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Ashes player ratings

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Ben Dirs | 13:11 UK time, Monday, 24 August 2009

Andrew Strauss - 9
When Strauss took over in the wake of the Kevin Pietersen-Peter Moores affair, he was labelled by many as a "safe pair of hands", and that's exactly what he's been.

His batting has blossomed with the responsibility of the captaincy - he scored more runs than anyone else in the series - and he has forged a close and fruitful relationship with coach Andy Flower.

Out-skippered opposite number Ricky Ponting and, aged 32, he could be in charge for some time. Some call his captaincy "conservative", but he's just won back the Ashes - what more could any Englishman want?

Alastair Cook - 4
Not a great series for the Essex opener, and not even a good one. His 95 at Lord's suggested he had found some form, but those old technical deficiencies came back to haunt him.

Top-class seamers know that if they plough a line outside his off-stump, he's likely to nibble sooner or later. And South Africa, where England will tour this winter, has its fair share of top-class seamers.

Ravi Bopara - 3
Cook's county team-mate had a torrid series, stumbling through the first four Tests before being replaced by Jonathan Trott for the decider at The Oval. When you're averaging below Jimmy Anderson, you know you've had a stinker.

Three tons in a row against West Indies earlier in the summer suggested he might be special, but the Windies aren't Australia and the Wisden Trophy's not the Ashes. Showed his mettle by scoring a double-ton for Essex after being discarded, and the England selectors should keep faith in him this winter.

Ian Bell - 5
Looks classy, just hasn't got it when it matters: it's what people were saying about Bell before the series started, and most won't have changed their minds.

Eked out a fifty on his return to the side at Edgbaston and made a fighting 72 in England's first innings at The Oval. But he's now failed to make a hundred batting at number three in 32 innings, and England's selectors might decide Jonathan Trott is a better bet first wicket down in South Africa.

Kevin Pietersen - 5
The 2009 Ashes was a humbling experience for Pietersen: clearly struggling with injury in the two Tests he played and unable to impose himself, he then had to watch as his team-mates regained the urn without him.

Managed a fifty in Cardiff, but the Aussies had clearly penetrated his head by the time the series had rumbled on to Lord's. Still, he's still England's best batsman and when he's fully fit he'll slot straight back in at number four.

Paul Collingwood - 5
It was the tale of the two Collingwoods in this series. Obdurate in Cardiff, his twin fifties saved England from going 1-0 down. But it rather went downhill from there.

Did manage another fifty at Lord's, but thereafter was a walking wicket, his technique seemingly shot to pieces. With Kevin Pietersen returning in South Africa and Jonathan Trott now a shoo-in, The Oval might be Collingwood's last Test for some time.

Jonathan Trott - 9
It frustrated some, and irritated the Aussies immensely, that England had to turn to a man forged in South Africa in their hour of need. Few will be complaining now.

Came in at awkward times in both innings at The Oval, and glowed in the heat of battle, scoring one of the great debut tons in England's second innings. Looked so assured, he may well be pushed up to number three when he returns to the place of his birth.

Matt Prior - 7
Like football referees, they say you barely notice the best wicketkeepers. That you didn't notice Prior much behind the stumps during the series is the best indicator of how far his glovework has come.

The Sussex man is also a glorious-looking batsman on his day, and contributed some useful knocks here and there, with important fifties at Cardiff and Lord's. No reason to think he won't be on the England scene for a long time to come.

Andrew Flintoff - 6
The statistics will tell you that Flintoff, his body flaking and crumbling like a weathered statue, didn't do a great deal in his final series.

He squeezed out one last match-winning burst at Lord's, but took just eight wickets in four matches at an average of 52.12. He hit just one fifty, at Edgbaston, but when he wasn't there, at Headingley, England got clobbered.

Produced one final conjuring act in the crucial final Test at The Oval, running out a well-set Ricky Ponting to swing the game back in England's direction and just to remind everyone how much we'll miss him when he's gone.

Stuart Broad - 7
Hands up who wanted to drop Broad after Edgbaston? Come on, I know there were more of you than that. Just six wickets in the first three Tests, the school of thought was that you can't keep picking him because he scores a few runs.

However, his exploits with bat and ball in a losing cause in Leeds seemed to galvanise him and he made mugs of his critics with a match-winning blitz at The Oval. Ended up as England's highest wicket-taker, with two half-centuries. "The new Flintoff"? Still only 23, let's wait and see.

Graeme Swann - 7
Perhaps not the impact many were expecting from the Nottinghamshire off-spinner in the first four Tests, but did what he had to do on a turning pitch at The Oval, snaffling eight wickets in the match.

A chirpy, upbeat character, he was an irritant with the bat, scoring a crucial not out in Cardiff, plus fifties at Headingley and Lord's. The only mystery is, why wasn't he in the England set-up earlier?

Jimmy Anderson - 6
Anderson went into the series off the back of a nine-wicket match against West Indies in Durham. The enigma had come of age... or so we thought.

His devastating five-for in Birmingham aside, the Lancashire paceman struggled for swing elsewhere, and therefore struggled to make much of an impression. Wicketless in the final two Tests, although there were suggestions he wasn't fully fit. But let's not forget that match-saving knock in Cardiff.

Graham Onions - 6
The Durham seamer took a very handy four-for at Edgbaston, but was thereafter less effective, managing only a couple of wickets at Headingley, where many thought he might prosper.

Made way for Andrew Flintoff for the crucial final Test, but a useful man to have in and around the squad and should make it on the plane to South Africa.

Steve Harmison - 5
Overlooked for the first four Tests, despite taking a stack of wickets in county cricket, the selectors finally relented only when Andrew Flintoff went lame in Leeds.

However, county scalps are clearly easier to take than Australian ones, and his form at Headingley was depressingly familiar in its mediocrity. Did improve at The Oval, and may have done enough to earn a place on the plane for South Africa - if he wants to go.

Monty Panesar - 4
Courtesy of his match-saving knock in Cardiff, left-arm spinner Panesar can claim he effectively won England the Ashes. Unfortunately, he was in the side for his bowling, and he only managed one wicket.

Eleven first-class wickets this season for the one-time cult hero of English cricket suggests something is seriously amiss. With Yorkshire's Adil Rashid pushing for a place on the winter tour, it is not stretching things to say Panesar's England days might be numbered.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think Monty is still a cult hero, but there's no denying that his lack of form at Test and, worse, county level has hurt his chances.

    I was never against Broad so I can be smug there. However, I was against Harmison all along. He did a good job polishing off the tail end emphatically in the last test, but I'm still unconvinced that the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to GBH.

  • Comment number 2.

    Bah. I'm unconvinced the PROS outweight the CONS...I haven't been drinking, honest.

  • Comment number 3.

    Swann took the second most wickets and scored the third most runs (only pipped for second by one run), surely he deserves more than a seven?

  • Comment number 4.

    Some of those marks are questionable at best.

    Struass - 8 (Bat 8 / Capt 8)
    Excellent with the bat under difficult circumstances as he was usually let down by 2 and 3. Captained well and put pressure on at the right times but quetions will be asked about his ability to pull consistency from the team after the 1st and 4th tests.

    Cook - 4
    Could do without being in the one day squads, I'd be loathed to drop him from the test team but a period with his county and a specialist on his technique would do wonders. He can do it, he has just developed a bad habit or two.

    Bopara - 4
    He has failed yes but it's not entirely his fault. He was never a #3 and all too often came in under immense pressure at 1 for spare change. I would actually retain him in the squad and side but look to play him at 5/6 where he is more comfortable.

    Pietersen - 7
    69, 8, 32, 44, an average of 38. Would be a decent average for most players in an Ashes series and considering he was nowhere near fully fit I think that a 5 was extremely harsh. He played his part in retaining the ashes, after all we were 1-0 up before he limped out.

    Collingwood - 6
    Giving him and Pietersen 5 each makes a mockery of your scored mate. He dug in superbly in the first test and without him we would have gone 1-0 down and then who knows. In fact for the frist 2 tests he looked one of our better performers. In the third it didnt matter anyway due to the rain, the fourth he was no worse than others. Unfairly castigated yet again.

    I've supported Collingwood for years, he is a good all round cricketer who contributes with bat and hands in the field as well as being abel to throw a few useful overs down. Never going to be truly class but he was a ruddy good option to fill the gap until someone better came along. I feel we now have better options to play and should give them the nod afte the Ashes but he should still tour as a backup player.

