Duly, let us run the rule over the teams players starting with the hosts Australia
1st Test Team:
David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus.
The T20 mauler proved without a shadow of a doubt that he is Test class in playing one of the best innings of the year in his 123* against New Zealand in Hobart. He is renowned for he devastating attacking flair, but on watching him closely. He has a decent technique to potentially make him into a very fine Test batsman. In time he could develop into a dominating Test opener in the style of the great Roy Fredericks or Matthew Hayden
Series Rating- 8/10- India better beware against this lad, for he has the potential to have a match winning effect on games. Especially on the flatter tracks like Adelaide and Perth
A great selection for the Test Team, and though we cannot predict whether Cowan will be a success in the big time. If he is, then he will be a perfect opening partner for the attack minded Warner. In the respect that Cowan is very much in the batting style of the old style of opener. Very like England's Alistair Cook in style. In regards to very defense minded, no risk and resolute batsman. That, if successful will replace the balance that was lost to the Team with the inexplicable axing of Simon Katich.
Series Rating- 7/10: I am a huge fan of Cowan, and his style of batting, and are very confident of him being a success in Test Cricket.
Potentially, a very decent Test number 3 for Australia. He has the technique, the temperament, and a nice array of attacking shots. His fitness for this first Test, and series was a huge bonus for Australia in the wake of there recent struggles in their top 4. Having him at 3 means that you will have a batsman that has the pedigree to be a consistent and decisive contributor in this series
Series Rating: 8/10: A huge inclusion for Australia, and a batsman that will make all the Indian bowlers work
Should have been the one that was told to retire after the Ashes embarrassment, rather than Simon Katich. Then after his efforts against New Zealand, he should have been told to go or we will axe you. Ultimately the injury to Shane Watson, and the lack of depth in Australia Test standard batting reserves saved him for this game. Though he is a shadow of his former peerless self, and has become an anchor around the batting line ups neck. A top 3, that has been retooled will help him, but he should retire
Series Rating 3/10: One of the best batsmen ever for Australia, but now a dead man walking in the Test arena. He is finished, and needs to go
Michael Clarke (C)
The Australian Skipper this year has been like the little girl with the curl in regards to when he is good, he is very very good, but when he is bad, he is horrid. His innings of 151 against an excellent South African attack supported by bowling conditions in Capetown recently was arguably the best Test innings of 2011. Inconsistent, but the most talented batsman in the Australian line up, and one that India has to control if they want to win the series. Outside of his batting, his Captaincy tenure has been characterised by innovation, enthusiasm, and attack mindedness.
Series Rating 8/10: The man India needs to control, and a batsman that could dominate this series
Mr Cricket has struggled mightily of late having averaged just over 11 in his last 7 innings after a dominating display in Sri Lanka. There have been calls for his head, but there were similar calls before the Ashes of last year, and we saw how he responded in that series. Doubts have entered my mind over Hussey, but belief still is my dominant feeling for him. So I can see him proving the critics wrong, and being a contributor in this series. Especially against the Indian spinners with his attacking mindset
Series Rating 6/10: His recent form dictates his rating being lowered, but I think come the end of the series we might be rating him an 8/10
The Aussie incumbent Keeper/Batsman exemplifies the saying 'If you live by the sword, then you die by the Sword'. So has been his reality of late with him being criticised for a host of soft dismissals due to his risky style of attacking batting. A style that has people stand and applaud when it comes off or have people make excuses for it when the team is winning. Though when they are struggling, and losing the 8th ranked Teams like New Zealand on home turf after 26 years. Then there is a target placed on Haddins head in the sincerest manner
Series Rating 5/10: In truth if the excellent Tim Paine was fit, Haddin would be gone, and a few struggles in the early part of this series. It is as sure as taxes that he will be dropped
Truly remarkable debut series by the Victorian fast man against New Zealand. Though his performance needs to be put into context by the fact he was bowling against a very amateurish Kiwi batting line up, and supported by bowling friendly conditions. In this series against the batting mighty Indian and on pitches that are more than likely going to be in the favour of batsmen. It will be interesting to see how he goes. The key to his success will be how much swing he can get, and duly how much damage he can do with the new ball. Then in his 2nd and 3rd spells whether he is able to show he can get reverse swing
Series Rating 7/10: He deserves this rating out of respect for his exceptional debut series, but I fear he might find the going rather more difficult against this mighty Indian batting line up.
The big hearted aggressive quick man has been very decent of late with his ability to ruffle the feathers of batsmen, and duly lead them into temptation, and their demise. Most of the Indian batsmen have Zen like temperaments, and Siddle could use every antic in the book, and it would not make them bat an eyelid. Duly with his mental hold gone, he needs to rely more on his bowling skill. Which is very respectable, but is it refined enough to threaten the mighty Indians?
Series Rating 6/10: I have the greatest respect for Siddle, but his success is built on his skill, but also facilitated with a lot of mental bluff over batsmen. That works against some, but not against the very best.
