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England player ratings

Paul Grunill Paul Grunill | 16:25 UK time, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Test series in the Caribbean is done and dusted and a few of us have put our heads together to rate the performances of the England players (my name may be at the top of this blog but I'm not taking all the blame).

As usual, we'd love to hear whether you agree or disagree.

Andrew Strauss - 8
At times his batting was sublime, cutting, pulling and driving like the man who scored four centuries in his first nine Tests. But he must now be regretting his decision to delay the declaration in Antigua - and possibly also in Trinidad.

Alastair Cook - 7
For a man whose Test spot was supposedly under threat after Jamaica, Cook's 348 runs should cement his place at the top of the order for the Ashes. Still vulnerable in the corridor outside off stump and more worryingly, his pull shot has looked inconsistent.

Owais Shah - 6
Ian Bell's misfortune should have been Owais Shah's gain, but his injudicious running between the wickets (Antigua) and poor shot selection (Trinidad) leaves the number three problem unsolved.

Kevin Pietersen - 6 and a half
Was labelled "Dumbslog Millionaire" after giving his first-innings wicket away at Sabina Park three runs short of a century. Was uncharacteristically subdued for the remainder of the series, although his final-day century at Trinidad set up an enthralling finish.

Paul Collingwood - 7
Has the knack of scoring centuries whenever his Test place is under threat and two in the series, plus a 96, is an excellent answer to his critics. Will be livid, however, after missing two catches at first slip in Trinidad - although he redeemed himself by holding on to a belter in the second innings.

Matt Prior - 6 and a half
Justified his recall for the Trinidad Test with a century after missing the previous game to fly home to see his his first child. A total of 74 extras in the West Indies first innings (and setting a new Test record of 52 byes conceded in the match) showed he is still not the finished article as a keeper.

Ian Bell - 4
The selectors' patience finally wore thin after two failures In Jamaica. Typically, looked in excellent touch during the first innings, but poor shot selection and concentration contributed to his demotion.

Ravi Bopara - 7
Made the most of his opportunity in Barbados by hitting a maiden Test hundred after being dropped on four and bowled as well as could be expected on a flat track. Was unlucky to lose his place for the final game.

Andrew Flintoff - 6
Once again a constant threat with the ball in hand, despite picking up only five wickets at an average of 30. Had he been fully fit in the West Indies second innings in Antigua, England may well have levelled the series, although his batting form remains a worry.

James Anderson - 7 and a half
On roti-flat pitches, Anderson's tally of wickets did not reflect the effort he put in, and his reverse swing nearly won the Trinidad Test for England. Once again he showed he is arguably the best fast-bowling outfielder England have ever had.

Stuart Broad - 8
Used his height to find the ideal line and length to trouble the West Indian top order and dismissed the immovable Shivnarine Chanderpaul on three occasions. England hope his consistency continues throughout the summer.

Steve Harmison - 4
For a bowler who decimated the West Indies on his previous visit to the Caribbean in 2004, Harmison lacked rhythm and consistency. Could the Antigua Test be his final Test appearance for England?

Paul Collingwood, Graeme Swann and James AndersonGraeme Swann - 8 and a half (STAR MAN)
Fully justified his inclusion as England's first-choice spinner. Bowled beautifully for his 19 wickets, mixing up his deliveries and managed to turn the ball more than opposite number Sulieman Benn, despite a floating piece of bone around his right elbow.

Monty Panesar - 5 and a half
Infuriatingly inconsistent when England needed him at his best. Was rightly dropped after Sabina Park, but bowled with more menace on his return in Trinidad and showed encouraging signs of variation and some improvement in his fielding. Will need to up his game when Australia tour this summer.

Tim Ambrose - 6
Did everything asked of him when he stepped in for Matt Prior in Barbados. A spritely 76 with the bat while his keeping was tidy behind the stumps ensured the selectors' decision to revert to Prior in Trinidad was not an easy one.

Ryan Sidebottom - 4
With just one wicket to show from 59 overs, this tour was a big disappointment for the Notts left-armer. Looked ordinary because the ball refused to swing for him and his lack of pace was inviting for the West Indian batsmen.

Amjad Khan - 5
Took the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan on his Test debut in Trinidad, but sprayed the ball around striving for too much pace while bowling a number of no-balls. Showed signs of reverse swing, but needs to concentrate on accuracy.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Well done to Graeme Swann on a fantastic series and rightfully star man although I'd be tempted to give Strauss 8.5 as well especially if Broad got 8. He faded a little in the later games. Not sure about 7 for Bopara if you are giving Anderson 7.5 he only played in one test. I'd give Khan the same as Harmison and Sidebottom. I'd not be rushing to see them don the three lions again!

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the whole player ratings are a mockery.
    England are and always will be a mediocre team with no ambition as was shown today.
    The ratings should be for the team as a whole and I think they can only be given a 4/10. They are always so over-confident with no actual reason for this. They have been thrashed by India and the West Indies this winter and they are going to get slaughtered by Australia.
    England only have one world class player and that is Kevin Pietersen, and he needs to play for the team rather than himself.
    Flintoff is extremely over rated and I don't know how he has the tag of an all-rounder as I can never remember him scoring any runs of note. He puts a lot of effort into his bowling but he doesn't win the team matches with it.
    This whole England set-up needs to have good look at itself and bring wholesale changes especially to be able to take 20 Australian wickets.
    As it is they are ranked number 6 but this is going to go down after the summer. They are no match for Australia, South Africa and India, and after watching this series they are unlikely to be a force in World cricket for a long time.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the batting: Strauss, Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood and Prior all deserve an extra point. The top of the order looked good. Shah doesn't merit the 6, on friendly batting surfaces he only averaged 20 something. Broad and Anderson should be one point lower. The attack was toothless and they both showed that they need a strike bowler. A fit Flintoff WOULD have won us this series.

  • Comment number 4.

    Broad 8? Are you related?

  • Comment number 5.

    On the batting front agree with most of your ratings although I would have only given 6 for Cook who scored a century when there was absolutely no pressure. Also Shah is not our future number 3, he has techincal flaws, holds the bat too firmly and plays with a straight front leg. I do think KP has to be given a run at No.3 in the home series against WI.

    Prior was very foolish returning to England and missing the thrid test and his keeping is still a cause for concern but I would stick with him this coming summer.

    On the bowling front I am at last hoping that this is the end for Harmison. A score of 4 is generous. Siders should only be picked on green seaming wickets and he needs to lose a few pounds in the meantime. Agree with your Khan and Panesar ratings.

    However, I thought England's best bowler throughout the series was James Anderson. Although his figures don't look anything special he was very unlucky in most of the tests with close lbw decisions and dropped catches going against him. I would give him 8.5 and Broad 7.5 who once again impressed with his enthusiasm.
    Swann was good and if he had won us a test match then I would agree with the 8.5 but I'll take half-a-point off for that.

    Prediction for return series. England win 2-0. However, my prognostication for this series was England to win 3-0!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.





    Strauss - 9

    I don't care that he lost a series. He came into the captaincy job with carnage sweeping through the ECB. He's been skipper over a failed Test match, the Stanford affair blew up, his star all-rounder went home, the talk went to the IPL, and he's led with a lot of courage. His batting has been great. I totally disagree with the notion that he could have declared earlier at the ARG. He got it totally right. What wasn't put into the equation was rain on that final morning taking a lot of time away from England. As for questioning his declaration in Trinidad... c'mon! Get real! The right captain for England right now. He's not the most charismatic or inspirational of leaders but he is right for England whilst the dust is still flying about with the IPL and the fallout of the Moores-KP battle.

    Alistair Cook – 7

    Consistent runs. His pull shot has always been rubbish at international level. He's got to work out how to score in other ways and not use that shot, much as Steve Waugh cut the hook out of his armoury.