    Prior - 8 (Bat 6 / WK 8)
    Very very good behind the stumps this series, something that hopefully will finally shut up his detractors for a while. With the bat he did OK, nothign spectacular but as a part of that late order unit (with Flintoff, Broad and Swann) he too often had to subdue his own game due to failures above him.

    Bell - 6
    Came in in difficult circumstances to replace KP and suffered rom the faiures of Cook and Bopara above him in the 3rd and 4th. His 72 for me shows that he can do it when needed but he really needs some help mentally to stop him letting the pressure get to his technique. Perhaps he could do with a Lions tour this winter to let him work on that out of the limelight?

    Trott - 8
    Sorry but I can't give a 9 for one game, as decent as he looked. He may be forged in SA but he has matured and developed immensely since coming to the UK, whether he would have done the same in his birthland we will never know. Looks solid on this performance, would he really want to play at #3?

    Flintoff - 7 (Bowl 6 / Bat 5)
    As always with Freddie the whole story just does not paint the whole picture. Through the series as a whole he has done OK, nothing special but has helped constribute in all areas as a supporting member that allowed otehrs to shine brighter. But his one solo contribution made all the difference at Lords, without it the series could have ended 3-0. Should not have been played in the third test what with everyone expecting rain.

    Broad - 8 (Bowl 7 / Bat 8)
    "the school of thought was that you can't keep picking him because he scores a few runs". Yeah you and every other idiot in the media said that, including ludicrously Domonic Cork who only ever got capped as a bits'n'pieces player. Broad with the bat did a fine job of digging England out of several messes. His failure with the ball is Entirely the coaching staffs (and Strausses) fault though. It is no coincidence that once Harmison came in to act as strike bowler Broad started bowling much better as he was allowed to return back to the line/length/swing bowler he should always have been. England desperately need a strike bowler from somewhere but trying to turn Broad into one was destroying him. Thanfully he was strong enough to cope.

    Swann - 8 (Bowl 8 / Bat 7)
    Did everything that could have been asked of him with the ball, he is no Murali so was never going to strike many out but was tidy and threatening at times. With the bat helped prop up failures above him nicely, will relish the promotion to 8 in the post-Flintoff era.

    Anderson - 6
    Struggled slightly as always when the ball doesn't swing, needs a strike bowler for support.

    Onions - 6
    Did what was asked of him but too similar to Anderson to be a real long term solution I think.

    Harmison - 4
    Sorry, he was awful in the 4th and did nothign useful in the 5th until the Aussies has already been broken.

    Panesar - 5
    Didnt justify his selection in the 1st test, should never have been in the squad to begin with. Lt the guy have some time to work on his variation already.

    Then to the future. Let Cook go back to the county game instead of playing the ODIs for one thing.

    For the winter I would look to move Bell into the Lions to get him away from the pressure along with Panesar and Bopara. Flintoff obviously retires and Harmison can not be trusted to tour.

    Michael Carberry would come into the squad and for me the team up front with Strauss, he is the best English opener in the county game this season. Cook would drop down to 3, it should ease some of the pressure off his shoulders and if he can sort out his technique a bit then would provide a solid bat at 1 down that England desperatly need. Pietersen, Trott and Prior complete the top 6. I would Collingwood as backup, possibly you could argue for a younger player but I would like to keep the first XI together as much as possible so whoever gets this slot will be unlikely to play bar an injury (which could be covered by a callup anyway).

    Broad and Swann would play as bowling all-rounders at 7 and 8, Anderson would get the nod as well. That leaves three or four bowling slots in the squad, of which two will play. Rashid is a definate tourist for me and I'd love to see him play in a five bowler attack. At the moment Onions would probaly get the 11th starting place by default because of the lack of a viable strike bowler and Sidebottom would also tour. I would love to see what Chris Woakes could do but a Lions spot might be better for him this winter. Lastly I would take Saj Mahmood, not because I necessarily think he is great, but because he is the only bowler I can think of who is quick enough to trouble the Saffers on a good day if the all-swing/spin attack fails.

    (* team)


  • Comment number 5.

    My ratings:

    Andrew Strauss - 9 - Englands best player by a long way

    Alastair Cook - 4 - Will be getting very nervous now about his place in the team

    Ravi Bopara - 2 - Utter rubbish this series. Think this will be the last we see of him for a couple of years

    Ian Bell - 5 - Still unsure about Belly. Good at times, rubbish at times. Useful to be in the squad tho

    Kevin Pietersen - 4 - Didnt do anything really in the two tests he played.

    Paul Collingwood - 4 - Apart from Cardiff he was shocking in bat and more suprisingly in the field

    Jonathan Trott - 7 - One good innings doesnt constitute a high rating. Looks a good player, but is vulnerable to LBW. Could get found out in South Africa

    Matt Prior - 8 - My personal opinion is that he was Englands 2nd or 3rd best player. Vital innings, good behind the stumps.

    Andrew Flintoff - 7 - His presence alone was enough for England. Not a great series but still an England Legend

    Stuart Broad - 7 - Im just glad this wasnt a 3 match series or Broad would have possibly gone down as the worst player to play in The Ashes

    Graeme Swann - 8 - Showed why he is being picked over Monty, good with the ball and the bat

    Jimmy Anderson - 6 - Is still Englands best bowler, but he does worry me when the wicket doesnt do anything

    Graham Onions - 6 - Still not quite up to Test standard for me, but wont be long before he is

    Steve Harmison - 6 - Hope he goes to South Africa, he is still a very good bowler.

    Monty Panesar - 2 - Rubbish!!! Has gone down hill since he burst onto the scene. Lets hope he picks himself up, especially with Rashid coming through!!

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Broad and Swann ought to be rated 8 each. Panesar had potential that may have come through at the Oval but Harmy hogged his place. Panesar's inclusion would have facilitated England and a win would not have been a hit or miss affair.

    Non-inclusion of Hauritz by Ponting was arrogance, whereas non-inclusion of the second spinner by England was ignorance of the Oval pitch parameters.

    Both England spinners, Panesar and Rashid need to be nurtured a bit more diligently.

  • Comment number 7.

    @ #4

    Sending Bell on a Lions tour is pointless. We know what he'll do. He'll destroy the bowling, just as he always does in such circumstances. I don't think he's a natural number 3, his best performances for England have been when he's batted further down and played with the tail, I think he could do a fantastic job at 5. You want your best batsman to play at 3 - I don't understand why KP doesn't want the job.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think your ratings are pretty spot on Ben. You've rated on the actual tests played so Trott should definitely be a 9.
    Here's my starting 11 for SA
    1 Strauss
    2 Cook (just because I don't know of any decent openers to replace him)
    3 Trott (worth a punt as his technique is solid)
    4 Pietersen
    5 Bopara (I'm not a fan but I want to see him down the order before writing him off)
    6 Prior
    7 Broad
    8 Swann
    9 Anderson
    10 Harmison (he'll do well on the SA pitches and England need a 'quicky')
    11 Onions

  • Comment number 9.

    Overall Dirsy, thought the scores were a tad harsh, especially on KP. But the live text is fantastic and you're from Essex, so I'll give you an 8/10.

    I'd go along with a lot of what hackerjack says. In particular I thought Prior was exceptional. He and Strauss are the model on which dropped players should base plans to regain their test place; get quality technical advice, show some serious determination and put in a ton of hard work. His gloves work was basically impeccable, and did nothing to damage his rep as a batsmen. I'd like to see him tried out a six.

    I'm also in the camp looking for Rashid to get a chance. I think SA is not necessarily the obvious place to cultivate a career as a Test spinner, but it will reward/punish control over your line and length as a leggie; although there'll be less lateral movement I'd suggest Rashid might have success with his variations, particularly over/top spin (a la Kumble). Would really like to see how he'd bat at test level too, Swann has taking the step up brilliantly, and deserves serious credit.

    I'd also be looking for Strauss to play at 3 rather than Cook. I think there are some core technical difficulties that can be remedied, and I think he's a natural opener outside of these specific flaws, and in terms of temperament I think he's fine. There are few names going around for English batsmen of any postion, but a leading contender is yet to emerge. I think people hold massive hope for Denly, fingers crossed he'll deliver on his obvious potential, ditto Hildreth.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did anyone else notice the repeated references - especially by Andy Flower - in the immediate aftermath to the "14 players" who have contributed to England's win?

