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Ashes 2019 | In Numbers: How Josh Hazlewood & Pat Cummins Spelled England Doom

It is not often that the collective performances of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie have been eclipsed in an Ashes. The Australian pace attack of 1997, led by the duo, had the best bowling average (and strike rate) for any Australian team touring England in the last 50 years (since 1969). Australia had gone on to win the six-match series 3-2.

Nikhil Narain |September 10, 2019, 7:41 PM IST
Ashes 2019 | In Numbers: How Josh Hazlewood & Pat Cummins Spelled England Doom

It is not often that the collective performances of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie have been eclipsed in an Ashes. The Australian pace attack of 1997, led by the duo, had the best bowling average (and strike rate) for any Australian team touring England in the last 50 years (since 1969). Australia had gone on to win the six-match series 3-2.

The half-a-century old record has been broken in 2019.

Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have bettered their more famous predecessors and helped Australia to retain the Ashes after taking a 2-1 lead with a Test to play at The Oval.

The Australian pace attack of 2019 has a better collective average than their pace attack in 1997. Their wickets per match ratio is also higher.

AUS bowlers in ASHES 2019

In fact, the collective bowling average of the Australian pace attack in 2019 (of 21.5) is the best ever for any Australian team in England in the last 50 years. The collective strike rate of 48.9 is the third-best after 1997 and 2015.

Overall, in the last 27 Ashes series since 1969, the bowling average for Australia (pace attack) is the third-best after 2013-14 and 1978-79. The strike rate is the fifth-best after 2013-14, 1997, 2015 and 1998-99.

Cummins has picked 24 wickets in the series at an average of 17.41 while Hazlewood has bagged 18 at 16.88.

In these 27 series, on only two other occasions have two Australian quicks picked a minimum of 15 wickets and averaged less than 20 – Dennis Lillee and Bob Massie in 1972 and Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson in 2013.

That is how good the two Australian fast bowlers have been in the series.

AUS bowlers in ASHES 20192

Cummins and Hazlewood picked 42 of the 73 English wickets to fall in the series, ie 57.53%.

More than the number of wickets they picked the quality and timing of their wickets stood out. 13 of Hazlewood’s 18 wickets were of the English top-middle order (1-5), ie 72.22%. The corresponding percentage for Cummins was 62.5%.

Cummins picked 32.61% of the top-middle order English wickets to fall in the series. The corresponding number for Hazlewood is 28.26%.

The pair got excellent support from Nathan Lyon who bagged 16 wickets from 4 Tests at 36.68.

Australia were lethal with the new ball. The average stand for England for the opening wicket was just 10.62 with a high of 22. Seven of these eight initial breakthroughs were provided by either Cummins or Hazlewood.

Cummins dismissed Rory Burns and Jos Buttler four times each at an average of 18.25 and 19.5 respectively. He also saw the back of Jason Roy thrice at just 13.66 per dismissal. Hazlewood got the better of Joe Root and Roy on three instances at 28.33 and 10.33.

Australian bowlers hunted in pairs at crucial junctures in every Test to seize the moment and wrest the initiative. At Birmingham in the second innings, Nathan Lyon ran through the top and middle order ending with 6-49. Cummins complimented him and bagged the other 4.

At Leeds in the first innings, it was Hazlewood who annihilated the English top and middle order finishing with 5-30. Cummins and James Pattinson bagged the other 5 as England were skittled for 67.

The camaraderie between Cummins and Hazlewood helped one to feed off the other. Cummins was exceptional on Day 4 at Old Trafford on the two sides of the Tea interval. He bowled for 10 overs on the trot at almost 140 kms per hour with Burns and Root in the midst of a threatening partnership. With rain in the air a draw seemed like the most realistic possibility.

Cummins roughed up Root and Burns who were very uncomfortable missing, edging or playing a false short to almost a third of the deliveries by him in this period. Hazlewood made use of the pressure created by his fellow teammate and broke the 141-run third-wicket stand. He got rid of Burns and then Root and Roy with absolute peaches. His strength in the series (as in his career) has been his accuracy and impeccable line and length – almost 50 % of the total deliveries he bowled in the series were in the ‘good’ line and length area.

England collapsed to 196 for 5 and the match had opened for Australia.

Cummins got his share of wickets in the second innings picking 4 top-middle order wickets conceding just 43 runs in 24 overs!

AUS bowlers in ASHES 20193

Among the 57 Australian fast bowlers who took a minimum of 15 wickets in an Ashes series in the last 50 years, Hazlewood’s average in 2019 is the fourth-best after Rodney Hogg, Mitchell Johnson and Bruce Reid. Cummins is not far away at number 8.

It has been an exceptional effort from the two New South Wales bowlers which has handed Australia another Ashes urn and placed them on the brink of becoming the first Australian side to win in England after 2001.

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