    Owais Shah – 5

    One of the biggest failures of the tour and one that disappointed me, as I've wanted him to have his chance for ages. Started so well in the warm-up game, half century on his first innings in the Tests but he failed to capitalise on two good pitches for batting and his running was bizarre. I'm not sure he has done enough to warrant a place in the return series in the spring. Ravi Bopara will be champing at the bit to get in there. Still the No 3 dilemma continues. As I've said elsewhere, we've all seen what has happened to Strauss' batting given a good rest from international cricket. Maybe a winter off will help Michael Vaughan recover...

    Kevin Pietersen – 7

    Seeing him bat in the 3rd and 4th Tests was strange. He looked disinterested. There was no challenge there for him facing Nash and Hinds on a dead wicket at Barbados. First innings in Trinidad wasn't much different. But when the challenge was set today, he responded with a fine century. Personally I'd drop him for the West Indies tour in the spring. Let him go and play IPL cricket and take on that challenge. Get him motoring and ready for the Australians. We do need some kind of rotation system and I suspect England would get more out of KP during the Ashes if he's given a longer IPL run. It sounds weird but all his great knocks have been when he is challenged, be it the Oval in 2005, the century in India, the ton today, the big score against Murali etc.

    Paul Collingwood – 7

    “Has the knack of scoring centuries whenever his Test place is under threat and two in the series, plus a 96, is an excellent answer to his critics.”

    Grunill! You dog! What more can the guy do? Century against SA, century against India, two tons and a nearly against WI and still someone wobbles on about his place being under threat. If his place was seriously under threat before this tour then Ian Bell's place must have been getting ready to be carpet bombed.

    Matt Prior – 7

    Batting success. I feel sorry for him as many have been attacking his glovework this Test. The umpires have been very harsh on awarding byes to poor bowling, particularly from Amjad Khan. Ramdin faced over after over from Hinds (non-turner of the ball), Gayle (non-turner of the ball) and Nash (makes Collingwood look like Waqar Younis). It was markedly different for Prior keeping wicket to the erratic Khan and then the two spinners. He's still not a natural gloveman but there are so few in international cricket right now. Focus on his positives. His innings today was crucial and he has batted consistently all winter. The 'dropped catch' off Chanderpaul is the sort of thing MS Dhoni drops quite regularly but doesn't get mentioned nearly as much.

    Ian Bell – 3

    Along with Devon Smith, you wonder what it is about these two guys. Both look the part as Test batsmen. Both field splendidly. Both are huge underachievers. Both suffer brain spasms that lead them to play very poor shots causing their dismissal.

    Ravi Bopara – 7

    As Paul said, good stuff. Would be my pick to replace KP in the two-test WI series in a couple of months time as part of my 'Let KP go to the IPL and get stoked up for Australia' scheme.

    Andrew Flintoff - 6

    Get fit quick, big man.

    James Anderson - 7 and a half

    In another series, Jimmy and Fidel would have 20 wickets each between them. The SA-Aussie series has been great for watching quick bowlers at work and so has this Test eventually. Fidel's spell on the 4th day approaching stumps was fabulous and Jimmy's bowling once his stomach had stopped trying to leave his person via his bottom was great. His action hasn't looked this fluid for years. He looks happy with his action, something he didn't for along time after the England team tried messing with it. I hope to God that Flintoff gets fit because I'd like to see Anderson and Flintoff as our opening attack in the Ashes.

    Stuart Broad - 8

    Came of age as a seamer. Good pace, good bounce, showed his stamina has improved massively since last summer and showed good variation. I'm loving his little off break delivery. Still looks good with the bat. Will be a huge summer for him as he'll be compared to Mitchell Johnson in the 'bowler who can swing the willow' stakes.

    Steve Harmison - 4

    Bowled tripe, wasn't well, didn't look fit.

    Graeme Swann - 9

    Fully justified his inclusion... uh-huh. First choice spinner all the way and should have played in Jamaica ahead of Panesar. Remember also he wasn't originally selected for the Second Test and came into the side that played at the ARG on the basis of being a better batsmen than Monty. Would be nice to see him score a few more runs but he bowled beautifully, a real old school method of bowling offspin. Needs to consider a leg trap field more though. Watch Jim Laker getting his 19 wickets against Australia bowling around the wicket a lot of the time.

    Monty Panesar – 5

    Bowled poorly in the 1st Test. First innings in Trinidad was better than the second. Too often in the second innings he reverted to the faster flatter pace of bowling in the hope of hitting the rough. With pitch conditions like that, it isn't the pace so much as use of overspin. Kumble bowled with a good pace but the overspin he could get on the ball got a lot of bounce, particularly with the googly. There's definite signs of improvement though which is encouraging.

    Tim Ambrose – 6

    Gotta agree with you Paul.


    Ryan Sidebottom – 3

    Didn't look fit, didn't look sharp and I'd seriously doubt him playing for England again. Hoggard was dispensed with mercilessly bowling better than Sidebottom has on this tour.

    Amjad Khan – 4

    Not hugely impressed. One has to question how consistent his action is. It looks flappy, like a man trying to wrestle an ostrich.




    Finally, let's review Andy Flower. I think he's done well. He hasn't been afraid to drop people and to use tough language when needed. He certainly used that with Harmison and I hope he can get Ian Bell's mental approach honed to the point where it equals his undoubted natural ability. You look at the whole series and it equates to the West Indies having one marvellous session to win a Test and England being desperately close to winning two Tests. The effort England put in from the ARG onwards is very encouraging and I do believe that's a Flower influence. The Zimbabwe side he played for wasn't full of outstanding talent but that side always put in 100%. They matched any side in the world when it came to fielding and you knew you would be pushed hard by Zimbabwe. You can't fault the way Broad and Anderson came in over the series, despite the dead nature of some pitches and some frankly abysmal man managment from the umpires.

    If the umpires were getting reviewed then I would make my decision to give them 5 points each and then have my decision referred to the TV blog poster who will either back me up, tell me my decision sucked or end up doing something totally different involving numerous replays, none of which confirm very much at all.

  • Comment number 7.

    I never believed in grade during my schooling as I knew its the knowledge, which would eventually matter, dito for sports as well. Its the attitude that really counts. I have no doubt in my mind that this should be the starting lineup, as well as the order, for the first test this summer, subject to a couple of disclaimers at the bottom.

    1) Strauss
    2) Cook
    3) Vaughan
    4) KP
    5) Colly
    6) Matt Prior
    7) Flintoff
    8) Broad
    9) Swann
    10) Anderson
    11) Simon Jones

    If Vaughan doesn't really register his claim during pre-season county cricket then I believe Bopara should be given a go, not that I am not a fan of Shah or just because he didn't score as much as he should have, in fact I am big fan of Shah, but i believe he is more a No. 6 than a No. 3 batsmen.

    I really wish Simon Jones to be fit and raring to go. I am huge fan of Simon Jones.

    I am really sure aussies will loose sleep for a night or two, if Vaughan is drafted into the equation.

    New lad, Khan, really adds a new dimension to the attack, but he has got flaws, which he needs to rectify.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you're a little harsh on Monty and Prior. Monty showed a massive improvement in the last test, bowled with real variety and looked more threatening than anyone bar Anderson in the first innings. Prior was England's most consistently positive batsman, he and Pietersen gave England their chance at winning the game at Trinidad, and he was the bright spot in those godawful couple of first days. His keeping was a little shaky though, if only you could combine his batting and James Foster's glovework.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think you are all under the illusion that this England team can do something.
    The pitches were ok and I feel that if either side had half decent bowlers then the results would have been different.
    Jerome Taylor showed at Sabina Park, which was another very good batting wicket, what could be done if you bowl consistently well on these types of tracks. Unfortunately neither England or the West Indies have bowlers of the calibre of Dale Steyn, Mitchell Johnson, Zaheer Khan or Ishant Sharma. All of whom in the past twelve months have won a number of series' for their respective countries on flat batting tracks!
    Jimmy Anderson was the best of the lot and hopefully it won't be a flash in the pan with him, but I can't help feel he is very inconsistent.

