1. Michael Clarke
259*. 1st Test v South Africa at Brisbane, November 2012.
Great players, it is said, set the tone for a series by excelling in the first match. Clarke did exactly that in Brisbane, but rain ruined the chance for Australia to be rewarded for its dominance. Rather than be daunted by expectations that he could match his brilliant performances of the previous season, he showed he would thrive on those expectations.
2. Matthew Wade
106 and 4, one dismissal. 3rd Test v West Indies at Dominica, April 2012.
Wade’s ability to both grind and plunder was reinforced. His uncertainty against spin meant he scored only 22 runs from his first 83 deliveries, but a fumbled return catch triggered a move into top gear. After reaching his half-century from 109 balls, he needed only another 34 to reach his century, the only one scored by an Australian in the three-Test series.
3. Peter Siddle
5-54 off 25.3 overs and 4-50 off 26 overs. 1st Test v Sri Lanka at Hobart, December 2012.
Having contentiously been left out of Australia’s preceding Test, due to near exhaustion and a sore hamstring after a mighty bowling effort against South Africa, Siddle bowled like someone who would have made a huge difference in the series decider against the Proteas. Siddle was remarkably economical against Sri Lanka, not by pitching the ball wide, but by giving the batsmen no width and consistently being threatening.
4. Michael Clarke
230 and 38. 2nd Test v South Africa at Adelaide, November 2012.
That Clarke was on the cusp of passing 500 runs in the series against South Africa without being dismissed was a tribute to his remarkable form. While Adelaide is typically the best batting surface in Australia, that did not diminish the captain’s achievement of bringing up a second successive double century. The only disappointment was that, as in Brisbane, such a superb innings failed to take Australia to victory.
5. David Warner
163 off 157 balls. 1st ODI final v Sri Lanka at Brisbane, March 2012.
Warner did his utmost to drag attention back to the one-day tri-series at a point in the year when supporters were losing interest. He arrived at the crease an unproven one-day player, with an average of 22.5 after 18 matches. He left with an average of just under 30, courtesy of a magnificent maiden century. The left-hander found the boundary on 15 occasions to get the best-of-three finals series off to a great start.
6. Mitchell Johnson
4-63 off 14 overs and 2-16 off eight overs, 92*. 2nd Test v Sri Lanka at Melbourne, December 2012.
Given Johnson’s impressive comeback Test performance a few weeks earlier in Perth, and his reputation for sometimes struggling for confidence, it would have been understandable if the enigmatic left-armer was rattled by being dropped for the Hobart Test immediately after his performance in Perth. None of that showed, however, when he was given another opportunity in the Boxing Day Test. The old Johnson hostility was there but so too was a level of reliability. His batting was so good – he ran out of partners to post a century – that the selectors elevated him to an all-rounder’s role in the next match.
7. Clint Mckay
5-28 off 9.5 overs. 3rd ODI v Sri Lanka at Adelaide, March 2012.
After Sri Lanka had successfully chased a target of 272 in the second match of the three-match series at the Adelaide Oval two days before, Australia’s total of 231 looked alarmingly skinny. That it proved not to be was primarily due to the influence of Mckay, who accounted for Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal to put the visitors on the back foot and then scythed through the tail to ensure a series victory for Australia. The next morning the Australians had to jump on a plane for the West Indies.
8. David Warner
119 and 41. 2nd Test v South Africa at Adelaide, November 2012.
Even a pitch as batsman-friendly as the Adelaide Oval is not an ideal place to be facing a pace attack reputed to be the best in the world. To counter that, even the world’s best pacemen can shudder at having to bowl to David Warner in full flight. The left-hander reached his half-century in 47 deliveries and his century in 93 – after being in the 90s for one delivery.
9. Ryan Harris
68* & 4*, 2-83 off 29 overs and 3-31 off 8.4 overs. 1st Test v West Indies at Barbados, April 2012.
The 33-year-old is all but forgotten at international level due to his notoriously unreliable body, yet away from the attention of most Australian supporters he produced one of the year’s most impressive performances. The paceman bowled well in both innings in the series opener against the West Indies, snaring a total of five wickets, but his biggest contribution came with the bat. Arriving with his team 7-250, still trailing by 199, the veteran’s unbeaten half-century was pivotal in ensuring the home team got only a token first-innings lead. His role in Australia’s come-from-behind victory was pivotal.
10. Ed Cowan
136. 1st Test v South Africa at Brisbane, November 2012.
Cowan began the South Africa series as the player with the shakiest hold on his place in the Test team, not just because of his middling form as an opener but because the player he replaced, Phillip Hughes, was thriving and considered a certainty to return. With Australia chasing 450, the pressure on Cowan increased when Australia slumped to 3-40 but he responded with an assured and defiant century, one that ended prematurely in a very unlucky run-out.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.