10 – David Warner – 154 – Under the kind of pressure he was under, after nine failures out of his last 10 innings, this was supreme, and he was under great pressure too, as he guided yet another new opening partner in Joe Burns almost all the way to his own century. It was incredible, it was fantastic, and it should have been the man of the match award. Oops. It looks like someone was just looking at the scores, not the context.
9 – Marnus Labuschagne – 185 – It is hard to imagine that this was Labuschagne’s first test century, and that, before this innings, his test average was just on 30, but that is the reality. Finally, Labuschagne had an easy situation with no pressure on whatsoever, as he walked in to bat with Australia just 18 runs behind Pakistan’s first innings score, the bowlers having well and truly given up on the match, and he made hay. Nowhere near the quality of Warner’s innings, but a good first test century just the same. He has really matured since making his Test debut a year ago, and is going from strength to strength.
9 – Joe Burns – 97 – This was a fantastic effort under immense pressure, and, but for unluckily chopping on, what I call “messy bowled”, he would have had a century, which is a very big deal, given he didn’t even play in the Ashes. His last test innings before this was 180, which makes me wonder why Bancroft leapfrogged him for the Ashes. He looks like he has gone a long way towards solidifying his spot opening the innings.
8 – Matthew Wade – 60 – There wasn’t a lot of pressure on by the time that Wade came in, with Australia leading by heaps and just setting up for a declaration, or, as it turned out, to be bowled out and try to win by an innings, but he still had to score the runs. Given that everyone else was out cheaply, this was a very mature innings that has raised his profile that much higher.
8 – Mitchell Starc – 4/52 & 3/73 – Every time we drop Starc we regret it. Can we all agree not to drop him? 7/125 are incredible match figures, yet people were still criticising him. He’s a world class bowler, even if he is ever so slightly behind Cummins and maybe even Hazlewood right now. He’s still amazing and he is especially good at the start and end of innings. Let’s give him that.
8 – Josh Hazlewood – 2/46 & 4/63 – He was fantastic, and very reliable. Perhaps not at his absolute best but not far off it.
7 – Pat Cummins – 3/60 & 2/69 – The world’s number 1 bowler was a little off his game, or perhaps he didn’t need to be at his absolute peak, but match figures of 5/129 are still pretty good.
7 – Tim Paine – 3ct/3ct & 13 runs – His wicket keeping was fantastic, but his batting wasn’t quite as good. With speculation growing that he will soon give up his spot in the side for the younger and more impressive Alex Carey, he is making the most of whatever remains of his time in the side, and as captain.
5 – Nathan Lyon – 1/40 & 1/74 – Lyon had an unusual role at the ‘Gabba, not to take wickets so much as to create a situation where the other bowlers could. It would have been easy to have left him out of the side and play a 4th fast bowler, perhaps James Pattinson, but Lyon made the left-handers nervous and helped the other bowlers. It’s that variety that a good spinner creates.
5 – Travis Head – 24 – It’s hard to criticise him too much, given the situation, where runs didn’t really matter, but he still should have capitalised a bit more than this, especially with his position on the line.
2 – Steve Smith – 4 – It wasn’t even a good ball. He needs to start treating Yasir Shah with a bit more respect. Not good at all. Luckily it didn’t matter, but Smith will want to do better than this.
9 – Mohammad Rizwan – 4 ct & 37 & 95 – He didn’t do a whole lot wrong here. Good keeping, good fighting in both innings, and he very nearly got a century too. Definitely Pakistan’s best player, and looks set to be Pakistan’s wicket keeper for a while to come.
8 – Yasir Shah – 4/205 & 42 – Probably Pakistan’s best bowler, he got rid of Steve Smith for 4, but that didn’t really matter as Mohammad Abbas was oddly left out.
7 – Babar Azam – 1 & 104 – This was Babar Azam’s first test century, incredibly, and he did it when Pakistan had well and truly lost the match, but he still tried to give them a hope, and perhaps, just perhaps, had they got a lead and then bowled like the wind then maybe, just maybe. It’s not his fault that Pakistan lost. Perhaps he will be known as more than just a white ball player. Virat Kohli started out as a white ball player too. So did David Warner.
7 – Asad Shafiq – 76 & 0 – His backs-to-the-wall first innings effort was great to watch, as he helped Pakistan to recover to what looked like it might be competitive, except that it ultimately wasn’t thanks to Australia’s top 3. His second innings duck let him and his side down but the match was well and truly lost by then.
6 – Shan Masood – 27 & 42 – He started off so well, with an opening partnership of 75 to start the match, but when he was out it started a collapse, and his second innings effort, which was even more runs, wasn’t enough. Not his fault, though.
5 – Shaheen Shah Afridi – 2/96 – He is an exciting bowler who is great to watch and he kept bursting in. He should keep his spot.
4 – Naseem Shah – 1/68 – He was excited when he thought he had his first wicket, only to be disallowed due to a no-ball and you saw his quality and confidence drop afterwards. It was exciting for him to have a test debut at 16 but expect Mohammad Abbas to come in, perhaps at his expense, for the 2nd test.
4 – Azhar Ali – 39 & 5 – He started off well with his opening partnership, better than expected, but then he was a part of the collapse and his second innings effort was below par. He’s better than this.
3 – Imran Khan – 1/73 – Not test level. His namesake absolutely was, but this bowler who doesn’t bat is not test level. Not even close.
1 – Haris Sohail – 1 & 8 – Lucky to be in the side, there is very little we can say about this.
0 – Iftikhar Ahmed – 7 & 0 & 0/53 – I don’t understand what he was doing in the side. He was an all-rounder who was included on the basis of his scores and wickets in the warm-up match, but he clearly isn’t test level, or in form. It was about as daft as Australia playing Bancroft in the Ashes and was similarly disastrous.