  • Comment number 10.

    Swann's 8.5 rating is a bit too generous. Lets consider the fact that he couldn't bowl out the windies in the second innings in antigua. This along with the fact that half his 19 wickets were either lucky lbw decisions or batsmen slogging him because they've already scored too many runs. In the first innings of the final test he was poor but was on par with panesar in the second innings. He deserves credit for his initial 'five-fer' which he picked up.

    I suppose in the context of the mediocre rating system most players recieved 7/8, but really deserved a little less.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's unbelievable that Shah gets 6 and Prior just half a point more.

    Shah scored a total of 133 runs in 6 inns at an average of 22.16 while Prior scored 310 at 77.5 from the same no. of innings. Prior in fact tops the batting averages among the players who played regularly during the series (Bopara had just the one match). A hell of a difference wouldn't you say?

    Yes, Prior had a few problems behind the stumps but his own efforts with the bat easily wipe out the byes conceded. I think Prior probably deserves 7 and Shah about 3. And I also am disappointed that Shah failed to seize his opportunity after waiting for it so long.

  • Comment number 12.

    I suspect this might be the turningpoint for England. They improved steadily as the series went on, and by the end were clearly the better side. Doubtless the moment of madness in the first Test will be a source of regret, since they lost the series, far more than the Windies won it.

    The good news:

    Batting:

    Strauss looks like a reborn batsman, while Prior is clearly good enough to bat at 6. Collingwood performed well, as did Pietersen.

    Bowling:

    Swann gets better with each series, and Anderson and Broad are much improved.

    The bad news:

    Batting:

    Ian Bell/Owais Shah failed. Sorry, but Shah looks far too nervy for number 3, although 5 might have worked for him. What can you do when the poor lamb can't even grip the bat without getting cramp? I don't see Bopara at 3. The solution is probably to make KP move up one, although he will resist this. Nonetheless, the command should be given and enforced. No, Flintoff was not, is not and never will be a number 6. File under: delusions of grandeur, Flintoff, A.

    Bowling:

    Harmison and Sidebottom are done. For whatever reason, neither of them looks up to Test standard. Harmison's whining must also be annoying everyone around him. Amjad Khan looks like the return of Sajid Mahmood, but wilder. Still, he is quick, which would make a welcome change with the new ball. Panesar is improved, but hardly where he should be.

    Overall:

    Strauss 8
    Swann 8
    Anderson 7.5
    Broad 7.5
    Pietersen 7
    Collingwood 7
    Prior 7
    Bopara 7
    Ambrose 7
    Cook 6
    Khan 4
    Sidebottom 3
    Harmison 3
    Bell 3
    Shah 3

    A bonus prize for "Most idiotic comment" goes to patliputra for:

    "The pitches were ok"

    No, they were not. Flat, slow and pointless is not ok, however many times second-rate sides use them to get bore draws. See: India in the eighties. the Windies in 2009 as examples.

  • Comment number 13.

    How does Cook score less runs but get a higher rating than KP, when KP got his two biggest scores they were vital for the innings, I couldnt really care less that he got out for 97 instead of 100, it would seem the journalists care more about this than anyone else. Cook has ensured he keeps his place but is yet to prove himself.

    Strauss 8 - Batted very well to prove his batting when previously given the captaincy was no fluke, some negitive calls lower is mark by one.

    Cook 7 - Got a decent amount of runs some work on his game required though.

    Shah 4 - Failed to take his chance on a good batting service.

    Kp 7.5 - Not the run fest I'd hoped for from KP but as always in tricky times is the most likely batsman to put his hand up.

    Colly 7.5 - Solid, did enough to keep his place.

    Prior 7 - Good batting, poor keeping and a questionable decision to go home.

    Broad 7.5 - Showed good discipline in tough circumstances.

    Swann 7.5 - Bowled well in general, but not totally sold on him as our leading spinner.

    Anderson 8 - Huge effort, should have hot three times as many wickets, Harmison take note

    Monty 5 - Will he develop into the bowler we hoped, I'm not confident.

    Freddie 6 - for gods sakes man, lose some weight and you might have a better chance of staying fit.

    Ambrose 7- Did nothing wrong.

    Bopara 7 - Likewise

    Harmison 4 - Does he even care?

  • Comment number 14.

    Please tell me when England has lost a Test without Flintof, i am not remebering. It is an important stat. It appears ENG has lost only when Flintoff plays

  • Comment number 15.

    100 extras in a game is awful. And that made the difference in the end.

  • Comment number 16.

    Am I the only one that thinks that Collingwood only scores centuries when it doesn't matter?

    Methinks this team should follow the example of the Aussies and have a bit of a clear-out before the Ashes, this series has done nothing to settle the team or help it build up steam, so theres no point sticking with a losing formula.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought Anderson was outstanding, in the past he shown little control, but for me he was the pick of the seamers even if his wicket tally did not show it. Others comment on the lack of penetration, and I agree we need a genuinely fast bowler - forget Harmy, he has the wrong attitude for international cricket.
    Swann was a revelation, and he can bat a bit too, and does not look like bambi on ice in the field (Monty!).
    I fear Flintoff is a spent force he can only be selected if 100% fit and as a bowler, his batting has been poor in recent years.
    Strauss's batting was brilliant and good to see not affected by captaincy, but he needed to be bolder - he should have declared much earlier and we might have won.
    On a separate note it is good to see WI on the up curve, even if they beat us! Cricket needs strong teams to keep the game great

  • Comment number 18.

    Broad 8? Is this something to do with the Leicestershire connection Aggers?

  • Comment number 19.

    I accept that Prior batted very well but he is picked as a wicketkeeper and I'm afraid that is not up to standard. You can't afford to miss chances and as for the byes. No one expects any keeper to stop balls they simply can't reach but to let so many go through your legs is unacceptable. I played club cricket for almost thirty years and you could count the number of byes let through the legs on one hand in all that time. My other problem is that in two matches when we had to bowl a side out the field wasn't attacking enough (except for the last half a dozen overs of spin last night) especially when runs were academic and our quicker guys didn't make the batsmen play enough, if a batsman is trying to stay in then it's easy if you can leave half the deliveries you face

  • Comment number 20.

    @18. Given that Aggers isn't the person who did this, I very much doubt it.

    Nice. Two inane comments in a row now. Who's next?

  • Comment number 21.

    Broad still has a way to go as a bowling all-rounder, 8 probably is a bit generous, but he is clearly maturing all the time and looks far more promising with the addition of his useful batting than any of the other recent crop seamers: particularly a waning Harmison, Plunkett, Saj Mahmood and Pattinson.

    The no.3 debate continues, maybe Vauaghan will rack up runs in early season and fill the void again?

    The Stewart/Gilchrist effect on international wicket-keepering continues as Prior - a decent no.6 bat is preferred to any number of far superior wicket-keepers.

    Very difficult for selectors but must be disheartening for half a dozen good glovemen around the counties: Foster, Read etc.

  • Comment number 22.

    How on earth can you give all the batsmen these crazy marks. I would have scored a bucket full against this lot.

    In what i would best describe as throw down bowlers, and the fact they played on feather beds it is impossible to gauge anything the batsmen acheived.

  • Comment number 23.

    Looking from outside, I must say that, the English cricket community has a habit of complicating things a bit. My 2 cents worth would be to go for some simple clear thinking....

