Being a dead rubber, much was made about what Australia need to find out of this test match.
Smith needed to graft out an innings to send a message for the next Ashes tour. Tick.
Warner needed to show some maturity at the top of the order. Despite not getting through to his century, his work early in the innings protected the new batsmen from the best of the bowling conditions. Tick.
Others, like Voges and Mitch Marsh, needed to show they deserved an extended run in the XI, and overall the batting line up needed to give the bowlers some breathing space to work with.
In my team I selected for the first test at the GABBA in November, I had Voges gone. I actually had him gone for the fifth test at The Oval. It looks like he has almost certainly bought himself some time after back to back fighting half centuries. It’s fair to say he will be on the plane to Bangladesh and if he can just keep his head above water, he will be given the summer to lock down the number five spot on home soil. The hope is for a senior head to hold the middle order together, which is only going to be magnified once some new blood is brought in for Clarke at four. I think the selectors will be weighing up whether it’s worth persevering with an older statesmen, or risk having a completely green middle order that is going to need some perseverance anyway. I’m guessing he has at least the New Zealand series to lock it down.
Mitch Marsh again failed with the bat, but he wasn’t on the field in Trent Bridge, so he gets to continue his education here. Once again though his contributions with the ball cannot be argued with. He has looked consistently dangerous with the ball in hand, to the point where people are now saying he isn’t the batting all-rounder we need. Incredible. At the start of the series, the questions were weather he can do a job with the ball, we all knew he can bat. Now after five innings he’s not the man we need. He will get an extended run at the six position. Marsh is still only 23, and as long as he is contributing with bat or ball, he will be there till at least the end of the West Indies series.
Much has been made about the inclusion of Peter Siddle and I am one that thought Pat Cummins should have been given a crack in this test. In the selector’s defence, if they are going in with the mind set of winning every test match, maybe Cummins just didn’t give them what they needed. They will have to wear the blame for getting it wrong at Trent Bridge, and there will be the haters that say Siddle should have been included at Edgbaston or even as early as Cardiff. In reality the Cardiff and Edgbaston calls are only in hindsight, but Trent Bridge had Siddle written all over it.
I hope Siddle takes a bag of wickets and puts the pressure on the likes Hazelwood, Cummins, Pattinson et al. Competition is healthy, and he has immediately shown the control this team required from Hazelwood. Unfortunately, I think no matter Siddle’s performance, he could be playing his last test.