99 – Steve Smith (Australia) – 774 runs at an average of 110.57 with 3 centuries, 3 half-centuries and a highest score of 211. All but his final innings was a 50 or more (the last one being 23). So great was he that in the final test, chasing 399, there was some hope until he was finally out. A near perfect series. The only reason England won the 3rd test was because he was missing due to concussion. A near perfect series and he was the deserved player of the series.
83 – Ben Stokes (England) – 441 runs at 55.12 with 2 centuries, 2 half-centuries and a highest score of 135 not out, plus 8 wickets at an average of 45.25. This was a fantastic series for Stokes, especially in the 3rd test when he single-handedly pushed England to a remarkable victory. The fact that he was out with 1 run still to get, but for a terrible umpiring error, should not detract from how well he played. He was also incorrectly given the man of the match award in the 2nd test, though I don’t know why. He was terrible in the 4th test, though, but otherwise was pretty good.
80 – Marnus Labuschagne (Australia) – 353 runs at 50.42 with 4 half-centuries and a highest score of 80 only tells part of the story, as he came in as the concussion substitute for Steve Smith half-way through the 2nd test, having not been in Australia’s best XI for the 1st, and then became undroppable thereafter. In a low-scoring series, he was one of just 3 players to average over 50, and to do so from a position where he wasn’t even in the team is incredible.
79 – Jofra Archer (England) – 22 wickets at 20.27 – More than his figures was the intimidation factor he brought. To think that he wasn’t considered good enough to make the 1st test is incredible, as, after just one test, he was a fixture in the England side, so much so that his poor showing in the first half of the 4th test (his 3rd) was seen to be shocking. It also should be noted that his bouncer to concuss Steve Smith is a large part of why he was missing from the 3rd test and hence why England were able to win it.
77 – Pat Cummins (Australia) – 29 wickets at 19.62 – He is now the number 1 bowler in the world and it is easy to see why. He played all 5 tests, the only Australian fast bowler to do so, and, while he dipped significantly in the 3rd test, the rest of the time he was pretty good.
75 – Jack Leach (England) – 12 wickets at 25.83, 54 runs at 13.50. Amongst all of the hype, he actually was pretty good, and not just because of his wonderful 1 not out when he batted with Ben Stokes to save the test. As a bowler, he was miles ahead of Moeen Ali, and was better than Australia’s spin bowling hero Nathan Lyon too. He also encouraged the team – and the crowd too. He doesn’t look test level, but in this series he certainly was. He was also man of the match in the one-off test against Ireland too. He should have played in the 1st test.
72 – Stuart Broad (England) – 23 wickets at 26.65 – While his figures are a long way behind Jofra’s, his intimidation was right up there. His decimation of Australia’s 2nd best batsman David Warner, who was reduced to a series batting average of just 9.50, was incredible. He made Australia scared of playing left-handed batsmen.
70 – Mitchell Marsh (Australia) – 7 wickets at 12.28, 41 runs at 20.50 – While he only played one test, these records suggest it was a mistake not to give him a longer tenure. While his batting was still pretty ordinary, his bowling was very good, as he showed that his practice match form could translate into test match goodness. Indeed, given how the 5th test transpired, we may have been better off to have played Marsh as a bowler instead of Siddle and kept Head in the side.
68 – Josh Hazlewood (Australia) – 20 wickets at 21.85 – He missed the first test in shocking circumstances, with Peter Siddle of all people preferred, and this after the incredible snub to leave him out of the entire World Cup, but he came back firing, and became one of Australia’s very best bowlers, not far behind Pat Cummins.
65 – Jonny Bairstow (England) – 22 dismissals, 214 runs at 23.77 with 1 half century and a highest score of 52. In every respect he beat his opposite number Paine, with more runs, more dismissals, and better use of DRS. Perhaps it shows why, especially in the days of DRS, we shouldn’t have a wicket keeper as captain. Or perhaps Bairstow just did it better.