    You have couple of young good seam/swing bowler. I saw Anderson bowl to the Indian line up in England. He troubled most of them and made an impression, even against Tendulkar. Simple thinking dictates that you keep him, nurture him and give him the necessary confidence to grow up. Broad is a good guy to have around. As a bonus...he does look like a genuine allrounder. English have a tendency to prop up bits and pieces players. He is certainly not one of them. Give him all the support in the world.

    Flintoff may or may not come back, as the force he was. Dont spend too much time arguing. If he is there, take it as a bonus. If not you have to live with that. Dont keep romancing about the what if scenarios.

    Then you have a decent spinner in Swann. He is a fighter and a decent spinner. Common sense dictates that you keep him. He fought through all the Monty mania. Then you have Monty Panesar, who may have lost his way a bit, but never the less got the stuff in him. You probably need to put him under a decent spin guru....someone like Bedi springs to my mind readily....

    So you see... you have a good young set of half decent bowlers, which is more than half the battle won.

    You have some solid batsman around KP. You may have 1 unsettled position, but then who doesn't. You have a decent skipper too... Dont waste time fantasing over Vaughan , who is done for or Simon Johnes who cannot come back or Flintoff fitness

    The only thing that would separate this team from growing up further would be lack of motivation, spirit or creating unnecessary confusion over team selection and creating insecurity.

    Do you have a shot at the Aussies this Ashes.... well may be .... you can make a fight of it if you do some clear straight thinking......which is rather complicated for the English cricket community

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for all your contributions so far.

    patliputra (message 2) - that's a bit harsh. Considering what went on before the tour, I think England acquitted themselves quite well after the Jamaica debacle. I don't think you give proper weight to the fact that West Indies have improved recently.

    ReformationPOstTLC (message 5) - you say Prior was "foolish" to return home. Why? The team may be representing England but if there isn't room in international sport to allow a bloke to go and see his first child, it's a sorry state of affairs, in my opinion.

    unruffled (message 7) - I hope Simon Jones is available too, but his fitness record is such that I very much doubt he'll be in the Ashes team. As for Vaughan's return, your wish is based on sentiment, not the cold reality of his recent record.

    sandeep (message 19) - no, Swann's rating is not over-generous. Taking 19 wickets at a cost of 24 runs each was a fantastic effort for a bloke playing as first-choice spinner for the first time. He may not be Harbhajan Singh, but he's proved that he is someone England can rely on.

    battingwitharunner (message 11) - On reflection, I think you're right and I agree with Jonathan Agnew (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/england/7936343.stm%29 that the number three position remains a major problem for England.

    JamesToneysgut (message 13) - It may be unfair but I think KP is a world-class player and therefore gets judged accordingly. His ton in Trinidad was a great knock, but West Indies made it compartively easy for him with the bowlers they used and the fields they set.

    danichols49 (message 16) - you advocate a clear-out but who would bring in? Just look at the players in the Lions squad currently on tour in New Zealand and tell me which of them could have scored two centuries in the same Test against South Africa as Phillip Hughes has just done for Australia.

    biggerperks (message 19) - Prior may not be the finished article as a keeper but given the needs of the England team, he's the best option at the moment I'd back him to score more runs than the alternatives and that is very important if we're going to play Flintoff at six.

    stingding (message 22) - I don't know what level of cricket you've played at, but all I can say is that I always found scoring runs incredibly difficult, no matter how friendly the bowling (but then I was hopeless)!

  • Comment number 25.

    As captain Strauss does not have the killer edge which dictates "Bugger his hundred. We've got a match to win". I do however think he handled his bowlers well in the second innings. Brought on Swann early and maximised Anderson - who looked to be a mature fast bowler at his best. Swann is the best spinner we have had since Underwood. He is not great, he is not Warne, but he bowls very well and very sensibly. A pleasure to watch.
    I do hope we have seen the last of Mr Khan, and I wish to God we could find a wicket-keeper.
    Don't get the idea that we have a batting side. Lots of 100s but against a feeble WI attack and on feather bed wickets. Mr Shah can pack his bags. Not up to it, can't run and can't field.
    Still not impressed by Cook who is temptable outside his offstump. He is however probably the best we've got.
    Panesar is at best a very average left-armer who won't frighten the Aussies. In fact they are probably salivating. Would not be in my team.
    Broad? Good prospect but not yet the finished article. Nice to see a decent bat at 8 or 9 though.
    What appalls me in general is the standard of the out-cricket. The fielding, with notable exceptions, is sloppy. In this match Panesar, Shah, Khan, all showed that can't run and can't throw. We are back to Laker and Bedser.
    We still pick wicket keepers for their batting. Prior's batting was excellent. But he was guilty of so many schoolboy mistakes behind the stumps, it affected my blood pressure. I thought earlier in the series that he was improving. I was wrong. How many runs does he have to get to compensate if he drops Ponting first ball?

    So I do not look forward to the summer with anything but trepidation. Boycott yesterday summed up this match nicely. He said you can't make a halfway decent side out of the whole 22 of them.

  • Comment number 26.

    Prior 6.5

    I'm afraid that this is to deny that the wicket-keeping function retains much quantifiable importance in the constitution of a cricket team.

    We've allowed ourselves to drift towards monofocus on the brightly-lit periphery of keepers' contributions - how many runs they score, what their batting average is, how well the maintain the continuous geeing-up babble behind the stumps - to the extent that the more difficult-to-quantify aspect of the quality of performance as a wicket-keeper has grown to be largely disregarded.

    I'm quite willing to accept that it may be true that the historical reverence given to high-quality keeping led to team selection that underestimated the contribution to team performance of the batsman-keepers of the past. But I'd question whether perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, and that we are unnecessarily weakening teams by insisting that no keeper is adequate unless he is also a virtual batsman.

    Maybe the key to consistent excellence in decision-making is to appreciate that not every matter of substance is covered with glitter. And that therefore the most obvious is not always the best.

  • Comment number 27.

    in conclusion, a dreadful series. dull, negative cricket, very slow paced, loads of time wasting.
    and the referrals!
    surely now they will be scrapped.

    i liked strauss and andersons performances together with swann and collingwood.

    prior was useless behing the timbers. never mind how many runs he chips in with.

    amjad is not a test cricketer, and harmison and sidebottom are looking spent forces.

  • Comment number 28.

    It seems that a rather disastrous couple of sessions earlier in the tour have doomed the present England team to be absolute failures. Yet for the rest of the tour they have been equal to and, in many sessions, better than the West Indians. It seems to be typical that we, as a nation, tend to hang on to dispair and doom reflecting on what went wrong. In hindsight it is easy to make decisions. It is of course, very important to note the errors and work on correcting them. To ignore them would be most foolhardy. However, there were many positives to take away from this tour, but even those are being dismissed by some as not really being positives but more "inevitables" because of the "featherbed" wickets and the "lowly" bowling skills of the opposition. We also seem to ignore the fact (or is it possibility) that the West Indians in fact played well - in particular certain individuals in respective tests. The opposition do not always win because of the appalling displayof a team - sometimes the opposition have played well. Give praise due when it is deserved. As for the wickets - well, i am a little cynical on this matter. The West Indians "seem" to have prepared wickets to suit their tactics. They must have been delighted when England collapsed that awful day. Everything from then played into their hands. England, despite the state of the wickets, nearly got the better of them. Yes, declarations may have been late - but as i hinted before "hindsight is a wonderful thing". Had those final wickets fallen in the last two tests then Strauss would have been a genius and his team, fighters of some note. Negative, defensive tactics by WI on tame wickets put the odds against England reversing the series minimal. Perhaps what i am saying is that the whole picture should be looked at before judgement is fully made.
    Croft did say that just because the wicket is flat and dead it doesn't necessarily mean that batting is a doddle.

