Australia continued their merry way against Sri Lanka.
The World Cup champions won the series four to one despite half a dozen World Cup winners resting on the sidelines ahead of next month’s historic series against Pakistan.
Everything is rosy, isn’t it?
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Australian captain Aaron Finch called it “the experimentation” and they got some questions “answered” but maybe they just muddy the waters instead.
Finch, arguably Australia’s best opener in short-form cricket of the past decade, even fell on the first drop, as one such experience came with versatile bowling Ashton Agar climbing to open.
But for a man who struggled with consistency for more than 12 months, it was a curious decision and, statistically, one that backfired.
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Meanwhile, with World Cup winners David Warner and Mitch Marsh, and bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood rested for the series, Australia has learned a bit more about its reserve stocks.
Some worked, some didn’t.
In his synopsis, Mark Waugh said “I don’t think we’ve done particularly well throughout this series.”
Ben McDermott started well, but barely fired a shot, at least in the middle of the innings, as the series wore on. While Hagar’s bowling was economical as usual, but where he could fit in with the willow remains a puzzle.
It wasn’t all bad news though, with Josh Inglis looking promising, Matthew Wade continuing to perform at the death and Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson bowling hard.
Here are our player ratings from the five-game T20 series.
Five games, five rounds: 78 runs at 3:60 p.m. Best score: 35; strike rate: 91.76
Three scores of less than 10 tell a chapter.
But the real story is Finch’s inability to time the ball.
As former Sri Lanka all-rounder Russell Arnold said, Finch didn’t look like he was timing a ball throughout the series.
It’s not just a blow either, with Finch’s struggles continuing for over a year.
The decision to slip to the first drop only confused the situation further.
Finch’s captaincy is highly regarded, and in a World Cup year, that’s what keeps him in the team.
Five matches, five rounds: 83 runs at 4:60 p.m. Best score: 53; strike rate: 103.75
The only Australian to score half a century in the series.
McDermott’s 53 in Sydney seemed like a defining run in his stop-start career.
Sadly, that’s the only thing McDermott did, as his streak went from bad to worse.
Where he smoked the living daylights out of the ball during the Big Bash, McDermott, not for the first time, struggled to find a rhythm as the series progressed.
His dismissal on Sunday, where he lost form and threw away his wicket, summed up his disappointing end to the series.
Five matches, five sets: 155 points at 38.75. Best score: 48; strike rate: 143.51
No one has timed the ball better than Inglis throughout the series.
The rookie drummer, who has been knocking on the door to make his debut for a year, has shown his class and looks set for a bright future.
He scored the most in Sydney with a quick shot 48, then exceptionally timed the ball at the MCG on Friday, helping Australia get back into the game with a 40-20.
Five games, five sets: 138 points at 34.50. High score: 48*, pass rate: 133.98; A wicket at 28. Econ: 7
The Big Show started slow but got better and better.
With a number of big Australian names missing, Maxwell was a strong performer in the middle order.
He rounded the corner at Canberra, hitting 39 and taking a wicket.
But it was his unbeaten 48 that showed Maxwell’s ‘maturity’ as he went from heavy hitter to game winner.
Two games, two rounds: 23 runs at 11:50 a.m. Best score: 14; strike rate: 100
The Australian vice-captain missed the second half of the series with a concussion.
Not only was it another blow to the head, but his concussion deprived Smith of changing the narrative around his value at T20 cricket.
In his two matches, Smith failed to light up the world and only managed to score one run-a-ball away.
Five matches, five sets: 86 points at 28.66. High Score: 30, Strike Rate: 150.87; a wicket at 55. Econ: 6.87
As is T20 cricket, Stoinis didn’t spend much time in the middle but made the most of it.
He was one of Australia’s fastest batsmen.
Could he come earlier? Absolutely, but Australia like the all-rounder who comes later in the innings to see the team at home.
Matthew Wade — 7.5
Five games, three sets: 60 points to 60. Best score: 43*; strike rate 166.66
Saving his best for last, Wade came on with struggling Australia. He helped Australia to a competitive total at the MCG on Sunday, continuing to anchor the team with skill and innovation.
Wade was one of the few players to time the ball, despite his keeping being the best in some time.
Three matches, one set: 18 points to 18. Best score: 18, success rate: 120; No counters. Eco: 7.57
Mark Waugh made an interesting observation about Sams during the fifth T20.
The former national manager said he sees Sams more as an all-around hitter than a bowler.
This happened despite the bowling opening by the left arm.
Once a regular wicket-taker, Sams is a helpful quick who doesn’t swing the ball around like he once did. But when he swings with the bat, more often than not it comes off.
His shot on Sunday was useful, as he scored 18.
Ashton Agar — 8.5
Three matches, three rounds: 43 runs at 9:50 p.m. Best score: 26, strike rate 93.47; three-wicket 15.66, Econ: 3.91
Agar made headlines throughout the series, but unfortunately his excellent bowling was overshadowed by the bizarre decision to have him open twice with the bat.
Agar took 1-14 in consecutive games, while he continued his great work in the last game of the series by taking 1-19.
The left-arm tweaker hasn’t been hit for a boundary in his three matches – that’s a game changer.
As Shane Warne said, “It’s been a great streak for him.”
But the decision for him to open put unnecessary pressure on him with the bat and didn’t help the balance and flow of the batting order.
Two matches: Two wickets at 31. B/B: 1/30; Eco: 7.75
Rested for the second half of the series, Cummins was upstaged by J. Hazlewood.
Three matches: Eight wickets 8.12. P/D: 4-12; Eco: 5.41
Speaking of Hazlewood, the right-arm quickie has gone from fringe player to the team’s best quickie.
Length, bounce, rhythm changes; Hazlewood is now one of the best in the world in the game’s shortest format.
After missing the majority of the Ashes, Hazlewood started the series with 4-12 and then held it back with 3-22.
Four matches: Five wickets 20.60. Right: 3-18. Eco: 6.43
Rested for the middle game in Canberra, Zampa was steady without quite the devastating effect he did throughout the World Cup.
The leg-spinner started the series on fire, taking 3-18.
He then backed him up by taking 1-26 in back-to-back matches, before Sri Lanka chased him down in Melbourne.
Two matches: No wickets. B/B: 0-30; Eco: 8.87
Starc’s ups and downs last year in T20 cricket continued.
After a solid Ashes streak, which helped the left arm win the Allan Border Medal, Starc made the trip in both of his matches.
Jhye Richardson — 4
Two matches: Two wickets at 29. B/B: 2/20. Eco: 7.25
Played with zip on Friday and took wickets.
On Sunday, when Sri Lanka were in an attacking mood, the right arm’s quick tendency to lose line and length returned.
Richardson apologized for failing and being hung up for six years. It is the experience. He will be better.
Four games. Eight counters at 5:12 p.m. DB: 03/21. Eco: 8.74
Counters, counters and counters.
The quickest way to build pressure and turn the screws is to take wickets and Richardson regularly makes inroads.
His 3/21 in Canberra was his best night.
With the big three – Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins – at rest, Richardson showed Australia had depth even if slightly pricey.