A bowler capable of getting the ball through at 140 kms an hour with lethal swing both in and out. He has destroyed it in the Sheffield Shield this year, and if he can replicate the same form in this Test series. Then India better beware against him
Series Rating 8/10: Hopefully Michael Clarke has the good sense to give Hilfenhaus the new ball over Peter Siddle. For with his lethal outswinger, he could be the perfect man to control the danger man Virender Sehwag.
This very decent little twirler has been the answer to the Australia prayers in terms of representing the long term spinner that they have so craved. Though against the master maulers of spin in the Indians, I do not like Lyon's prospects, and can see him being destroyed. Especially if he has to bowl to the Indian batsmen with them on top, and if Sehwag is on a tear. My God, the lad will get vertigo from watching the ball sail high over his head, and into the stands.
Series Rating 4/10: A very decent bowler, but the Indians put immortals like Shane Warne to the sword, so what they do to Lyon could be very ugly
Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, M.S.Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
The key man in the Indian batting line up, and a player that has excelled in past tours to Australia. As his average of 59.50 in Aussie conditions shows. The key to his success will be how he contends with the excellent swing of the Australian new ball bowlers. If he can survive this, there is every likelihood that he will devastate in this series.
Series Rating 9/10: I think he will destroy the Aussies in this series. Especially on the batting friendly decks that are anticipated in this series.
An excellent player, that has had a less than stellar 2011. So the question in this series will be whether he can rediscover the form that made him one of the best openers in the game. I love Gambhir, but just his batting of late does not inspire hope. Duly, I can see him threaten in this series, but never quite fully deliver.
Series Rating 6/10: A great player, but struggling of late
His batting in England against an exceptional attack that saw all of his revered batting mates fail was truly awe inspiring. Testimony to the soundest technique and the steeliest temperament. In this series, only Blind Freddy would doubt him being the same regal force
Series Rating 9/10: Dravid will give all the Australian bowlers cold sweats out of sheer frustration at how to get him out.
The Little Master has struggled in 2011, but it makes you believe that he will be at his very best in this series. I really believe that he will leave a huge mark on this series, and for all those anxious Indians awaiting his 100th International hundred. Well, I think he will score a huge one in the 2nd Test in Sydney
Series Rating 9/10: I can see Sachin dominating in this series
The Very Very Special Laxman, and he will be just that in this series!
He is like a duck to water in the Aussie conditions, and duly we can expect a few master classes from him in this series
Series Rating 9.5/10: In Aussie conditions, Laxman is the MAN!
The lad has talent, but as we saw in the Caribbean he has a major weakness against the short ball. That I am sure the Australian quick men will victimise to the hilt. I think he will be replaced in the team by Rohit Sharma by the 3rd Test
Series Rating 4/10: Great player on batting decks, but on Aussie pitches with their characteristic bounce. I think he will be found out.
I am not sold on Dhoni as a Test Captain or a Test class batsman away from the comforts of Asia. There is little doubt that he is a marvellous leader in the shorter forms of the game, but in Test Cricket he is too defensive as we saw in South Africa last year. There are question marks over his batting as well, but in this series you can see him playing a few typically match changing knocks on some of the flatter pitches. His Captaincy will be decisive in India's chances in this series, and on that point I have a huge doubt over his calibre
Series Rating 6/10: Too defensive as a Test Captain, and it is hoped Duncan Fletcher's influence will add a more attacking mindset into his tactics. His batting is likely to be down on its Asian threat, but still capable of ripping the Aussies to ribbons
Like James Pattinson for Australia, this very skilled and big hearted unorthodox off spinner had a stellar debut series against the West Indies. His figure need to be put into context by the fact that the West Indies batting line up were clueless against any type of spin. Duly, in this series greater truth will be seen about Ashwin, and though I can see him being a factor. I cannot see him being a decisive factor.
Series Rating 6/10: Talented bowler and useful batsman, but playing the Aussies is a bit harder than beating up on the amateurish West Indies
If Zaheer was fit and firing, there is little doubt in my mind that he would destroy the Aussie batting with his mastery of all types of swing. Though, life is never about if, buts, and maybes!
So the reality is that Zaheer is coming back from a major injury, and there must be a huge question mark over his fitness for this series
Series Rating 5/10: I am the hugest fan of Zaheer, but the doubts over his body dictates that you rate him lower than you would if he was fit
A bowler that showed in the early parts of his career that he had everything to be a very fine Test bowler, but all he has done for the most part since is frustrate. Picked up an injury in the lead up game. Which attaches more doubt to his ability to be a factor in the series
Series Rating 4/10: His inconsistency rankles me, and the recent injury has me on the verge of writing him off
Strong, big hearted, bowls fast and swings the ball.....
There is a lot to like about young Umesh Yadav, and the Aussie conditions will be so to his liking. I think a few Aussie batsmen will be happy to see the back of him after this series
Series Rating 7/10: I think he will be the surprise packet of the series