    Given that Panesar, Pietersen and Onions were all at the ground and had just picked up their medals, doesn't this mean that Ravi was forgotten pretty quickly...?

    Seriously - it was bad enough for the captain to say it (and he did), but if Mr Bopara was watching I'm guessing he had a sinking feeling to realise he'd been 100% forgotten by England's director of cricket...

  • Comment number 11.

    I think the ratings are spot on.

    Swann, in the end, averaged 40 with the ball. He failed at Cardiff, and he didn't bowl England to victory as hoped, at Edgbaston. But he did bowl well at Lords and very well at the Oval. 7 is fair, I feel. 7/10 is a good score, 8/10 a very good score and 9/10 a great score. I'd say Swann was good, but not very good.

    what on earth has happened to Monty? Surely Rashid or Tredwell will be second spinner on tour?

    Many players were a disapointment to me, none less so than Anderson, who simply disappeared at half-time. And he'd been so brilliant up to that point!

    Cook, Bops, Colly were obviously a let down.

    Kudos to Prior! Proved the doubters wrong.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am fed up with people still sticking up for Paul Collingwood. He did OK at Cardiff but to be honest he didn't finish the job he is paid to do, pulled the chute and the left Monty and Jimmy to finish his work for him. The less said the better with regards to the rest of the series. He's done OK, made a good living but it's time for him to go gracefully before he is pushed. Same for Ian Bell as he doesn't possess a backbone in test cricket. Ali Cook struggled but as has been said before there is no obvious replacement at present. Joe Denly is NOT the answer and has had a very poor season this year. Stephen Moore seems to be the only real option there. We have a core of quality but I feel we carried a few passengers this Summer which we won't get away with In South Africa. If we want to go forward some serious decisions need to be made.

  • Comment number 13.

    yes england showed gud mettle in some parts of teh series, but i have to saY without crucial luck, some gritty individual performances we were lucky to regain the ashes, pickin a spinner who hasnt opened the eyes of english fans for almost two years at cardiff was slighlty overlooked as somehow he managed to hold the bat longer for more than 2 overs, but his lack of quality with ball surely wud of elminated that innings , as much as montys enthusiasm made us warm to him, himelself like bell (most frustrating batsmen i have watched in my short time), harmison (big durham fan but i hate his attitude over england ), to a certain extent jimmy (langers comments were spot on) just dont have the mental attributes to be world class ( the jury is very much out on bopara. fair enuff andeson is swing bowler but if heads drop he aint the one holding himself high and being accounted for.) yes we shud celebrate a fantastic achievemnt but i hope attituedes have changed after the 05 series we england achieved there goal but failed to achieve true potential (terrible injurys played a part which ripped open a truly great team, but complacency played a big part as well.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hackerjack - Mahmood?????!!! - you're having a laugh!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Reasonably fair ratings, however...

    When you look at the performance of Marcus North (3 centuries and some handy wickets) it kind of shows how fragile our batting line up is. We should not let the euphoria cloud our perspective. In my humble opinion, England should be progressive now with an eye on the future, in particular the next Ashes series in 2010-2011. The selectors should be ruthless, just the Aussies will be.

    People will say "but you can't send untried players to SA!", but Bopara has blown that theory completely out of the water. 3 centuries against the windies, compared to Sachin and look what happened. Clearly, you have to play against the best to be the best. Playing 10 tests and scoring runs against the lower ranking teams guarantees you nothing when reality bites.

    I believe now is the time to say 'thanks very much' to Collingwood, give Cook the winter off to sort himself out away from the shop window and to bring Rashid to the party.

    While we have Strauss in prime form, I would try to bed in Stephen Moore from Worcestershire (ton in Lions match vs Aussies) alongside the skipper's experience.

    I would move Pietersen to No. 3 where you best player should be.

    Trott at no.4 seems logical and a toss up between Bell and Bopara at 4.

    Also, I'd take Steven Davies as the second keeper. We all know he's the future and the future is now. No point going back to Foster, Mustard, Read(!) et al. Prior is the man for some years on that keeping display, so get Davies in the set up.

    Just some thoughts...

  • Comment number 16.

    Vision of the future (provided Gooch STOPS 'mentoring' players)


  • Comment number 17.

    That's really quite funny about Bopara being forgotten!! Poor lad.

    Collingwood... thanks for the memories, but he's finally been found out and should not even tour and join Freddie as a one-day expert in my opinion.

    The team should not change radically at all. The experience of winning the Ashes should galvanise the side and they have to be given a chance on possibly the hardest challenge in cricket at the moment (India away aside).

    Cook should and possibly will "do a Strauss" and take some time off. He's been playing non-stop since his debut 4 years ago and look what it did to Andrew Strauss. Having said that Strauss' problems were mainly mental and Cook's I fear are mainly technical. Still, will do him good to go away for a bit and work on everything; maybe the rest of the county season and his non-involvement in the ODI's and 20/20 will be enough time before the SA tour.

    Carberry or Denly are able replacements, if a bit of a risk. Rashid is still way too raw and who would he replace anyway? Neither is SA the place to blood him. ODI's, Bangladesh away and next home series will be perfect for him. He's still seen by many as a batting all-rounder anyway not a front line spinner.

    Anyway, let's continue to bask in the glory of yesterday. But if we're being honest, another Test might have seen an Australia win the way this series went, so inconsistent were both sides. Still there wasn't and we gave them one hell of a beating!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    mate you cant give trott 9 for 1 game.

  • Comment number 19.

    smoziwo - have to agree with the comment regarding Bopara......very poor not to mention a guy that played more tests this series than Onions, Panesar or Pietersen. His time will come, he proved he has class by racking up centuries against the Windies (supposedly a weak attack...well why didn't the others smash centuries for fun). He has a strong mind and I believe will be back to become an established England player (at 4 or 5).

    Bell is a source of much frustration. He shows signs of both talent and frailty in equal measure - not sure he would get in many other Test teams. Had his!

    I must be missing a trick with our bowling attack....I just don't see much class there. Broad will become a top player and I do rate Swanny, but the rest are all fairly average and become bereft of ideas quickly if plan A fails. Sidebottom's energy has been missed - please reinstate!

    Encouraged by the start Strauss has made in the captaincy, and how well Trott performed in what must be the toughest environment to make a test debut (deciding Ashes test).

    Prior looked really good too and has proved that, regardless of age/experience, you can always improve your game - mental note for other England players.

    There are major question marks over Colly too. A player I like alot...I feel as though his grit and stubborness in the middle is fading now. If I were him, I'd retire from Tests.

    I look forward to the SA tour, but can't help thinking that it will be a tougher test of technique - Bell, Bopara, Cook, Collingwood be warned.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm all for celebrating a brilliant victory but we have to make sure we learn from the mistakes of 2005. Yes we've won but a quick glance at the averages tells you that we've still got areas where we must improve - especially if you want to beat SA in SA.

    The selectors have some tough decisions to make and a number of questions must be asked of certain individuals:

    Ian Bell - Awful record batting at 3. Is he mentally tough enough to get runs when it matters consistently at test level. I don't think so.

    Alistair Cook - Looks to have developed some serious technical deficiencies. Is it time for him to take a break? Is there any other openers pushing hard enough for his place?

    James Anderson - There's nobody better when it swings but he really needs to find a way of taking wickets when it's not swinging - as his high series and career average suggests.

    If we're going to play just 5 specialist batsmen then they have to deliver - we can't afford to carry any passengers.

  • Comment number 22.

    I am very glad that the selectors kept faith in Broad. In numerous cricket debates with friends, the consensus among us was very much that he should have retained his place, despite disappointing performances in the first 3 tests. England had put so much into his development that to drop him would have been ridiculous, and so it proved.

    For me, Collingwood should be off now. Probably Harmison too. I can't see Harmison staying in good shape until the SA series and I am against only picking him during the summer when he's playing regular cricket. He's been a good servant to England, but he's unreliable. As for Colly, it's his own decision as to whether he tries to play as much club cricket, home and away, as possible to work on his technical errors, or lose his place for good.

    I don't put much store in great performances for counties, as I think now more than ever, the county system is a poor indicator of how to judge a test match standard player. Mahmood, Bopara, Bell, Shah, Joyce. The list goes on of top county players who cannot cut it at test level. It takes something extra and there is an over-saturation of players in the English domestic game, making it hard to pick the wheat from the chaff (unless, of course you are a selector by trade and well done to them for picking Trott above Key, Ramps et al).

