Australia v England – Fifth Test Ratings

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at 2018.01.08
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The Ashes are done, Australia winning the final Test by an innings and a bout of Joe Root gastroenteritis to take the series 4-0.

Here are the ratings for the Fifth Ashes Test.

Conversion Rates
Grade: C

After the annual Sydney Test rains were limited to just the first session this year, England batted first. And batted well for most of what remained of the first day.

Yes, they lost Alastair Cook for 39 – the first time he’d been dismissed since before Christmas last year. And Pat Cummins saw off Mark Stoneman and James Vince. But at 3/228 with just a few overs remaining, England were looking good.

But then Joe Root was out for 83, prompting fresh questions about his inability to convert fifties to hundreds. Always an odd question to raise. Especially since a batsman who scored between fifty and a hundred every time they came out to bat would have one of the very best Test averages in history.

Nevertheless, for that evening at least, Joe Root was the top Test run-scorer of 2018. Ahead of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and all the Marshes combined.

In your face, haters.

Being The Best Since Bradman
Grade: B-

Following Root’s dismissal, England were rolled for 346. It could have been even fewer but for some late order bouncer-hitting from Tom Curran and Stuart Broad.

There was some deserved criticism of the Aussie quicks for bowling so many short balls to the England tail, allowing them to get away. Pretty dumb stuff from the fast bowlers, who should definitely only be bowling the bouncers that take wickets and not the ones that get taken for runs.

Nevertheless, 346 felt like approximately 300 runs too few, especially since Australia still had Smith – now officially dubbed ‘the best since Bradman’.

As if to prove it, Smith swiftly became the second fastest batsman to reach 6000 Test runs, doing it in 111 innings, the same as Sir Garfield Sobers. Some pointed out that Sobers also had 157 wickets to go along with those 6000 runs, but wouldn’t that fact just inspire Smith to pick up 140 wickets in England’s second innings to match him? You’d be mad to say he couldn’t do it.

The fastest to that 6000 run landmark was, of course, Bradman, the shameless old show-off, who got there in 68 innings or something stupid like that. Thank goodness his final innings ineptitude means he can’t ruin the 7000 runs stat.

Still, Bradman was never caught, bowled, or caught and bowled by Moeen Ali. So plenty of stuff for Smith to work on.

Mason Crane
Grade: B+

Up until the moment Smith’s wicket inexplicably fell, the only player troubling him was batting partner Usman Khawaja and his maddening refusal to run hard between the wickets.

Khawaja – widely regarded as the best since Smith – made 171 before becoming the first Test wicket for Mason Crane, the young England leg-spinner controversially named after stonecutter machinery.

Crane had won the hearts of Australian fans throughout the innings with his wonderful mystery ball – the one where he doesn’t let go of it. Over and over, he displayed this subtle variation. Very impressive to see a young leggie come up with something so fresh.

He also managed, of course, to have his first wicket overturned due to a no ball, as England tradition demands.

But as Australia’s total surged into the 600s, many began to suspect Crane had the right idea all along with the not-letting-the-ball-go thing. After all, they can’t score runs off deliveries you don’t bowl.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Grade: F

When the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was at its peak, it always felt like a good comic idea somebody could employ would be to answer questions correctly but using the most incorrect possible reasoning.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Answer: Almost every player in the Fifth Ashes Test 2017-18

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Answer: Almost every player in the Fifth Ashes Test 2017-18

For example, if the question was ‘What is the fastest land animal?’, you’d reply ‘Well, Eddie. It can’t be the tiger, because they live in the sea. And a squirrel is a type of plant, so it’s not that either. And it can’t be the antelope, because they’ve been disqualified for steroid use. So lock in C) the cheetah.’

You get the idea.

I mention this solely because it feels like this is exactly what the Australian selectors have done with Shaun ‘the best since Khawaja’ Marsh and Mitch ‘the best since Shaun’ Marsh.

Despite the worst possible reasoning for choosing the Marshes, the selectors have stumbled onto arguably the correct answer for Australia’s five and six. And the pair proved the point here yet again by both bringing up centuries while batting together.

Such was their excitement at this feat that they almost ran one another out by celebrating Mitch’s ton mid-wicket before completing their run. Alas, they came to their senses before this fate could befall them. Especially disappointing since Mitch was bowled next ball anyway.

The Marsh brothers should always be asking themselves WWWD – What would Watto do?

A: Watto would definitely have run himself out while hugging his brother.

Anyway, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’ve celebrated Ashes centuries with my brothers loads of times.

Not ones we’ve made, sure. But the principle still applies. It’s no biggie.

New Balls
Grade: D

Chasing more than 300 just to make Australia bat again, England didn’t make it. They did however get far enough that Australia had to take a new ball.

Just once I’d like to see the umpire show the new ball being taken and then use sleight of hand to instead toss the bowler, say, a dove. It’d certainly spice up a Test match slowly trudging towards a predictable conclusion.

Ah well, maybe in the 2019 Ashes.

(Originally published at http://www.theroar.com.au/2018/01/08/liebke-ratings-fifth-ashes-test/)

Australia v England – Fourth Test Ratings

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