Ratings: Marnus steps up, Uzzie to be stood down?

Australia suffered a chastening 1-wicket loss to England at Headingley despite rolling the hosts for 67 in its first innings.

We rank the 11 men who let a glorious chance to retain the Ashes slip through their fingers - literally in some cases.

 

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DAVID WARNER 7

(61, 0 and six catches)

Should wife Candice be worried? Great mate Ricky Ponting mentored the Aussies at the World Cup as Warner smashed century after century.

 

David Warner took a string of exceptional slip catches to add to a first half century in the series.
David Warner took a string of exceptional slip catches to add to a first half century in the series.

 

Then, Ponting returned before this Test, played golf with Warner on Wednesday, and on Thursday the opener bounced back with a gritty half-century.

Warner's 111-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne in ghastly batting conditions under lights took days to be bettered.

Yes, Warner survived 11 plays and misses early, but discipline helped him survive, and then he thrived with an hour of power as the runs flowed.

It was as if Warner fielded with super glue on his hands, clutching four slips catches on Thursday morning alone and six for the match, including a screamer to remove Joe Root on day four.

 

MARCUS HARRIS 3.5

(8 and 19)

Sir Alastair Cook lashed Harris's cricket smarts, of lack thereof, on day one.

Harris wore an Archer ball in the midriff and, with rain falling, bounced to his feet instead of calling for the physio.

The next ball Harris edged behind, and a few seconds later umpires followed Harris off after calling a rain delay.

He looked sharp in the second innings until playing a dreadful attacking shot the first ball he had ever faced against spinner Jack Leach, which ripped into his stumps. But it was Harris's blunders in the dramatic finish that will ache him the most. Harris threw the ball to the wrong end, botching a run-out chance, and put down a half chance off Ben Stokes with 17 runs required. Still, the Victorian deserves a second crack as Warner's new buddy at the top.

 

USMAN KHAWAJA 3

(8 and 23)

Is Uzzie the man to miss out when Steve Smith returns in Manchester? Khawaja was strangled down the leg-side in the first innings and then played a poor shot as his bottom hand came off, which was gobbled up by Jason Roy. Khawaja is averaging 20.3 runs this series and, as Brad Hogg noted, his performances away from Australia don't stack up.

 

MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE 8.5

(74 and 80)

Concussion substitute rules stipulate like-for-like replacements and, boy, Marnus stepping into Steve Smith's shoes was akin to Cinderella.

The cricket-loving Queenslander is a fighter, which Justin Langer loves.

 

Marnus Labuschagne played gutsy, sensible quality Test cricket as a replacement for Steve Smith.
Marnus Labuschagne played gutsy, sensible quality Test cricket as a replacement for Steve Smith.

 

The Test rookie was offering Warner discipline advice on day one, and, like a cat, kept bouncing to his feet every time the England quicks targeted him with bouncers.

Rode his luck in the second innings - dropped on 14, 42 and 60 and nicking one off a no-ball on 35 - but fortune favours the brave, and this bloke is just that.

After Australia's second innings it was Labuschagne 2/154 (316 balls) and England 10/67 (167 balls). Smith and Labuschagne (Australia's No. 4s) have scored 591 runs at 98.5 this series, meanwhile the rest of the Aussies have made 876 at just 15.9.

 

TRAVIS HEAD 5.5

(0 and 25)

The vice-captain twice lost his stumps but didn't lose his Head. Instead, he simply copped two absolute seeds - the first from Stuart Broad, which kissed the top of off stump, the second a yorker from Ben Stokes, which smashed the base of off stump - and that happens in Test cricket.

Brilliant in the field on the final day, running out Jos Buttler and taking a T20-style acrobatic catch on the rope to remove hothead Jofra Archer.

 

Matthew Wade had more impact on proceedings with his verbal presence than he did with the bat.
Matthew Wade had more impact on proceedings with his verbal presence than he did with the bat.

 

MATTHEW WADE 4

(0 and 33)

The yap was back with plenty of Wade chat picked up on the stump microphones.

Unlucky in the first innings when the ball dribbled back onto the stumps. Handy knock in the second dig before succumbing to some Ben Stokes heat amid a marathon spell from the New Zealand-born all-rounder.

Put down a catch late in the first innings, but it mattered little as England was bowled out two balls later without adding to their score.

 

TIM PAINE 5.5

(11 and 0)

Forget the runs, it is Paine's tactics that are in the spotlight. The review blunder that cost a certain victory - with nine runs required Paine went upstairs for a half-hearted Pat Cummins' shout that pitched outside leg, and was then left without a review when Nathan Lyon had Ben Stokes plumb - that will dominate headlines.

But Paine's captaincy received a tick from Ben Stokes, who applauded his brave decision to bowl Lyon with just 18 runs remaining, declaring he felt more comfortable against the quicks. Former England batsman and prominent journalist Mike Atherton put Paine in the gun, boldly declaring it should be him to make way for Steve Smith for the next Test.

Put simply, it won't happen, and nor should it.

While the runs column isn't stacked, Paine is a quality leader and keeper. For most of the match Paine's captaincy was brilliant - his fields were bang-on, his use of bowlers was first-class and even the slips cordon was better spread than England's. But should he have spread the field like that in the final session?

 

JAMES PATTINSON 6.5

(2/9 and 1/47)

Pattinson's economy of 1.86 was his best ever in Test cricket, and he deserved more than three wickets.

Crucial 51-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne helped push England's target beyond 350. When Patto removed Stuart Broad for the fourth time, and England was 9/286, Australia celebrated like they'd won the Ashes. They thought they had. They should have. They didn't.

 

 

 

PAT CUMMINS 5.5

(3/23 and 1/80)

It was a bumper-thon from Cummins, who bowled plenty of short stuff and grabbed all three of his first-innings wickets with bouncers.

Cummins also smashed Joe Denly on the lid when he took his eyes off the ball, but, bowling at tailender Jack Leach in the final session, you wonder whether Cummins should've gone for a better length.

 

NATHAN LYON 4

(0/2 and 2/114)

Nathan Lyon was a walking, talking reminder of England's first-innings misery - given his Test shirt has '67' on the back, the miserable total the home team was skittled for.

But it was no laughing matter when Lyon dropped the ball when Jack Leach was halfway down the pitch and looked certain to be run out in the same vein as Allan Donald in the 1999 World Cup semi-final.

Lyon did his best to make amends, trapping Stokes next ball, but umpire Joel Wilson's finger stayed down and captain Tim Paine wasted his last review the over earlier.

Lyon's form has dipped the past two tests and, while he jagged Joe Root's wicket to overtake Dennis Lillee's 355 Test scalps, he desperately needs to lift for Manchester.

 

JOSH HAZLEWOOD 8

(5/30 and 4/85)

Hazlewood's 2/9 (six overs) after lunch on day four speared Australia into a winning position, but he couldn't clinch it for Australia.

Forget Hazlewood's 2015 Ashes, when his body was fried, he is nailing English conditions. Last tour Hazlewood was trying to swing the ball too much, whereas this series he is happy to just keep pitching it 6-7m from the stumps and letting the pitch do the rest.

Nailing those lengths and approaching bunny status with Jonny Bairstow, who he's removed five times. England batting coach Graham Thorpe even conceded that Hazlewood's seed to remove Joe Root in the first innings was simply unplayable. Still, the sight of Stokes slinging sixes off him will sting.

News Corp Australia


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