Steve Smith is the world’s best cricketer
The first Test was more of a reminder than a lesson learned about Australian captain Steve Smith. His unbeaten knock of 141 illustrated everything that makes him the top-ranked batsman in the ICC Player Rankings.
Smith’s knock displayed poise, character and remarkable skill, an inspirational innings from a skipper with his side’s back against the wall. Smith’s catching in the slips resulted in the perfect all-round game, cementing his place as the premier player in world cricket.
England desperately need Ben Stokes
The absence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes was telling in Brisbane, where his attacking style of batting and bowling would have been a significant factor on a bouncy Gabba wicket as the Test went on.
England’s tail failed to wag, especially in the second innings, where Stokes batting at number six (therefore pushing Ali to number eight would have been huge for the visitors, giving them great depth in the batting department. Additionally, Stokes’ bowling would likely have had more impact than Ball and Woakes’ displays, giving Joe Root a fallback option when star pairing Broad and Anderson require a rest.
Pat Cummins is back at his destructive best
One of the good news stories of the Gabba Test was Pat Cummins’ first Test match on home soil, and boy did he deliver. Cummins bowled with real venom, getting in the faces of the English batsmen with aggressive short balls, mixed with quick, full deliveries, taking the vital wickets of Stoneman, Root and Bairstow in the first innings.
His work with the bat was just as impressive, showing real character and class to build a game-saving partnership with Steve Smith, notching up 42 runs and seeing off 120 deliveries. A healthy Pat Cummins is a beautiful sight for Australian cricket fans.
Nathan Lyon is at the top of his game
A cult figure over recent Australian summers, Nathan ‘Gary’ Lyon bowled superbly in the first Test, utilising the bouncy Gabba wicket to bamboozle English batsmen across both innings.
After going largely unrewarded in the first innings, Lyon was instrumental in the second, taking three vital wickets; Stoneman, Malan and Ali. His added flight and turn was noticeable throughout the game, looking perhaps the most damaging he ever has over his record-breaking career as a Test off-spinner.
His run-out of Vince on day one was a turning point in the match and will do no harm to his role as cult figure of the Australian cricket team.
This isn’t the same Alastair Cook we’re used to seeing in the Ashes
A major talking point out of England’s loss is the concerning form of opener Alastair Cook, who fell for two runs in the first innings and seven runs in the second. It was the nature of the dismissals that raised the most eyebrows, with the first coming as a result of poor defensive technique, and the second coming out of sloppy shot execution.
If the visitors are to get back into the series, they will need Cook to find his form, and quickly. Since his scintillating 243 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August, Cook’s recent Test innings have produced 23, 11, 17, 10, 7 and 2 runs.