Ten things we learned from the Australian summer of cricket

David Holden Roar Guru

By David Holden, David Holden is a Roar Guru


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    This weekend we’ve seen the World Club Challenge and club trials in rugby league, AFLX and ALFW in Australian Rules and the 2018 season of Super Rugby kicking off in South Africa.

    The footy season is upon us which inevitably means that the summer of cricket is drawing to a close.

    In a period of just over three months, we’ve seen a women’s Ashes Series, a men’s Ashes series, domestic cricket in all its forms and an international one day series. We finish up with Australia in the final of a Twenty20 tri series mid week and the final of the women’s domestic one day series next weekend in Sydney.

    At the start of the season, most Australian supporters would have settled for the men’s team winning the Ashes back from England. Not many would have tipped the 4-0 scoreline. However, we learnt plenty more than that during the summer.

    Here are my top ten of what we learned. Please feel free, disagree or indeed add to the list.

    1. We will start with the obvious. Steve Smith is the best Test batsman in the world. His statistics over the five Tests were amazing: 687 runs, a double century, two centuries, two fifties and an average of 137.4.

    The forecast battle of the captains between Steve Smith and Joe Root became a non event. Steve Smith was dominant. The stress of winning the Test series led to fatigue and a disappointing one day series for Smith but he is now well rested and ready for a tougher assignment in South Africa;

    Steve Smith

    (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

    2. Apart from being an outstanding role model for girls interested in playing cricket, Ellyse Perry confirmed her high standing in the game with a 213no against England in the one off Test match. The Australian women’s team won the Ashes, the Perry captained Sydney Sixers won the WBBL and the NSW Breakers are into the final of the one day tournament next weekend. All in all, not a bad summer for Ellyse Perry!

    3. If there was a chink in the Australian batting order through the Test matches, it was probably Cameron Bancroft. A series that promised so much with his unbeaten 82 at the Gabba morphed into a battle for Bancroft, who looked sadly out of touch by Sydney. His form for the Perth Scorchers was good so he hopefully will regain it against South Africa.

    If not, he will be looking over his shoulder at Matt Renshaw, who has been scoring plenty of runs for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield of late;

    4. Typically, after an Ashes loss, someone in the UK media will blame the first class cricket set up in England. While we all snigger at another excuse, there may be something in it. There is a lot more Twenty20 and one day matches in English cricket, which is perhaps behind their high standing in these two forms of cricket.

    It may have been a detriment to their Test cricket however, with James Vince and Mark Stoneman consistently wafting at balls that they should have left to the keeper.

    5. At the start of the summer, Alex Carey, Peter Nevill and perhaps even Matt Wade were in the race to be the Australian wicketkeeper for the Ashes series. When Tim Paine was picked, many were questioning the intelligence of the selectors, but it proved a masterstroke with Paine having a great summer.

    Tim Paine is 33 years old and the choice of an experienced head for the pressure of an Ashes series and an away South African series was a sound one. Alex Carey’s BBL form and composure in his limited international appearances to date means that he is now firmly next in line;

    6. Much has been made of the Marsh brothers this summer and the statistics speak for themselves. Shaun Marsh found consistency over the series whist Mitchell Marsh had obviously worked tirelessly on his batting while injured.

    Playing against a strong South African pace attack on wickets suiting the bowling will test the entire Australian batting unit, but if these two can continue their form into this series, Australia will be a strong chance;

    Shaun Marsh

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    7. D’Arcy Short seems to be taking the David Warner route, with his strong BBL form leading to a spot in the Australian Twenty20 team and an impressive start thus far…and all this before he has really cemented a spot in a Sheffield Shield line up. There’s plenty of water to flow under the bridge as yet, but it will be great to watch his development over the next few years.

    8. We all knew that Joe Root was a great batsman coming into this Ashes series. Not all of us knew that his one failure was his inability to convert many fifties into hundreds. If we didn’t know it before, we certainly knew it after with Root scoring five fifties and no centuries. While he still topped the batting averages for the English team, the difference between him and the Australian captain could not have been any starker.

    England's Joe Root during day four of the the second Investec Test match at Headingley, Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 28, 2017. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire.

    (Nigel French/PA Wire)

    9. It is a battle between Australia and South Africa for the best bowling attack in the world. England’s only draw was on a road in Melbourne with Mitchell Starc out of the attack. At full strength, the Australian attack consistently dismissed England on wickets good for batting. As much as Australia’s batting line up will be a tested in South Africa, Australia’s bowlers will be counting down the days.