    My team going forward is:

    Cook (needs to improve though)
    Collingwood/Bopara/Denly/Moore - this position is up for grabs.

  • Comment number 23.

    RE 10. At 5:10pm on 24 Aug 2009, smoziwo wrote:
    Did anyone else notice the repeated references - especially by Andy Flower - in the immediate aftermath to the "14 players" who have contributed to England's win?

    Given that Panesar, Pietersen and Onions were all at the ground and had just picked up their medals, doesn't this mean that Ravi was forgotten pretty quickly...?

    We've all been there, at work or play, where a team member is completely forgotten by those remaining at the end of a project when the thanks and plaudits are given out to everybody else. From this day forward a new verb has entered the English language

    to be "Boparad",

    is to take part in an event or project but to be completely forgotten by those giving thanks at the end.

    Example, John did some good work on that job but he was completely Boparad by the MD in the debriefing afterwards.

  • Comment number 24.

    Let's have a look at Alastair Cook's Test records for England:

    Before his 22nd birthday:

    982 runs: England record
    4 centuries: England record
    7 scores of 50+: England record

    Before his 23rd birthday:

    1936 runs: England record, 5th on worldwide list
    7 centuries: England record, joint third on worldwide list level with Javed Miandad, one behind Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar
    15 scores of 50+: England record, joint 4th on worldwide list

    Before his 24th birthday:

    2694 runs: England record, 6th on worldwide list
    7 centuries: England record, joint fourth on worldwide list
    23 scores of 50+: England record, third on worldwide list

    Before his 25th birthday (which he still has not yet reached):

    3509 runs: England record, 4th on worldwide list
    9 centuries: England record, 6th on worldwide list
    29 scores of 50+: England record, 3rd on worldwide list

    Before his 26th birthday (more than a year away):

    3509 runs: England record
    9 centuries: England record
    29 scores of 50+: England record, joint 4th on worldwide list

    Alastair Cook is one of the best young players England have had. He should be persevered with.

  • Comment number 25.

    Joyce has never played tests so why disregard him?
    He played ODIs and scored a hundred against future world champions Australia. Having said that he is not an opener but more of a #4 and deserves another chance at some point.
    County cricket has produced 2 Ashes winning teams in four years and Strauss, Cook, Prior and now Trott have all scored hundreds on test debut. I am sick of people downgrading county cricket.

  • Comment number 26.

    "RE 10. At 5:10pm on 24 Aug 2009, smoziwo wrote:
    Did anyone else notice the repeated references - especially by Andy Flower - in the immediate aftermath to the "14 players" who have contributed to England's win?"

    Think you are reading too much into a simple error, after all I doubt anybody who watched Bopara floundering through the first 4 test matches will have forgotten about him.

    #23, If Bopara is to become a verb, surely it must refer to smashing weak bowling attacks all over the park on flat pitches, only to be exposed due to poor technique whenever they come up against a half decent bowling attack or a pitch which helps the bowler. See also To Hick.

  • Comment number 27.

    Sheepyyy - Wrong! To throw an uncapped player into the ultimate test for his country and have him perform at as high a level as any player on the team with the exception of his captain deserves an uncommon rating and Ben got it spot on.
    I follow all of this from the USA; the BBC is my lifeline to GOOD sports coverage as opposed to hometown (or home country) fawning. And agree with you or not, the postings on the BBC blogs are lightyears better than the American networks.

  • Comment number 28.

    1ST of all congrats to south africa on the series win...oops sorry i mean ENG. This is actually why i love it when england do well every once in a while because they get completely carried away, get really big heads and then get beaten and fall back down to mother earth. But anyway thats my 5 pence worth looking forward to ICC trophy in sunny s.a. esp England match.

    I welcome all comments, compliments and feedback.

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't understand the concerns some have over Trott being a South African. The rules of the game say he could play for England, so he's English. Simple. Andrew Symonds was born in England, Kepler Wessels in South Africa - never stopped Australia picking them, and nor it shoudl have it done.

    Generally agree with the scores - but feel Prior was worth at least 8. He was brilliant, not just his near flawless keeping & handy runs, but also his body language. Did anyone see how often he sprinted between wickets at over changes, setting the tone of urgency? He's a fine player.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Swann, in the end, averaged 40 with the ball. He failed at Cardiff, and he didn't bowl England to victory as hoped, at Edgbaston. But he did bowl well at Lords and very well at the Oval. 7 is fair, I feel. 7/10 is a good score, 8/10 a very good score and 9/10 a great score. I'd say Swann was good, but not very good."

    In my opinion the best comments on Swann, who will get better, but don't discount Monty, he still has potential

  • Comment number 31.

    I think Broad realises, his Father certainly does, that to become a good 7, he has to tighten up some of his shot selection, he got away with it a bit in this series. I heard Warne say he should stay at 8 and there is an argument for that certainly in the short term.

    As regards his bowling, nagging line and length has to be his forte.

    He appears to have the intelligence and, more importantly, the character to become an excellent player but please dont do the usual English thing of trying to put someone on a mantle to try and knock them off, the lad is a work in progress, with the right encouragement he will be a valuable cog in the team for many years.

  • Comment number 32.

    Oh, foriegnersteve88 (post 28), you really are a class A moo brain aren't you.

    Just like all the countless arrogant aussies who were telling us before and during this series how they were going to serve us a can of whup ass, congaratulations for being 1st in line of all the Saffers who will doubtless now follow and make mindless comments like yours.

    SA are the biggest bottlers in world cricket, you even had to rely on another team (England) beating the real number 1 team so you could reach the top. As on every other occasion, when presented with the opportunity to do it yourselves, you messed it up in the last series and lost.

    So, having just lost to this same Australian team in the last series, what makes you think you can beat their conquerors now?

    Good luck, as always, you'll need it.

    Oh, and as for the one - dayers, your team's amazing ability to read numbers on a sheet of paper will probably seal your fate again.


  • Comment number 33.

    Ratings in general spot on.

    my team for SA


    To tour

    Cook- he is one of our best young batsmen and should stay in the team. However he should taken out of the ODI squad and sent back to county cricket and work on his technique before touring

    Bell- although i am an Bell fan, i can see why people are calling for him to be dropped, No3 is not his favoured position, statistically he does better at 5 or 6, not no3. I want Prior at 5 so he slots in at 6.

    KP- needs to take more responsibility and move up to no3

    Harmison- not a fan of him but without Flintoff we need his pace and bounce

    I think this is a well balanced team, batting down to 8 and with 5 bowlers, but sadly i doubt the selectors will be so bold

  • Comment number 34.

    how many posting here including the author of the article have played cricket at a high level. indeed how many have played cricket at any level. most of the opinions are regurgitated from the mouths of pundits who's test experiences were long ago and can't remember what it was like to walk out to bat in front of 20,000 spectators. Standing on sidelines and saying certain players lack the mental strength is easy. try going out and facing 90+mph bowling shows great mental strength.

  • Comment number 35.

    Cook has to be given the chop alongside bell. Both of them aren't big match players and when you go to SA you need big match players.

    As Nasser Hussain said, players should be rated on 'how many games they have won' for England, and in bell and cook's case thats very few.

    People are talking about Hildreth but all his high scores come at taunton which is the best batting wicket in the country. He doesn't fare so well away from there

    Stephen Moore, Ed Joyce etc still haven't proved themselves enough yet, however Michael Carberry could be given a chance as he seems to be scoring big runs consistently

    One name I would like to give a mention to is Michael Lumb. He has been WINNING GAMES for Hants all season with big hundreds and looks like a class act now he has moved down south. A good end to this season and the selectors should be considering him.

    My team six to tour play the 1st Test against SA would be

    Carberry (If he finishes the season well)
    Pietersen ( all best players at 3)
    Sidebottom ( When fit can cause all sorts of problems to the likes of Graeme smith)

    Finally, in a couple of years I wouldn't be surprised if a player called James Taylor is in the squad). Many may not know him but he has been palying for leicestershire all season and scoring plently of runs at only 22 years old

  • Comment number 36.

    Collingwood may be nearing the end of his test career, but for my money he's worth high marks simply because of his grit and runs in Cardiff. Without that England wouldn't have regained the Ashes. Plus Warney doesn't rate him, so lets praise the boy to the hilt! Looking forward to SA - that will be tough tough tough...