62 – Sam Curran (England) – 3 wickets at 22.66, 32 runs at 16.00. Why he didn’t play the 1st test remains a mystery to me, and why they took until the 5th test to finally give him a go is even more surprising, given his form and abilities. When he finally came in, the “angry toddler”, as I call him (based on his youthful yet angry look when he comes in to bowl) was magnificent. It remains to be seen how good he would have been had he played more tests but certainly it seems to have been a major selection blunder to wait so long.
61 – Rory Burns (England) – 390 runs at 39.00 with 1 century and 2 half-centuries and a highest score of 133. Burns, with a terrible test record before this series, came good and overall was probably England’s 2nd best batsman after Stokes, ahead, perhaps, of their captain and Fab 4 member Joe Root. It was an incredible turnaround that in many ways spelled the difference between the two sides, as England at least had one opener they could rely on, while Australia had none.
60 – Mitchell Starc (Australia) – 4 wickets at 31.50, 57 runs – His statistics were slightly below his best, but he was nonetheless intimidating and wonderful and Australia looked so much better with him in the side. Curiously, he wasn’t dismissed while batting, adding 54 not out and 3 not out, yet he was stupidly left out of the first 3 tests, and even more absurdly dumped for the 5th. Pattinson and Siddle were a long way behind him.
55 – Tim Paine (Australia) – 20 dismissals, 180 runs at 20.00 with 1 half century and a highest score of 58 – His captaincy at times looked ordinary, especially in his inability to decide whether a decision should be overturned, causing him to review ones that were correct the first time and then fail to review blunders, something that cost Australia the 3rd test after a blunder cost Australia what should have been a 1-run win, and it couldn’t be reviewed because they had wasted their last review just before. Oh dear. He also failed to review two bad decisions towards the end of England’s 2nd innings in the 5th test too. Oh and the decision to bowl first was pretty terrible. Potentially, Australia could have won 4-0 with a better captain. His bubble has well and truly burst and his time as captain, and potentially as player, are surely soon to come to an end.
52 – Joe Root (England) – 325 runs at 32.50 with 4 half centuries and a highest score of 77. It doesn’t look all that bad but more is expected of Root, who just never really got going. He kept promising to do well, but he was oh so far behind his fellow Fab 4 member Steve Smith, and perhaps now we need to kick him out of the Fab 4, and perhaps it should be a Fab 3. Not completely horrible, in a low-scoring series, but not great either.
51 – Travis Head (Australia) – 191 runs at 27.28 with 1 half century and a highest score of 51. I was surprised that he was dropped for the 5th test as he was steadily holding things together, though in all fairness Mitchell Marsh did do well as his replacement. He had a mediocre run, but in a low-scoring series it wasn’t too bad. He just missed out on that big score to boost his average, and was unlucky enough to not be in a situation where he could get the easy runs that Matthew Wade got. Head was always getting the tough runs.
48 – Joe Denly (England) – 312 runs at 31.20 with 3 half-centuries and a highest score of 94. Denly ended up as opener, a position he probably should have held from the start, as it made England that much better as a team, but, just the same, it wasn’t a particularly good series for Denly. He threatened mediocrity at times but at other stages he was just plain bad. The only upside was that at least he wasn’t as bad as JJ Roy, or, indeed, Australia’s 3 openers. Compared to them, he was wonderful.
45 – Matthew Wade (Australia) – 337 runs at 33.70 with 2 centuries and a highest score of 117. He was the king of cheap runs, though his 5th test, 4th innings 117, briefly threatened to take Australia home from nowhere. Otherwise, though, he was pretty terrible.
44 – Jos Buttler (England) – 247 runs at 24.70 with 1 half-century and a highest score of 70. There were times when Buttler actually looked vaguely useful, but other times when he looked completely and utterly hopeless. He had a similar run to Australia’s Matthew Wade, the major difference being Wade’s luck at being there right when cheap runs were available.
