Ranking the Players in the Australia Team in Order of Importance

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2013

Ranking the Players in the Australia Team in Order of Importance

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    Some of Australia's players will be fearing for their Test future after the shattering defeat to Alastair Cook's men at Durham.

    Despite reaching 147 for one in pursuit of 299, a Stuart Broad inspired England took nine wickets in the final session to take a 3-0 series lead with one game to play.

    With coach Darren Lehman describing the last Test, which takes place at the Oval on August 21st, as the final chance for some of the batsman, we have ranked the Aussies in order of their importance to the team.

11: Usman Khawaja

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    As per Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja has shown bags of promise, but is frustratingly inconsistent at Test match level.

    Even multiple spells in County cricket, which normally acts as a finishing school for Australian batsmen, does not seem to have done the trick.

    With six innings contributing just 114 runs at an average of 19 in this Ashes series, Khawaja will be sweating over his place.

    There is still time on his side, but sooner or later he needs to grab an opportunity by the scruff of the neck before someone else does.

10: Steve Smith

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    Steve Smith is the epitome of the problems facing the Australian side.

    Occasional promising knocks have materialised in his 22 Test innings but the weight of runs expected at Test level remain absent as evidenced by an average under 30.

    Also, his leg-breaks continue to prove expensive and seemingly untrustworthy to skipper Michael Clarke, despite taking 3 for 18 at Lord's.

    Due to the lack of alternative options in the squad, the baby-faced Sydneyite may get another chance at The Oval, but how many more opportunities will come his way?

9: Jackson Bird

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    Despite starting tightly at Durham, Jackson Bird endured a tough Test and collected just two wickets from 43.2 overs.

    Even more disappointing was that he was picked for that particular match to take advantage of a seaming wicket that suited his particular style of bowling.

    The 26-year-old deserves another chance, as evidenced by his 13 Test wickets at 23.30, but may have to wait until further down the line. 

    Unless the fragility of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle or Shane Watson works in his favour.

8: Brad Haddin

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    Brad Haddin has responded to his somewhat surprise Ashes recall with a couple of typically stubborn knocks including an almost match-winning innings of 71 at Trent Bridge in the first Test.

    But with wicket-keepers primarily judged on their batting these days, his scores have been inconsistent with two half-centuries being supplanted by five single-figure scores.

    The glovesman is due to be 36 by the time the Ashes are contested in Australia and it remains to be seen if he can survive the inevitable post-tour debrief.

7: Nathan Lyon

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    Anyone who smears their face with suncream, in the permanent winter of Durham, is a man you would want in the trenches alongside you. To laugh at mainly.

    But seriously, while not in Graeme Swann’s class, Nathan Lyon has bounced back after being pushed aside to make way for Ashton Agar in the first two Tests of the series.

    The off-spinner's regulation brand of slow bowling has yielded eight wickets at an average of 25 with a miserly economy rate of just 2.49 that should see him remain in the side for the foreseeable future.

    How long he can hold on to the spot remains to be seen with the ever-lasting search for the new Shane Warne still unfulfilled.

6: David Warner

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    Part pantomime villain, part dangerous opening batsman, Warner has had a chequered time of late after punching Joe Root in a Birmingham nightspot.

    Dropped from the side, and sent off to play for Australia A, he rebounded in some style by blasting 193 against South Africa A to secure an almost immediate return flight to England.

    An ideal foil to Chris Rogers on paper, the pair's century stand in their country's second innings at Durham could be a sign of things to come for Australia.

    As long as Warner can stay out of trouble that is.

5: Shane Watson

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    Shane Watson remains an enigmatic figure and an emphatic LBW candidate

    On the one hand, a hugely talented all-rounder. On the other, a man with just two wickets with the ball and an average of 27 with the bat in this Ashes series.

    But the constant scrutiny of his record and lack of Test centuries won't put his position in the Australian side in danger, assuming he recovers from injury that is.

    A true all-rounder is just too rare and besides, a first innings score of 68 at Durham, showed roots of recovery while his tight accurate bowling continues to provide a valuable fourth seam option for Michael Clarke. 

4: Chris Rogers

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    Recalled into the side primarily due to his extensive experience in English conditions, Chris Rogers has proved to be an inspired choice.

    With 344 runs already, including a debut Test century at Durham, the Middlesex man has provided a calm reassuring presence at the top of the order.

    The mystery is why it took so long for Rogers, who has scored over 20,000 first-class runs, to resume his international career after making a solitary appearance in 2008.

    When the Ashes switch hemispheres in a few months time, messrs Anderson and Broad know they will be pitting their new ball wits against the dogged left-hander.

3: Peter Siddle

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    If a nuclear bomb destroyed the earth, the only things remaining would be cockroaches, Keith Richards and Peter Siddle steaming in from the Pavilion End.

    The Aussie workhorse gives 100 percent every time the Captain tosses him the ball but it isn't all hustle and bustle, as his 17 scalps in this Ashes series show.

    Forsaking trivialities such as reverse swing and cunning slower balls, the 28-year-old is devotee to the age-old fast bowler art of hitting the deck hard.

    While his return of one for a 100 in Durham was disappointing, if fit, Siddle will be one of the first players on the Australian team sheet for the Oval Test.

2: Ryan Harris

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    The Australian selectors wish they could wrap Ryan Harris up in cotton wool as the injury-prone pace man is the closest thing they have to Jimmy Anderson.

    Having missed the opening test, the 33-year-old bounced back at Lord's where his pitched-up brand of accurate swing reaped a five wicket haul and a place on the Honours Board.

    Two Test's later and with twenty wickets at 19.25 to his name, Harris is arguably the leading bowler of the series from either side.

    Baggy Green supporters will be praying his body can continue to hold up, under the strain of a gruelling workload.

1: Michael Clarke

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    Michael Clarke is nicknamed Pup but perhaps Atlas would be more suitable as he continues to carry the Australian batting.

    As well as notching 346 runs in this Ashes series and 7,621 Test runs overall, the Aussie skipper has earned respect off the field for his calm and dignified interaction with the media.

    Clarke didn't have his best game at Durham but it still took a jaffa to remove him in the second innings, and he remains the Baggy Greens' wicket that England or any other opposition value the most.