First Ashes Test player ratings
Adelaide, South Australia
Before we begin, a new definition of awkward for you. Picture the scene. You've just boarded a flight from Brisbane to Adelaide, laptop open on your knees, a half-written Word document entitled 'Australia player ratings' on the screen. Clearly visible are phrases like "Michael Clarke: 2/10" and "Mitchell Johnson: 1/10, worst game of his life."
With a two-hour flight ahead, you're intending to use the time to finish the piece off - but just as you settle into your seat, you notice some chaps in pale blue tracksuits coming down the aisle towards economy. It is the Australian cricket team. Leading the way are Clarke and Johnson.
One by one the seats fill up around you. On your immediate left, an inquisitive Clarke; directly in front of you, Simon Katich, Mike Hussey and Johnson; to your right, the team media manager; just behind you, able to see directly over your shoulder, Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin. I'll be honest: I bottled it. You've never seen a laptop shut so fast.
Andrew Strauss: 7
England's skipper described his dismissal for a duck to the third ball of the series as "one of the worst feelings I've ever had on a cricket pitch". To fight back from that with a splendid captain's knock of 110 showed great character and helped his side salvage a draw from a position that appeared hopeless. In the field, he was his usual steady self; in his media appearances, a beacon of calm in an unsteady sea of hype and excitement.
Alastair Cook: 10
Came into the Test with an Ashes average of 26 from 19 innings and with question marks over his technique and form. Left with an aggregate of 302 runs and a great heap of batting records stashed in his kit bag. Even in a game when one player took a hat-trick and another made a wonderful 195, he was the clear man of the match.
Jonathan Trott: 8
Scratchy in the first innings and out to a horrible wide-gated drive across the line, he dug in alongside Cook in the second to score his second Ashes ton in successive matches and take England from the edge of defeat to a position of total dominence. Has the best average of a recognised England number three in memory and has made his own a position that has been a problem for years.
Kevin Pietersen: 6
Played beautifully for 43 in the first innings, looking utterly dominant. But that's the issue. He only made 43 when there appeared no reason why he shouldn't have gone on to score a big hundred. Ambled around in the field missing the limelight as England bowled and was then forced to sit with his pads on for more than a day as all three batsmen above him compiled centuries in that record-breaking second innings. Needs more in Adelaide - and wants it desperately.
Paul Collingwood: 4
Snagged for exactly that as England collapsed in the first innings. Toiled away with the ball as Strauss struggled to take wickets with his four front-line bowlers, took a fine slip catch to see off Haddin but then dropped a far easier chance in the final session. Will be glad to have arrived in the city - Adelaide - where he made his double ton four years ago.
Ian Bell: 8
Compiled a silky-smooth 76 as wickets tumbled all around him on the first day, looking every inch an accomplished and established international batsman. Made a big impact on the Aussies, who remember him as an easily-cowed introvert on previous tours. From Sherminator to Terminator? We will have to wait and see.
Matt Prior: 5
Gave his wicket away on the first afternoon with a dreadful airy waft to hand Peter Siddle the second scalp of his hat-trick and was then given a lesson in patient Test batting by his opposite number Haddin. With the gloves, however, he was near faultless to both pacemen and spinner. Is the Captain Birdseye/Alan Cork beard a good idea? We'll leave it to personal taste.
Stuart Broad: 5
Golden duck as Siddle sent the Gabba wild on the opening day of the series and went wicketless in Australia's first innings. Produced some hostile deliveries but bowled too short too often and failed to take note of Siddle's success in pitching the ball up.
Graeme Swann: 4
Just as he did in the first Test of the last Ashes series, England's best bowler over the past two years had a poor match on an unhelpful pitch. Returned figures of 2-128 in the first innings as Hussey punished a succession of short deliveries and had no more success in the second. England need him to be able to lock up an end and take wickets if their four-man attack is to function. A return to form at the Adelaide Oval is a must.
James Anderson: 8
Bowled one of the great wicketless spells in the first hour of the third day, leaving both Hussey and Haddin playing and missing. Even when the shine came off the ball, he maintained an excellent line and showed impressive control on a pitch offering him nothing.
Steven Finn: 7
Struggled in his first spell, dropping the ball too short and shipping runs at a worrying rate, but came back magnificently to finish his first innings in an Ashes Test with six wickets. For a 21-year-old so early in his Test career, he continues to show considerable promise.
Simon Katich: 6
The crabby opener will never win any aesthetic awards but his half century in Australia's first innings showed once again what a useful Test cricketer he is. Dismissed cheaply on the final afternoon as England went round the wicket at him, a tactic they believe will continue to bring them success in the remainder of the series.
Shane Watson: 6
Breezy 36 in the first innings, similarly brisk 41 in the second. Broke up England's second-wicket partnership with his swing on the first morning and, even if he went wicketless in the second innings, continues to give his team a balance and option that they would struggle without.
Ricky Ponting: 5
Caught down the leg side for only 10 on the second day and then looked devoid of inspiration in the field as England racked up that remarkable 517-1. Was even abused by an Australian fan in the front row at the Gabba but regained at least a little initiative with that rapid-fire 50 in the last session of the match. Remains upbeat, pugnacious and utterly determined to win back the little urn once again.
Michael Clarke: 2
At his best, a beautiful batsman to watch, the most tattooed man in Australian cricket was only a late inclusion in the side after back problems and must have wished he had stayed on the physio's couch. His 50-ball nine was the polar opposite of his usual fast-footed, fluid self. He then dropped a dolly of a slip catch off Trott as the wheels came off his side on the final day.
Mike Hussey: 10
On the point of being dropped before the Test, he edged his first ball two inches short of Swann at second slip but went on to compile a masterly 195, his highest score in Test cricket and an innings that changed the face of the match. Farewell, humble Mr Cricket. Arise. Sir Cricket of the Gabba.
Marcus North: 5
Feast-or-famine North was dismissed for single figures for the 10th time in his 20 Test matches and remains the weakest link in Australia's batting line-up. But his part-time spin continues to impress - even if he hadn't taken the prize scalp of Andrew Strauss with a well-flighted ball in the second innings, that versatility would have kept his place safe.
Brad Haddin: 9
Followed in the feisty footsteps of predecessors Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist with a splendid century that started slowly and then accelerated perfectly as the England attack tired. Tidy behind the timbers, even in the face of Johnson's random delivery generator.
Mitchell Johnson: 1
Poor old Johnson. Supposedly his side's strike bowler and spearhead, he had surely the worst game of his Test career - combined figures of 0-170, a duck with the bat, a missed run-out of double-century maker Cook and a dropped catch off the England skipper.
On the flight to Adelaide, he sat in the emergency exit seat. The symbolism was impossible to miss.
Xavier Doherty: 5
Brought in for his Test debut to trouble Pietersen, he bowled tidily in the first innings but looked toothless in the second. Tended to bowl a little too flat and fast when more flight and rip might have worked better. At 28, is he too old to develop into a top-class Test spinner?
Peter Siddle: 8
Sensational hat-trick on the first afternoon and finished with six wickets on his 26th birthday - one of the all-time great bursts by an Aussie fast bowler in the Ashes. Then went wicketless for 90 runs in the second innings on a batsman's paradise. Still, his aggression and accuracy will continue to play a part as the series unfolds.
Ben Hilfenhaus: 5
A constant threat on the greener, seamier English tracks throughout the last Ashes series but impotent with match figures of 1-142 here. Magnificent moustache for Movember may not be enough to save him from demotion, with both Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris waiting in the wings.
Now you've read my views, how did you rate the two sets of players?