42 – Usman Khawaja (Australia) – 122 runs at 20.33 – More than a little unlucky to be dumped after 3 tests, especially given he could be used to open, Khawaja kept getting starts but then getting himself out right when he was looking wonderful. He was below par, yes, but not much below, and was still, in fairness, good enough to have played all 5 tests, though perhaps could have opened in the last 2.
40 – James Pattinson (Australia) – 5 wickets at 33.40 – It was worth giving him a go, as he was once Australia’s best bowler, but this test series proved that he is a long way from being that good. He is probably good enough to be a solid backup bowler for the top 3 fast bowlers, but he isn’t quite good enough to break them apart. At times he looked good, but ultimately he kept out Hazlewood and Starc, and the series proved that he wasn’t at their level.
35 – Nathan Lyon (Australia) – 20 wickets at 33.40 – His average looks good, and he was indeed amazing in the first test when he took 9, but then he was oh so horrible afterwards. If only we had another spinner, like that guy Steve O’Keefe perhaps. If only we weren’t punishing our team because someone made an off-colour remark. Lyon was very lucky that Australia’s selectors didn’t want to go all-pace, as he had a pretty bad series, bar that first test.
30 – Peter Siddle (Australia) – 7 wickets at 42.14 – I am not sure why he was in the squad even, let alone turning up in the 1st test lineup, or the 2nd, or especially coming back in the 5th. It was just bizarre. His worst test was the 5th where at times he was just utterly hopeless. I would have preferred Jackson Bird in the squad and Siddle perhaps should have been unlucky to miss out. He just didn’t help matters. We needed Starc in the 5th test, but instead we got Siddle, and Siddle is no Starc.
25 – Chris Woakes (England) – 10 wickets at 33.10, 120 runs at 20.00. He started off really well but then he fell quickly and just kept on getting worse. He shouldn’t have played in the 5th test either and getting 4 tests while doing this badly was a real problem. Replace him with Sam Curran for every test he played and England would have had a much better side.
21 – Moeen Ali (England) – 3 wickets at 57.33, 4 runs at 2.00. Moeen Ali gets bonus points for being dumped after 1 test, but boy did he ever have a bad test. Jack Leach, his replacement, was much, much better. It was an important change.
18 – Jason Roy (England) – 110 runs at 13.75 – One day form doesn’t always translate to test form, and this was no more evident than in the case of Roy. He was given a lot of chances, but even in the middle order he was hopeless. His solitary half century against Ireland gifted him these 4 tests, but perhaps they were, after all, just cheap runs. Ollie Pope should have played all 5 tests, at Roy’s expense.
15 – Marcus Harris (Australia) – 58 runs at 9.66 – He should have played all 5 tests, but for the stupidity surrounding the consideration of Bancroft. He averaged less than Bancroft but looked better, and at least it didn’t upset the rest of the team. Just the same, by the 5th test, Harris looked like he didn’t belong either.
13 – David Warner (Australia) – 95 runs at 9.50 with 1 half-century and a highest score of 61 – Warner broke the record for the most single figure scores in a series with 8. Incredibly, he managed 61, so, taking that out, he had 34 runs at an average of 3.78. It wasn’t good for the guy who was Australia’s best player in the World Cup.
11 – Cameron Bancroft (Australia) – 44 runs at 11.00 – Bancroft should never have played a test. Bancroft should never have been in the squad. Bancroft should never have been in the list of 25 probables. Bancroft should never… The openers were bad even after Bancroft was correctly dumped after 2 tests, but that doesn’t mean it was right to play him. He was horrible, and, worst than his own personal performance, he affected the others as well.
7 – Craig Overton (England) – 2 wickets at 53.50, 26 runs at 13.00. Lucky Overton should never have played, and his inclusion in itself was as big a reason for England’s 4th test loss as anything else. Just terrible. Especially when Sam Curran was available!
4 – James Anderson (England) – 4 overs, 3 maidens, 1 run. They were a good 4 overs, but then he succumbed to his injury and was out of the test, letting Australia have a chance to come back, which, thanks to Steve Smith, they did. He should never have played, and he should have known that he wasn’t test ready. Bad Anderson, bad.