7 & 42 not out – This guy is test quality. He might have an ordinary first class record but when the pressure is on he knows how to do what is required. With Australia reduced to 3/47 and a real chance of losing the test, Head stood up to be counted and stayed there until the end. He looked for all the world like a test captain here. It was wonderful to see.
7 – Marnus Labuschagne – 59 – To come in, as a concussion substitute, especially for Australia’s best player Steve Smith, coming in on day 5, after having 4 days not even being involved, and then to score 59 runs under huge pressure as Australia tried to draw the match, was simply brilliant. For me he is a lock for the third test. I don’t care who has to be dropped to make way for him. Smith looks likely to miss the test due to injury, but, if not, then I’d think that Wade could make way, or perhaps one of the openers. It also showed that first class form matters, something that should see Marcus Harris play in the 3rd test as well.
6 – Nathan Lyon – 3/68 & 0/102 – That Lyon was able to take any wickets in the first innings was incredible, especially given how little there was in it for spin bowlers, but his second innings performance, especially towards the end, was disappointing. Perhaps it was because wickets didn’t matter at that stage, and perhaps there was a bit of bad luck, but it was certainly unfortunate, especially when his counterpart Jack Leach took three wickets and proved to be close to a match winner.
6 – Tim Paine – 4ct/2ct, 23 & 4 – Not the best decision-making, especially how he got out in the second innings. Paine nonetheless was good behind the stumps, and, with the pressure from Alex Carey for his position in the side, and probably by Travis Head as captain, he did enough.
5 – Josh Hazlewood – 3/58 & 0/43 – He started brilliantly but then faded and kept on fading right until the end. It will be a tough decision about whether to keep him for the third test. If Starc comes in, as expected, it might boost Hazlewood to more consistent returns, but the selectors may decide to leave Hazlewood out to make room for Starc.
4 – Peter Siddle – 1/48 & 2/54 – He was terrible in the first innings, his only wicket coming off a terrible ball, but early in the second innings he was good. He was certainly more consistent than Hazlewood but was overall less threatening. It’s a tough decision as to which to dump. Potentially both could be let go so that Starc and Pattinson can come back. There are supporters of Siddle, perhaps who saw some of the highlights package but not the whole match. Siddle was the worst of the bowlers, make no mistake of that.
3 – Usman Khawaja – 36 & 2 – To see Khawaja play in the first innings, with an incompetent Bancroft at the other end, conspiring to add 49 second innings runs, of which his personal contribution was 36, was brilliant, but then, just as things were going well, he got out, seeming to follow Bancroft to the pavilion, and then in the second innings the Bancroft influence seemed to hurt him as well. While he had resisted Bancroft’s toxic influence in the first test, it seems that it is getting the better of him now. Just the same, he shouldn’t be letting it affect him this badly. He’s a better player than this.
2 – Matthew Wade – 6 & 1 – He looked good in the first innings before he scored a run but after that he was horrible and there must be real question marks over his place in the team. With Labuschagne looking amazing, if Smith does end up playing in the third test, Labuschagne surely will too, which leaves one man to be left out, and that might be Wade. Unless Wade opens the innings, of course.
1 – Cameron Bancroft – 13 & 16 – It was one of the worst-looking 13s I’ve ever seen, reminding me of when Mark Taylor had that run of terrible form and just tried to not get out in the hope that he’d find form. It didn’t work for Taylor and this didn’t work for Bancroft. All it did was chew up some balls and upset the other batsmen. Bancroft was worse than his own performance too, as he conspired to see Australia reduced to 3/60 in the first innings and 3/47 in the second. The only good thing was his 49 run partnership with Khawaja in the first innings, of which Bancroft contributed 8. The only justification for keeping him in the side is that Warner is scoring even less, but if you counter that by saying that Warner was doing that badly because of Bancroft, the justification disappears.
1 – David Warner – 3 & 5 – So bad have Warner’s scores been in the first 2 tests that there are genuine calls to dump him. He is yet to reach double figures in 4 innings. With in-form Marcus Harris waiting in the wings, it seems untenable for the opening partnership to continue into the 3rd test. While surely Bancroft will be the one dumped, there is serious consideration to dump Warner instead – or as well. The best thing for Warner is that he is in form, very good form actually, with 4 man of the match awards in the World Cup and he was brilliant in the IPL as well, not to mention all of the many brilliant performances in the various tournaments and competitions during his year away, and the fact that he has such a great test record.