    10. Australia women’s cricket is on the rise. North Sydney Oval was the venue for the Test match and it also held two double headers over consecutive days in the WBBL. All matches had attendances that far exceeded expectations and TV ratings are also on the rise.

    The WBBL/BBL home double headers drew good crowds while the WBBL also hit a number of regional centres. The end goal of Cricket Australia would be to attract large crowds to stand alone matches and that’s why I think we will see a lot of women’s matches towards the start of the Australian summer in years to come.

    So, there we are at the end of a summer of cricket where the Australian teams have largely excelled and we’ve learnt plenty. For the men, a tour to South Africa awaits while the women will shortly hop on a plane to India. The summer of cricket may be over but cricket itself never stops.

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • February 18th 2018 @ 4:13am
      Bellamorey said | February 18th 2018 @ 4:13am | ! Report

      The last week also showed how terrible the channel 9 coverage of the sport has become. Cricket Australia want to be very careful about the next rights deal in regards to the Big Bash. Money will be a factor, but I know many people who won’t watch it if it leaves 10.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 7:46am
        Michael Keeffe said | February 18th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        I think channel 9 need to be careful they don’t think ratings means they are providing a good product. People love the cricket so they endure the commentary team to watch the cricket often with the noise turned down. For test matches I paused the cricket and watched it on 10-15 second delay so that it lined up with the Triple M radio commentary I had playing.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 1:09pm
          Mick_Lions said | February 18th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Wow! I wish I’d thought of that Michael!
          Loved the Triple M team.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 1:23pm
          Mick_Lions said | February 18th 2018 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          The selectors do deserve credit for their test and T20 teams. I for one thought they’d dropped their marbels all over the floor when they picked the Marsh bros.

          I’m glad someone mentioned scheduling.
          The BBL had massive public support and the final should have been considered a show case.

          Triple M’s commentary was fantastic and they deserve credit.

          Ben Cummins deserves special mention for finally delivering a full series and showing us why he was so hyped as an 18 yr old. Definitely a star on the rise.

          Elyse Perry may well pull a Cameron Smith this year by winning everything she plays as captain and being the best in the country and perhaps the world.
          She. Is. Awesome.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 9:28am
        Don Freo said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        I’ll bet they won’t. Those threats are always more talk than action. Very few watch sport for the commentators.

    • February 18th 2018 @ 7:50am
      Jason Cave said | February 18th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      It’ll be interesting to see what will come out of the next TV rights. Will Nine keep cricket as they have since 1979, or would it be a Nine/Ten/Fox Sports partnership?

    • February 18th 2018 @ 7:56am
      J Ball said | February 18th 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Khawaja should be in all three formats. Form was brilliant in the BBL and has done well in odis in the past. They should also play Shaun Marsh in all three too, injury permitting. They keep pigeon-holing these guys as test players but they’ve shown they’re world class in the shorter forms of the game

      • February 18th 2018 @ 8:17am
        Jameswm said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        How can you squeeze those 2 into our T20 batting lineup? Who goes? Short? Finch? Maxwell?

        • February 18th 2018 @ 11:40am
          Stephen said | February 18th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          I agree, khawaja is actually a better T20 and ODI player then even the longer formats, for T20 he is a class above anyone else at the moment, i would slot him in as opener with warner when all test stars are availalbe for T20

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 12:46pm
        Ryan H said | February 18th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        Khawaja deserves it, I agree, especially based on his blistering BBL knocks almost every time he kits up for the Thunder. But the Aus T20 side has performed far better than expected I think, and now the question is where would you even fit Usman in?

        Because it’s hard to see who he now displaces from a top six of Warner, Short, Lynn, Maxwell, Finch and Stoinis – which is extremely powerful and dynamic.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 5:55pm
          Flemo said | February 18th 2018 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

          Ryan you make good points, Khawaja is the most valuable player to the Thunder, their win rate with Khawaja playing is absurdly good and without him they almost always lose. Khawaja should be playing in the T20 side and at the minimum he should be part of the 12 man squad

    • February 18th 2018 @ 8:10am
      DavSA said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      My disagreement with this article is that after watching the recently concluded SA vs India Test series is that ,ahem , Virat Kholi and not Steve Smith is the nr 1 test batsman in the world.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 8:19am
        Jameswm said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        So you missed last year’s India v Australia series then, when Smith owned Kohli (in India)?