  • Comment number 37.

    Hard for me to say as a Lancastrian, but Rashid certainly and Tim Bresnan would be my wildcard. I can't see both Bopara and Collingwood making the plane together and I believe he has the potential to be a top class all-round cricketer.

  • Comment number 38.

    Always difficult allocating points in a team sport; as you hint at, how important to team performance was Flintoff on the field and behind the scenes?

    Strauss cemented his reputation as a good leader both by example and in his management of team matters. But, is he a little too unadventurous when his bowlers are under pressure or when England have carved out winning positions? Overall he deserved to be man of the series.

    I wanted to keep both Bopara and Broad in the Oval side but Trott proved me wrong on the first count. However Broad has a lot of developing to do both as a bowler and a batter. He is not a Flintoff, or a Botham, but he does have immense talent on the field. He is also young. I think he lacks a little discipline in batting and bowling and if he can tighten up both then he could be a much better all rounder than people think, perhaps even world class.

    Bell is not the answer to England's batting dilemmas but he is a good fielder and works hard to show he is committed to the team. Collingwood was below par but cricket is a team game and he gave important performances when it mattered most. Of the bowlers Anderson and Swann retained their rights to be in the side. Harmison looked better than he has done for a while, and Onions did nothing that wrong. Rashid deserves a place unless Panesar improves immensely.

    It is going to be very tough in South Africa but this England side can only grow in confidence after regaining the Ashes in a very good series. I think England could do better than expected.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wow, only two players played well and still they won. The Aussies must have been a pushover.....Andrew Strauss and Johnathan Trott did it all by themselves.
    Risking the wrath of the moderators, but isnt that suggestion preposterous and perhaps just plain stupid?

  • Comment number 40.

    Fantastic ratings and comments, Ben, I agree with almost all of it. I would have put Broad up to 8, because he deserves a boost for getting it together when it was most difficult and mattered most. Similarly, I would have given Anderson 7, to take him ahead of Onions because he played in the most difficult conditions for either of them at the Oval. Fair enough, he didn't take wickets, but he fielded well and was very economical when the Aussies needed to score runs. Harmison shouldn't go to S Africa, even if he wants to. He's a fantastic cricketer and I like him immensely. But, he doesn't travel well and we should be bringing on younger fast bowlers. You forgot to score God, so I'll do it. Andy Flower 9, I'd give him 10 but nobody's perfect! He seems a great coach; gently put them right when they went horribly wrong at Headingley, and has retained his judgement and perspective now the series is won.

    Finally, a word about the Aussies. They contributed fully to a great Ashes series. Not classical Test cricket, these are both teams in transition, but full of courage and excitement. I hope Punter manages to stay as captain. He deserves another chance for revenge next year. And, unlike some Aussie cricketers, he doesn't take himself too seriously.

    BTW Congratulations on your blog. I eventually homed in on it as my favourite over the Ashes series. Many thanks.

  • Comment number 41.

    Hello, where are the Australin ones??? I'd take just as much interest as the English ratings. So here we go:

    Hughes - 4.
    Watson - 7(.5) if allowed
    Katich - 7(.5)
    Ponting - 8 ... 6 if you include captaincy.
    Hussey - 7.
    Clarke - 9.
    North - 8.
    Haddin - 8.
    Manou - 4.
    Johnson - 7.
    Siddle - 8.
    Clark - 5.
    Hauritz - 7.
    Hilfenhaus - 8

  • Comment number 42.

    I really do hope that Freddie in his parting message is right as to 'domination'. It was a great victory for England and I do hope we do not overdo our back thumping again only to fall flat on our faces. We trumpeted in the victory before Headingley and ended with egg on our faces. I believe we long for that attitude we have seen so often in the Aussies, South Africa and used to with the Windies. We won. So what? Thats what we do! Remember we won the Rugby World Cup with all the razzmatazz back home and then what happened. Its so very English isn't it that our celebrations seem to reflect the joy almost surprise at doing what we dont normally do. Illustrious captain Strauss summed it up in his after Oval comments regarding the emotions that flowed in that last innings. We could have lost! I can appreciate exactly what Freddie means. So we should be sanguine. There was no frolicking this time. Perhaps that was a good sign. Couldnt understand HM the Queen joining in. She is also the Aussie's Sovereign so how does one reconcile with that! The next test series is in another country, another climate, another crowd. I would go along with BTW's view if he has also taken this into account.

    13 years ago I was at the SCG for one day of the series and remember thinking how lucky I was to be there on England's good day when Darren was in the ascendancy. How I wished there were many other days. But there were not! Sobering I know but perhaps we are turning the corner. Very well done England!

  • Comment number 43.

    Hey jinglema thanx for taking the bait and substantiating my claim. Plz dont talk s**t and say it was thanx to u that we are no. 1 because thats just rubbish, u cant be no. 1 for ODI'S AND TEST (oh yes NO 1 for rugby as well i might add) by virtue of luck so u just sound like an idiot we may have drawn to the aussies 3-3 but when last did the "mighty" England win a series down under if i recall correctly u lost 5-0 with ur last trip there? So plz when u gain some more crcket knowledge then u can come talk to the big boys.

  • Comment number 44.

    Regarding Graeme Swann: I think EVERYONE has underestimated the impact that this man has had on the England side. From the moment he came in he brought an ebullience that I think the others have fed off every bit as much as Flintoff. Funny, but Flintoff has always been seen as a towering talisman, and they're now elevating Stuart Broad to that position, on the strength of some admittedly brilliant batting, and two useful performances with the ball (remember when Steve Harmison had them??? One swallow...) For me, every time that Swann has come on to bowl, you've always had the feeling that a wicket may fall at any time, and you can't say that about any other England bowler apart from Flintoff. But because Swann is a spinner, not an eye-catching fast-bowler, he gets put down as a 'useful addition'. If he has one fault, it's that he tends at times to get over-excited (rather than over-awed as with many of the other England players). No, he's the man.

  • Comment number 45.

    Interesting comments from Faudes @ #35

    If Hussain's theory was applied to his own career I doubt it would have the longevity it did - in fact England would have been struggling to field a team through the 90's.

    To discard Cook would be absolute folly IMO. Depending on his frame of mind, either a period rest if he is feeling the effects of fatigue after nearly 4 years of constant cricket or some time spent with a specialist batting coach (possibly A Flower) to address his technical flaws is required. I would then reintroduce him into the team at No.3 in SA. It seems clear that Pietersen doesn't want to/is scared of batting at 3 and Cook has flourished at 3 in the past, if my memory serves.

    This creates a vacancy in the openers which I would agree with Faudes should go to Carberry, 1251 runs at 69.50 this season is not to be sniffed at and puts him well ahead of the much-touted Denly and Moore.

    Not sure about Lumb has only scored 600runs in 17 inns this season and 219 if those were scored in one innings. Taylor is only 19 (not 22), and should be on the Lions tour for me. Would also like to see Suppiah of Somerset tour with the Lions.

  • Comment number 46.

    So the general consensus is that England don't have the bowling to play 6 bats, keeper, 4 bowlers then? I think that's the way with Broad and Swann in the team. Obviously if Swann comes a cropper and someone of the "talent" of Monty comes in then I'd say another batsman has to be accomodated. Could seriously weaken the bowling though.

    Cook should be perservered with as he's got a good record and openers only really get better with age (generally...!). Not sure where his problems arise from, is it a basic foot movement problem that makes him play across the ball, or does he have to try not to throw his hands at the ball? I noticed that he plays quite tight to his front pad, whereas Strauss plays a bit further away from his body in defence. Strauss also lets the ball come to him, which is maybe something Cook can look at?

    I'm a fan of Bopara but not necessarily at 3, which I think is the opinion of every cricket fan worldwide! Maybe it's time to consider putting Colly out to graze. It'd be quite harsh as he's been a good performer but if you've got someone in line who's got x amount more talent, then what are you to do? Colly's still one of our top ODI players so there's still a future for him, I just can't help but feel he's on the wane in Tests.

    I have no higher praise for Matt Prior. I've never been a big fan of him but he has done majestically to convert himself into a good keeper. He's got a new technique and it really shows. I can't recall one error behind the sticks, and his batting's probably good enough for no6.

