True, Ed Cowan made a debut half-century but I found it a touch unusual for Australia to pick a blocker; they don't normally do that. True, David Warner carried his bat for a century in that thriller against New Zealand but he is still work in progress.
True, Shaun Marsh made a fine debut in Sri Lanka and was the one most likely to find his way into international cricket but if Australia were 2-0 down there would have been questions about his suitability. True, Nathan Lyon tosses his off breaks well and bowls a good line but he has rarely looked like picking a wicket.
That leaves James Pattinson among the newcomers and I have little hesitation in saying that if he takes care of his body, he will become an outstanding fast bowler for Australia. He has been the big plus, running in hard, hitting the deck and generating bounce, but also moving the ball beautifully. But it is his intent that strikes you, his aggression, and his desire to come at the batsman. Before the series I thought Ryan Harris would be Australia's number one bowler. Instead, they have found someone a decade younger.
Of the four youngsters with question marks in their vicinity you would have to believe Warner and Marsh would make decent long term picks (though if you went by scores alone you might have said that about Phil Hughes!). But Cowan's position looks tenuous; he will never get a better opportunity than he now has in the absence of Watson to seal his place. And Lyon might take wickets someday but he isn't threatening anyone just yet.
The spin bowler's slot in Australia still looks open.
But the senior players have ensured that the next generation has more opportunities coming its way. That is the way it should always be, that is how good teams hand over the baton. And to think Australia wouldn't have allowed themselves this opportunity if they had left out Hussey and Ponting.
The rebuilding still has some distance to go but Australia need to be wary when up against a good bowling side. If anyone wants to beat Australia, this is still the best time to have a go!
And why the third six was the best of the four. More »It wasn't bad bowling from Stokes, just really good hitting from Brathwaite