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Fourth Ashes Test player ratings

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Tom Fordyce | 09:43 UK time, Thursday, 30 December 2010

Melbourne, Victoria

It was all done and dusted in a touch over three days, England's second crushing innings victory over Australia in the series. Who were the heroes of the fourth Test in Melbourne and who were the zeroes? Have a peruse of my numbers and then dive in with your own. All banter/debate/arguments welcomed. If clean.

ENGLAND

Andrew Strauss - 7

Got almost everything right, from team selection (bringing in Tim Bresnan for his leading wicket-taker Steve Finn) to winning the toss (and deciding to bowl) to field placings (putting a short extra cover in for Mike Hussey in the second innings). Scored a punchy 69 to ensure that England capitalised on the fantastic bowling display in the first two sessions and will now go down in history as only the fifth England captain since the World War II to come back from Australia in possession of the Ashes.

Alastair Cook - 7

His excellent 82, compiled on the first evening and second morning, means he has now scored 577 runs in the series, more than any other player and at a remarkable average of 115. The idea that he was under pressure for his place less than five weeks ago now seems quite laughable. The bad news for Australia is that, at the age of only 26, he may well be around for at least more two Ashes tours down under.

Jonathan Trott - 9

He might lack the charisma of his more glamorous team-mates and dress off the pitch like a man who chooses his clothes in the dark but Trott is now unquestionably one of the best batsmen in Test cricket. His unbeaten 169, a masterclass in concentration and application on a difficult pitch, snuffed out any faint hopes Australia may have had of getting back in the game. It also means he is averaging 111 for the series and has now scored three centuries in only five Ashes matches. Yet to hit a six in Test cricket, which says everything about his prioritising of substance over style.

Kevin Pietersen -7

His half-century may not have been the biggest score of England's innings but it continued his side's progress on a potentially tricky second morning. Managed to wind up Ricky Ponting with his winking antics after Australia's unsuccessful referral and took key catches at either end of the match to ensure England made the most of opportunities created by their bowlers.

Paul Collingwood - 2

Another failure with the bat is unlikely to keep Collingwood out of the team for the final Test in Sydney but his place in the side beyond that may be another matter. Highly valued by skipper Strauss and coach Andy Flower, he offers a huge amount in the field and dressing room. He is also a precious bowling option in a team with only four front-line options. Heartbroken to steer a simple pull down the throat of Peter Siddle at long leg, he needs a big score to keep the young pretenders from stealing his slot.

Paul Collingwood is out for another low score in MelbourneCollingwood's Test future beyond this Ashes series looks shaky. Photo: Getty Images

Ian Bell - 4

For once coming in with a chance to make some runs rather than nurse the tail, Bell almost fell foul of his own excellent form. Another player on another day would have left Mitchell Johnson's wayward bouncer alone but Bell aimed a slapping hook and paid the price. Took a vital and tricky catch to dismiss Hussey on the penultimate evening and still averages over 50 with the bat in the series. Will stay at six for the final Test.

Matt Prior - 8

Missed a simple chance to stump Michael Clarke off Graeme Swann in Australia's second innings but that incident only served to highlight how good his glovework has been. Lucky to be reprieved early in his innings after Johnson's no-ball but cashed in with his highest score of the series, having already taken six rock-solid catches on the first day. England's best wicketkeeper-batsman since mentor Alec Stewart.

Tim Bresnan - 9

Considered lucky to be in the tour squad by some and as a gamble for the Test match by others, Bresnan responded with a stunning performance that combined relentless accuracy with brilliant wicket-taking reverse swing. His spell of three wickets for two runs in 18 balls after tea on the third day, including the prize wickets of Ponting and Hussey, guaranteed that England would leave Melbourne with the Ashes in their hand luggage. Can he ever top this? We'll save those worries for another day.

Graeme Swann - 8

On the face of it, he had a quiet game - only two overs bowled in the first innings and only two wickets bowled in the second. But on a pitch that offered almost nothing for the spinners, he produced a tireless, miserly spell throughout the tea session on day three to squeeze the life out of Australia and create the pressure that team-mates exploited. Singled out for special praise by Flower afterwards, he celebrated with a performance of the Sprinkler in front of an adoring Barmy Army when the match was won.

Chris Tremlett - 8

Another inspired selection by England. The man considered either too soft or too loose for Test cricket produced his second top-draw display of pace bowling in two matches. His 4-26 from 12 relentless overs on the first day started and finished the rot - and he could have had more. Unplayable at times, he will end the series as an integral part of his country's bowling attack.