    Bowling-wise we need a new quick bowler, nothing wrong with Anderson, Broad, Onions, Sidebottom, but we need some real pace and aggression now that Flintoff's gone and Harmison's insistent upon bowling like a girl. Saj Mahmood would be great if he wasn't so awful...! Tremlett too would be good if he actually bothered to run in and hit the deck, and also lost that pathetic "glare" when he does beat the bat.

    Team for SA:

  • Comment number 47.

    Why can't Trott be given a 9 for the series even though he only played one game - as some people above have suggested? The man was asked to play in the highest pressure match we've played for years, on debut, in England's problem area, and was absolutely sensational. You can't mark him down because of tests he didn't play in! He gets a minimum of 9 in my book.

    Cook has played too much test cricket too young. he certainly has class but needs a spell out of the team (and the limelight) to fix the technical flaws around off stump and just get used to making really big scores again. This should happen with every player out of form. If they are truly good enough, then they'll make their case again in the domestic game as Strauss and Bell have already done - and Bopara has started well on that mission too.

    On a similar note, I have my doubts about the general quality of county cricket but it's the best we have and we should stop ignoring those who consistently impress there. Rob Key should feature in the test side (perhaps as a replacement for Cook at the top of the order?). Similarly, Denly deserves a chance if those above him in the pecking order are not making runs. It's no good excusing a run of single figure scores if a batsmen then makes 50 or 60. We need our test batsmen to making a 50 every game, give or take. Ofcourse, 1 failure can be excused, but it's unfair on the rest of the guys trying to break into the national team if consistent failure to make runs is allowed in the interest of "continuity".. (and what are we trying to continue anyway??)

  • Comment number 48.

    Let's begin with the positives. Strauss was excellent with the bat and after his spell out of the team has come back a mentally stronger character which has aided in his captaincy, although I don't think he feels entirely comfortable leading the team.

    Prior had a sound series and his glove work, at last, seems to have improved to the level that is required at test level. Whether he is going to hold the No.6 position is another question but he bats with confidence even if his dismissals are invariably frustrating.

    Broad was excellent. I was never on his back as this guy wants to be involved all of the time rather like Freddie. His bowling was ordinary early on but he was receiving mixed messages and negative tactics from some of the senior players. He will get better and his batting is great to watch; a very clean hitter.

    Swann had his ups and downs but the Nottinghamshire irritant certainly got under the skins of the Aussies with bat and ball. Has decent variation but bowls a fraction to short in my opinion. Gives our once frail tail some much needed stability.

    Anderson, Onions and Flintoff did enough with 'big spells' at crucial times. I don't think Jimmy was 100% fit for the final couple of tests.

    Unfortunately, I think Monty will struggle to get back into the team in the future. He is bowling too fast with little variation and his fielding, as always, is an embarrassment. May get a look in on tour to Sri Lanka or India.

    And as for Harmison that should be his last test. He did no better than Onions would have in the final test and we all know what he is like once he moves away from the meadows and fields of Durham!

    Trott looks sound with a good technique and mental strength and we should be seeing a lot of him in the future. He at 3 and KP at 4 looks enticing. Can't really judge KP but he did well in the two tests considering his injury.

    Bopara will always be a good county player but against test class bowlers he looks out of sorts and technically dreadful.

    Talking about technically dreadful, Cook is a real worry. He has stopped moving his feet and plays with a stiff front leg and hard hands. Serious work needed for him before the winter tour.

    What of Bell? All the talent of a world class player but cannot handle the pressure. When the chips are down we wait for the classy ton but it never happens. Is he another Ramps?

    Collingwood had a strange series. It seemed as if he didn't quite know what his role was in the team. Lost sight of his off-stump on a number of occasions and his dismissal to Johnson in the 2nd innings at The Oval was not of somebody that bats at No.5. He has a big heart and I am sure the selectors will stick by him.

    And finally, the all-round ability of Freddie was there on a few occasions but for him to get through the series was an achievement in itself. His career figures do not do him justice but he has stood up to be counted when it mattered. Not a natural cricketer and, in all honesty, not a great cricketer but one that England, and cricket in general, will definitely miss. Well done Freddie and thanks for the memories.

  • Comment number 49.

    faudes, Cook has won 16 Tests with England out of 48 (1 in 3). Ian Bell has won 18 Tests out of 49 (better than 1 in 3). Incidentally, Kevin Pietersen has won 18 out of 54 (1 in 3). I find your definition of "very few" quite interesting.

    Brian Lara won 32 Tests out of 131, which is less than 1 in 4. So, by your and Nasser Hussain's logic, Alastair Cook is better than Brian Lara.

  • Comment number 50.

    Tomaths, I didn't hear the Hussain interview but I suspect what he was referring to is the number of times a player can be considered to have made a "significant contribution to winning a game". This is a lot different to the number of games you've played in a winning team.

    So, just for the Oval test I'd say all of Trott, Broad, Strauss and Swann can consider themselves to have "won the game" for their team. The others all met or were below expectations.

    I don't have the time to do this now but over their careers, I don't think there'll be many matches where the likes of Cook, Bell and Collingwood can be considered to have made a winning contribution to match (other than Bell filling his boots against Bangladesh).

  • Comment number 51.

    We are obviously obsessed with all rounders in this country, still trying to come to terms all these years later with the wake of his almighty Beefiness, which has burdened Freddie, and the knock on effect to Broady.
    The media have gone mad for him over the last couple of days, and now we find out he has an actress girlfriend, and oh my god, I can see the Hello magazine features coming in!
    It really is a thin line between success and failure. He has struggled a lot this summer, but has to be congratulated for pulling out a big performance when it really counted. Our desire for the all rounder hero says - go on, do it again, and again......and be knocked down if you don't. And so little said about other real solid guys like Prior.
    Easy to predict a big downfall for the young man unless he is super careful.
    Quiet celebrations this time? Read the papers - it was a right bender!

  • Comment number 52.

    43. At 08:27am on 25 Aug 2009, foreignersteve88 wrote:
    Hey jinglema thanx for taking the bait and substantiating my claim. Plz dont talk s**t and say it was thanx to u that we are no. 1 because thats just rubbish, u cant be no. 1 for ODI'S AND TEST (oh yes NO 1 for rugby as well i might add) by virtue of luck so u just sound like an idiot we may have drawn to the aussies 3-3 but when last did the "mighty" England win a series down under if i recall correctly u lost 5-0 with ur last trip there? So plz when u gain some more crcket knowledge then u can come talk to the big boys.


    Foreignersteve88. What an utter div! The rankings mean absolutely squat, just like the individual rankings. Sri Lanka 2nd?! Gautam Ghambir 3rd best batsman? Hmm... ok then.

    The Aussies are self confident but they're still likeable because there's a big difference between confidence and arrogance. South Africans are the epitomy of arrogance, just like you, love. Now, I'm not sure how you worked out that SA are top without England's help... before we won this series AUS were no.1... so therefore it is thanks to us, you fool.

    I can't wait for SA to implode and choke again, it always makes me chuckle to see Graeme Smith attempt to be a gracious loser, but always coming up short. He's had enough practice so you would've thought he'd nailed it.

    Anyhoo, if SA is indeed the greatest country ever, why aren't you on the South African Broadcasting Commission's website spouting your drivvle? Unless you moved out of the country... why's that then?

  • Comment number 53.

    Hey lineandlength spoken like a true non no. 1. Rankings mean nothing yeah im sure u were saying that back in the day when u won the rugby world cup and u actually had a rugby team. S.a. 1st country after aus to be no 1 in both forms of the game. Why dont u go have a cup of tea and a cucumber sand which like ur cricketers and by the way England are most arrogant by far which is why i actually support aus. Oh yes and ur mate Freddie is by far the most arrogant cricket and our home boy K.P.So do us all a fav and learn more of the game before u speak stupid non sense,oh yes dont call me love im a guy and i think u might be as well so thats just wierd dude.

  • Comment number 54.

    Lineandlength, there's no point replying to foreignersteve88, something clearly went missing in the evolutionary chain when he was created.

    Anyway, it will be beautiful to see another great win for England this winter, also looking forward to the one dayers before that.


  • Comment number 55.

    Oh, and you might also be interested to know that I met one of the guys who works in SA broadcasting during the last world cup and he told me that without doubt the most arrogant set of players he had ever met were the SA team and he was SA himself!

