Last week, we started off our selection process for picking The Roar’s greatest Ashes XI. With about 1000 votes lodged on the initial poll, it’s now time to finalise the team.
Cheteshwar Pujara is not only the outstanding performer in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, but he’s been the most significant reason why the baggy greens have mentally disintegrated.
Pujara has been relentless, with patience beyond Job.
He’s batted a tick over 30 hours to accumulate 521 runs facing 1258 deliveries.
To put that in context, Pujara has out-performed three of Australia’s top order on his own.
Aaron Finch has scored 97 off 214, Usman Khawaja 194 off 580, and Shaun Marsh 183 off 440, totalling 474 runs off 1234 deliveries.
Throw in Pujara’s three tons – 123, 106, and a series high 193 – and he’s a binocular distance ahead of Australia’s rookie top scorer Marcus Harris’ 79.
And he’s been joined by Virat Kohli’s 123, Rishabh Plant’s career-high 159*, and Ravi Jadeja’s 81 – all more than Harris.
As a result, India will win the series 3-1, a first Down Under, and thanks to Pujara’s inspiration Australia’s world-class four-prong attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon has been put to the sword.
Lyon is the only one of the four to have this series average better than his career average.
He’s bowled a marathon 242 overs to be the leading wicket-taker with 21 at 30.42 – career average 31.95.
But the three quicks are well above career averages.
Cummins has bowled 145 overs to take 14 at 27.78 – career average 23.25.
Hazlewood’s 152 overs has netted 13 at 30.61 – career average 26.83, while Starc’s 139 overs have yielded 13 at 34.53 – career average 28.43.
They’ve bowled 678 over between them to capture all 60 wickets, while the part-time bowlers have bowled just 53 overs with combined figures of 0-174.
No wonder the big four are so knackered in intense heat they have been left out of the three-match ODI series against India to charge their batteries for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka.
To add insult to injury, six Indian bowlers have a better average than Cummins’ Australian best of 27.78.
Jasprit Bumrah’s 20 wickets have cost only 16.80 apiece, Kuldeep Yadav’s three at 23.66, Ishant Sharma’s 11 cost 23.81, Ravi Ashwin’s six at 24.83, Ravi Jadeja’s seven cost 27, and Mohammad Shami’s 15 at 27.40.
The last straw is that skipper Tim Paine has won only one of his seven tosses since Steve Smith was suspended – and that’s the only Test the Australians have won.
On the other side of the coin, Virat Kohli has never lost a Test when he’s won the toss and that record after the SCG will stretch to 19 wins and three draws.
So it’s been one-way traffic, and the Australian selectors have as much to blame as the players.
Thankfully, it’s only 82 sleeps until Steve Smith and David Warner are again available for selection.