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Cricket: Five things we learned from the summer

Australia enjoyed a successful summer in all forms of the game as they won five series out of six, with the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and United States the focus in the next few months.

There were several players who made outstanding contributions, while the major talking points were probably the Test retirement of opening batter David Warner and the return from serious injury of star off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

Warner walks away from Test role

Thirty-seven-year-old left-hander Warner has enjoyed an amazing career already and he is not yet done in the white-ball arena.

However, he called time in Test match cricket at the end of the series against Pakistan and marked his final outings with 164 in the series opener in Perth and 57 in his final innings in the third Test at the SCG.

Warner departs with 8,786 runs at an average of 44.59 and no fewer than 26 centuries, including two doubles and the second highest innings by an Australian in Test cricket - 335 not out against Pakistan at eh Adelaide Oval in late 2019.

Having made his Test bow back in December 2011, Warner has been a fixture at the top of the order for more than a decade and leaves some big shoes to fill.

Steven Smith has stepped to take over as opener but has yet to prove that he can fill the gap left by the exit of Warner from the red-ball set-up.

Classy Lyon back with a bang

A major factor in Australia struggling to retain the Ashes in England a few months ago was the loss of Lyon to a calf injury in the Lord’s Test, which was his 100th consecutive Baggy Greens appearance in the five-day game.

Some may have wondered whether Lyon could recover fully from such a serious setback, but the 36-year-old has proved the doubters wrong by blasting past the 500-wicket mark with superb performances against Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand.

He was certainly at his best against the Black Caps, especially in the first Test of two in Wellington, where he took 10 wickets in the match, including 6-65 in the second innings to set up a 172-run victory.

Lyon remains one of four truly world-class bowlers in the Australia Test line-up and is far from done after making a successful return to the fold.

Green clearly a major player

All-rounder Cameron Green is obviously a player marked for a big future for Australia across all three formats, having been given a red-ball focus for much of the home summer.

The 24-year-old sat out the T20I series against West Indies and New Zealand, although he did show up well with the bat in the ODIs against the Windies, while playing a minor role with the ball.

In the Test arena, Green has been handed the key number four role following the retirement of Warner, showing that the selectors see him as a key figure for what could be the start of a rebuild of the batting order.

With fitness issues curtailing his bowling input, Green was also short of runs until he showed just what he is capable of by making a career-best 174 not out against New Zealand in Wellington, an innings which was almost exactly the margin of victory for the Baggy Greens.

Cummins leads from the front

Pat Cummins surely extinguished any doubts about his captaincy by overseeing the retention of the Ashes and 50-over World Cup glory earlier on in 2023 and he continues to deliver with both bat and ball.

He took five wickets in an innings three times in a row against Pakistan, including finishing with match figures of 10-97 in the 79-run victory over Pakistan in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Cummins would finish the season with another decisive contribution in the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch, firstly taking four second-innings wickets.

He then joined Alex Carey to put together an unbeaten stand of 61 which saw the Aussies edge home by three wickets to seal a 2-0 series victory.

Cummins remains the man for the big occasion and at 30 has plenty of years left ahead of him to add to his already fantastic CV.

Bowling unit a world leader

Australia are blessed with a number of quality bowling options across the formats, with leg-spinner Adam Zampa a key figure in the white-ball game and seamers Michael Neser and Scott Boland unlucky not to have featured more on the international stage.

That is mainly because Cummins, Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood remain the most formidable bowling attack, especially in Test cricket.

Between them they have taken an amazing 1,430 Test wickets to date and their efforts mean that Australia are always able to pick a sixth batter, knowing that four bowlers will be more than enough to bowl the opposition out.

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