    He said the two biggest pri**s were Smith and Boucher. Smith is obvious but I was genuinely surprised by Boucher, he seems one of the nice guys in the team but there you go.


  • Comment number 56.

    Ok, for the record, here's my twopenn'oth...

    Strauss - 9 - Led from the front and held England together as a batsman, taking on the responsibility superbly. Improving as a captain, but loses the one mark for batting first at Headlingley.

    Cook - 3 - Lost form badly after one good innings. Though this is obviously a temporary problem, a greater concern is that even when in form, he still fails to convert fifties to big hundreds too often. A test opener should be able to do that.

    Bopara - 3 - Has the talent, but from the way moment he was suckered out by the slower ball in Cardiff, you sensed the Aussies were going to have fun with him, and it would only be a matter of time before his confidence deteriorated. Should be vying with Bell and others for the number five spot, ideally.

    Pietersen - 4 - I don't quite buy the fact that his injuries were altogether responsible for his failures, especially after his unrepentant attitude to his first test dismissal. Talent is one thing, as is self-belief, but you still have to think of the team and the overall picture more than he does.

    Bell - 5 - Finished the series as he started it, with the same questions to be answered. Looks good, but like Cook, gets out too easily too often. Vying with Bopara and Key for the number five spot in my book.

    Trott - 9 - Did everything that could be asked of him and more in his one match, making a huge impact. Looks to have the technique and attitude to be the answer to England's number three dilemma, although it's obviously early days yet, and he may need a few more tests before he's ready for first drop.

    Collingwood - 5 - He's ALWAYS the one who's place is questioned when he loses form, but people don't become bad players overnight; and his typically gritty innings in the first test is another reason why England now hold the Ashes. Looked in good form early in the season, but these days we must be aware that his peaks don't last as long as they used to. In form, still has something to offer England, although he must confirm that he is still hungry enough, and must make let his bat do the talking. A good old-fashioned blood-and-guts cricketer, I'd take him on tour as first reserve.

    Prior - 8 - His batting didn't quite last the series, but he obviously has improved behind the stumps, and now perhaps would justify his place as a keeper alone. At his best, still a great asset to England's middle order.

    Broad - 8 - Can't fault his excellent lower-middle-order batting, which probably kept him in the side early on. Not getting too carried away with his bowling performances: I've always thought he had potential to be a very good third test seamer; if he can keep his current form up, that's what he should be. He is a very valuable bowler who bats - NOT a world-beating all-rounder, as he himself affirms.

    Swann - 9.5 - Top man for me. As mentioned in an earlier post, his indomitable attitude has, I believe, been as responsible as anything else for the rebirth of the England team. Another very useful lower-middle order bat, and something England have not really had since the early days of John Emburey: a genuinely destructive spinner, who actually TURNS the ball! His one fault is that if anything, he seems to get too keyed up - but this will improve, and it's better than being over-awed.

    Onions - 7 - Made a good impression at times, but it's his first test series, which some people overlook. Has all the basics, and can become a very, very good asset for England over the next few years.

    Anderson - 7 - Looks a world-beater at times, but not yet over a whole series. Has been carrying an injury, so the jury's still out: we should have a better idea after South Africa, which will be his biggest test to date.

    Harmison - 5 - Sure, his career has been very frustrating, but he has been let down by the tour managers, who forget that he is a rhythm bowler, and fail to provide him with enough pre-test bowling. Still has three or four good years to offer England - if he's committed enough and handled in the right way.

    Panesar - 3 - Despite his heroic batting in the First Test, he's obviously lost his way at the moment. Maybe a couple of years at county level to sort himself out will tell us whether he's the real deal.

  • Comment number 57.

    West Indies aren't Australia but remember we beat England 1-nil and also remember we beat both England and Australia at the recent Twenty20 tournament..... Just want u to remember.........

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm tired of Ian Bell being criticized... He is one reason England won the deciding match. I'm also tired of hearing he isn't making centuries... If the number of centuries is what is used to measure a good player then there are very few.

  • Comment number 59.

    Debutant Jonathan Trott deserved 10 out of 10. Why not ?

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 60.

    Clearly SA are going to be a different proposition from Australia right now, and it is hard to see where England will struggle most - they have a fragile batting lineup and an inconsistent bowling attack, a recipe for disaster, as the Aussies discovered recently.

    Australia dominated for so long because their bowlers frequently dug them out of a hole when they were behind on the first innings, often outrageously so. That kind of performance destroys the opposition's morale. In SA Johnson and Hughes made the difference, and the Ashes probably turned overall on their loss of form.

    We have not learned much new about England this summer - too many players (Harmison, Bell, Cook, Collingwood, Anderson, Panesar) flattering to deceive with inconsistent performances. Too much reliance placed on players whose fitness is suspect (Flintoff, Pieterson, perhaps Anderson in the 5th Test). At least they refused to pick Sidebottom until he has clearly shown he is back at peak fitness, and this should be the rule for everyone.

    Strauss is solid, Prior is much improved, Trott and Onions have potential, and Broad may have found his true place, as may Swann (as a more belligerent version of Giles). So only nine tour places up for grabs then (eight if Pieterson returns fully fit)!!

    The choice is not overwhelming. Rashid may be ready, as may Carberry, but there are not many new attack bowlers on the horizon. So Sidebottoom should go for variety with Anderson (again, provided they can stay fit). Collingwood is a solid tourist and should go. I would take Bopara to bat lower down - a huge talent potentially, and Cook may be worth dropping to 3 if he makes enough runs in the meantime. A last bowler pick? No place for Harmison (a lousy tourist, and now half retired in his own mind), so Mahmood may be worth a punt. Reserve keeper? haven't a clue!

  • Comment number 61.

    Well, let's look at Cook's contributions in some of England's victories:

    vs Pakistan at Manchester 2006: 127, caught Inzamam-ul-Haq
    vs West Indies at Manchester 2007: 60 and 106, took 4 catches
    vs New Zealand at Wellington 2007/8: 44 and 60, caught Daniel Vettori
    vs South Africa at The Oval 2008: 39 and 67, caught Neil McKenzie
    vs West Indies at Chester-le-Street 2009: 160
    vs Australia at Lord's 2009: 95 and 32, took 3 catches

    So there you have 6 occasions on which Alastair Cook has made what I would consider to be a valuable contribution to an England win. This of course does not include matches where Cook contributed to getting England into a position where they had a good chance of winning and then the bowlers haven't quite managed to seal the victory. For example, he scored 60 and 104 against India on his debut and India managed to bat out the last day for a draw.

  • Comment number 62.

    Agree with most of the above, I have rated Broad since seeing him in in an under 19's England game, but PLEASE don't heap too much expectation on him. His record is already better than Freddy's at the same stage, he needs more time to fully develop but clearly has the ability with both bat and ball.
    Anderson looked out of sorts in the last 2 games, but is still probably the best swing bowler in the world on his day.
    Prior had a great series and answered his critics in the best way with some brilliant glove work.
    Harmison should never pull on an England top again, period.
    Keep Bell, Trott obviously, but time to reconsider Colly. Onions should have played at the Oval and must tour. I am not sure Bopara has the technique for Tests, but probably should be in the squad. Cook is having a bad run and does need to work on the ball sliding across him, but I do believe he can pull through this patch and the selectors should stick with him.
    Time to get Adil Rashid in the squad too...I don't think pace is going to get 20 wickets in SA, but a spinner that they haven't seen too much of might just be the trump card
    SA tour will be a toughie, England are still building a strong squad and lack depth in batting and are need to find another penetrating quick bowler, but they have shown some grit and I think it will be pretty close in SA, but expect SA will come out just on top.

  • Comment number 63.

    Impressed with Swann, he looks a Dermot Reeve type character who is very useful. The innings from Trott was the single best innings for ages. Solid in defence, and never looked under pressure.

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't deny that Cook is a class act and I'm certainly not in favour of dropping him and forgetting about him. He's made a hugely encouraging start to his career but I now think he needs some time out of the limelight for his own good. Whatever your views about the guy, he's developed some uncertainty around off stump, keeps getting out the same way and will benefit in the long run from time away from the national side. An average of less than 25 for an opening batsman in a 5 match home series is not good. His time will come again..

  • Comment number 65.

