England 260 & 1/517d drew with Australia 481 & 1/107
With the first match of the series over, it’s time to review each players performance and speculate on their form heading into the second match, starting in Adelaide later this week.
Alistair Cook (England): Started the match with serious question marks lingering over his head, with many experts claiming he wasn’t mentally strong enough to perform in a series of this nature. A painstakingly slow 67 (from 65.3 overs) in the first innings helped keep the English side together, however his dismissal sparked Siddle’s hattrick. The time in the middle didn’t harm him though and he came out firing in the all-important second innings, blasting a sensational 235 not out. Took two catches in the deep in the first innings to top off a memorable match.
Michael Hussey (Australia): It’s hard to think that just two weeks ago, he was a doubtful starter for the Brisbane Test Match. A Sheffield Shield century last week improved his confidence levels and he came out batting like the Hussey of old, smashing his way to 195 (including 110 runs in boundaries). Also took the sharp catch of Strauss on the third ball of the series. With runs under his belt and his position in the side secure, it could be a big series for Mr Cricket.
Brad Haddin (Australia): Sensational innings of 136 whilst batting with Hussey, to effectively kill any chances England had of winning the match. His keeping was generally of a high standard, despite missing a tough chance earlier in the match. 17 byes in the second innings doesn’t do his job justice, given the bowling was tripe.
Jonathan Trott (England): Scores of 29 and 135 not out for this talented South African born batsman highlight his importance in the English side. Now averaging 60 in Test Cricket and often flys under the radar in a side with the likes of Strauss, Cook and Pietersen. His second innings partnership with Cook all but ended the chance of an Australian victory.
Andrew Strauss (England): Started his tour horribly when he was dismissed three balls into the series, however his 110 in the second innings during his partnership with Cook saved the match for England. His ability as captain to keep his players positive was crucial and once again showed his talent as a leader. Took two sharp catches at first slip aswell. Expect a big series from here for the talented opener.
Steven Finn (England): Bowled inconsistently at times, however still managed to pick up a six-wicket haul in the first innings. Struggled in the second innings, however the game’s result was beyond doubt by that point in time. Will enjoy the extra bounce at the WACA later in the series, especially given his height. It’s hard to believe he’s only 21… Such a promising future awaits!
Peter Siddle (Australia): The fiery Victorian set the Gabba crowd nuts on day one with a fantastic spell of pace-bowling, which included a hattrick. Finished with 6/54 in the first innings however fell away in the second, going wicketless and conceding 90 runs. With the initial doubt about his selection gone, his attention now shifts to the remaining four matches where I think he’ll produce more wickets for the Australians.
Ian Bell (England): Held the English first innings together with a well-made, mature 76. Seems to have improve greatly from previous Ashes series where he was labelled mentally weak and seen as an easy victim for the Australians. Has proven to everyone, most importantly himself, that he belongs on the biggest stage and because of this, I expect to see more big scores throughout the series.
Shane Watson (Australia): Made two promising starts with scores of 36 and 41 not out and also chipped in with two catches and a wicket. A solid performance overall, however he’ll need to convert these starts into centuries, something which he has notoriously failed in doing thus far in his career.
Kevin Pietersen (England): Only batted once in the match, however reminded everyone of his sublime ability, making a classy 43. Will need to turn starts into centuries if England are going to win matches, especially in Adelaide.
Ricky Ponting (Australia): Failed in the first innings however batted well late on day 5 in the second, making an unbeaten 51 off just 43 balls. As captain, he’ll be hurting after not going 1-nil up at the Gabba and I think he’ll stand up in Adelaide, making a big score. Australia certainly needs him too!
Simon Katich (Australia): Failed in the second innings however batted solidly with Watson in the first, making a half-century. Still seems to be in good form so expect some runs in Adelaide.
Xavier Doherty (Australia): Match figures of 2/148 don’t do the first-gamer justice after he bowled tightly for most of the match. Looked good with the bat in the first innings, making 16 before throwing his wicket away in chase of quick runs. Retains his spot for Adelaide and will be looking for more wickets.
James Anderson (England): Bowled without luck throughout the match and as a result, finished with figures of 2/114. His two breakthroughs got England rolling though, sending Watson and Ponting on their way on day two. with a bit of luck in Adelaide, he’ll finish with much better figures.
Graeme Swann (England): Didn’t have a match to remember, finishing with figures of 2/161 over the two innings. Many questions still need to be answered of Swann, in particular his ability to bowl well on Australian decks. Will get more assistance in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, however this needs to translate into wickets if England are going to win matches.
Marcus North (Australia): Despite ANOTHER failure, North has survived and somehow retains his spot in the team for Adelaide. Probably on his last chance, as he often has been in his short career. This usually results in a century, so watch out for him in Adelaide. Only individual highlight was chipping in with a handy wicket in the second innings, that of Strauss.
1/10Matt Prior (England): Clean bowled first ball to be the middle victim of the Siddle hattrick and struggled at times with the gloves. His run scoring ability in the middle to lower order is crucial to England, and he needs to produce some good scores. Being the only wicket-keeper on tour, he needs to recover well and remain fresh.
Paul Collingwood (England): Failed with the bat, making just 4 and also went wicketless in his 12 overs, leaking 41 runs in the process. Will need to chip in with wickets and runs if England are going to win the series. Took two sharp catches in the field to remind us all of his sublime fielding ability.
Michael Clarke (Australia): Struggled with a back injury both with the bat and in the field. Dropped a sitter at slip early on day 5 and made just 9 runs off 50 balls in the first innings. Seriously talented batsman who needs a week off, expect a big score in Adelaide later in the week.
Ben Hilfenhaus (Australia): Match figures of 1/142 area disappointing return for Hilfenhaus, especially after striking third ball of the opening day. With Harris and Bollinger named in the 13-man squad for Adelaide, his position is under threat. If he does play though, he’ll need to perform much better.
Stuart Broad (England): Bowled well at times, sometimes without luck, however match figures of 1/90 suggest improvement needs to be made. In addition to his poor bowling figures, Broad gifted Siddle a hattrick when trapped plumb LBW first ball he faced when batting. Needs to improve if England are going to take 20 wickets in a match.
Mitchell Johnson (Australia): If there weren’t question marks over Johnson’s head prior to the match, then there surely is now. A disgusting match for Johnson, arguably the worst in his career thus far, which produced match figures of 0/170 off just 42 overs (his worst ever). To make things worse, he struggled with the bat making a 19-ball duck and also dropped a sitter in the field. With Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger performing at Domestic level this week, Johnson’s position in the team for Adelaide is under serious threat.