    Certain individuals need to be looked at but let us not condemn English cricket just yet.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree completley with unruffled (post 7). I Believe that the Aussies would be head over heels if Vaughan wasnt in the team to face them. He is proven world class batsmen who deserves his place in the team. After his injury problems it was always going to be difficult for him to come back into the side and score a lot of runs. If he hadnt have been captain he would have been given an extended run in county cricket to get himself some time in the middle and also some runs. However he was thrown straight back into the side and as a result didnt get the runs required. I wonder if anyone can name a better batsmen England has produced in the last 20 years than him?
    Englands only chance of doing well in the ashes is to pick Vaughan at 3 and this would be the team i would select:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Vaughan
    Pietersen
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    S.Jones

    This gives England 5 bowlers plus an extremely long batting line up. Even Swann at 9 is extremely capable with the bat, and this should ensure that if there is a batting collapse then there are enough people in the side capable of scoring 50 and England reaching a respectable total.
    I cant see any other side that can be put out if the 11 men listed above are all fit.

  • Comment number 30.

    Lets not overcomplicate things, we couldn't get wickets -thats it.

    There are 2 ways of doing this: bowl well, obviously we struggled in this department and field well. Good fielding starts with the wicket keeper putting the pressure on batsmen (and not letting the side have cheap runs is part of that). Good keepers are not just judged on byes vs runs scored, its also about what they can do behind the stumps - look at the wickets Jack Russell made for England and Gloucestershire through innovative keeping. Prior did well with the bat, but doesnt make things happen behind the stumps and gives away too many easy runs, time to go, simple - our batting is not the problem it was when that argument was used to justify Alec Stewart keeping.

    Otherwise Swann should always start ahead of Monty as he can field. As can Jimmy and Broad. We can't carry passengers in that department either so dropping Harmy, Sidey and Panesar is justified on bowling and fielding grounds.

  • Comment number 31.

    Jake_Red_Devil (message 29) - How about Marcus Trescothick? Or Andrew Strauss? Or Kevin Pietersen?

  • Comment number 32.

    "Has the knack of scoring centuries whenever his Test place is under threat"

    I think that is only really 'true' in the sense that parts of the media always view Collingwood's place as under threat (regardless of how he is actualy performing) and so if he scores a century they say that he has done so when his place is under pressure. It is all a bit self fulfilling and pointless and one wonders what has to happen for pundits to stop claiming endlessly claiming that he is 'under pressure'.

    Lawrence Booth's piece in the Guardian is far closer to the mark in my view:

    "That's four hundreds in 13 Test innings now, and it would have been five had a KP-like adrenaline not taken hold in Barbados. With the possible exceptions of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash, does anyone score more runs less ostentatiously in the world game? Here's hoping the talk of dropping him stops now - and that he bowls more: 20 overs in a series where England kept needing to burgle a wicket looks like a lack of imagination."

    The whole thing reminds me of the cliche that was peddled for much of Hoggard's career that he was only good in English conditions, which completely ignored the fact that many of his best performances came in difficult conditions overseas. Eventually even the lowliest of pundits seemed to realise that the cliche didn't match the reality and dropped it, acknowledging his fine ability with the ball in most conditions.

    Hopefully if Collingwood continues to quietly rack up the scores he will also shed this unwarranted criticism.

  • Comment number 33.

    Flat pitches, lots of centuries (and scores in the 90s), often little or no pressure, and a batting failure. How did Shah receive a 6? He's shown again that despite oodles of talent he doesn't have a test match temperament.

    I think the selectors bowed to media pressure in dropping Bell. He looked at times in good touch and had a couple of decent scores in the build up. All batsmen can be unlucky, even a few times in a row. We must all hope that he piles on runs in the interim and forces his way back in because he is so technically good and has another 10 years at the top level ahead of him (unlike Shah and Key).

  • Comment number 34.

    Watching the WI 2nd innings last night, I was really impressed with Monty. He and Anderson looked so dangerous; the sort of bowling attack that felt absent for so much of the series. When we add in promising performances from Broad and Swann, maybe we aren't doomed. But will England be brave enough to pick two spinners as a matter of course? I doubt it, but on yesterday's showing, they certainly should do. The missing dimension to England's bowling attack is thus genuine pace. A fully-fit Flintoff would be nice.

  • Comment number 35.

    anderson 7.5 harmison 4/ anderson took 9 wickets at 38 harmison 4 at 36 the bottom line is that sidebottom, broad ,anderson cannot lace matthew hoggards boots, how many wickets did anderson take with the new ball in this seriies ,1 yesterday ,face facts if we go into the ashes relying on anderson broad and sidebottom as we did against south africa we will not take 20 wickets.lets pray jones is fit,hoggard comes back and harmison finds some confidence or 0-5

  • Comment number 36.

    Rather than comment on every player, I would say that England do seem to be nearer finding out what their best side is. Strauss and Flower have not shied away from leaving out Harmy, Sidebottom, Bell and Panesar when necessary, and this has given a much better picture of where the team is at. And that is probably 2 players away from a good line up.
    The problem areas are:
    No 3 - Shah has not grabbed his chance on batsmen friendly wickets, and does not impress in the field or as an occasional bowler. He will get further chances but not as many as Bell had. For the Ashes they may go back to Bell/Vaughan depending on form this summer. Long term Bopara looks the next man in to me.
    We are one bowler short of a good attack. Anderson is very talented, and I like the way he has started to have a few words with the batsmen because it makes his body language look so much better. Flintoff is automatically in. Broad has really started progressing - I like his variations and thinking, and the stats look much better in this series. I am not convinced he has been used properly - Strauss has often only given him 3 or 4 overs in a spell in his desperation to change things and get a breakthrough. I think Broad gets in a rhythm and can really put the squeeze on for 8 or 9 overs at a time. Sounds a bit like McGrath to me! Swann has been excellent and Panesar finally improving. We need another good seamer - again depending on form next summer it may well be Harmy, Sidebottom, Khan, or A N Other.
    Finally - Matt Prior - sorry but his keeping looks so hard handed. He resembles a goalkeeper parrying balls rather than catching them. He won't be changed because his batting is too good and we need to make up for Flintoff's test batting inadequacies somehow. But Ambrose's performance in Barbados was food for thought and should keep him on his toes.

  • Comment number 37.

    This simply HAS to be the final goodbye to Harmison-im sick of reading his press articles saying he is going to do this and that. He never does and has had too many chances and shouldnt play again. Sidebottom also looks like a man whoes indian summer test career is at an end.

    and why o why doesnt one of the "senior pros" have a word with Panesar and TELL him to wind his neck in a bit with these stupid appeals-the more the number of appeals the less chance he has with the umpires

    move Pieterson to number 3-after all a certain I.V.A. Richards did ok from that position as had the current Australian captain. try Collingwood at 4 & Bell 5. that move may just solve the batting problems

  • Comment number 38.

    A word on behalf of Ryan Sidebottom. Most people here who have mentioned him at all seem to think he's finished.

    He's had injuries and was clearly rusty and not fully fit, and has had a disappointing tour so (although he also didn't have much luck) one can't argue with a low mark for him. However he has bowled well much more recently than Harmison and if he can prove his fitness I'd be very happy to see him back in the side. He also showed considerable grit and determination in his only two innings with the bat, both at Sabina Park - potentailly a significant bonus IMO.

    So don't write him off please.

  • Comment number 39.

    Although he's not a bowler of the highest calibre, the attitude of Stuart Broad is to be greatly applauded. If all of the players matched his plucky determination they would go closer to maxing out on their potential. Inconsistency has always been the biggest problem for England. It's very difficult to fix because it's psychological but Broad's attitude presents something of an antidote.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think a dissapointing summer beckons as England simply do not have a good enough bowling attck to beat the Australians.

    Whilst Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad both bowled well, does anyone actually regard them as Ashes winning bowlers? Neither can be critiscised for determination and effort but I doubt many of the Australian top seven batsmen, having just won a series in South Africa against a far better bowling attack, will be too worried.

    Swan has bowled well and has certainly progressed, but there must be a doubt, on English wickets, whether he can be regarded has a genuine Test Match winner. Harmison has not been an international class bolwer for at least three years, Sidebottom looks a shattered man and Amjad Khan has only played one test and looked like he was nervous and trying too hard to impress.

    Which leaves Flintoff carrying the attack as England's only world class bowler. However the chances of him staying fit throughout the summer must worry both the selectors and Andrew Strauss.

    An Ashes drubbing? I certainly hope not, but there is little right now to offer me any optimism.

  • Comment number 41.

    Id just like to say well done to strauss, i think he did a cracking job with his first series it apitty that the pitches didnt really play. I wass glad to see the batsmen enjoy the pitches and hope it does the confidence some good for the ashes.
    As regaurd the number 3 spot i would be tempted to bat collingwood up there and bring bopara in at 5 as they are both in good nic at the min plus i'd always include paul for his feilding alone

  • Comment number 42.

    All the rating for the bowlers are far too high, they are not capable of taking 20 wickets, and were given ample time to do so. Also look at the byes and all the extras, Bring in a proper glove man, ie James Foster, Broad will never be a penetrating bowler, lets pick bowlers for the bowling not their batting, the top five batsman MUST score the runs without the support of bowlers and wicket keepers,

  • Comment number 43.

    as for not having an attack to beat australia theres one out there it just requires selectors with a bit of nous.when greame smith was asked by south african radio which england players he most feared ahead of last summers test series he replied the 3 who arent playing ,ie flintoff harmison and hoggard that series was as close as youll get to this summers ashes yet we only threatened when flintoff and harmison played together at the oval.england have slipped from no2 to no7 in the world with a combination of anderson .sidebottom .broad and tremlett these past 2 years leading the attack. so lets get back to some common sense shall we hoggard,flintoff in and 2 from anderson, harmison, broad, and jones (if fit) swann to spin and bat 8 all of a sudden an attack australia may just worry about,

  • Comment number 44.

    Terrible Ratings. Joking.
    They're ok, but there are things that I don't agree with.
    This is how it should go, in my opinion:

    Straussy - 9
    Cook - 7
    Shah - 5
    Pietersen - 8
    Colly - 8
    Prior - 7.5 (loses .5 because of keeping in last test match.)
    Broad - 7.... only one 'fivefer'.....
    Anderson - 7 (great last match)
    Khan - 4
    Sidebottom - 3
    Bopara - 8 (absolutely nothing wrong, should have been at 3 for the last test)
    Harmison - 5 (I think everyone needs to stop saying there own thing, he should have played in the last two matches.. and no bowler really did well at the ARG. I believe he has the belief to still wear the 3 lions, hense him saying he will speak to Straussy about his test place - good on you Harmi)
    Swann - 9.5 (utterly brilliant, got i think one chance to bat and did well, did exactly what he was asked 20* from not many balls, and his bowling performance summed up his tour in the Windies 21-7-13-3 or something like that. Brilliant)
    Panesar - 5 (learnt from his time off)
    Flintoff - 6 (Good bowling, always bring something to the team, and his batting needs a tad of work)

    The team for this summer should be:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Vaughan/Bopara
    Pietersen
    Colly
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Simon Jones

  • Comment number 45.

    Well it was interesting to read the ratings, I agree with most but I find Broad's rating 8 to be ridiculous! With the number 3 spot still undecided, and Vaughn’s outstanding record vs the Aussies, he MUST be a candidate. Anderson and Swann have really done well in this series. Swann's arm ball is truly outstanding, and the west indies batsmen were constantly caught planting their front foot forward and getting out lbw, especially the left handers like Gayle, Smith, Chanderpaul and Nash. Australia similarly have potentially 3 - 4 lefthanders in their top order , namely Hughes, Katich, Hussey and North, while Mitchel Johnson at 8 can be very damaging in the latter part of the innings. At the moment Australia will most likely travel to England without a proven top class spinner. That being the case Swann's form and arm ball could be a major factor in the Ashes!

  • Comment number 46.

    I totally agree that Graeme Swann was the biggest success of the West Indies tour for England but why did he have to wait untill he was 29 before the selectors finally picked him? He has shown promise in county cricket for years.

  • Comment number 47.

    Shah a 6? What for? didn't do anything more than Ian Bell who you've given a 4.

  • Comment number 48.

    Pietersen plays only for Pietersen - and Strauss lets him get away with it. Could have cost us the last test. Bell, Harmison and Sidebottom should kiss their Test careers goodbye. Simon Jones, Anderson & Broad should be our quicks. Swann just ahead of Panesar although Monty has improved after his time with Mushy. Isn't there someone who can help Matt Prior? Good bat, capable keeper (but no more than that) Although he had to put up with some rubbish, his inability to move across to take a ball that is obviously going leg-side is worrying. Also, he should take the lead in setting the slips. How many edges fell just short. If Prior came up a pace of two he would bring the slips with him. Keep him in the side - but get a specialist coach! And what about Luke Wright. Gets pick in the ODI squad - never plays. Currently getting loads of runs for the Lions. If Fred isn't fit, bat Wright at 7.

  • Comment number 49.

    I want to add another defense of Sidebottom. I really don't understand how one bad series suggests that you are "done" - there is a key differences between him and Harmison:

    Harmison has been a spent force in every way for the past 3 years but continues to get selected, whilst Sidebottom has been the best bowler England have had for the past two year (before he got injured) - anyone who watched lots of England playing in NZ last winter will know this. Granted he's not bowled well here and he's clearly not quite fit, nor do the pitches suit his swing, but all these things will hopefully change in the summer.

    In addition, as a previous poster pointed out, Sidebottom differs from Harmison in knowing which end of the bat to hold!

    Finally, if England were to drop Siders for Khan in the Ashes we'd be dead in the water - Prior is getting a lot of bad press for all the extras in the Trindad test, but ultimately many were squarely the fault of Mr. No-Ball Khan. He didn't look threatening and he was just gifting runs - on English wickets Sidebottom is by far the better choice - experienced, determined, disciplined, (and hopefully fit!)

  • Comment number 50.

    Is Amjad Khan a second Darren Pattenson? At least Ian Bell looks like a batsman unlike Owais Shah who has all the appearance of a rabbit caught in the headlights! We are fortunate to have a standby keeper in Tim Ambrose - but should he be only a standby? 30+ byes from Prior doesn't say much for his wicket keeping standards! As for Harmison - P45 time looms.

  • Comment number 51.

    As mentioned in the paper today England need a strike bowler to go with Fred, Jimmy and Broad. One name, Jones, but the injuries keep him out. Solve the number 3 by recalling Butcher he never got dropped he got injured and Strauss came in and they never recalled him. Perfect 3 for England an opener who is proven at 3, failing that Vaughn.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nominations for the stupidest remark on this blog:

    Cook is rubbish as he only scores runs when he isn't under pressure - like an ignorant baying mob demanding his sacking for not getting enough hundreds regardless of runs he has scored doesn't count as pressure!.

    Am I the only one that thinks that Collingwood only scores centuries when it doesn't matter? - I hope so, otherwise there's two idiots out there.

    Broad will never be a penetrating bowler - what, never, ever, ever? In any conditions against any batsman? He will be incapable of improvement as he gains more experience? Even though his entire career up to now consists of improving with experience?

    The top five batsman MUST score the runs without the support of bowlers and wicket keepers - Why? Name a single side in present day International Cricket that doesn't expect everybody down to number 7 or 8 to contribute with the bat.

    100 extras in a game is awful. And that made the difference in the end - er, the number of extras didn't affect the outcome of a single match in the entire series.

  • Comment number 53.

