The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement

Opinion

PLAYER RATINGS: All about Usman, but England's heroic rearguard steals the show

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
9th January, 2022
13
4848 Reads

Usman Khawaja’s twin centuries were the dominant force in the fourth Ashes Test, but a stonewalling final-day rearguard from England ensured the effort would be in vain.

After once again controlling much of the match, led by Khawaja’s batting heroics, the visitors would escape the SCG by the barest of margins, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and, at the death, Jimmy Anderson holding firm to ensure there would be no series whitewash.

Here are The Roar’s player ratings for the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia

Marcus Harris – 5
After his match-high 76 at the MCG, the opener again showed signs he’s turned the corner from his wretched form earlier in the series. However, his continued inability to build from starts has left his spot in serious jeopardy heading into the fifth Test.

To his credit, Harris saw off the new ball in both innings, doing his part to give the Australian middle order, including Usman Khawaja, the best possible chance to succeed. But scores of 38 and 27 are just as frustrating as his single-figure scores from the first two Tests of the summer, and will give his critics plenty of ammunition to suggest Khawaja replace him at the top of the order in Hobart.

Advertisement

David Warner – 4
Has frequently bossed it at the SCG over his career, so Warner’s lack of a big score this time around came as something of a surprise.

Once again showed he has added a cautious side to his game of late with a 72-ball 30 in the first innings to help Australia through much of a tricky opening day. When the second innings called for a trademark Warner blitzkrieg to set up a declaration, though, he fell early for just 3.

Marnus Labuschagne – 5
We’ve become so accustomed to Labuschagne plundering runs, particularly in the first innings, that twin 20s twice left Australia in sticky situations early on, before Khawaja came to the rescue both times.

His failure at the MCG means it’s now been two Tests since Labuschagne reached 50 – his worst run since breaking back into the team during the 2019 Ashes – while scores of 1 in Melbourne and 28 in Sydney are his two lowest in first digs since then too, where he was previously averaging 102. Is Marnus finally starting to slow down?

Steve Smith – 7
A century would once again prove elusive, but Smith’s vital 67 in Australia’s first innings would prove almost as vital as Khawaja in effectively batting England out of the match.

By his incredible standards, the series has been a lean one for the megastar, and his weakness against left-arm spin – as shown when he was castled by Jack Leach in the second innings – will surely have Ravindra Jadeja and company licking their lips ahead of three tours of Asia later this year.

Just as big as his first-innings runs, though, were his efforts with ball in hand in the dying moments of day five, his leg-spin getting Jack Leach caught at slip for his first Test wicket since November 2016. A second wicket would prove too much, though.

Usman Khawaja – 10
Is it possible to give him an 11?

Advertisement

Forget fairytales – Khawaja’s twin centuries on his Test return after a 28-month exile was nothing short of unbelievable. Coming in at 3-117 and 3-68, it wasn’t as if he feasted on an already fatigued attack, either.

Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates after hitting a century during day two of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 06, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Khawaja has stated on multiple occasions already he expects to be dropped for the Hobart Test, with Travis Head assured of a return… but it seems unfathomable for the selectors to not find a way, whether in the middle order again or replacing Marcus Harris as opener, to reward his magnificent performance with at least one more match.

Cameron Green – 7
Put any doubts over his place in the team to bed (yes, we’ll put our hand up) with a well-compiled 74 in the second innings with Khawaja, to give Australia an unassailable lead on day four.

Remains a golden arm with the ball, removing Dawid Malan in the first innings and the set Zak Crawley in the second. However, his first innings dismissal for just 5 showcased once again several technical deficiencies in his game that he will need to address heading into a challenging 12 months.

Alex Carey (wk) – 2
While Australia is winning, his spot is unlikely to be in jeopardy – but it’s far from ideal to head into tours of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, all notoriously difficult venues for wicketkeeping, with a gloveman in Carey’s current form.

Dropped a difficult chance early on day five to spare Haseeb Hameed, but at some point he is going to have to start taking a few of those 50-50 chances to maintain his spot in the team.

We’ll give him a pass for his golden duck in Australia’s second innings, when he was on a hiding to nothing; but a tortured 39-ball 13 in the first dig spoke of a player uncertain of whether his role is to attack or defend.

Advertisement

Pat Cummins (c) – 6
We’re used to perfection from Cummins, but until the final session on day five, this have been the skipper’s worst bowling performance for at least a couple of years.

