An Impact Index analysis of The Ashes 2013/14
This doesn’t happen often. Three months back, Australia had toured England and emerged second-best by a fair margin, losing the Ashes series 0-3. In such a short time, this has been turned on its head – Australia have recaptured the urn, England have been humiliated 5-0 and batsmen have ceased to be the quintessential 21st century cricketing bullies.
What brought things to this pass? Large scale bewilderment is being vented in various ways. Were England really so bad? Were Australia really so good?
Three things stand out quite easily though.
One, the re-emergence of Mitchell Johnson.
Two, the massive setback of Jonathan Trott going home after the first Test.
And three, the contribution of Brad Haddin – the batsman.
However, each of these stories has a subtext – made clearer by Impact Index findings.
1. Mitchell Johnson – His role cannot be underestimated… but his bowling partners’ roles can be, and has been somewhat. Let’s look at some simple facts.Johnson got 37 wickets out of which 15 of them were lower-order batsmen (nos. 8-11). That’s 41%. Meanwhile, Ryan Harris got 22, out of which 7 were lower-order players (31%). Siddle got 16, out of which 3 were lower-order (18%). No doubt, Johnson’s magnificent bursts intimidated the English batting line-up early-on, but the role his two pace partners played should not be downplayed.And no, it wasn’t a simple matter of Johnson terrorising the batsmen as a strike bowler so that they became easy targets for the other bowlers.Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon actually bowled longer, uninterrupted spells than Johnson right through the series and grinded their wickets out. They all bowled better than they have in quite a while though none more than Johnson who registered an impact of an astonishing 150% more than what he accomplished in his last 3 Test series. In Harris’ case, his staying fit right through was enough whereas Siddle had a 57% increase of impact from his last 3 Test series. While there is no doubt that Johnson’s form at the top was the inspiration and the decisive factor, the overall impact was not as overwhelmingly Johnson’s, as is being assumed.All the three pacemen played their role in breaking England’s batting spine.Interestingly, it was Siddle and Harris who dismissed Pietersen thrice each in the series. Bell was dismissed thrice each by Siddle and Harris as well. It was only Cook who was Johnson’s bunny – who dismissed him 4 times.
Pertinently, even though Johnson is comfortably the highest impact bowler in the series (and the highest impact player in 3 of the 5 Tests), he did not get two 5s on the Impact scale (the maximum possible in a match) in the series – which many players have in the past when they dominate a series as an individual. Given that there were 5 Tests, this is an indication that it wasn’t just Johnson’s series.
Johnson’s performance in the 1st Test (64 & 39 not out, 4-61 and 5-42) was the highest
2. Jonathan Trott – Amongst all the things that put this series on notice, the most significant was England’s dependence on Jonathan Trott, who chose to leave the series after the first Test citing mental instability. Trott has been England’s highest-impact and most consistent (lowest failure rate) batsman in the last 2 years prior to the start of this Ashes series. His abilities to absorb pressure (
3. Brad Haddin – David Warner scored more runs than Haddin but the wicket-keeper batsman had a higher
These were the three main stories of this Ashes series. The complete story is here:
Highest Impact Players of the Series: Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad
Highest Impact Batsmen of the Series: Brad Haddin, David Warner, Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson
Highest Impact Bowlers of the Series: Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Stuart Broad, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon
Chris Rogers eventually emerged as the third-highest impact batsman of the series but he had the lowest
Australia’s bowling stranglehold over the English batsmen in the series is evident from the fact that all the three highest
With his 19 wicket haul in the series, Nathan Lyon marked his place as Australia’s number one spinner in their current Test setup. In fact, since Shane Warne’s retirement Nathan Lyon has emerged as the highest impact Australian spinner amongst all the spinning options that they have tried out and the fourth-highest impact Australian bowler in the mentioned time-frame after Harris, Hilfenhaus and Johnson.
England’s only bright spot in the series was the performance of Ben Stokes who made his debut in this series. He was the only English player to register an
Michael Carberry had a bizarre series for England, he crossed 40 four times in the series and twice crossed 30 but failed to go on and score a big innings. He got the starts but was unable to build on it, a fact which is borne out by his
Players who failed in this series: Joe Root, George Bailey, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior