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Phil Tufnell's England player ratings

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Sam Sheringham | 18:51 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

“Spun, drawn and slaughtered”, “Debacle in the desert”, “Holiday from Hell”, “England can’t whitewash this dross”.

The Middle East venue may have been a novelty, but the headlines that greeted England’s 3-0 whitewash by Pakistan could have been plucked straight from the bad old days of the 1990s.

In just under three weeks, England’s cricketers have gone from being the toast of the nation to a laughing stock once again.

While their batsmen will look back on the three Tests as a nightmarish experience, the bowlers generally came out of the series with their heads held high.

Here, former England spinner and Test Match Special summariser Phil Tufnell rates each player’s performance, but do you agree with his marks?

Andrew Strauss (150 runs at 25.00) – 5.5/10

Tuffers says: “In terms of his captaincy he didn’t do a lot wrong. He decided to play two spinners, which England have been reluctant to do for some time and it proved to be the right call. Did manage a gutsy fifty in the last Test, but will be disappointed with his contribution with the bat."

Alastair Cook (159 runs at 26.50) – 5/10

“Having had such a great year, he’ll be disappointed not to have made his mark on the series. But he at least showed some stickability, and his 94 in Abu Dhabi put us in a position from which we should have won the Test match.”

Jonathan Trott (161 runs at 26.83) – 5/10

“One of main reasons England have been so prolific with the bat has been the dependability of Trott coming in at number three. But he never looked his assured self at the crease. He normally has such composure but it looked a struggle for him out there.”

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen failed to sparkle during England's Test series defeat in Dubai. Photo: Getty

Kevin Pietersen (67 runs at 11.16) – 3/10  

"A horrific tour for England’s gun batsman. For your star player to come back with an average of 11 is just horrendous. He never got into the series and always looked fragile against the spinners.”

Ian Bell (51 runs at 8.50) – 2/10

“A shocking display; he simply got doosra’d out of the game. If you don’t know which way the ball is turning you are starting from rocky foundations and Bell was a pale imitation of his former self.”

Eoin Morgan (82 runs at 13.66) – 3/10

"He was the one fellow I thought might do well against the spinners because he looks to dominate, but he was just caught on the back foot and became timid and shotless. Showed signs of his capacity to be counter-puncher on the last day of the series but it was too little, too late."

Matt Prior (150 runs at 37.50) – 7/10

"He kept very tidily and batted well at times despite coming in to some dire positions after all the big guns had failed. Always tried to play some shots and had a couple of very useful knocks."

Stuart Broad (105 runs at 21.00, 13 wickets at 20.46) – 8/10

“My man of the series for England. On wickets that shouldn’t help him, he was a massive force with the ball and always seemed likely to take a wicket. Showed his all-round ability too with an aggressive fifty in Abu Dhabi.”

Graeme Swann (105 runs at 17.50, 13 wickets at 25.07) – 6/10

“I think he’ll be slightly disappointed. He got a decent number of wickets but after going over there as the number one spin bowler in the world, he would have liked to have had more of an impact when it mattered in low-scoring games.”

James Anderson (54 runs at 10.80, 9 wickets at 27.66) – 6/10

“It’s never easy for seam bowlers on flat pitches and, although Anderson stuck to his guns, he was outbowled by Broad and Umar Gul and was not quite the attack leader he has been in the past. He didn’t let the captain down, but would have liked a couple more wickets.”

Monty Panesar (14 wickets at 21.57) – 8/10

“He came in and took his chance brilliantly. The conditions were helpful, but you still have to bowl well to take wickets and Monty thoroughly deserved his."


Phil Tufnell was talking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham


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  • Comment number 1.

    Very flattering numbers there I think, sorry Phil Tufnell, if you somehow are reading this.

    My ratings:

    Strauss: 2/10

    As a captain, you make decisions that win games, we batted at the wrong times and had no lead from the front mentality until the very final test when our hopes were already crushed.

    Cook: 4/10

    A nice 94 but terrible otherwise.

    Trott: 3/10

    South Africans generally are known to be chokers and he is no exception with the only difference being... He is a choker against spin bowling.

    Pietersen: 2/10


    Bell: 1/10


    Morgan: 2/10


    Prior: 4/10

    Showed some guts but he's a batsman who can keep and he certainly didn't rescue us from peril. This man should be scoring centuries. His decent knocks weren't deserved as he was playing far too risky. Although I should say... I take a leaf from Geoffrey Boycott in the batting department... Defensive opener.

    Stuart Broad: N/10

    I can't rate the bowling or batting of this guy as by time he came in, he was under no pressure to do anything but I think we bowled well as a team, it was our batsmen that failed.

    Swann, Anderson and Panesar... See Stuart Broad.

  • Comment number 2.

    Batsmen all look a point too high to me and Jimmy surely deserves a 7 at least.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why ECB is hesitating to drop Pietersen in spin conditions. He didn't perform even against Bangladesh spinners in the past then how he gonna perform against the best..looks like ECB is behaving like Indian cricket board...."players don't need to perform, because they are always in the team"...pathetic

  • Comment number 4.

    Am a bit mystified by Strauss getting plaudits for playing 2 spinners when in the 1st test they didn't and started the rot as it was blatantly obvious that the wicket was going to be a turner (horse bolted springs to mind...).

    Batsmen all failed but my worst rating goes to the selectors is 0 out of 10 for not changing things and letting dismal become normal on the tour!!! What does it say to the other batsmen on the tour if an 8.5 average is good enough to keep your place!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Ha ha ha ha, Number one team in the world! Problem is that England let ranking go to their head. Before the series Matt Prior was talking about building legacies. The ranking system means absolutely nothing. England are a good team in England. You beat a transitional Aussie side and I would wager that if you go to Australia again it will be a different Aussie team you face. Here is some advice, drop the arrogance, learn to play spin as England are hopeless on the sub continent, and maybe blood some English players. Rather than moaning that your imports were not good enough. I would be more concerned that three of my middle order are not English at all. England obviously do not have test quality players to fill those positions. Oh and Andy1005 you are right, we South Africans are chokers, however like I just pointed out English county players are not even good enough to choke in an International game. Any team can build success if they assemble a team of imports.

  • Comment number 6.

    Strauss 4/10 - At least attempted to adapt his game. Must have been involved in the selection of three seamers for the first test, which everyone disagreed with, rightly so.

    Cook 5/10 - Only England batsman to even get close to scoring a hundred, and had anyone else made any runs at all, would have resulted in England winning the second test.

    Trott 5/10 - England's top run scorer in the series, so probably the least culpable of the batsmen for England's dismal performance overall.

    Pietersen 1/10 - Made precisely seventeen runs in the first two tests. By the time he made a half decent knock, England were staring down the barrel of an inevitable whitewash.

    Bell 0/10 - Made less runs in the series than Anderson. Don't really think he chipped in enough with the ball to compensate.

    Morgan 1/10 - Looks out of his depth and unsuited to test cricket. Pietersen, Bell and Morgan all scored less runs in the series than Broad and Swann.

    Prior 7/10 - Topped the averages by miles, kept wicket very well, and consistently came in to bat in hopeless situations, probably the only specialist batter to emerge from the series with real credit.

    Broad 9/10 - Scored more runs than all of the English middle order, and took 13 wickets at 20; more than any other seamer. Undoubtedly England's player of the series, and could have done little more for the cause.

    Swann 7/10 - Perhaps slightly disappointing, but bowled a lot less overs than Panesar and only took one fewer wicket. Again, made more runs than the entire English middle order.

    Anderson 8/10 - Bowled gamely and with accuracy in difficult conditions, has clearly matured greatly as a bowler in conditions where once upon a time he would have become impatient and ended up going all over the park.

    Panesar 8.5/10 - Couldn't really have bowled much better, did everything that was asked of him, especially under the pressure of having been out of the side for some time. Favourable conditions mean that Broad deserves a slightly higher mark in my opinion.

  • Comment number 7.

    "1. At 22:57 7th Feb 2012, andy1005 wrote:

    Trott: 3/10

    South Africans generally are known to be chokers and he is no exception with the only difference being... He is a choker against spin bowling."

    Well based on your wise comment you could say that most of the England team are chokers then...against spin bowling :)

    Without these South Africans England wouldn't have got to No. 1 by the way but you won't be there for long based on the performances of all the batsmen.

  • Comment number 8.

    perhaps the world's top team deserve more supportive supporters?

  • Comment number 9.

    It seems to be a very difficult balancing act - throughout 2011 England were "risking burn-out" and now, after a battery recharge, they're "undercooked".

    Sounds like an episode from Kitchen Nightmares!

  • Comment number 10.

    Had a chuckle about the "south africans being chokers" comment about Trott above. South Africa haven't lost a test series away from home since 2006 and have been everywhere in that time - from slow, low and dusty in the sub continent and middle east, to seaming and swinging conditions in the UK, to hard and bouncy at the WACA, the saffa's have made a plan and adapted their game, and no one has been able to beat us on their home turf for 6 years

    Be happy that you have Trott in your side, you don't want to be slagging off your best player (even if he is a born and bred saffa...). He has been one of the key players in England's rise in recent times and will no doubt continue to be so for many years to come.

  • Comment number 11.




  • Comment number 12.

    Agreed that ratings seem a little high Tuffers but that's just your opinion i guess.

    Loving the fact the Saffers (Bokboy12 and HowzitBoet) come out to crow about stolen talent and choking batsmen!

    The reason your lot have struggled in recent times is due to a brittle batting line up and a lack of top quality spin.

    Not sure Imran Tahir is your answer but he sure doesn't sound like he speaks Afrikaans.

    168 all out at home to a weak Sri Lankan team followed by 96 all out away in Oz. Two solid first innings there.

    Basically test cricket is played by a number of decent teams that on their day can make another team look decidedly average. Reckon it could be a while till we see another Windies or Australian-esque era of dominance.

  • Comment number 13.

    ps. the reason you haven't lost a series at home for so long Joburgchief is because you don't play a series long enough to get a decisive winner.

    3 test match series show a love of filling the grounds for ODIs and T20s instead of the real test of 5-day cricket. Why not have at least a third against the Aussies after two cracking tests?

  • Comment number 14.

    Love the South Africans gloating about England losing.
    - Yes the test rankings don't really matter.
    - Amusing selective stats about away series since 2006. They have lost 2 home ones since and last series V England of any nature was a draw (which surely most relevant)
    - Pietersen, Trott etc didn't want to play for SA sooooooo much they waited 3 years to qualify to play for England

  • Comment number 15.

    HAHA! Trott is only South African when he doesn't make runs.... Just like Andy Murray is referred to as british when winning and scottish when losing...

    England where hopeless against Pakistan. But one bad series doesn't make England a bad team. Their true character will show now. How they pick themselves up after such a defeat defines champion teams..

  • Comment number 16.

    Ferg0110 and danielwebb17 - the fact that SA have done well away from home in recent years is very relevant. No one has ever disputed that the recent Indian side are great at home or elsewhere on the sub continent - but they have never been as strong out of their comfort zone. England, having risen to number 1, also now need to prove that they can be consistently strong away from home if they want to stay on top of the test pile (this pakistan series suggests some work is required).

    SA have underperformed at home in recent years - we know that, and no one is claiming otherwise, but hopefully the recent home win against the lankans will be a step in the right direction, and the away form will continue through to the english summer! (All english fans do of course know that a conclusive series win for the saffas over the kiwis next month will mean that SA will arrive in England as the number 1 test team in a few months time.)

  • Comment number 17.

    I've sat here for a few minutes now saying 5 1/2 over and over in my head and trying to work out how the hell that is applicable to Strauss' level of performance in this series, you give him credit for making a 'tough' call to play two spinners, are you taking the p155? If Tremlett hadn't been injured I have no doubt in my mind that we'd have played the same team in all 3 tests, and as for calling it a tough call it was in no way shape or form tough it was blindingly obvious that it needed to be done from BEFORE the first test.

    Taking a tough call would've been to have dropped 1 if not 2 of Pietersen, Bell or Morgan for the final test, despite some of the claims from the England management it looks pretty damn obvious that the top 6 is a closed shop, even giving Bopara a chance would've been preferable as he simply could NOT have done any worse than our current 4-6.

    My ratings would have been:

    Stauss - 3 - has not scored big runs for a long time, failed to lead from the front and failed to make any big decisions with regards to team selection that should have been made
    Cook - 4 1/2 - one good innings out of 6 bumped his average up
    Trott - 4 1/2 - as above
    Pietersen - 2 - once again the words poor shot selection were used when describing some of his dismisals, never looked like scoring any runs
    Bell - 1 - A harrowing experience for Bell, undoing so much of his good work over the past 2 years in developing his reputation
    Morgan - 1 - This guy has a test average of 30.5 and a first class average of 36, can anyone explain how he has made it into the England cricket team? He has not proven himself at any level over the longer form of the game, it's a disgrace that he continues to get picked, 1 day specialist and needs to stay that way
    Prior - 7 - Solid with the bat and good with the gloves, let down massively by the top 6 often left to scrape around with the tail yet still managed an average of 37.5, now Sangakarra has put keeping duties to one side I think he can genuinely lay claim to being the best keeper - batsman in cricket at the moment
    Broad - 8 - Great series with bat and ball, cannot fault effort or stats, shame for him that the top6 failed to turn up
    Swann - 6 - Outbowled by Panesar and comfortably so, still picked up some wickets at a respectable rate though, but seems to prefer english style conditions to bowl in, could struggle in SL and India too
    Anderson - 7 - Bowled well enough on challenging pitches and did his be

  • Comment number 18.

    It's easy to blame the dismal middle order (and they were dismal) but can we dish out some 8s, 9s and one 10 to Pakistan's bowlers? It's a little disrespectful to imply that this was solely a "losing" effort by England, rather than a winning effort by a team who stunned me with their rather brilliant bowling performances.

    That said, I'll take the opportunity to say I have never been convinced by Bell. Having played nearly every series since 2005 he has been "consistent" for about two short periods in all of this time. Clearly a selectors' favourite, is he really all that? Sometimes, perhaps, but sometimes is not as often as the England staff would have us believe. Morgan may yet "get there" as a Test batsman, but as someone whose County Form has always left a lot to be desired, is he only in the Test team as a nod to his One Day form?

    The top three actually held up OK-ish compared with the opposition and from Prior downwards, even Monty and Jimmy held their own with the bat.

    I'll close with a plea to choose someone other than Ravi Bopara as next in line for the England batting lineup. There are at least a dozen more deserving young batsmen.

  • Comment number 19.

    I hope some of the people on here making wild comments that its the selectors fault for not changing the team quickly enough aren't real cricket fans.

    These are the same selectors who stuck with Broad and Cook when the media (and public) were calling for their heads. How right they proved.

    The time to change for the Sri Lanka series is now, but not an upheaval. Every batsman bar Morgan deserves another series due to the amount of runs in 2011. The consistency of selection lately is one of the main reasons we are where we are, lets never go back to the 90s selection policy.

  • Comment number 20.

    re 19. I am advocating having a squad which you take on tour and if a player does not perform he must be replaced (be it a technique that is not suited to conditions or a slump in form), otherwise how long do we have to wait to see the change made??

  • Comment number 21.

    In my opinion Eoin morgans biggest problem is dealing with people like "andy1005", "the_wake_up_bomb" and "Pierredelafranchesca" who are so overly critical of someone who has scored more test hundreds than they ever will put together that he's become afraid to play his natural game as a stroke player of no small repute.

    He needs a shot of confidence to kick-start his career, much as Cook, Strauss, Prior and Bell have had in the past.

    Personally I think the bigger problem is Bell. When the ball turns he looks all at sea, more even than Morgan, more even than Swann. Perhaps some "strength and conditioning" might be called for...

    Personally I'm of the opinion that Panesar should score as highly as Broad. Yes he had conditions which favoured him but given in his first two tests in nearly 3 years he's come in and put in performances straight away that gives him the extra boost.

    One player everyone has missed is Chris Tremlett who played the first test. I'm not surprised people have forgotten him, he was pretty awful in that test and should have been dropped even if he'd stayed fit.

  • Comment number 22.


    I think that would create problems in that players wouldn;t be able to play with any real freedom. If you know 2 poor innings will cost you your place it will more than likely have a negatie impact on their performances rather than positive.

    Obviously changes have to be made after a certain time and i am no expert on when that should be. Personally I do believe Morgan should be dropped for the Sri Lankan series and one of the Lions promoted (Definitely not Bopora though!!!)

    I would leave Morgan in the one dayers where hopefully he can regain some sort of form in which to try and get his test place back.

  • Comment number 23.

    Look its clearly obvious Timmy Bresnan is the greatest player to ever play the game 100% win ratio, need I say more! we could have done with his aggression and he would have contributed a fair few runs with the bat I would imagine.

    England have been whitewashed but I hardly think either side will be happy with the batting, aside from an excellent stand in the third test Pakistans batting has also been poor.

    I would rate England as a team rather than individuals and give them an excellent mark for bowling, a poor for fielding and a terrible for batting. The ECB is also not exempt from critisism as it is obvious England were undercooked, I would have thought they would have learnt from the hammering we got by the Aussies a few years ago.

    If you don't prepare properly in International Cricket you will get hammered

  • Comment number 24.

    Tom (No. 11) makes a great point about getting young kids into cricket, with correct coaching from an early age.

    Now comes the problem - the National Curriculum (NC) is already full to overflowing and unless Michael Gove specifically sets up a cricket hour as part of the NC, spends cash on equipping schools with even basic kit and somewhere to play, I'm afraid this laudable wish remains a pipe dream.

    The same goes for all the other sports in which we embrace mediocrity (why isn't that all of them!)

    Oh and by the way, if KP gets his wish for a reduced tax rate for high earners, there will be less money in the economy to invest in school sports and develop the kids with any kind of ability to replace the narcissistic, under-achiever batting at number 4.

  • Comment number 25.

    23.At 10:05 8th Feb 2012, nunsandwich wrote:
    If you don't prepare properly in International Cricket you will get hammered


    Word. I'd hoped we'd turned a corner with the Ashes last year and the preparation we had going into that. I get the impression this was as much as anything due to the UAE not having a domestic first class structure meaning weend up playing against an inferior team who are as alien to the conditions as we are with the likes of Boyd Rankin bowling. No offence to the lad but he's no Umar Gul.

  • Comment number 26.

    #21 Morgan averages 30.43 after 16 Tests and 24 innings. The next person in the order(Matt Prior) averages 44.24 He's had a fair enough go but he has an average of a decent Bowler who can Bat(Broads is 28.23) . The major difference is he doesn't Bowl at all! Quite simply put he's not good enough despite those Test Centuries and there are plenty of county players who deserve a chance with a better First-Class record than Morgan did.

    In other news great to see merit gets you in ODI squad hopefully the same will happen in terms of the the team composition. I'd hate to Briggs and Buttler carrying drinks.

  • Comment number 27.

    I believe that the debacle of English batting was more due to excellence of opposition bowlers than the faults of these batsmen. Pakistani spinners were sometimes unplayable.
    Keeping in mind that england had not played against any quality spinners in turning condition for a long long time, I would keep the same batting line up for sri lanka and I am pretty sure that england will comprehensively beat both sri lanka and india with the same team.

  • Comment number 28.

    26.At 10:12 8th Feb 2012, ncurd wrote:
    #21 Morgan averages 30.43 after 16 Tests and 24 innings.


    Which is more after the same number of tests as Mark Waugh, Younis Khan and VVS Laxman I believe. Three really awful players with atrocious records in test cricket I'm sure you'll agree.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think Tuffers has been a bit kind with his marks for the batsmen. None of the top six even averaged thirty, which is dreadful at this level.

    Whilst the top five have enough credit in the bank, Morgan just doesn't cut it as a Test batsman for me. He averages 30 and has just five scores of 50+ from 24 innings. He was supposedly in the side for his ability against spin, but five dismissals out of six and a seemingly clueless approach suggests quiet the contrary.

    As for who should come in, I'd give Bopara a final chance especially as the fact he can bowl a bit means England will have some back-up to the two spinner, two seam option in Sri Lanka. The other option of course is to bring Bresnan in for Morgan and promote Prior to six, which would certainly show some intent.

    For those that are interested here are our series marks for England and also for Pakistan

  • Comment number 30.

    So much negativity after our first poor series in 3 years. Like many, I don't like Morgan in the test team and if Tim Bresnan had been fit I suspect Prior would have moved to 6 and we'd have played 3 seamers and 2 spinners from the start which would look a good balanced attack. The top 5 should be retained for the moment, one bad series doesn't make a bad batsman - although they all need to practice hard for the spin friendly wickets in Sri Lanka, fortunately their bowlers aren't as good as Pakistan's. Morgan needs to score some runs in county cricket before he's given another crack. If England want to play 6 bats, then I'd pick James Taylor, if they want 5 seamers then add Bresnan to the 3rd test attack.

  • Comment number 31.

    "In my opinion Eoin morgans biggest problem is dealing with people like "andy1005", "the_wake_up_bomb" and "Pierredelafranchesca" who are so overly critical of someone who has scored more test hundreds than they ever will put together that he's become afraid to play his natural game as a stroke player of no small repute".

    If the conditions regarding criticism of a player were that I'm not justified in criticising anyone that's a better player than me, then it would be impossible to criticise anyone that has ever played professional cricket! Is Boycott's criticism of Morgan justified?

    Morgan scored 51 runs in the series, until his final innings, at which point the series was dead and buried. He deserves to be criticised for this, and he has done little to deserve a place in the side. If he's not going to be dropped after a series like that, then when is a batsman going to be dropped from this team?

  • Comment number 32.

    Let's not forget that James Taylor, like Eoin Morgan, has scored all his first class runs at second division level before we start banging on about throwing him in. I also think Ravi Bopara (who has played more innings than Jonathan Trott in international cricket) has had his time and should be dispensed with.

    IMO we need to bring in a young player who has a proven record in the first division and who seems to be in decent form with the Lions. Step forward, Johnny Bairstow.

  • Comment number 33.

    #28 So based on those examples of fine Cricketers we keep someone who has performed badly in the recent series. His average before the series was nothing to write home about and there are plenty of players with better records in the First-Class game. But who knows he performs so badly he's on par with Laxman!

    It's a silly concept you get into the side on merit and then you are given a fair run (which Morgan has had) and if you don't perform the next guy comes in. You then work yourself back into contention by playing well at First-Class Cricket not by going off to play in the IPL. You don't get to keep playing because some great players failed in the past by this stage in your Test career.

  • Comment number 34.

    31.At 10:41 8th Feb 2012, the_wake_up_bomb wrote:
    he has done little to deserve a place in the side.


    Apart from the international pedigree that he has and his proven ability to perform at all levels of the international game, you mean?

    As to domestic first class records, let me just completely dispell the myth that some on here seem to hold that it's the only true mark of a batsmans ability to succeed at test level.

    Marcus Trescothick had an average to poor first class record before being picked.
    Mark Ramprakash had a very good first class record before being picked.
    Graeme Hick had a brilliant first class record before being picked.

    Which of those three was the most successful test batsman?

  • Comment number 35.

    Baristow, you've got to be kidding me? He's a proven player in a poor side last season if we take Tresco out of the equation 8 players who played 9 matches or more had a better average in division 1!

    People only want him in the side because he plays for Yorkshire and has famous family.

  • Comment number 36.

    35.At 10:52 8th Feb 2012, ncurd wrote:
    People only want him in the side because he plays for Yorkshire and has famous family.


    A comment which is on a par with me saying you only want Morgan out because he's Irish. I couldn't care less about his family or what county he plays for.

    Who were these eight players you mention and how many of them were (a) English and (b) under the age of 30? I'd also add a handicap for Somerset batsmen given Taunton is a batting paradise.

  • Comment number 37.

    Richard Littlejohn ate my Scotch Egg

    "proven ability to perform at all levels of the international game" - is that a joke? He's done little to suggest any sort of test pedigree.

  • Comment number 38.

    On the issue of selection, i think that making wholesale changes is the wrong attitude. If dropping a player with a previously excellent record after just 3 poor innings were the right way to go then the England team that made it to no 1 in the world couple take a very different composition. I personally dont think Morgan is a test player, his stats seem to bear that out but to be honest its more about the way he plays.

    @16 I'm aware that a 3-0 series win will see SA squeeze above England, however bearing in mind that Englands last trip to Sri Lanka resulted in a 1-0 defeat wouldnt even a drawn increase Englands point tally sufficiently to move us back above SA. If not then surely a series win would. Either way the Saffers chances of arriving in England as the No1 ranked team rest as much on Englands performances as South Africas.

  • Comment number 39.

    37.At 11:00 8th Feb 2012, Ulidian1 wrote:
    Richard Littlejohn ate my Scotch Egg

    "proven ability to perform at all levels of the international game" - is that a joke? He's done little to suggest any sort of test pedigree.


    Players don't score chanceless hundreds against high quality pace attacks in seam-friendly conditions by accident.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't handicap people for playing at Taunton, most Somerset players who have performed well in recent years have done so home and away. The pitches they use for first-class games are no longer the flat tracks they use to be which is why your seeing results there.

    Anyway the players who meet your criteria are

    Chris Woakes - who also has bowling as a string to his bow and we know Baristow won't be the wicketkeeper.
    Ben Stokes
    Phil Mustard
    Alex Hales
    Nick Compton ignoring your stupid somerset stipulation but incidentally he averaged 10 more than Baristow)

  • Comment number 41.

    Chris Woakes - His style of bowling won't be suited to sub-continent conditions, fair few not outs for batting down the order, half the runs Bairstow got.
    Ben Stokes - He's a quality player but (a) no-one thinks he's ready and (b) he's injured (and facing court).
    Phil Mustard - Failed to take his previous international chance, 300 fewer runs last season than Bairstow.
    Alex Hales - Has a first class average 5 fewer than Bairstow. As you're basing your selection on career averages that makes him an inferior player. Besides, he's an opening batsman rather than a middle order player.
    Nick Compton - Poor career average (your rules), Taunton handicap, a few big innings not out bumped his average.

    In terms of a more obvious comparison of number of runs scored, only one of your list (Hales) topped Bairstow. Your dismissal of his performances is entirely unjustified and the figures alone show he deserves a chance.

  • Comment number 42.

    Incidentally on your other point Tresco had 6 better in average after 16 games or 24 innings and had scored 2 more 50's. It should also be noted be noted England were way poorer back in 2001 and the had just completed the Ashes back when he reached 16 tests. In which he scored 3 50's, Morgan on the other hand has just had a poor series and while in previous series he scored a 100 and a 50 against India we can all agree they were awful.

  • Comment number 43.

    I wasn't suggesting Nick Compton was an actual choice he's not and I'd be a fool to select him. On career average I would base my selection of new players on the past 2-3 seasons(which is Bairstow's career I'd admit) with greater emphasis on recent ones.

    My career average is based on 16 tests which is recent form not based on what someone did 5 years ago.

  • Comment number 44.

    What are people's thoughts on Joe Root. Is Boycott simply mentioning him because he's another Yorkshire man or does he have what it takes to make the step up.

    First Class average of 35 says no but unbeaten century for the Lions is certainly a good start. I presume he can only open and therefore is waiting for Strauss to step down (next Ashes probably??).

    I would change it up for Morgan with a fresh face (not Bopora) but who to bring in is a tricky one as none of the names bandied around have particularly good first class averages.

  • Comment number 45.

    Michael Vaughan seemed luke-warm at best to the idea of Root being picked, and TBH he's worked with Yorkshire a lot more recently than Boycott has. He had a poor series up to that point so I don't see him being considered any time soon.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think for the new player (Presuming that there is one) its probably best to look beyond averages, thats what Duncan fletcher did with Vaughan and Tres, possibly even Strauss and that paid off handsomely, instead look at the players temperaments and techniques, do they look as if they will be able to stand up to the rigours of International cricket.

    It does make the argument less clear cut, you cant quantify temperampent like you can runs.

    By the way i'm fully aware that my previous comment was absolute rubbish from start to finish. It either made no sense or was based on a misundrstanding of how the rankings worked

  • Comment number 47.

    Seriously wirral I think the best case is to drop Morgan and bring in Bresnen no need for fresh face. Bresnen despite my misgvings has clear proven himself at Test level with both bat and ball.

    Joe Root is only 19 and way too young to brought in the fold I think right now for a Batsman.

    As for players I think James Taylor can play for England despite playing 2nd Division, Monty has just proven those wickets aren't easy to get. Hildreth is another name that get bandied about but while I think he's class there no doubting he had a poor season last year and won't get selected for Sri Lanka and extremely unlikely to do so for WI or SA either. A good season could put him in contention for the India tour though.

  • Comment number 48.


    Completely agree Bresnan should be brought back in without doubt BUT this leaves a tail of Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson and Panesar. Can Bresnan and Broad step it up and score consistently?

    I know we should let our batsman bat and our bowlers bowl but i think having Bresnan at 7 will put pressure on him to perform with both bat and ball.

  • Comment number 49.

    It's a good question but I think both can, I see both being quite legitimate all-rounders. I think he deserves a chance there plus three seam and 2 spin I think will suit us well. I think we lost the third Test (apart from the poor batting) mainly due to bowler fatigue and their great second innings score.

  • Comment number 50.

    In my personal opinion England are a very accomplished test side, furthermore according to the ICC England are the best test side in the world (at the moment). However it is surprising that no one in this blog has aknowledged that the Pakistan test side simply outclassed England in all aspects of the game. Therefore surely instead of simply making out that the England team were terrible there should be some aknowledgement that the Pakistan side made them look terrible. Consequently here are my player ratings for the Pakistan Test Side.

    Mohammed Hafeez - (190 runs, average 38) (5 wickets at 16.00 average)
    scored more runs than both of the English openers, as well as having caused the English openers all sorts of trouble opening the bowling taking five key wickets at an average of 16.00
    Taufeeq Umar - (87 runs. average 17.4)
    Apart from the 50 in the first test underperformed.
    Azhar Ali - (251 runs, average - 50.2)
    Played some gritty innings for his country really frustrating the best English attack i have ever seen. In his innings of 157 a star was born.
    Younis Khan - (193 runs, average 38.6)
    Form is temporary but class is permanent Younis displayed that in a spectacular hundred in the last test becoming the first batsmen to hit a century in the series.
    Misbah Ul Haq (180 runs, average 36.00)
    Probably the best Pakistan captain for the last decade he has a majestic calming influence on a sometimes eratic team as well as a brilliant record of not losing a test series since becoming captain.
    Asad Shafiq (167 runs, average 33.4)
    Was under real pressure in a lot of his innings and showed great maturity in his batting. He was also under pressure for his place in the team with the more extravegant Umar Akmal waiting for a mistake but surely has proved his worth now.
    Adnan Akmal (89 runs, average 17.8)
    very tidy behind the stumps can only remember him dropping one catch but has improved with his batting hitting an important fifty.
    Abdur Rehman (19 wickets, average of 16.73)
    Proved that Ajmal is not the only world class spinner in the Pakistan squad simply outstanding!!
    Saeed Ajmal (24 wickets at an average of 14.7)
    "MAN OF THE SERIES" simply the best spinner in the world at the current moment in time ranked no2 by the ICC only second to Dale Steyn
    Umar Gul (11 wicket at an average of 22.27)
    Provided excellent support to the spinners already a proven and excellent limited overs bowler and proved he is a adequate bowler in tests as well
    Aizaz Cheema - only got one wicket at a 70 odd average was rarely used but should be able to proves his worth in the limited overs format

  • Comment number 51.

    Almost agree with the ratings. I think some of the batsmen were 'found out' when they faced a half-decent attack. It is one thing making million runs against a Zaheer Khan-less India (and an equally average Sri Lanka) and another making runs against Gul, Ajmal and co. England have been fortunate to have the best batting tail-enders in the world who contribute an average of 70-80 runs at the time when opposition openers are already mentally on the crease.
    3-1 loss for the final Ashes series for Strauss!

  • Comment number 52.

    To ferg0110 we won the test against Aus as we bowled them out for 47 after. Also we won the Sri Lanka series so our inability is not relevant as we did not lose. Also Trott and Peterson didn't opt not to play for South African, they were not picked. Huge difference, something KP will not point out. Almost like his inability to play left arm spin. Also we may play only three tests a series, however they are generally a mixture of home and away series. Most of England's test while reaching number one were playe at home. Something Michael Holding pointed out during the India series. As for SA's batting line up being brittle I agre however on this evidence so is England. In fact so brittle James Anderson scored more runs than Ian Bell. My point is that don't whine and give out rubbish ratings to your mercenaries as it is a bit rich given they should not be playing for England should they. Imran Tahir is not SA yes, but I don't moan and give out ratings to someone who should not be playing for the country in the first place. Like every country I accept that I cannot win every game we play in and to suggest otherwise is arrogance. Which I thought England were.

  • Comment number 53.

    There have been a number of comments about England being arrogant and/or complacent on both this and prevoius blogs. I think its a nonsense.

    They rose to ranking of world no 1, Talked about wanting to stay there for some considerable time (Perfectly reasonable) Played a poor series for the 1st time in a long time in alien conditions, against a good side who were right at home in said conditions and got beat, suddenly they are arrogant??

    Its a criticism that has no basis to it what so ever.

  • Comment number 54.

    For the avoidance of doubt and having watched SA V Aus and SA V Sri Lanka (Parts admittedly) I have no doubt in my mind that England will comfortably beat South Africa in the Summer. I would be surprised if they win a test, they are not as good as the bolshy Boks on here seem to think they are and in England they will probably get hammered! I could not believe that they didn't beat a poor Aus side recently. Bearing in mind that this is same Aus side that lost to NZ at home and drew series so I think the soundbites about an Australian upsurge in form may be a little premature!!

    On Trott .... criticising this guy is a poor show he's been class and in a supposedly poor series (very ill one match too) he averaged over 30 which is not bad (considering the others).

    KP is different story .... Annoying in the extreme that he appears so bloody minded that he will not look at his problems with spin. Even Tuffers might have got him!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Hugely disappointing series for the England batsmen - and totally unexpected from a unit that has scored so freely in the past and against some of the worlds greatest spinners. It does though take two sides to make a game and the credit does have to be given to the pakistan bowlers and their captain.

    I can't help but laugh about some of the comments made about nationality - especially from the South Africans. It seems like they haven't learned their lessons about racial integration and bigotry yet!

  • Comment number 56.

    Buttler is without doubt England's long term solution in the middle order. He's so good because he's so un-English in his approach; he has the great ability to play without fear from ball one. Let's not forget that he did get dropped by Somerset's Championship side last season though; he's not ready for tests yet.

    The problem is that we have 'club England', i.e. the same 11/12 players will play no matter where we play in the world. Surely there must be some leeway in the selection? We must be more flexible in terms of picking players for the conditions. Also, it will normally take an injury / retirement for someone to break into the 'club'. Why not be proactive and drop Bell for someone else when he's struggling against spin so much?

    @ncurd No question that Hildreth should have been selected last year in place of Morgan.

  • Comment number 57.

    Wonder how far is the saying true for England's Team "Its Always Lonely at The Top"...
    Almost All of the sub-continent teams feel like playing against "Rest of the World" whilst playing against ENGLAND....

  • Comment number 58.

    44. At 11:39 8th Feb 2012, wirral18 wrote:

    What are people's thoughts on Joe Root. Is Boycott simply mentioning him because he's another Yorkshire man or does he have what it takes to make the step up.


    Talented player but far too early. He's only played 18 first-class matches (people are saying it's still too early for James Taylor and he's played 63 games) and whilst his average doesn't bother me, he doesn't have the experience of making centuries and making consistent runs yet.

    In a few years, him and Hales will be competing for Strauss' place.

  • Comment number 59.

    #56 Agreed Buttler is very much a long term prospect for the Test side currently I just want to see his List-A ability in a ODI match. Hopefully he'll actually get to bat this time instead sitting on the bench or getting out by spectacular piece of fielding like he did in the T20's against WI.

    Hildreth treatment last season is probably part of the reason I have so much distaste for Morgan. There is no factor in by book for picking Morgan over Hildreth at that point of time in the slightest, even Bopara had a better case for playing considering it was Collingwood we lost. I also think not being selected was part of the reason for the drop in form he had last season.

  • Comment number 60.

    32. At 10:43 8th Feb 2012, Richard Littlejohn ate my Scotch Egg wrote:

    Let's not forget that James Taylor, like Eoin Morgan, has scored all his first class runs at second division level before we start banging on about throwing him in. I also think Ravi Bopara (who has played more innings than Jonathan Trott in international cricket) has had his time and should be dispensed with.


    Except that Taylor averages a shade below 50 at that level, whereas Morgan averages 35. And he's scored those runs despite playing in the worst team in the country.

    Second division bowlers include England bowlers Finn, Tremlett, Tredwell, Panesar, Dernbach and Meaker.

    If it was so easy to average 50, why isn't there a host of other second division players who have done the same?

    Correct about Bopara though - 96 international innings and he still hasn't looked close to establishing himself. Hugely talented player and theoretically the best option for the #6 slot, but a continuous case of "one step forward, two steps back".

  • Comment number 61.

    If the top batsmen had done there job Stuart Broad would have been given a 10/10. He couldnt have done anything more than he did. Its not his job to save each and every game with the bat. Its his job to bowl like he did and add some handy runs.

    Struass - 5.5
    Cook - 5
    Trott - 4
    Pietersen - 1.5
    Bell - 1
    Morgan - 1.5
    Prior - 7.5
    Broad - 10
    Swann - 6.5
    Anderson - 7.5
    Panasar - 8

  • Comment number 62.

    @ncurd Completely agree. One couldn't help but help but feel he wasn't selected because he was not already part of the set-up (as Morgan already was due to T20s etc.). He averaged over 60 in the WI whilst captaining the Lions- what more could he have done!

    Yep, with Buttler they should just say "go out there and bat naturally". I really hope they don't try and constrain him to batting 'sensibly'.

  • Comment number 63.

    I believe Pietersen is the weak link in the England batting order. The number four position is a vital one and needs someone who doesn't see every delivery as an opportunity to get a boundary but plays each ball on merit.
    I would much prefer to see him at 5/6 rather that at 4. Too often he turns a two down quickly into a three down putting pressure on the incoming batsman.
    I would like to see Bell at three, which his regular position for Warwickshire and Trott at four where he plays for Warwickshire.
    As for new blood, almost all the names refer to middle order players but where is the replacement for Strauss coming from? I don't see anyone waiting in the wings ready to teke on this role.
    As for this past series, England were sorely ill prepared and the failure of our batting was already evident in the two warm-up games, without Ajmal and his doosra present.

  • Comment number 64.

    Sometimes I think I must be missing something...
    Is it not obvious that management (the ECB) are idiots?
    I wrote to them the other day to question the sense of their latest Sky TV deal; pointing out that they were condemning us all to a massive decline in cricket because there would be no "next generation" of kids enthused by Flintoff's Ashes heroics.
    Well, they just sit there, counting the money, slapping their own backs and completely missing the point. And, with all this money sloshing around, why haven't they installed "foreign" pitches (cf. Dubai) and trained our batsmen how to play on the sub-continent?
    Really, it just reeks - stinks in fact - of utterly smug complacency and incompetence. If only Dickens were alive today...

  • Comment number 65.

    #64 Have you even read the comments in the blog? We've mention a fair few players who are 19- early 20's with a real amount of potential. Thats also doesn't go into the amount of young Bowlers there are out there. Not to mention a few all-rounders as well.

    The ECB are doing a fine job and the Counties are doing a great job at nursing that talent. Would I rather the game was Terrestrial Television? Sure but lets not act like there isn't talent out there.

    The only reason why players in an number 1 side(still that currently) in the world are having their places questioned constantly is because there are other choices out there of young players.

  • Comment number 66.

    Glad to see the general feeling is that we shouldn't make wholesale changes, and I agree that Cook, Trott, KP and Bell have enough credit in the bank to not be dropped after one bad series. Strauss has credit as captain, which just leaves Morgan to be replaced by Bresnan (if fit). Sri Lankan bowling doesn't compare to Pakistan's, so the batting lineup should plenty be strong enough. Only caveat is if KP and/or Bell are considered to be mentally weakened by this tour and too fragile to recover from it in time.

    Ridiculous comments from #1 about Prior.

  • Comment number 67.

    #63 I think Trott's perfomances have proved he should be the one to come in at a man down, considering Strauss' form has meant he's been a virtual opener at times. Even given Bell's brilliant 2011, I still feel more confident with Trott at number 3.

  • Comment number 68.

    I'd prefer a top three of Cook, Trott & Bell or even (in Asia) Cook, Bell & Trott. Strauss just doesn't justify his place as a top order batsman these days - if they want him as captain, stuff him somewhere down the order. Bell at five is dodgy if the opposition have "mystery spin" - he has to face it pretty much immediately when he comes in, so with no real footwork.

  • Comment number 69.

    What exactly did Pietersen or Morgan do to be rated higher than Bell? And for that matter what did any of those three do to be rated higher than 0? England did not score enough runs throughout the series, but at least Strauss, Cook, Trott, Prior and Broad all passed 50, and at least looked like professional, albeit evidently overpaid, cricketers at some point! There should be more pressure on all three to perform in order to stay in the side, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them all in Sri Lanka... not a closed shop my @sre

  • Comment number 70.

    You reap what you sow. To be fair to Andrew Flower he admitted as much by saying that we weren't properly prepared or "match hardened". Whilst Pakistan had been playing a couple of series in sub continent conditions, Strauss & co were winter holidaying and christmas shopping. Its a shame that we didn't learn from the Ashes 2009, because once momentum is lost, it is difficult to regain. I am surprised that the deep thinking Flower didn't idenify this as a risk and do something about it, that is what he is paid to do.

    It does show just how fragile a few of our batmen are. Yes, it is difficult if you don't know which way the ball is turning, but look at the wickets Rehman and Gul got. We simply allowed them to bowl at us, and I applaud Pakistan for not over attacking. They know that English players like to tick the score along, but they aren't the most patient bunch, and aren't great at toughing it out in difficult conditions. It remains to be seen whether this winter leaves an imprint on our major batsmen that they may find difficult to overcome. I applaud the fact that the English Lions and U19s are playing in sub continent conditions, and I wouldn't be against at least one of them being given a chance in Sri Lanka. Who do you drop, perm any one from 5.

    I thought the bowlers as usual were outstanding. Stuart Broad is nicely developing into the worlds best all rounder.

  • Comment number 71.

    Agree with Harriet re top 3. Certainly didn't set the world alight but each had at least 1 solid innings (could argue that this is not enough for players of their stature and position though). 7 through 11 did as much as could/should be asked. The problem is/was the Middle order. Don't agree with 'whole sale' changes for the Lankans but i think we have to look at number 6. Bopara is tried and tested but has he really done enough with his opportunities. You could move Prior up to 6 and play Bresnan (if fit) at 7 with Broad (8) and Swann at 9. These 3 could/should make up the runs. The problem is, with more Sub-continent tracks can we really take the risk of losing the runs. I believe it's time to give James Taylor a good crack. At least through to the end of our summer. Higher average than Morgan and arguably better technique.

    Strauss – 4 Some runs, ‘OK’ captaincy
    Cook – 4 Mainly for his 94
    Trott – 5 Highest average of the batsman
    Pietersen – 2 Still got credit in the tank
    Bell – 1 See above
    Morgan - 2 Come in number 6, your time is up…
    Prior – 6 (7 for keeping / 5 for batting)
    Broad – 8 English player of the series
    Swann – 7 Still took a good number of wickets and half-decent batting
    Anderson – 6 Poor by his standard
    Panasar – 8 More wickets than Swann and a lot of overs.

  • Comment number 72.

    Agree Morgan is the man to make way. In light of how poor Sri Lanka currently are and how well Buttler has done in Sri Lanka on the lions tour, surely now is the time to play him at test level. Yes he is not the finished article in the longer format of the game but if you wait for the County game to finish his development he still faces the step up to test level. Let's blood him whilst in form in the sub continent against a weaker international team and give him 12 months to develop in the role of number 6.

    As for Bresnan coming back as fifth bowler, England have shown in recent years there commitment to six batsmen and four bowlers. It got us to number one in the world so let's not try and change everything, besides bowling sides out has never been the problem.

  • Comment number 73.

    there was only one true number one team and that was australia- this is comin from a pakistan fan. england and india play cricket outside their home like a bunch of teletubbies. still though, commiserations england, except for batting u did pretty well but then again they were bowling against pakistans batsman (who arent the best in the world). moreover hopefuly pakistan can continue this climb and become the team they once were in the 90s.

  • Comment number 74.

    #73 LOL I'd like to see teletubbies play.

    As much as I agree with you I'd argue England have done pretty well in recent year away from home (Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh(yes I know!)) so while I'd argue they are supreme at Home I wouldn't quite put forward the case for India syndrome yet who are awful. Whitewashed by Sri Lanka then we can say it.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm not sure that it was as simple as a 'problem with spin'. Umar Gul's strike rate for the series was 40.3, ajmal's was 36.7 and rehman's was 41.5. Gul was getting wickets as regularly as the others. I would venture at this point that Gul is no one's idea of a 'great' fast bowler, he's good but nothing extraordinary.

    What I'm getting at is that I think it has more to do with england's failure to adjust to the pace and bounce (or lack of it) of the wickets. They were unable to find a way to attack and pakistan played some good old fashioned attritional cricket.

    It is worth keeping this in perspective. In the last two matches england achieved a first innings lead and lost by seventy having to bat last. pakistan deserved their win but they were not dominant, apart from the first match.

    As for Morgan, I'd be inclined to let him have another go in Sri Lanka. He does appear to have technical problems against both swing and spin, but few would doubt his talent and he may be able to adjust his technique in time.

  • Comment number 76.

    I don't understand why people are suddenly so afraid of australia. The core of the bowling attack that has just beaten india is the same as that which england dismantled (in australia). Their batting has serious problems, still reliant on the same few and struggling to find any decent support. They've also recently drawn a home series with new zealand. Australia have some promising young bowlers, but that's all you can say at the moment.

  • Comment number 77.

    #76 Agreed, it's early days yet for Australia. Is Warner really a Test opening batsman? One very good knock and one brilliant one, but the jury's still out. Who should be number 3? It doesn't look like Marsh. Ponting had a very average run of form for a few years, and we don't know if his recent run is a proper comeback or an Indian summer (boom boom). Hussey and Haddin's days may be numbered, and the bowling may show a lot of potential, but at the moment it's just that. Plenty of bowlers have come on to the scene with a bang, only to fade away because of injury, or the early confidence evaporating, or they are worked out by the opposition.

  • Comment number 78.

    It's worth remembering that although England were soundly beaten in the first Test, they did actually attain first innings leads in the second and final Tests, but were unable to chase down their fourth innings targets in each of those matches.

    Based on the form of the previous Test matches held in the UAE (high-scoring series against South Africa and Sri Lanka), Pakistan's eight-month unbeaten run in Tests, and England's new status as World number one, I expected a stalemate, and I said in an earlier blog that barring unexpected heroics with the ball or batting disasters from England, this was the most likely outcome. What we got of course were three result Tests.

    While England's batting was mainly disappointing, Pakistan's batting was only slightly better. Azhar Ali and Younis Khan scored most of their runs in their final innings, and take those two centuries out of the third Test, and Pakistan's batting looks very poor indeed. However the strength of Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Umar Gul in this series ensured that whatever the match situation, Pakistan always seemed to have England's number. Looking at the players' series statistics, Pakistan took 43 wickets at under twenty but England took none (Broad took 13 at 20.46).

    Like aardvarkachilles (#8), I'm not in the business of awarding excessively low scores to England players, however poorly they performed. For much of the series, England's middle order struggled to outscore Jimmy Anderson. Accordingly my ratings are:

    Strauss 6, Cook 6, Trott 6, Pietersen 5, Bell 5, Morgan 5, Prior 7, Broad 8, Swann 7, Anderson 7, and Panesar 9.

    For Pakistan:

    Hafeez 7, Umar 6, Azhar 8, Younis 7, Misbah 7, Shafiq 7, Akmal 6, Rehman 9, Gul 7, Ajmaal 10, and Cheema 5.

  • Comment number 79.

    Very generous ratings from Tuffers for KP, Bell and Morgan, 1 out of 10 for those 3 would be closer to the mark.

    Watched the recent ODI between India and Sri Lanka, during the test series at least without Murali and Malinga, England shouldn't have any problems as the spinners they've got don't turn it square like Ajmal and Rehmann.
    Get Tremlett fit, and slot Bresnan back into the team and we should be more than a match for the Sri Lankans.

    I'm not holding out much hope for ODI series against Pakistan though...

  • Comment number 80.

    The specialist batting ratings are unreasonably high, by one or two points each. This was an abysmal batting performance over the full series - as bad as any in memory.

  • Comment number 81.

    One of the factors people haven't considered with Morgan is that he has just come back from a long injury lay off. He showed a glimpse of his ability in the last innings, but then it was too little, too late.

    I think England will retain the same batting line up for the Sri Lankan tests. Let's hope they prepare better.

  • Comment number 82.

    Eng's bowlers created a series winning position (140 to win in 2nd test, and 99 all out in last test), it really was the batsmen to blame on this one. Also if you think Broad/Prior/Swann/Anderson scored healthily, it shows up the Top 6 failure even more.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm guessing allot of the posters started following England Cricket sometime around 2005. Any followers of England pre 2001 (ish) will take it all in their stride. This is what seperates test cricket from all other team sports and makes test match cricket the greatest game on earth. Please, please lets not get sucked into this dreadfull football style reporting & comments whereby if we win were the best in the world and if we lose were awful (England's football team are never beaten they alway lose, big difference).

    We should be praising Pakistan for playing 3 excellent test matches, there fielding has improved 100%, they have a captain with some staying power and a half decent batting lineup.

    We didnt lose to Pakistan they beat us (it does happen sometimes)

  • Comment number 84.

    To the likes of petersuchblahblah who are knocking the saffers and think that an easy england victory is on the cards in the summer - do yourself a favour and have a look at the caliber of players who will be coming with the SA side - Kallis, Steyn, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla would walk into a combined england / sa team, based on any selection criteria you want to use. Morne Morkel is basically a Chris Tremlett upgrade. Vernon Philander has been the best performing fast bowler in world cricket in the last few months, and even a currently scratchy graham smith would get the nod over an even more scratchy andrew strauss. I'll give you cook over alviro peterson, swanny over tahir, prior over boucher, and we'll make a plan to squeeze stuart broad in as a change bowler who can hopefully get a run or two as well...And jimmy anderson's good fielding ability makes him a shoe in for 12th man!

  • Comment number 85.

    I forgot above that the much maligned trott also gets a spot ahead of jp duminy (which actually gives a 6:6 SA:England split in our side)

    1. smith
    2. cook
    3. amla
    4. kallis
    5. de villiers
    6. trott
    7. prior
    8. swann
    9. broad
    10. philander
    11. steyn

    12. anderson

  • Comment number 86.

    Have to agree with Joburgchief above: SA are the team closest in form to the England that made it to no.1 in the rankings. It will be a very close series. Intriguingly though, both sides seem to have pretty similar strengths and weaknesses. Both sides have a captain whose current strength appears to be primarily in their leadership rather than in their opening. In a two test series its hard to imagine either of them making three figures against the respective attacks in their current form.

    The series will bring together the two best seam attacks in the world (though, sadly, Aus are starting to look a little bit exciting). The first 10 overs of any innings promise to be thrilling. In addition, both sides have a main spinner with question marksover how they will perform: one because of a recent drop in form and one because of a lack of test cricket so far.

    Both sides are excellent in the field, where their skill level is matched by their aggression.

    And both sides would argue that their middle order batting is a strength (lets assume Pakistan has been a blip...).

    Anyway this goes to show two things:

    1 - this could b one of the best test series we've seen for some time
    2 - or at least it could have been if it wasn't a flippin 2 test series. Its always been fashionable to criticise the ECB (and in recent years it has been a little unfair, as they have done some great work) but this is absolutely absurd.

  • Comment number 87.

    Kind of agree with Joburgcheif that the teams are quite equal, cant countenance the inclusion of Philander over Anderson though, he's burst onto the test match scene impressively but i wouldn't pick a guy who's 5 tests into his career over Anderson who after a few years of frustration and inconsistency has been a class act for the past 2-3 years.

    Also in test matches i'd rather have KP and Bell over De Villiers, however that is presuming that the Pakistan series was just a blip and i will accept that this one is a very close call indeed and subject to personal preference.

    What i think gives England the edge is that they are better placed to cope with injuries (Especially to bowlers) and home advantage.

    In the Shortish/Medium term South Africa have the problem of replacing the runs they get from Kallis, for England there isnt anyone who is to obviously nearing the end of their Career or any one individual who is so instrumental to the team and i think that is an advantage going forward over the next few years

  • Comment number 88.

    I personally feel we need a new top order, we should not over look strauss from that, cook will hit form again and trott has been consistant, however morgan, KP, Bell, take a look they have not been performing for a while now, simple issues like keeping in line with the ball, going forward, not playing infront of the pad, these are issues that international players should be solving by themselves, 1 more game at a push i would give them because we have reshaped the bowling, now its time for the batting i suggest brining in fresh blood and young, batsmen who look like they want to be there and dont put there heads down when they fail. The england team need to toughen up. Stand up. because if they want to go down as a great team i history its all about how they will bounce back. Not how easily they win. its about courage. grow some bottle and confront your problems and work on them rather than dwelling on mistakes, it was convincing from pakistan so we cannot blame form as everyone was given a chance to shine but rarely took it.

  • Comment number 89.

    Re no 54 - PeterSuchAppreciationSociety
    "having watched SA V Aus and SA V Sri Lanka (.I have no doubt in my mind that England will comfortably beat South Africa in the Summer. I would be surprised if they win a test..."
    So many intelligent comments on this blog (see "ncurd" and "Richard Littlejohn ate my Scotch Egg" as just two examples) then you post a load of drivel...
    I think it is a little disrespectful to say what you have... I agree that South Africa don't have the mental strength the England team have which is drawn out by consistently failing to put teams to the sword (the test v sri lanka in Durban being a good example).. as well as the last 2 ODI's... but there are some superb class players in the Protea squad (both bat and ball) and England conditions will suit them too.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think I would give England the edge in the series at the moment but it will be close.. could very much depend on who has the better bowling attack in swing friendly conditions.... Anderson, Bresnan and Broad .. vs Steyn, Morkel, Philander/ Tsotsobe.. I think I would give the opening batsmen edge to England.. middle order to South Africa, lower order to England (especially as Prior is miles better than what we have to offer as a keeper batsmen)... Really looking forward to the series though.. should be great cricket (assuming rain doesn't ruin it)… Have to agree also that it is a real shame this is just a 2 test series..

  • Comment number 91.

    (#78 cont.)

    Yes England were comprehensively beaten in the first Test, and their batting was poor overall, but I felt that the 3-0 series scoreline flattered Pakistan a little, who weren't exactly World-beaters with the bat either.

    Eoin Morgan was one option as the long-term replacement for Paul Collingwood, and appears not to have made full use of his opportunity. Despite this latest series in the UAE, Andrew Strauss, Alistair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell are four of the most prolific batsmen England have ever had, and will be given more time to sort themselves out.

    Two positives to emerge from this series were the return of Monty Panesar to decent Test form in helpful conditions, and also a reminder in Matt Prior that England have a wicketkeeper who can also score runs in the mould of Les Ames, Alan Knott, Jack Russell and Alex Stewart.

    Finally I was intrigued to look back at the scorecards of the last series in which England were whitewashed away from home in a three-match series against subcontinent opposition: India in 1993. Now that was a beating.

    The hosts won by the combined margin of two innings, 37 runs and eight wickets. Mohammad Azharuddin was in his prime and scored 182 in the first Test in Calcutta. In the second Test at Madras India piled up 560-6 dec with centuries from Navjot Sidhu and a certain S.R. Tendulkar. In the third rubber Test in Bombay, big scores were made by Vinod Kambli and Graeme Hick, and the latter topped both the batting and bowling averages for England (Hick scored 315 runs at 52.5 and took eight wickets at 25). Kapil Dev was in the twilight of his career, and England were spun out of this series as well by the combined efforts of a young Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan...

  • Comment number 92.

    I hope someone warns the ECB that this summers test series is only 2 matches, they're advertising it as 3 on their website.

    Still dont think 3 is enough for a marquee series between the best two sides in the world, however i know that the itinerary needs to be agreed by both boards, the SA board has indicated or implied with a scheduling of a 2 match series against Australia that perhaps it doesnt prioritise test cricket as highly as it might. Just a thought

  • Comment number 93.

    On the subject of 'the best side in the world', I feel that the team most likely to dominate Test cricket during this decade is Australia. Granted Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are getting older, but they have two new openers in Cowan and Warner, and the recent series against India was noteworthy for Peter Siddle's consistency, Ben Hilfenhaus's return to form, and reasonably efforts from Pattinson and Ryan Harris.

    History may show that the Ashes series of 2010-11 was an aberration which featured a transitional Australia team and a well-prepared England team at the peak of its powers. Of course South Africa are always there-or-there-abouts, and Pakistan have improved under Misbah-ul-Haq's leadership. India seem to have lost their recent resilience away from home, and the jury must still be out on England.

    England's next opponent in Tests is Sri Lanka, who have lost their last four series against decent opposition by the margin of a single Test. They gained a historic first Test victory in South Africa in the second Test at Durban thanks to centuries from Samaraweera and Sangakkara, a nine-wicket haul by Herath, and a pair by Jacques Kallis, but otherwise found AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and new recruit Philander too hot to handle.

    India were reasonably competitive in the first Test against Australia at Melbourne, but after that they fell apart. Tendulkar batted well in the first two Tests and Kohli did likewise in the last two, but other than that highlights were few. Once Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke got into the groove India were unable to compete...

  • Comment number 94.

    Firstly may just say what Pakistan achieved is unbelievable this probably is one of the weakest Pakistan team as talent has it however the hunger and just the desire for them to repair shattered pride and its isolation on the world stage(be it the war on terror spot fixing or even the team refusing to play in Pakistan and i have to add Pakistanis own lack of indiscipline has been their for all to see,)and with the wounds still raw for everyone to see and for the Likes of Sky pundits in particular one over the hill soon to be visiting his own grave Bob Willis,just could not stomach the beating,he in is usual mendacious tone tells us the commander in chief Sayeed Ajmal may be throwing it.I note he was the only one who in his distorted wisdom had the foresight to point this out but not once did this hum bug of a creature at any point add that he has been cleared by the ICC and their are no issues.It was Alec Stewart who pointed out that Willis may have his own agenda.
    Know as for the English can they play spin no their is not one Englishmen in its bating line up who is creative or the real deal,As we are all aware once the English allowed its team to be run captained and leading batsmen to be mercenaries than they were all on a slippy slope.This lot was pretending to be a the next big Tornado which was going to sweep the cricketing world.
    Truth is this lots foundation is fickle and Pakistan cricketers have proved playing your country is an honer and this is something the English should learn from and perhaps play more Englishmen and you may have a chance of producing the Gowers and The Lakers.
    As for Strauss and co are concerned they know who the daddy is,lets hope his learnt something.

  • Comment number 95.

    England still can't play spin. They won't admit it but it's the fact. They won't stay No.1 if they can't play spin and win series in sub-continent conditions. Pakistan was excellent, great to see them playing excellent cricket. Expects Pakistan to win the ODI series.

  • Comment number 96.

    I am happy for Monty. What a come back.
    Both behind the stumps and in front Prior
    showed his customary authority and zeal.
    England bowlers looked competent even
    away from home.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 97.

    Maybe a bit "left field" but how about Michael Carberry for Morgan. He was the next cab off the rank until his illness, but came back last year in style. What I like is the fact that he seemed to have been worked out a few years back, but developed his batting further and then showed the sort of consistency that we need. The selectors would do well to remember where they got Trott from. At the time, they chose him he was by far the leading player in county cricket and on a sustained run which had lasted a couple of years.
    I like the look of Taylor, although with his lack of reach I suspect he might struggle on the subcontinent as the recent Lions tour would seem to suggest. He's shown some consistency in county cricket but still needs another season to show that he's worked out how to deal with bowlers who have plans to target any perceived weaknesses.
    I also agree that Hildreth probably should have got his chance for Morgan last summer, but poor early season form cost him after a prolific winter.

    In the end Morgan has been OK, but just isnt a 50-4 batsman.

    I'd go with Carberry or Hildreth at 5 with Bell at 6.

    A few words of caution as well:

    To anyone who seriously questions Trott's "bottle" - someone with no bottle does not get centuries in each of his first 2 Ashes tests, under extreme pressure, when in each case a failure would open the door to the Aussies. He's the best number 3 we've had in a long long time. Leave him alone!! PS but for his illness I suspect we would have won the second test - his calming influence may just have been enough to settle us down...
    Bell has to bat at 5 or preferably 6 where his record is world class. Ajmal is the only bowler of his kind around and I expect Bell to bounce back. His record at 3 or 4 is substantially below that at 5 or 6. Dont tinker!!!
    Strauss will go in the next 2 years, so introducing a potential opener in a safer position at 5 makes sense, which is why i'd be looking at Carberry.
    Pietersen - will you lot please get off his back. He will not average 100 in every series - those who want to swap him for someone who will average 30 need to be escorted to the asylum where nanny awaits with some nice cocoa. This man can and regularly does change games in a session. Yes he has a problem against top class left arm spin, but I guarantee you that the opposition all still fear him.

    One last thing. Nobody dominated Warne or Murali and in favourable conditions Ajmal just might prove in time to be as difficult to read. Dropping everyone is not the answer - if in doubt have a look at today's scorecard for the Lions v England game...

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm pretty sure it wasn't the batsmen who allowed Pakistan to make a first innings total of 338 in the 1st Test, or a total of 365 in the 2nd innings of the 3rd Test. In that instance 3 batsmen managed to face nearly 800 deliveries between them.

    Yes the batsmen did fail to contribute but I am not sure the bowling unit was quite as good as suggested, particularly the worlds No 1 unit! They were outbowled by their Pakistan opponents, so should they walk away with their heads held high? No they conceded two relatively sizeable totals in the context of a low scoring series as well.

  • Comment number 99.

    #88 "however morgan, KP, Bell, take a look they have not been performing for a while now"

    Have a word! How about you take a look at KP and Bell's stats for the previous 15 months before coming up with rubbish like that.

    #93 Australia have still got a lot of issues to resolve in their batting, and their bowling could go either way. I can't seem them dominating...but then again, I can't see anyone dominating in the near future. There is no standout side.

  • Comment number 100.

    SA_Jo Thanks for the glowing reference I didn't fully appreciate that my opinion was so worthless and pointless to be referred to as Drivel! Thanks for that one.

    I gave my opinion based on the fact that SA have not exactly set the world alight this year and that they have no fixed line up to 3, I feel that the consistancy of Englands pace attack will have them on the back foot if they don't sort out the top order.
    It seems that now the Aussies have done reasonably well against both SA and pasted India they have become awesome again. The other explanation could be that SA made a mess of the second test and India are really really bad on bouncy tracks!

    Incidently #93 I can't take this seriously.

    "On the subject of 'the best side in the world', I feel that the team most likely to dominate Test cricket during this decade is Australia. Granted Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are getting older, but they have two new openers in Cowan and Warner, and the recent series against India was noteworthy for Peter Siddle's consistency, Ben Hilfenhaus's return to form, and reasonably efforts from Pattinson and Ryan Harris.

    History may show that the Ashes series of 2010-11 was an aberration which featured a transitional Australia team and a well-prepared England team at the peak of its powers."

    The Australian team have not improved much from last winter they have just played teams who aren't as good. Simple. Not trying to do them down because they are a solid outfit, world beaters they aint!

    The current Indian batting line up have lost their bottle, England were fortunate to play them when they did (I did think they were pretty poor in the West Indies before Eng series) but Australia benefitted further from their morale being completely destroyed by Anderson/Broad/Bresnan and the circus of Tendulakar's 100th 100. The marker for me with Aus should be SA and NZ series both drawn, however it shows that they do fight but they are prone to very poor batting performances (SA first test and NZ second test).

    Go on moan about that then ...


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