Leaked runs at an un-Cummins-like rate across both innings, while for the first time, his captaincy came under scrutiny for a late declaration on day four, as well as some overly defensive fields on day five.

But like true champions, he came to the party when it mattered most, finding some outrageous swing to trap Jos Buttler and Mark Wood in front in a three-ball burst to reignite Australia’s victory chances.

Mitchell Starc – 5
Was used sparingly by Cummins after a series where he has spearheaded the attack with aplomb. After 16 unlucky overs in the first innings – he had Zak Crawley caught off a no ball and saw Haseeb Hameed dropped by Alex Carey before finally bowling the latter – he barely bowled until the last session on the final day, looking noticeably proppy in the process.

His batting was yet again outstanding, breezing to an unbeaten 34 as his series average climbed to 75.5 – second only to Khawaja. He probably deserves a promotion ahead of Pat Cummins AND Alex Carey at this rate!

Nathan Lyon – 5
Aside from a low skidder to bowl Dawid Malan, Lyon looked concerningly unthreatening on an admittedly true SCG deck for much of the first two sessions on day five.

He would provide the crucial breakthrough shortly after tea when some trademark sharp spin and bounce had Ben Stokes edging to slip. However, when Jack Leach and Stuart Broad dug in at the death, it would be the part-time leggies of Smith that would look more threatening.

Scott Boland – 9
The Victorian’s unbelievable start to Test cricket continued when the wickets of Zak Crawley and Joe Root early on day three left him with eight wickets for seven runs since the start of the second innings at the MCG.

Advertisement

Remarkably, Boland’s team-best 4-36 in the first innings saw his bowling average actually drop! Removed Root again, as well as Haseeb Hameed, early in the second innings, before finally winkling out Jonny Bairstow to put Australia on the cusp of victory.

With Josh Hazlewood’s side strain ruling him out of the fifth Test, surely only an injury of his own will stop him playing on what has been a happy hunting ground for him in Hobart.

Nathan Lyon embraces Scott Boland of Australia after he took the wicket of Joe Root of England during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 07, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Nathan Lyon embraces Scott Boland of Australia after he took the wicket of Joe Root of England during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 07, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

England

Haseeb Hameed – 1
Scores of 6 and 9 for the Test made it six consecutive innings this series where Hameed hasn’t made it past single figures. Even Bradman would struggle to keep his spot in the side after a form slump like that.

Simply isn’t equipped to deal with the extra pace and bounce of Australian pitches, nor the quality of the Aussie pace attack. Would need 16 runs in Hobart to avoid breaking David Warner’s 2019 Ashes record for the worst series by an opener in Test history – if it wasn’t an almost foregone conclusion he will be dropped.

Zak Crawley – 7
After a series of painfully low scores by all England’s openers, Crawley’s rearguard effort early on day five in Sydney was a pleasant change of pace.

For the first time, an English opener actually took the fight back to the Aussie attack; whacking 13 boundaries in breezing to 77, Crawley showed an intent that his teammates would do well to replicate. It meant he’d already well and truly locked up his place for the fifth Test by the time he copped a brutal yorker from Cameron Green.

Advertisement

Dawid Malan – 1
After a strong start to the series, Malan’s returns have diminished noticeably the longer it has gone on.

Soft dismissals in both innings – caught at leg slip off Green in the first and bowled trying to cut Nathan Lyon in the second – meant Malan actually had a worse Test than the all at sea Hameed. As an overseas specialist who has scored the majority of his Test runs on twin tours of Australia, he needs a return to form in Hobart to keep himself in the selection frame for the English summer.

Joe Root (c) – 3
Root’s first innings duck at the SCG, pushing tamely at an innocuous Boland delivery to give Steve Smith catching practice at slip, spoke of a man all but, well, rooted after a challenging tour.

Once again his captaincy came under fire, particularly his field settings for spinner Jack Leach, prompting Ricky Ponting to call for his resignation.

Bunkered down with Ben Stokes in the second innings, but could only muster 24 and survive 85 balls before falling to Scott Boland for the third successive time. Amazingly, he has fallen to catches behind the wicket eight times out of eight this series.

Ben Stokes – 8
Jonny Bairstow’s century won acclaim for its gutsiness, but Stokes’ effort to not just play the match out despite suffering a side strain on day two, but twice look back to his best with the bat, was no less commendable.