    I read these comments and I think some of points are very valid. However the number three spot is an issue. The pressure to solve the situation is probably adding to the pressure of any indvidual who takes of the challenge. We all knew that Shah was not going to perform at number three. If he was going to play in the side it should be further down the order. Colly has extended his life in the team with some good knocks. If he had not performed I would of been tempted to put Bell in his spot. He performed very well against Pakistan when he was batting at 6. He nearly broke records of back to back test hundreds. As it stands I think that everyone is hoping Vaughan will score runs and return as a hero. That further adds pressure on him and will lead to further failure. However I think there are only two indviduals who can satisfy this spot and that is Bell or Vaughan. Vaughan will play if he scores runs but the burden will be massive. Could play Colly at 3? Bopara does not have the experience and will fail. He is not a number 3. Bell averages 40 in test cricket and is a class act. He will feature again in this team and if can get rid of his demons should go on to great things.


    The team for this summer should be:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell or Vaughan
    Pietersen
    Colly
    Ambrose
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Simon Jones/ Ryan Sidebottom / Harmisson

  • Comment number 54.

    somebodys missing the point, it doesn't matter how many runs the bowlers get if they can't take 20 wickets, pick bowlers to take wickets and a wicket keeper that can take a high proportion of catches and save byes. Mind I must admit its hard thinks of some bowlers who would do better that the current crew, Darren Patterson should have been given more than one test.
    Its ridiculous making Prior man of the match for his batting when he has just let through the highest number of byes in test cricket. 350 runs is enough to win a test IF the bowlers can take wickets

  • Comment number 55.

    England have once again managed to capture the knack of losing. At times we have played some decent cricket against SA, India and W.Indies but all too often our batting lets us down at crucial stages (I am not just referring to the 51 all out). More worrying however is the state of our bowling - we look inept on batsmen friendly pitches and I worry that there are no better alternatives. Harmison should return to county cricket (and possibly never return) whilst we should loom at the form of any challengers for the spare seam bowling slot assuming Broad is inked in at 8, Flintoff is fit to join Anderson in a new ball attack. Contenders may be far & wide and I wouldn't rule out a return for Hoggard who has never let England down.

    As far as the batting goes, it really is up for grabs with Shah, Bell Vaughan and Key battling it out for the no 3 spot - Bopara will be cover for any of the other slots including Flintoff as we don't have a like for like replacement. I am not in favour of Vaughan returning, he just doesn't score enough runs at any level these days and his days of dominating the Aussie attack are unfortunately long gone.

    Swann or Panasaar - close one, neither is likely to be a big wicket taker against Aussie, I would plump for Swann for the opening test assuming he is fit & bowling well.

    Don't believe the keeping debate is over - Prior is inadequate in that department and will cost England before the Ashes series is over, mark my word.

    I'll end on the poor set of decisions by Andrew Strauss which ultimately cost England in the W.Indies - The Jamaica declaration as we all know was 45 mins too late, and he repeated the error in Trinidad, again costing England. What annoyed me as much was the stupidity to send in Anderson as night watchman in Jamaica - smacks of individuals looking after themselves rather than playing to win the match (Shah ! allowed by Strauss it has to be said). Strauss said in Trinidad that he was prepared to lose in order to try to win - who is he really fooling - 237 in 66 overs on a slow wearing wicket). It is not being wise after the event as I and others said it at the time in both tests. I would have more respect for Strauss (who I essentially think is a good captain) if he had accepted responsibility for the poor decisions but I fear it will be swept under the carpet - fact is, we have lost 3 series out of 3, not good is it.

    I'd like to see central contracts to be reward based on team performance - I am afraid that life is far too comfortable as an England centrally contracted player, we are handsomely rewarding failure - just like our young tennis stars and olympic hopefulls in a few sports. We need more hunger, will to win and mental strength to compete at the top level - our players try to talk a good game, but how many times to we emerge victorious when the going gets tough - no, we have a soft underbelly, and this is most noticable with the batting when we lose a couple of quick wickets

    I'd like to be confident of challenging Aussie, but alas they will have too much strength, batting, bowling and most of all, mental







  • Comment number 56.

    Swann was the only true gain for England on YET ANOTHER tour that has decreased their stock as a test-playing nation. This 'wonderful' batting line-up of ours failed when it mattered the most, although once again INADEQUATE WARM-UP INTINERARY is an issue. Just when are the powers that be going to learn? Never, I suspect.
    The bowling lacks a cutting edge: Broad will be a good third seamer, but if he was going to be a major strike bowler, we'd have seen it by now. At home in England, and given a decent county preparation, you can never write off Harmison; but overseas, he's a liability, and should have played his last overseas test for England this time.
    Those expecting Simon Jones to walk back into the England side and make all the difference in the Ashes series are living in cloud cuckoo land - based, I suspect simply on the fact that (due to absence through injury) he's the one member of the 'Class Of '05' not to have subsequently had his reputation destroyed. Be great to be proved wrong in all of the above, but I can't see it somehow.

  • Comment number 57.

    Harsh on Prior that, it wasn't his fault Monty and Amjad bowled so waywardly. It's more of a damning indictment on them than Prior. Also, with regards to "74 extra", Prior isn't at fault for leg-byes, no balls and wides, is he? I'd give him 7 - 7.5 myself.

    Strauss couldn't have made his declaration in Trinidad much earlier than he did. Otherwise the Windies would have been chasing something like 200 in 75 overs, an easy proposition not likely to make them attack. Let's face it Strauss was three wickets away from winning the series 2-1, they we're even discussing his captaincy is beyond belief.

    Cook 7? I could have scored runs on some of those pitches. 6 - 6.5 for me for him.

    Jimmy deserved at least an 8 for the way he bowled his heart out every time he was called upon, look at the last innings of the series as ample proof to that.

    Paul Collingwood's test place going into the series was not under threat for anyone who actually knew what they were talking about. He averaged over 50 against South Africa and nearly 50 in India the previous two series he'd played. Some people don't seem to like him as he plays with grit, rather than flambouyance.

    Bell, Shah, Bopara, Sidebottom, Khan and Harmison all one point higher than they should be.

  • Comment number 58.

    Strauss 8 (batting), 5 (captaincy)
    Cook 5
    Bell 3 (cannot face the Aussies)
    Shah 2 (ditto)
    Pietersen 7 (but should be higher)
    Collingwood 7.5
    Bopara 8 (what more does he have to do?)
    Prior 8 (batting), 5 (keeping)
    Ambrose 7
    Swann 8
    Broad 7
    Anderson 7
    Khan 4 (not good enough, never will be, weird choice)
    Sidebottom 2 (finished?)
    Harmison 2 (last chance this summer)

  • Comment number 59.

    I think this blog has run its course, can we get some meaningful comments on the referral system, and start with
    Only cricket could come up with such a compromise on the use of technology, allowing the 3rd umpire to just see what the umpires on the square sees is a waste of time, and becomes a judgement on the umpires decision not on whether the player is out or not, surely the objective is to check whether the player is out, we all know umpires can makes mistakes in the split second they have to make a judgement and we largely forgive them for that, lets embrace the technology fully and give the 3rd umpire all the information at his disposal even with its limitations, it has to be better than what we have now.
    I reckon umpires make around three erroneous decisions per innings which just isn't good enough when everyone watching can see what really has happened. Test Cricket should be a test of the cricketers not the umpires.
    If cricket was just being invented today, no-one would even consider needing umpires.

  • Comment number 60.

    how about this to get some progress.
    Over the past 20 years we have done so much to make cricket better as a spectator sport, and to keep the players on the pitch, light meters, covering the pitches, all manner of mechanical devices to soak up water, yet the worst culprit is still bad light. Instead of umpires offering the light to the players surely the decision should be, 'time to turn on the lights' there is nothing more frustrating than paying a fortune to see a test match and then having the end game ruined by bad light. There should be a minimum allowable light level that once it falls below the lights are used.
    Test cricket should be a test of the players and not a test of who has the most favourable conditions to play in. It would also end the slow play merchants because with the use of the lights a minimum number of overs per day can be fixed, even if it means they stay out there till 10 o'clock at night.

