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The good, the bad, the worst: SCG edition

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10th January, 2022
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Starting off 2022 with a bang, the pink Test at the SCG was a huge success on all fronts.

Over $5 million was raised for the McGrath Foundation and it was a thrilling five-day match that went down to the final ball.

For the first time this series, England put up a fight, surviving a final-day barrage led by Scott Boland to hold on for a memorable draw.

Usman Khawaja stood out on his return to Test cricket, Stuart Broad troubled the Aussies on the way to his 19th career innings five-for and Steve Smith even managed to snag a wicket.

This is the fourth instalment of the good, the bad, the worst from this series, covering three moments from each team that defined the match.

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The good
Usman Khawaja is back. A pair of tons for the match puts the classy left hander in elite company, with only two others matching his century-making efforts in a single game at the SCG.

His partnership with Steve Smith and then the tail put Australia in a commanding position after the first innings and the quick-scoring knock in combination with Cam Green took any chance of an English win out of sight.

With Travis Head expected to return to the side for Hobart, will we finally see Khawaja back at the top of the order?

Usman Khawaja on the way to his ninth century

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

What a final innings from England to save them from the embarrassment of a clean sweep. Zak Crawley looked magnificent at the top of the order, scoring freely on his way to the first half century for an English opener this summer.

The middle order of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow battled hard, combining to soak up over 300 balls.

It came down to the final two overs though, and with one wicket in hand, it was up to Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson to survive.

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Under bad lighting and a spinning pitch, the veteran pair held their nerve, ending the match in a hard-fought draw.

Many fans will be hoping that this fighting spirit from England signals the beginning of their turnaround.

The bad
Is Alex Carey up to standard? Many were questioning his ability with the gloves but a magnificent keeping display in Brisbane worth eight catches quietened the doubters a little.

Since then, though, he has put down six regulation chances in three matches and the pressure must be building for him again. Known as a batting keeper, an average of just 15 is not good enough.

As the long-time understudy to Tim Paine, Carey deserves the chance to find some form in the next few Test matches.

With Josh Inglis breathing down his neck, can Carey deliver?

Alex Carey.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The English bowlers have really struggled to clean up the tail this whole series and it’s had a huge effect on the outcome of matches.

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In the first innings at the SCG, Khawaja and the tail combined to score 131 runs after the sixth wicket fell, boosting their total from under 300 to 416.

England have only bowled their opponents out twice this series, with the Aussie bowlers alone contributing 60 runs on average to the team’s score.

Stopping the Australian tail wag is necessary if England desire more then a draw in Hobart.

The worst
Once again Australia have failed to bowl out a side on Day 5 at the SCG.

The bowling attack got the breakthrough early on Day 5, dismissing Haseeb Hameed for nine and Dawid Malan for four, with Zak Crawley soon following behind them.

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The middle order stabilised the innings and looked likely to hold out for the rest of the day.

Enter captain Pat Cummins with two in-swinging missiles in three balls to give the Aussies hope.

Unfortunately, England’s rearguard fought dourly, holding out the fired-up, green-capped men until play expired.

Questions will be asked regarding the lateness of the declaration by Cummins and the inability of the world-class bowling line-up to finish the job.

Pat Cummins looks on.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

England need to find an opening partnership. The primary purpose of an opener is to see off the new ball and get the innings off to a positive start, so an average first-wicket stand of 14 runs is really poor.

When you factor in the point that Malan has come in with less than ten overs completed every time bar one, it is obvious the openers for England have not done their job.

After missing out on the first two Tests, Crawley has actually looked fairly impressive, with his second-innings 77 at the SCG showcasing his compact technique and ability to score freely.

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It now becomes about maintaining the solid scores and cashing in when he gets the chance.

Crawley needs a partner though and none of the other batsmen England have tried this series look like they have what it takes.

Hameed was decent at the Gabba, but single-digit scores in his last six innings mean the young batsman shouldn’t be anywhere near the team list come Hobart.

After being dropped for the MCG Test, Rory Burns is likely to be recalled for the final match. But a series average of 12 is hardly adequate.

Crawley has locked up one spot at the top of the order. Can England uncover someone to pair with him?

What were your moments that defined the SCG Test?

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