For the first time this summer, the all-rounder batted like the Stokes of old; combining with Bairstow to turn England’s first innings around with a 128-run partnership – he’d contribute 66 – while also hitting right back at SCG fans’ taunts about the pair’s weight.

Passed 50 in the second innings as well to lead England’s rearguard effort, and was noticeably crushed when he edged Nathan Lyon to slip. His injury, however, could well see him put on ice for the fifth Test, though his performance was such that playing him as a batter only is a definite option.

Jonny Bairstow – 9
With England reeling at 4-36 early on day three, Bairstow’s counterattacking century wasn’t just dazzling – it was team-reviving.

Particularly vicious on Nathan Lyon, the lionhearted 32-year old’s century was England’s first of the tour, despite copping a nasty blow to the thumb from Pat Cummins that prevented him from fielding in Australia’s second innings.

Jonathan Bairstow of England celebrates scoring a century during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 07, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Jonathan Bairstow of England celebrates scoring a century during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 07, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Bairstow’s belligerent 41 on day five was just as crucial, looking set to stonewall England to a draw before falling to a close-in catch off Scott Boland.

His injury leaves him far from certain to play in the fifth Test, but if he does, the selectors will surely be tempted to hand him back the wicketkeeping gloves over the badly out of touch Jos Buttler.

Jos Buttler (wk) – 1
A finger injury while keeping followed by a painful first innings duck – this Test, and the series itself, couldn’t have gone much worse for England’s World Cup hero.

Could only muster 11 on the final day before being trapped in front by Pat Cummins; his injury at least gives selectors a reason to put Buttler out of his misery for the fifth Test, as his red-ball career hangs in the balance.

Mark Wood – 7
The numbers don’t do Wood justice this series, for outside of Jimmy Anderson’s fireworks in Melbourne, he has been the only England bowler to consistently threaten Australia’s batters.

Took only three wickets for the Test, but two were the key scalp of Marnus Labuschagne, with his extra pace and bounce unsettling the star number three into twice edging behind balls he would normally leave.

Throw in his six-laden 39 with the bat in the first innings to ensure England would avoid the follow-on, and it’s clear Wood has earned the respect of the Australian players and public this summer.

His reward? Getting his left boot absolutely blown off by a searing Pat Cummins yorker on the final day. Cricket just ain’t fair sometimes.

Jack Leach – 6
Took four wickets in the second innings to finally get some reward on a difficult tour, but two of them came with Australia rapidly chasing declaration runs in the shadows of day four. Pat Cummins’ decision to declare with Leach on a hat-trick – as well as a five-wicket haul – was as brutal as anything the home side have done to him with the bat this summer.

Did manage to bowl Steve Smith with a straight delivery – only for that to come back to haunt him when Smith himself had him caught at slip with two overs remaining after a gritty 26.

Sports opinion delivered daily 

   

Stuart Broad – 7
Having played just one of the first three Tests, Broad’s five-wicket haul in the first innings showed he remains an integral part of any England bowling attack.

Removing four of Australia’s top six – Warner, Smith, Green and Khawaja – with his trademark brand of crafty seamers was exactly what the tourists could have used at the Gabba. At 35 years of age, who knows how many hauls like this he has left, but you wouldn’t put it past him extending his career as Anderson has done.

Fittingly, he and his long-time sparring partner Anderson were the ones to ensure the draw, calmly blocking out Nathan Lyon to ensure the dreaded whitewash is avoided.

James Anderson – 4
Kept things tight, especially in the first innings when he went at only 1.8 runs an over, but was far from the menace he was in Melbourne.

At his age (and pace), needs more life in the pitch to work his magic. He may well find that in Hobart, but if England continue their rotation of quicks, there’s every chance Broad will keep his spot over him in Tasmania if Ollie Robinson returns.

The most not out batter in Test history ended unbeaten for the 102nd time when he blocked out Steve Smith to ensure the draw.

Ollie Pope (substitute) – 8
Called in mid-match as substitute wicketkeeper after injuries to Jos Buttler and in-team backup Jonny Bairstow, Pope hardly put a foot wrong. Indeed, it doesn’t reflect well on England that one of their best performers wasn’t actually from the XI.

Four catches, with one particularly sharp take off Leach to remove Marcus Harris the highlight, saw him equal the Test record for innings grabs by a sub fielder, and provides an extra pathway back into the Test team should his batting not be enough.

close