  • Comment number 61.

    Strauss has been the best captain option since India a couple of years ago, he obviously thrives on yhr responsibility, his batting improved then I seemed to remember. He does however have problems with strategy and killer instinct. I think he is a nice man, but he needs to toughen up seriously. He has not been helped by all the medling with the team. Good teams need to play together consistently. Yes new people need to be 'blooded', but when the time is right! The whole team needs a long term plan, taking into consideration that some are getting older, some have fitness problems, some have psychological problems, and we must have new people filtering through all the time (at the right time). Strauss has not been helped by all the furore associated with KP's appointment, departure but retention as a player. How can all that foster harmonious teamwork. KP was a bad choice to start with, it has always been obvious that he was contentious and a self seeker. I am sure that the selectors/ECB saw KP as an Ausie style leader. How nieave they were to assume an egotist could be a true leader. It is plain to see that the 'powers that be' do not understand 'man management'. Everyone at that level seems to thing that 'spin and soundbites' are 'de riguer'.

    Brearly and Vaughn are the most recent good managers, although neither were quite imaginitive enough, or truly had the killer instinct. Strauss has got what it takes, but he does need a 'wiley old bugger' to support him. There are too many young guys in management, lacking the strategic know how, that comes with age. They are all full of the 'modern PR weasle words', that mean nothing when it comes to fighting, not giving up, and using every possible, legitimate method, to win.

    Boics might be a boring old fart, but he has the right ideas, maybe he could be a Strauss mentor? At least his mother, whose cricketing ability he is always proclaiming, could be drafted in to bat at number three. against the Windies?

    Regards Neil Hewitt

  • Comment number 62.

    Following on from my previous post, another major problem is central contracts, it means that if they sign up for central contracts they will be paid! Whether they play or not! What motivation is that to a player, who is particularly motivated towards lazyness, I won,t name names, but you don't need to be especially gifted to work out who the notable failures are?

    Does this send the right message to no centrally contracted players.

    A lot must change for England to become a real world force. Most of the changes need to be with the ECB management. If our national side is unsuccessful then 'heads must role in the ECB'. Why should these management failures be allowed to retain their 'cushy' roles, when football managers are sacked after as little as 6 months?

    Make all management and players jobs success related, as also their income, make their contracts 12 months renewable.

    Senior managements selection methods must be questionable, eg KP's roll as captain, was a 'disaster waiting to happen' bad management decision, therefore their heads should roll.

    Their job is to make English Cricket the best in the world, if they dont they should be sacked, there are far too many 'hangers-on', in cricket. there always have been. Now there is far too much money involved to allow that to continue.

    Clear out the management 'hangers on', clear out the 'prima - donas'. True professionals are not 'prima - donas'.

    If someone is appointed Captain, then they should manage the team both on and off the pitch, then you will get someone in control who can enforce their will and command respect and gain team respect. He should then be allowed to employ coaches etc to sharpen up team performances, in all departments.

    If you appoint someone in charge you must give them the responsibility to be in control. If you don't you are simply saying, as a manager, you do not trust your decision in selecting them in the first place! What an indictment of your own decisions as a senior manager, lack of trust in your own decision making abilities. It is hardly worth writing this because the ECB management who should read it, have a) not the slightest interest in reading these sorts of bloggs, b) Do not think it relates to them, c) Don't think it applies to them, d)Are far too happy and comfortable with their life to want anyone to disturb it, e) Like most people in financial institutions, expect recompense for their 'experience', far in excess of what they are capable of giving back to the industry that has paid their salary for all those years.

    Yes I am cynical.

    If you love something or someone, you must try to protect it or them, not just 'milk it or them', which is what seems to happen to ' the less than capable people', who manipulate their way to the 'gravy train' at the top of their industry. The list is endless, start with the EU, move on to Plattini in Fifa and on and on. Why do we put up with these people? Mainly because they have more determination and sheer affrontary than we do. Sad ain't it. As has been said before, 'the electorate deserves the politicians it votes for', however in the cricket world, cricket lovers do not get to vote for their 'managing team'. How un democratic!

    Regards Neil Hewitt

  • Comment number 63.

    Comment 59 : makemmick

    Technology

    I think there is a serious point being missed, particularly relating to HawkEye LBWs:-

    The level of confidence with which HawkEye can predict whether or not the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps varies quite widely depending on (a) how far the ball has travelled between pitching and hitting the pad, and (b) how far it still has to travel between hitting the pad and reaching the level of the stumps.

    What is shown on the TV screen is, as I understand it, the path the ball would take if it followed the CENTRAL path of all the possibilities within a pre-decided margin of error. It's clear that, for example, a delivery striking the pad almost on the half-volley, three yards down the pitch, is going to have quite a wide area of HawkEye possibilities when it reaches the stumps, and that there WILL be occasions where the HawkEye single path prediction is that it would have hit the stumps, yet the majority of the area of possibility is showing that it wouldn't. In view of this I'd suggest that using Hit/Miss on single-path HawkEye as the ultimate arbiter will result in poor decisions being made.

    Perhaps the viewing public (and the adjudicating 3rd Umpire?) would be better informed if they were shown the full range of each HawkEye prediction, together with a calculated likelihood of the ball hitting the stumps. I'm sure that this would be a fairly easy piece of software to write, and it would take away the current misunderstanding of so many who believe that single-path HawkEye is a foolproof way of making decisions.

  • Comment number 64.

    comment 63 technology,

    I agree wholeheartedly that there are limitations with technology particularly with hawkeye predictions, but the margins of error can be calculated and allowed for and thus explained to the viewing and paying public.
    I still believe with a little tweeking of the programme to show the whole envelope of the balls predicted path, and if any part of that shows the ball missing the stumps then not out should be given, which should result in more accurate decisions overall.
    Does anyone believe the changes to the rules or using technology use have been in favour of the batsmen or bowler?

  • Comment number 65.

    Call me an old fuddy, duddy -
    I love the finality of the umpire's finger being raised and the batsman on his way. To hell with the with the referral experiment I say.
    My team for the first Ashes test.

    Strauss
    Cook
    Bell (if he is in the runs)
    Pieterson
    Collingwood
    Flintoff
    Prior
    Swann
    Broad
    Harmison (if the pitch has some pace)
    Sidebottom/Jones

  • Comment number 66.

    I think there is no doubt that bopara should be playing within the next few test. The lad comes in gets 100 and then gets dropped!!
    I also would like to comment on the wicket keeper situation, i dont see where this davies player has come from- fair enuf he is probly a god player however matt prior is a better 1 day keeper and he is an agressive player so how can he only be test keeper?
    The team for the next test should be:
    Strauss
    Cook
    Pieterson- tell him he has to bat at 3 and 4 him not 2 b so soft that he 'has to bat 4'
    bopara
    collingwood
    flintoff
    prior
    broad
    swann
    jones
    anderson

    we need to get some bowlers than can consistantly get 3-4-5 wickets rather than having 'good spells' and getting 1-60

  • Comment number 67.

    regards my comment 60 above, related to the ODI farce in West Indies
    I rest my case, cricket is the only sport that can screw up so badly at this level, how many matches whether test or one dayers have been ended by bad light? What makes this one so bad is, the use of lights is accepted in ODI's and this ground has lights.
    Only other comment worthy of mentioning is there are two many managers and coaches trying to justify a role, the captain should make the decision on light on safety grounds only, not a coach to try and win a match under false pretences, lets get cricket back to the honourable game it always was and deserves to be.

  • Comment number 68.

    OK. Broad 8? Is this something to do with the Leicestershire connection, Grunners?

 

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