Michael Clarke made his highest Test score in Sydney. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au/Saeed Khan/AFP
The all-conquering Australia team of the late 90s and early part of this century had a bad habit of losing dead rubbers in Test series. The current Test team is nowhere near the level that side reached, but there is a sense this Michael Clarke-led outfit has had enough of spending time down in the doldrums to do all it can to put an exclamation mark on this series with victory over downtrodden England in Sydney.
Once again it was Australia’s bowlers and the batting of ‘keeper Brad Haddin which made up for some ordinary efforts from the top order in Melbourne. Nathan Lyon , who has been somewhat of a surprise packet at times throughout the series, claimed his first Test five-for on Australian soil, while Mitchell Johnson again took wickets in bunches when his radar was on. The S.C.G. used to be a spinner’s paradise, but in recent years the wicket hasn’t deteriorated in the same way it once did, and this is reflected in Lyon’s figures at the ground where he has claimed just three scalps at almost 75 per wicket. It has been his overspin and bounce that has caused more issues for England this series than any great turn or drift, though.
Another Australian who didn’t have a great start to his Test career at this ground is local hero Clarke . In 15 innings on his home deck he has amassed just two tons and one fifty, although amongst that collection is the unbeaten 329 he racked up against India a couple of seasons back. With Mike Hussey gone, none of the current bastmen has had any sustained success at the famed ground. That goes for Haddin, too, who has sparkled in this series scoring at least a fifty in the first innings of every match. The gloveman has a highest score of just 38 and an average of 19 from four Tests here. Despite firing in a couple of second innings knocks in the past two Tests, Shane Watson hasn’t passed 22 in the first dig in this series to date.
One player who has excelled on this ground is England’s fading strike weapon, James Anderson . Although he has looked thoroughly beaten for most of this series, apart from Stuart Broad’s devastating performance at the ‘Gabba, he has still looked the man most likely to make inroads on the tourists’ side of things. In two Tests at the S.C.G. he has claimed 10 wickets at an average of 23. With Monty Panesar suffering a calf injury, leggie Steve Borthwick has been handed his debut, as have Gary Ballance and former Ireland representative Boyd Rankin.
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