    When will someone mention James Tredwell for England? No one has taken more wickets than him this season, he is more than handy with the bat and a very good fielder. Monty needs to start doing well in County cricket before he even gets close to the England Lions team.
    And to the guy who wrote the longest post in history Carberry opening?!? Did you see what Australia did to him in the second Lions game? Get Denly in there!

  • Comment number 66.

    Also Cook can be a great palyer but Australia found him out in 2007 and they did the same again this year. Until he sorts out the technique on off stump he cant play test cricket

  • Comment number 67.

    But how do you solve a Problem like Flintoff? Any Team I choose is either unbalanced or too shallow. As for selecting a new England talisman eek! Cook just needs a break before coming back to form what will be one of the greatest opening pairings of all time.

    So for the charming saffers...

    1. Strauss
    2. Moore
    3. Trott
    4. Pieterson
    5. Bell
    6. Colly
    7. Prior
    8. Broad
    9. Swann

    To tour

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree with most of the ratings. Swann should be given 8 points. Broad has improved a lot. His spell won the ashes. He also deserves more points. He has improved a lot after that Yuvaraj episode.

    Congrats to all of English players. They finished the numero uno status of proudy Pointing's side. They fininshed in style what was started by India in 2008.

    Ritesh Mishra

  • Comment number 69.

    @ 4 hackerjack - some of those marks are questionable at best.

    maybe hackerjack, but your marks and comments raise eyebrows even further, which are biased towards Pietersen and Collingwood and unfair to Strauss and Trott.

    Struass 9 (bat 9.5/captaincy 8.5) – your mark 8/8
    Head and shoulders above anybody else in England batting line up, and arguebaly his runs, more often than not setting up a first innings lead help England to those commanding positions were Australia had to chase or save the game.

    Bopara 3 - your mark 4
    He has failed yes but it's not entirely his fault. He was never a #3 and all too often came in under immense pressure at 1 for spare change.

    He batted at 3 in the Caribbean, and chalked up 3 100’s so why is it not his fault. Such a low series average does not deserve 4 especially given his abject fielding - those dropped catches were awful and his bowling was fairly poor also.

    Pietersen 6 - your mark 7
    69, 8, 32, 44, an average of 38. Would be a decent average for most players in an Ashes series

    Competely disagree. 38 is not a decent average in an Ashes series being way below (12 runs) his career average. Furthermore, the team has proven it can cope with Pietersen and let’s not forget his continuance to throw away his wicket and play preposterous shots completely at the wrong stages of a match. Some suggest movin him to 3, which would be disastrous as retaining Bopara.

    Collingwood 5 – your mark 6
    In fact for the frist 2 tests he looked one of our better performers. In the third it didnt matter anyway due to the rain, the fourth he was no worse than others. Unfairly castigated yet again.

    He was not unfairly castigated. His batting in the last 3 tests was simply atrocious, showing the embarrassing flaws in his technique and his batting crumbled when it was needed the most. Also, there’s dropped catches to account for. A series batting average so far below his career average does not deserve 6/10

    Prior 7.5 (Bat 7 / WK 8) - your mark 8 (Bat 6 / WK 8)
    With the bat he did OK, nothing spectacular but as a part of that late order unit (with Flintoff, Broad and Swann) he too often had to subdue his own game due to failures above him.

    How can 6 + 8 = 8 ? For the very reasons above I would rate his batting 7, as on many occasions it underpinned our final total. Arguably, without the late order runs we would have lost the series.

    Bell 5 - your mark 6
    Came in in difficult circumstances to replace KP and suffered rom the faiures of Cook and Bopara above him in the 3rd and 4th. His 72 for me shows that he can do it when needed but he really needs some help mentally to stop him letting the pressure get to his technique.

    Disagree strongly. He has played 50 test, so why is it "difficult circumstances" - he shold be able to shoulder the responsibility after 50 matches and a string of high county scores. Very lucky not to be out for low single figure scores in his first innings knocks. Again, he couldn’t produce consistently (his 2nd innings score shows me he can’t do it) when under pressure. Enough is enough, Bell will not improve and if he’s retained we’ll be debating the same old again in 12 months time. It’s time for a new face.

    Trott 9 - your mark 8
    Sorry but I can't give a 9 for one game, as decent as he looked. He may be forged in SA but he has matured and developed immensely since coming to the UK, whether he would have done the same in his birthland we will never know. Looks solid on this performance, would he really want to play at #3

    Ridiculous. Comes in under immense pressure, with the middle order in tatters and England needing to win the match to claim the Ashes. Then proceeds to notch up a century on debut to set the game up for victory. It’s a disgrace to mark the chap down.

    Flintoff – 6.5 (Bowl 6 / Bat 5)
    Hardy produced anything all series apart from one immense spell of bowling. Let’s mark Freddie on his actual contribution and not for sentimental reasons.

    Broad 8.5
    Clearly below the required standard in the first few tests, but seemed galvanised possibly by the witch hunt clamoring for his scalp and replied with a match winning display at the Oval and help to alleviate some of the embarrassment at Headingley with our match high score and a 6 wicket haul. If only a few other players had displayed the same vitriol.

    Anderson – 6
    Has serious problems, which were highlighted during the final matches. Seems able to take wickets on favourable pitches only and really struggles on every other occasion with inconsistency. Tries to do too much with each delivery and can’t produce a stock ball. Some work for Mr Gibson, I think.

    All others the same

  • Comment number 70.

    England should forget about Harmison who certainly does not deserve a series 5 for one mediocre appearance. For four years he has done nothing for England. At the Oval he got some easy scalps at the end of the Australian innings. Why should England trifle with a player who is not sure whether he can endure playing for his country and whose attitude is all wrong. Given that his chum Flintoff won't be going to South Africa he can only be a liability for his Captain and side. Back to Durham.

  • Comment number 71.

    A good review, generally...but no way should Trott be at 3 in SA! Do you want you kill the guy's career before it starts? Let him find his feet at 5.

    Bell should be gone now...a la Ramps and Hick...talented but no balls. Collingwood deserves so much kudos, he has achieved so much more than his talent would suggest...the opposite of Bell, Ramps and Hick et al. There must be a point where Colly needs to be dropped...but I don't think the ginger warrior is finished yet, give him a crisis and he will front up. Character is everything.

    Speaking of which, Denly may be the Man at 3! Yes, give hime a chance, like Atherton, Vaughan, Trescothic and Cook...all young players with moderate county records...all became good Test match players.

  • Comment number 72.

    Trott did not replace Bopara he came in at 5 not 3. If Bopara came in at 5 he would be as good as Trott if not better. We have to sack Bell and Collngwood we can then bed in new players for the next ashes.
    Too many chances given to Bell Collingwood and Harmison to get it right. They do not have the ability to play test cricket.

  • Comment number 73.

    The ones for the future are Strauss, Swann and Broad - I don't think the rest of the team were really exceptional. I doubt if we would have beaten a top notch Aussie side but congratulations to them anyhow.

    Watching Swann and Broad batting without fear was entertaining - it just reminds you how good Botham was in his prime, Flintoff was never remotely in the same class.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think you're being unkind to Swann, hudjer. Dermot Reeve was a good county utility player who happened to be around at the right time. Swann is a talented test-class spinner who has shown that he can pose a threat to the world's best batsmen on most pitches.

  • Comment number 75.

    Give Bopara a break - he's what 24 and never experienced an occasion like it before, he's a number 4/5 batsman and he was thrown in at 3 as none of the experienced players want to...Collingwood, Pietersen etc. Give him a chance he is quality...

    Bell is technicely quality but unfortunately like Ramps and Hick before him...they don't have the nerves or bottle to grind it out week in week out against quicks...I would love him to prove me wrong but think he is too worried about his look than his cricket...

    Again cook had a bad series but so did Hussey who is class...He will come back...

    Trott is good but don't get carried away as he went through some shocking form a year ago getting trapped LBW all the time...

    Cricket swings in roundabouts as Strauss and Broad and Prior have proved, one minute you are a hero and the next minute you are rubbish. People need to be judged over a longer period of time...

    Test for SA...


    Other Places to:
    Collingwood (Av 42 and adds something with ball and in the field)
    Harmison (An option for bouncy wickets, Wanderers)
    Davies (wk) (Ambrose is unlucky but think Davies is quality)

    A nice balance of youth and experience...and balanced bowling options...

    Lets back our players rather than slate half the team, they will not perform all the time and they don't need's a team game...every who plays cricket at a decent level knows you have tough spells...


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