        And you know better than the rankings, which have Smith miles ahead?

        • February 18th 2018 @ 2:56pm
          DavSA said | February 18th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          Nope , did not miss it James. I had this same discussion recently with Ronan and his argument was the same as yours . That was based on a single series where Kohli was in a form slump. I too have based my argument on a single series ie. SA vs India . On spiteful wickets and with the ball doing plenty he was the only batsman on either side to show some command at the crease . The likes of ABDV and Amla despite having home advantage and having played tons of cricket in their careers on pacy SA wickets looked lost at sea.I am aware of test rankings and do not ignore them but they are not an exact science. Too many variables.When AUS arrive here shortly we will then see just how good Smith really is .He is going to be tested.

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 4:32pm
            Matt H said | February 19th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            I hear you and time will tell, but at the moment Smith’s away average is still better than Kohli’s overall average, even after Kohli’s brilliant South African series. Smith has a better record in most countries than Kohli.

            Ranking may not be an exact science, but Smith’s recent rankings are miles in front of all others. He now has a ranking that only Bradman has bettered.

            Having said all of that, Kohli went to another level in South Africa.

            I’m happy to say that these two are the standouts at the moment and who is considered better may fluctuate series by series. Sort of a Lara vs. Tendulkar narrative.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 18th 2018 @ 8:25am
        savage said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report


        IMO Kohli and Ab devilliers are easily Best batsmen of this generation.(Majority of cricketers and Fans also thinks so).They Both are True master of all three Formats.But I think Amla and Smith are better test batsmen than duo of AB/Kohli.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 1:12pm
          Mick_Lions said | February 18th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

          I actually agree that Kohli and ABdV or better all round batsmen as they dominate in all formats.
          Smith is hands down the best TEST batsmen in the world.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 4:34pm
          Matt H said | February 19th 2018 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          Amla is the only player to come close on an all round basis. He doesn’t get the accolades, but his ODI stats are close to Kohli’s. Amla is the only one close to Kohli’s innings per century. Amla has beaten Kohli to all the ODI runs milestones (i.e. first to 1,000 runs, 2,000, runs etc).

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 10:24am
        David Holden said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        DavSA, pretty sure that no one would argue against Kohli being best in the world across all 3 formats. However, Smith is well in front in terms of test matches.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 10:09pm
        Dexter The Hamster said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

        Here I was thinking we could get through a discussion about the Australian cricket summer without mention of King Kohli, but here we are, about 4 comments in, and here he is. And from a saffa…

        • February 19th 2018 @ 12:27am
          DavSA said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:27am | ! Report

          Ha ha Dexter , but I simply cannot ignore what I see on the Park. Take Kholi out the equation and India would have been humiliated. He can bat.

    • February 18th 2018 @ 8:53am
      JohnB said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      I think with Pat Cummins getting through the season we learned that the Cricket Australia rehab department knows a thing or two. Which then gives some hope that at some point – maybe the next Ashes in Australia – there’ll be an Australian attack with Cummins and Stanlake in it.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 9:33am
        Don Freo said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        I wouldn’t credit the rehab department with that.

        They would need to explain the absence of Pattinson, NCN, Behrendorff, Paris, Stanlake from domestic 4 day cricket…all Oz merchandise they keep warehoused.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 4:35pm
          Matt H said | February 19th 2018 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Yes, if they can get Pattinson on the field for a whole season, then I’ll be converted.

    • February 18th 2018 @ 10:17am
      Paul said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      The 11th thing we learnt was CA has zero idea about schedulling. The domestic ODI series was an early season after thought, there was no 4 day cricket once the Tests started and the debacle with players not being available for the BBL finals games because they were playing for Australia verges on the incompetent.

      The 12th thing we learnt was to the selectors need to pick players in form. They did so in Tests and T20, but why Maxwell didn’t get a run from game one in the ODIs. or why Smith continued to be chosen when clearly mentally tired, are questions the selectors need to think about moving forward.

      The 13th thing is how much Lyon has progressed as a spinner in the past few years. Made Moween Ali look like a trundler, picked up key wickets in nearly every innings and was more than useful in the field. I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t have a big say in at least one of the SA Tests.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 10:28am
        David Holden said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Paul, agree completely re Nathan Lyon. From someone who barely held onto his spot just over 12 months ago, he would be one of the first picked now.