The Roar
The Roar


Every Aussie rated from second Test and series vs New Zealand: Heroic Hazlewood, clutch Carey, sub-par Smith

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11th March, 2024
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New Test, same result, same problems for Australia as they finish their tour of New Zealand with a fifth win from five matches.

Christchurch, though, was the visitors’ sternest Test yet – and after another series of top-order failures left them in dire straits at 4/34 chasing 279 for victory, it took heroics from Alex Carey, Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins to steer the Aussies home just when a first loss to New Zealand on their turf in more than three decades looked inevitable.

With another brilliant performance from the bowlers, plus returns to form for Carey and Marnus Labuschagne, there was plenty of good for Australia to come out of the second Test.

But there are a few glaring problems too significant to ignore further, with one big one right at the top of the order.

Here are The Roar’s player ratings for the second Test – and the full Trans-Tasman Trophy.

Usman Khawaja

Second Test: 3.5


Series: 4

Just 88 runs at 22 across the two Tests made this comfortably Khawaja’s poorest series since his return to the team two years ago – and the veteran left-hander’s issues are about more than lack of runs.

Australia’s middle order is clearly struggling without a tone-setting counterpuncher at the top of the order, the role David Warner played for over a decade, and with Khawaja’s strike rate down at 34.37 – second-lowest for the series ahead of Will Young among batters on either side – even when he did see off the new ball, the team was still left under the pump when he departed.

Next summer’s home series against India promises to be a defining one for Uzzy – will it prove his swansong?

Steve Smith

Second Test: 2


Series: 3

After four Tests and seven completed innings as opener, Smith is averaging 28.5 with one score of above 31 – a poor run for one of Australia’s greatest ever batters.

Was dismissed LBW twice in Christchurch in a manner that suggested two things: that his once-impeccable eye is beginning to fail with age, and that he lacks the watertight, classical technique most openers require to succeed in the toughest role of all.

With Cameron Green bedding down the No.4 spot this series, moving to the top might prove to be what prematurely ends Smith’s glittering career – because he can’t keep producing numbers like this without something needing to give.

Marnus Labuschagne

Second Test: 7.5


Series: 4

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but Labuschagne’s lone-handed 90 in the first innings in Christchurch was at least a timely reminder that his class remains despite a torrid run of form.

Just nine runs in his other three innings for the series makes for ugly reading, but an outstanding leaping catch in the covers on Day 3 confirmed he’s still one of Australia’s premier fielders, which, combined with his relative youth compared to most of the batting order, should buy him the series against India next summer at least to regain his best touch.

Cameron Green

Second Test: 4

Series: 6.5


The top run-scorer for the series, albeit nearly entirely due to his first Test 174, Green couldn’t have the same impact in Christchurch – and he’s beginning to show a real technical flaw after once again chopping on in the second innings and being bowled through the gate in the first.

Was expensive with the ball, but removed the dangerous Tom Blundell in both innings to remain Australia’s golden arm, and it seems Pat Cummins prefers him to fellow all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in that department.

Travis Head

Second Test: 3

Series: 2.5

Correlation is not causation, but to the eye it seems Head’s struggles with the bat have coincided with Mitchell Marsh’s return to the team and emergence as Australia’s middle-order counterpuncher.


Once again twice throwing away starts at Hagley Oval, supporters are looking on the South Australian’s rash dismissals far less favourably given the woes of the rest of the batting order, and with Labuschagne and Carey both making crucial scores, his head, pardon the pun, is now the one in the firing line.

Head provides plenty to the Australian team at his best, but with a middle-order star stuck as opener and Marsh and Carey both succeeding in his counterattacking role, is there still a role for him if the runs don’t start flowing soon?

Mitchell Marsh

Second Test: 7.5

Series: 6.5

Two crucial counterpunches and two ducks are the tale of the tape for the Western Australian this series, enough for an average of 30 – just a smidge lower than his career mark.


While Carey has received all the plaudits for the second Test run chase, it was truly Marsh who got the ball rolling, making the most of a life early on Day 4 to brutalise short-pitched bowling, flay any width offered and take Australia to within sight of home in clearly his best innings since a similar rescue act on return in last year’s Ashes series.

Given just 13 overs for the series, Green’s return and the success of Australia’s frontline bowlers has made Marsh’s second string a touch obsolete.

Alex Carey

Second Test: 9

Series: 6.5

After 27 runs in three innings to start the series, the wolf was well and truly at Carey’s door – so what does he do? Oh, just smack a sensational, nerveless unbeaten 98 to steer Australia home in Christchurch after coming in at 5/80.


It was a badly needed score, but also underlined the South Australian’s immense value to the team as a cool head under pressure; while his wicketkeeping, save for a rare drop to spare Tom Latham late on Day 2, was rarely less than sublime in New Zealand as the ball hooped around.

Remarkably, he ended up as the third-highest run-scorer for the series!

Alex Carey and Pat Cummins of Australia (L-R) celebrate their win during day four of the Second Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Hagley Oval on March 11, 2024 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Alex Carey and Pat Cummins celebrate. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc

Second Test: 5.5

Series: 4.5

The only underwhelming member of Australia’s bowling attack in New Zealand, Starc struggled to find the swing and bounce that makes him such a formidable opponent at his best.


Three first-innings wickets in Christchurch, including a trademark yorker to trap Scott Kuggeleijn LBW, were the left-armer’s best figures, but just five wickets at over 43 suggests he might have benefitted from a Test off given Australia’s wealth of bowling stocks.

Managing just 49 runs for the series, it might be time for Starc to head back to No.9, and swap with…

Pat Cummins (c)

Second Test: 8

Series: 7.5

Captain Fantastic does it again.

After a relatively quiet series with ball in hand, taking just six wickets in four innings and two across his first three, Cummins still found a way to play a crucial hand for Australia, repeating his Edgbaston heroics with an ice-cool unbeaten 32 to partner Carey in steering them home.


As captain, his managing of his bowlers was rarely short of sublime, with New Zealand only truly getting away on Day 3 in Christchurch as tailender Scott Kuggeleijn blazed what seemed crucial runs; but with four wickets in that innings, the skipper was still the premier bowler.

Has Australia had a clutcher captain since Steve Waugh?

Nathan Lyon

Second Test: 7

Series: 9

Barely required in the first innings at Hagley Oval, Lyon was crucial at the close of New Zealand’s second: taking three scalps in three overs, those of Glenn Phillips, Kuggeleijn and Matt Henry, he ensured the Black Caps could only add 23 for their final four wickets, sawing off a potentially wagging tail.


With 13 wickets for the series, only Kiwi Matt Henry finished with more, while his average of 12.53 was comfortably the best on show. Add to that some handy runs (15 more than Smith managed for the series, as it happens), and the GOAT would have been a worthy Player of the Series.

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Josh Hazlewood

Third Test: 8

Series: 9


Cummins is an all-time great and Starc’s best is dazzling to behold, but Hazlewood’s five-wicket haul in the first innings in Christchurch, including four of New Zealand’s top five, made it clear he is an Australian champion in his own right.

With McGrath-esque accuracy and a perfectly upright seam, Hazlewood’s Day 1 haul ensured the Aussies got the perfect start to the match, while his sole scalp in the second was the vital one of Daryl Mitchell.