Monday, December 19, 2016

Player Ratings, 1st Test, Australia versus Pakistan


David Warner- ( 32 and 12 )- 5/10

The cavalier opener after burning it up in the ODI series against New Zealand showed what a flawed guide that this form of the game is when going into test cricket. With him continuing on with his struggles from 2016 that has seen him average 35.52 with only one century. He still contributed to the team with his efforts in the field that afforded great support to the bowling unit.

Matt Renshaw ( 71 & 6, 2 catches ) - 7/10

You have to love his boyish charm that is captured in the sincere smile often adorning his face. He is just what Australia needs with his resolute batting at the top that is very able to shift through the gears between defence and attack. The highlight in this is his heady game awareness and knowing when to attack as well as defend.

Adding to his package is he looks like a natural at 1st slip with beautiful soft hands

Usman Khawaja ( 0 & 74, 3 catches ) 6/10

Khawaja's game was a bit of a contrast.

Done like a kipper by Yasir's guileful flight in the first innings highlighting his glaring weakness against spin but batting with real surety in the second. In the field, the contrast was similar, looking brilliant in the slips but a liability away from them standing out in the epic 4th innings chase by Pakistan

Steven Smith ( 130 & 63, 4 catches ) 7/10

Smith was superlative with his batting being the difference between the teams. The aside to this was he was nearly a key in Pakistan pulling off a remarkable win with some truly abject Captaincy as well as key drops in slips.

IF, and we all realise there are no 'if's' in the game Pakistan had of won, Smith would have stolen the highlights for all the wrong reasons.

Peter Handscombe ( 105 & 35* ) 8/10

A great match for the youngster highlighted by his debut century coming in only his second test. Despite having an eccentric technique where he goes so far back inviting LBW as well as playing with bat well away from his pad on most occasions, he has looked brilliant in the infancy of his Test career.

He will sure to come under greater inspection going forward but has inspired hopes of being an answer to Australia's many batting ills.

Nic Maddinson ( 1 & 4 ) 1/10

Maddinson makes me revert to a key characteristic of my Irish heritage, potatoes

The guy is a complete 'spud' and shouldn't even be in the New South Wales team, let alone wearing the Baggy Green

Matthew Wade ( 7 & 1*, 6 catches ) 2/10 

It is evident Wade was selected to offer leadership support to Smith. A decision you can support with the amount of experienced players retiring recently depriving Smith of the leadership support he has needed.

Sadly, Wade yapping like an obnoxious Chihuahua seems to be the selector's definition of leadership. With his greater reality being he is an accident waiting to happen behind the stumps as well as pretty average with the bat.

Mitchell Starc ( 182/7 )- 9/10

After being grinded into the turf with his workload in the 4th innings, Starc still dug deep to find something to deliver the killer blow to Pakistan by dismissing Asad Shafiq. It was a delivery out of nowhere, at a time when it looked very likely that Pakistan would pull off an outrageous victory.

The ability to do this is a real mark of greatness

Josh Hazelwood ( 121/3 )- 8/10

His figures give scant respect to how good Hazelwood was in this game. Virtually unplayable in the first innings and so complete in his bowling in the second. Where he imposed intense pressure on the Pakistani batting with his unyielding lines as well as the threat contained in them. He went wicketless in the second which was a travesty, but he created so many opportunities for his bowling mates with his all round excellence.

Nathan Lyon ( 139/2 ) - 2/10 

It looks like Lyon's days in the Aussie team might be coming to an end soon. He struggled mightily in this game with it standing out the lack of faith Captain Steven Smith has in him. If Steven O'Keefe was fit, or there was another spinner tearing it up in the Shield, it would not surprise to see Lyon dropped for the 2nd test at the MCG.

Jackson Bird ( 133/6 ) 8/10 

Great game by Bird as the supporting quick to the bowling spearheads. He is so deceptive in his threat with his underrated pace as well as intelligent bowling.


Azhar Ali ( 5 & 71, 1 catch )- 7/10

It seems apparent Azhar is Misbah's replacement as Captain and it would not surprise to see him take over after this test. He had a maybe game with the bat, failing in the first and commandeering the unlikely victory charge in the second. He was looking so good, only to be a tad unlucky to glove a ball to the keeper down the leg when a big century looked on the cards. 

