1. SHOULD WE BE WORRIED ABOUT THAT SHAKY RUN CHASE?
The best that can be said about Australia’s batting on the final day is that they got there in the end, though victory papered over more than a few cracks. They were teetering at 6-247 in the first innings before being saved by the tail and made hard work of the run chase. Senior men Shane Watson and Brad Haddin are down on form while question marks remain over Shaun Marsh’s credentials at Test level. A lot rests on Steve Smith and David Warner.
2. HOW IMPORTANT IS MITCHELL JOHNSON?
So long as Mitchell Johnson is fit and firing, Australia will back themselves to get out of many a hole. That’s how well he has played in the past year. The left-arm speedster is the most feared fast bowler in the world. He intimidates batsmen and, more importantly, gets them out. With Ryan Harris nearing the end and Peter Siddle down on form, it will be vital Johnson’s golden run continues so that youngsters like Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are not burdened with too much too soon.
3. WHAT’S IN STORE FOR STEVE SMITH?
Australia’s 45th Test captain could not have been more impressive in his debut match in charge. He made runs when needed, generally pulled the right rein in the field, not to mention his classic catch at slip, and always kept his cool, even when his bowlers wilted in the heat on day one. The Australian team will enter a period of transition in the coming years as the likes of Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris near the end, but at this stage it appears they need not worry about the man who will lead them through this phase.
4. HOW MUCH LONGER FOR BRAD HADDIN?
It seems peculiar that the future of the wicketkeeper is in question after a game where he equals an Australian record for most dismissals in a Test innings. But the reality is glovemen these days are picked as much for their batting as their keeping, and Brad Haddin’s recent numbers are not pretty. The veteran, however, is still gloving them well and he remains a key figure behind the scenes at a time of uncertainty. That will buy him time though a big score in the next fortnight will be all it takes to get him to the West Indies and a fifth Ashes campaign.
5. HOW WILL JOE BURNS FARE ON DEBUT?
The 25-year-old Queenslander has been mentioned in dispatches as a future Test player for a few seasons and is in arguably career-best form. He has opened for the Bulls this season but started his career as a middle-order player. How he makes the leap to Test level could hinge on whether he is given a soft landing. He can ask Alex Doolan, Rob Quiney and Usman Khawaja how hard it was to make their debuts at first drop. Perhaps they could have made more of their opportunities had they been blooded at No.6.
6. WILL INDIA FALL AWAY IN MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY?
While the 2-0 scoreline in favour of Australia should come as no surprise heading into Boxing Day, India has been extremely competitive in both matches. This bodes well for the biggest two Tests on the calendar though the Indians made a bright start in England before capitulating in the final three matches. The positive for India is most of their batsmen are in form, which has not usually been the case on tours to Australia. If one or two can cash in big time and their fast bowlers click, an upset is not out of the question in Melbourne.