The Aussies are 1-0 up in the Ashes after breaching Fortress Edgbaston in a see-sawing classic, and we’ve gotten an Aussie and a Pom to put together a ranking out of 10 for each of the 11 players on both sides.
By Rudi Edsall
Cam Bancroft — 8 and 7 — 2
Gets an extra point because of the brilliant catch he took to get Root off Lyon’s bowling in the second innings. The best thing you can say about his batting is that he wasn’t the worst opener.
David Warner — 2 and 8 — 1
Warner, however, was the worst opener. Should have been given out off the first ball he faced, didn’t review when he was given out and shouldn’t have been, and then fell inside three overs in the second dig. Don’t think you’ll find the Cricinfo scorecard in his browser history.
Usman Khawaja — 13 and 40 — 5
Got a good ball in the first dig and batted fluently with Steve Smith in the second to help the Aussies get near parity. An acceptable performance.
Steve Smith — 144 and 142 — 11
10 simply would not suffice for the greatest individual batting performance in an Ashes Test since Ricky Ponting’s 156 at Old Trafford in 2005. Steve Smith transcends the art of batting and even the sport of cricket; it would appear he has been sent by some form of higher power to score massive amounts of runs in Test cricket. England have absolutely no framework to get him out, but why would they? They are mere mortals.
Travis Head — 35 and 51; 0/7 — 7
Head didn’t look getting out in either innings until suddenly he was out. His second innings work was very important — Australia went from 20 behind to 110 ahead with him at the crease, and from there they never looked like losing.
Matthew Wade — 1 and 110; 0/7 — 8
For all the (extremely warranted) love for Steve Smith, Wade’s second innings ton was the best and most fluent innings of the lot. He copped a beauty in the first dig, but kept the boot on the Poms’ throat in the second dig and put the game completely out of their reach — and he bowled! If we’d had a rendition of ‘Nice Garry’ caught on the stump mics it would have been a perfect Test for him.
Tim Paine — 5 and 34; three catches — 3
Couldn’t arrest the batting collapse in the first innings, got some cheapies in the second that should boost the confidence a bit. Wasn’t exactly immaculate behind the stumps — a catch he didn’t get to off Peter Siddle when he moved the wrong way in the second innings stands out — and occasionally appeared to miss a trick with his captaincy. Will be hoping to make a better contribution at Lord’s.
James Pattinson — 0 and 47*; 2/82 and 0/29 — 6
Should have reviewed in the first innings and landed some lusty blows in the second with four sixes, and bowled with real fire and passion at all times. Hopefully his Mitch Johnson-esque tattoos open some mental wounds for the Poms going forward.
Pat Cummins — 5 and 26*; 3/84 and 4/32 — 8
Is there anything he can’t do? Cummins bowls with pace, control, skill, and guile at all times, and he looked threatening when the pitch wasn’t giving much to the quicks. He also managed a few runs in the second innings and all the while looked like the kind of guy you’d love to see your daughter bring home. He’s like one of those smart-arses that is just good at everything they do.
Peter Siddle — 44; 2/52 and 0/28 — 8
Stats not stellar but that belies just how important he was. Siddle is the kind of bloke who would not only help you move house, but he’d bring the trailer, the beers and let you borrow his esky for a couple of weeks until you get your fridge sorted out. His grit and application got Australia to a decent position from a dire one on day one, then he went and dropped the ball on a 20c piece for a full day AND opened the bowling in the second innings to give Pattinson and Cummins a break. The unsung hero of the win.
Nathan Lyon — 12*; 3/112 and 6/49 — 9
Made the most important 12 runs of the match to shepherd Steve Smith to triple figures and beyond in the first innings, then did a lot of thankless work on an unforgiving pitch in the first bowling innings. It all paid off in the second dig with a match winning performance in friendly conditions. The GOAT is now just four wickets away from being the outright third best Test wicket taker of all time for Australia — and he bloody deserves it.
The Triple M Cricket Fan Podcast ran through the big talking points from the first Test, including the GOAT's bunny, some positives for the Poms and more.
By Matt Bellotti
Rory Burns – 133 and 11 – 10
This bloke can’t bat. He looks atrocious. Has the worst stance in test cricket. The luckiest innings you’ll ever see. In 20 years from now in pub quizzes across Australia he will be the answer to the question “Who was the only Pom to hit a hundred in the 2019 Ashes?” and when people hear the answer “Rory Burns” they’ll all say “Never heard of him.” This test is, unquestionably his career highlight. So if I don’t give him 10/10 now, he’ll never get it.
Jason Roy – 10 and 28 – 2
Would have been a distinctly average 4/10. But then he did the thing with the running down the pitch at the most crucial moment of the last day and so loses 2 points in the same way as he lost his tiny mind. If only England had *any* other opening bat, so we could try him at a more natural six.
Joe Root – 57 and 28; 0/50 – 6
Batting-wise, a decent but not great return. Captaincy worse than that, maybe because there’s no other leaders to support him, or because his team are a rabble, or that he’s just not a very good leader.
Joe Denly – 18 and 11; 0/7 and 0/72 – 4
The other number four batsman who bowls occasional leggies. When thrown the ball he didn’t embarrass himself and his country, so gains a point for that. Batting… no idea what’s going on there.
Jos Buttler – 5 and 1 – 3
Looks either bored or shit-scared, in particular of Nathan Lyon. One of several number six batsmen England have, none of whom are scoring any runs or showing any signs of wanting to. Can we do a straight swap for Matty Wade please?
Ben Stokes – 50 and 6; 1/77 and 3/85 – 6
Applied himself and looked solid for a while when doing so. But with underperformers all around him and Root, England need more from Big Bad Bustlin’ Ben. Bowling him into the ground in the second innings probably wasn’t the best way of achieving that. One slight hope was his all-too-brief bit of aggro with Smith, the only time Piggy showed any hint of being unsettled or engaging in words with the bowlers.
Jonny Bairstow – 8 and 6; five catches – 3.5
That’s not a score out of ten. That’s his average this year in Test cricket (yes, really). His mark out of ten would be much lower. Despite a decent match with the gloves, they need to be taken off him. Better still, give him a break and send him away to rediscover his (formerly pretty good) technique.
Moeen Ali – 0 and 4; 1/42 and 2/130
I’ll leave that blank as he is a nice man with a frankly lovely beard. He also knows, as we all do, how badly he played and that even 1/10 would be generous - maybe for that ball to Paine… Otherwise, hard to see where you could award him credit for anything else except finding his way to the ground.
Chris Woakes – 37* and 37; 3/58 and 1/46 – 8
Very good performance. Literally the only player who did as asked and gave a performance worthy of an Ashes Test. England would have been more solid and lost less comprehensively had Woakes batted in the top four.
Stuart Broad – 29 and 0, 5/86 and 1/91 – 6
Cracking spells on the first day. Fell away in pace and aggression after that. Losing Anderson hurt him. The mind is willing but the body, I fear, is beginning to become unable. Assume he’ll now be bounced out of the series with the bat, while his bowling may become more of a holding role if Big Jof comes in to be the spearhead.
Jimmy Anderson – 0/1 – n/a
Impossible to give a rating. We barely saw the bloke aside from preventing a Lyon hat-trick. But after a Test with a fair number of sad thoughts from an England point of view, the saddest of all is probably that we may never see Jimmy again in the Three Lions shirt, and that this is the final series for both lead characters in the Broad & Anderson Show.