I like him opening, but the word is he is likely to revert to 3 starting in Melbourne 

Sami Aslam ( 22 & 15 ) - 4/10

Has the technique to be a long term opener with it built around a resolute defence as well as a steely mindset. At this stage in his development, he lacks the ability to turn the scoreboard over which puts undue pressure on his batting partners to assume this responsibility. Still a babe at 21, but Sami needs to be more proactive in accumulating runs to be a benefit to his team rather than a potential downside.

Babar Azam ( 19&14, 1 catch )- 4/10

I fear this youngster will be dropped for Melbourne and I think it will be a mistake. It is not right to give excuses for his two failures but he had to bat in night time conditions under real pressure in both innings. The other standout is he is Pakistan's future number 3 but in the now he should be batting at 5 until he fully establishes himself in the game.

Younus Khan ( 0&65, 1 catch )- 4/10

First ball duck in the first innings and committed batting suicide in the second when he looked set for a big one. The reverse sweep in the 2nd innings was both inexplicable and inexcusable and in hindsight might have been the difference between Pakistan winning and losing. The sad part is it went against the grain of Younus Khan, who has always been revered for his batting skill as well as feared for his intelligence at the crease. Very like the iconic Miandad in his ability to sum up a game quicker than anyone and adapt to its needs. 

The choice he made seems to point to Father Time lurking in his shadow.

Misbah ul Huq ( 4&5, 2 catches) - 2/10

I feel remiss being critical of a cricketer I am in complete awe of, but Misbah was very lacking. 

Looked a fish out of the water with the bat and his Captaincy was terrible. Key in this was the tactics he employed to Yasir Shah that took the acid of an Australian batting line up very suspect against spin by limiting the masterful leggies ability to be a factor.

Asad Shafiq ( 2&137, 3 catches ) 8/10 

Should be batting at 3, with his  perfect blend of defence and attack

He left Brisbane a real hero after an innings from the top drawer. With his 137 coming under intense pressure and so intelligent in its composition. His tactics on the last day while spearheading the chase were brilliant making the Aussies bowl to him with a real emphasis on driving the ones most feared in Starc and Hazelwood into the turf. 

Only an extraordinary effort from Starc usurped him when it seemed inevitable that he would see the outrageous chase through to victory. 

Away from his batting, his catching in slips cannot be understated in its value to the team.

Sarfraz Ahmed ( 59*& 24, 3 catches ) 7/10 

Sarfraz is arguably the best keeper/batsman in the world with his combination of surety behind the stumps combined with his deadly dangerous batting a delightful package. The other side to him of such appeal is he has 'real mongrel' in him- Aussie slang for the fight, resoluteness and sheer bloodymindedness in the midst of a scrap. He laps up pressure with his best efforts coming when the team most needs it 

Great cricketer!

Mohammad Amir ( 134/5, 21&48 ) 7/10

A Beautiful bowler that will leave a real mark on this series before it is over. His batting was eye opening giving every indication that he could be a very talented bowling allrounder, quite capable of averaging 25 with the bat. The perfect comparison would be the type of test career that the iconic Wasim Akram had with the bat when looking forward for Amir.

The other side of him that so appeals is his competitiveness, the reference I gave previously for Sarfraz is very apt for Amir as well

Yasir Shah ( 174/3 & 1&33 )- 6/10

It was sad watching his potential effect limited by the very curious fields employed to him forcing him to bowl a self-defeating line. The tactics all the more mystifying by Mickey Arthur being coach of Pakistan who was the previous coach of Australia and bore witness to their battings frailty against any type of spin. A high calibre spinner like Yasir if supported would be short odds to furrow all the Aussie brows leaving a fair few in cold sweats.

Wahab Riaz ( 136/5 & 1&30 )- 7/10

Real heart in his bowling, as well as having a lovely bit of nasty in him with him loving to make the batsman hop. When he gets into a rhythm, he is more than capable to get the ball through at 150kmh while keeping it consistently at a pace in the mid 140's. He has the skill to go with his pace underlining that he has underperformed in his test career to date. This point, more a compliment of what his attractive bowling package could represent.

Rahat Ali ( 114/2 )- 3/10

Tried his best, but lacked the pace to really trouble the batsman on what was a very true pitch. The pace trio of three lefties lacked balance, and it would be wise to bring in a right-handed to complete the attack with variety.

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