James Anderson - 8

Those unpleasant memories of the tonking he took four years ago are now buried for good. Made wonderful use of England's narrow window of opportunity on the first day, producing the perfect ball to dismiss Hussey and removing Clarke and Brad Haddin either side of that to blow a ragged hole in the Aussie top order. Has absorbed every bit of help on offer from bowling coach David Saker and shown that he can do just as much with the much-feared Kookaburra ball as any other swing bowler in the world. Seventeen wickets in the series, he will finish as unquestioned leader of an excellent attack.

AUSTRALIA

Shane Watson - 5

In some ways, it seems harsh to criticise a man who is averaging 50 for the series and who consistently scores runs at the top of a shaky batting order. But the feeling persists that Watson could do better - and his display in Melbourne illustrated why. Opening the batting appears to remove any menace from his bowling. He has only two wickets in these Ashes so far. He remains vulnerable outside off stump, as his dismissal to Tremlett showed, and needlessly ran out his opening partner for the second time in three Tests. Once again, he failed to push on having scored a half-century.

Phillip Hughes - 2

Threw away his wicket with a wild slash outside off to begin Australia's dramatic collapse. Looked much better in the second innings, only to be pointlessly run out by his senior partner just when he was appearing to settle in. Is he a Test opener? Maybe one day but his technique still looks too flawed against top-class attacks.

Ricky Ponting - 1

We thought it could not get any worse for the Aussie skipper. We were wrong. Bagged for a turgid 10 on the first day, unable to cope with Tremlett's bounce, he decided to dig in during the second innings and somehow looked even worse. Add in his ugly confrontation with blameless umpire Aleem Dar and you have a Test match that could have left weaker men broken - which is ironic, seeing that his fractured finger flared up afterwards and ruled him out of the final Test. If this is the end of his Test career, another failed Ashes campaign and a miserable total of 113 runs from eight innings is not a fitting way for this great player to go.

Michael Clarke - 2

Clarke once looked like the future of Australian batting. He now looks like a walking wicket. Where has the fluency and form gone? Panicked by the short ball, scratchy against the spin that he used to relish, he is a shadow of the batsmen he is at his best. Will captain his country in Sydney, yet remains an unpopular choice among his fellow countrymen. In a poll carried out by a Melbourne newspaper, 92% of respondents said they did not want him as Aussie skipper.

Michael Clarke and Peter SiddleClarke (left) has a big task lifting Australia - but will his team-mates respond? Photo: Reuters

Michael Hussey - 1

He had to fail at one stage, right? After being indomitable through the series so far, Sir Cricket was undone by fine bowling in both innings. Anderson found the classic anti-Hussey line a fraction outside off in the first innings, while Bresnan produced the perfect two-card trick of an inswinger into the pads followed by one that moved away late to induce an uppish drive to short extra cover. Still his country's best batsman by a mile.

Steve Smith - 3

One day Smith will be an excellent Test player. That day has yet to arrive. Two places too high at six, he battled hard in both innings but was undone by his loose technique. Given the chance with the ball on a pitch not suited to his leg-spin, he went wicketless for 71 from 17 overs. Hard yards for one at his stage of development.

Brad Haddin - 5

Wafted wildly in the first innings to give another catch to slip, he biffed away fruitfully when all was lost in the second. Claimed the non-catch off Pietersen that led to Ponting's strop with the officials but deserves the chance he has now been given as Australia's vice-captain. At 33, he may yet get a shot at the big job but before then should move up the order from seven to six.

Mitchell Johnson - 1

It is all or nothing for the random delivery generator that is Australia's premier strike bowler. Went from world-beater in Perth to egg-beater in Melbourne, returning figures of 2-134 and seemingly no closer to understanding how to release the magic at will than he was two years ago. Taunted mercilessly throughout by the Barmy Army with their specially-adapted version of Sloop John B, he cut a dejected figure by the end.

Ryan Harris - 1

Another to go from perfect in Perth to mournful in Melbourne. Failed to pick up a single wicket and then broke down with the stress fracture of the ankle that will put him out for three months - a cruel blow for a hard-working bowler who had only just come back from a chronic knee problem.

Peter Siddle - 8

Australia's best player by a mile, the proud Victorian used his local knowledge of the MCG conditions to great effect. He might not be the most subtle bowler in the world but his ceaseless effort was rewarded with his best Test figures in front of an appreciate crowd that included his dear old mum. Smacked his highest score with the bat at the end and could head for home with his head held high.

Ben Hilfenhaus - 2

Described as a bowling machine by one of my colleagues - and not in a complimentary sense. Puts the ball in the same place every time but his lack of real pace or bounce means he has become too predictable. Took two tail-end wickets but still has only four from the series. For the moment at least, his bowling holds few fears for England.

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