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England player ratings for Cape Town

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Oliver Brett | 17:05 UK time, Thursday, 7 January 2010

I hope you enjoyed the tension on the final day at Newlands, where England once again repeated something of a recent habit by calling on the final-wicket pair to grab a draw.

But, to half-steal an Anne Robinson line, who floated my boat and who sank without trace in Cape Town? These are my ratings for the England team. They are, as ever, purely subjective so please don't get too upset if I haven't given someone the same marks you would give them.

On the other hand, don't feel frightened to comment here, and I'll try to get back to as many of you as I can.

Andrew Strauss - 5
Will be unhappy about the manner of his dismissal in the first innings, but did his bit in the second by batting for nearly three hours. Continues to marshal his four-man attack well - no easy job in tough bowling conditions.

Alastair Cook - 6
Two nice scores, but gave his wicket away with pull shots on each occasion when on a flat track like this he should have had at least one century. May have to be more circumspect when dealing with the short ball.

Jonathan Trott - 5
Like his skipper, partially atoned for a poor first innings with a more significant contribution in the second dig. But a good player of fast bowling like him will be disappointed to be bowled twice by Dale Steyn.

Kevin Pietersen - 2
Sorry KP fans, but a duck and six on a belting wicket after missing straight balls that did nothing off the pitch is hideously below par. Just looking far too frenetic at the moment; maybe he needs some advice from Michael Winner. Calm down, dear.

Paul Collingwood - 8
He is probably the only England batsman that actually enjoys the challenge of dead-batting every ball bowled to him hour after hour, and how England needed him to do likewise on the final day in Cape Town. Typically gritty.

Ian Bell - 9
His big century in Durban silenced one batch of detractors, and his four-and-three-quarter-hour innings here will give further evidence of his growing maturity. Has done pretty well since his recall halfway through the Ashes.

Matt Prior - 7
Lasted only nine balls on the final day in difficult circumstances and with catchers waiting to seize on almost anything airborne. His bright 76 in the first innings was vital, and took six catches in an error-free wicket-keeping display.

Stuart Broad - 5
Limited impact with the ball in conditions that did not suit, and that was made harder by the fact Strauss never let him have a go with the new ball. Helped out with the bat, scoring 25 and a duck on the final day that at least used up 22 precious deliveries.

Graeme Swann - 7
Hard to keep him out of the game. Even on a flat track like this, he caused momentary panic when two wickets in two balls reduced South Africa to 127-5 on day one. Maintained good discipline over some long spells in the second innings.

James Anderson - 8
Wonderful bowling early in the match when pitch had some life in it, and added to that five-for with three more in the second innings. Battled away for more than an hour as nightwatchman - and that proved a vital contribution.

Graham Onions - 6
The impression that Onions is someone who bowls good spells without always getting the wickets he deserves gathered some force here, but he will have surely enjoyed denying South Africa a win at the death for the second time in a matter of weeks.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Bit harsh on Strauss? I reckon any skipper in this sort of situation should be given an extra mark just for not cracking up!

  • Comment number 2.

    Your marks out of ten seem about right well done.

    What I'm more curious about, however, is that Jonathan Agnew dedicated half his blog to the problems of the referral system after day 2 because a marginal decision went against England. However in the last 3 days three howlers have been overturned which would undoubtedly have changed the test match(in fact without the referral system Collingwood would have been out first ball and England almost certainly would have lost)yet he has not written a word about it! Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree, a bit harsh on Lord Brocket. After Ashes 05 England, for various reasons, capitulated and were left rudderless but Flower and Strauss have developed a mentality and spirit which means that us England supporters can be proud even as we approach nervous anxiety!

  • Comment number 4.

    Usually agree with your ratings Oliver but I think Strauss and Cook deserve an extra point. They both saw off the first new ball and used up a lot of time on the fourth day which was fundamental to England drawing this test match!

  • Comment number 5.

    when will the poms stop forcing draws and play some cricket.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree wıth the Kaptain. Strauss has to have played a major role in holdıng the team together here and deserved a point or two more for keeping up morale and 'ably managing the attack'

  • Comment number 7.

    Think your ratings were fair in general, although personally i think you were a bit harsh on Strauss & Trott, who made valuable contributions too in the 2nd innings. I gave the team 8/10 for alround performance, although this reliance on the number 11 will cost us one day. Our batsmen must do more to protect them in these situations, but it all bodes well for the 4th test, which i'm sure will be a result orientated wicket

  • Comment number 8.

    I think Strauss should get extra points for the way he has created a team in such a short time. This team funtions even when some fail. In the past this almost never happened.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think you have been very harsh on Cook. Bell got a 9, for admittedly a very good innings. However, Cook equally used up plenty of balls in the second innings and got two 50s. Penalising someone for not scoring a century should mean all the batsmen are marked down further eg Trott getting a 5, only one behind Cook.

    It often appears that some commentators expect way too much from Cook.

  • Comment number 10.

    I hope all thsoe who were vilifying Ian Bell and declaring that he lacked mental strength and moral fibre will now have the grace to apologize. As to your ratings, Alastair Cook should be a notch higher. His batting in the first innings and his partnership then with Bell prevented total collapse.

  • Comment number 11.

    #5. I can see what Nick is getting at (despite a tongue firmly lodged in the Ozzie cheek) but today looked to me like "playing some cricket" of the highest order. In my book, you don't have to score 600-2 or skittle a side out for 50-odd to have made a contribution to the day's play. Aren't tense and absorbing days like today - with two reasonably evenly matched sides - what "proper cricket" is all about?

    Mind you, Smithy must be absolutely gutted to be 1-0 down still! Such is life!

  • Comment number 12.

    Strauss played a bad shot in the first innings but so do many players bey he was unlucky to nick it so feel 5 is harsh, Trott was a major player in the secong dig seeing off the new ball so he deserves at least 7, But Cook desrevs more than 6 i am not his biggest fan but his mental strength is admirable and he looks to be in the zone and should continue to score heavily as he is always learning and appears to be working his game out, i would say 8
    Anderson is doing ok but i think he should have done more damage with the new ball first innings his 5 for included three tailenders
    Still this side has got some spirit and balls, and hve come along way since change of coach and captain
    Is KP worht his place at present ?

  • Comment number 13.

    Agreed that Strauss and Cook deserve and extra mark or so each. The second innings was about time not runs, and between them they saw us through 35 overs or so. And of course Cook got a half century in each innings.

    Pietersen's rating -- I can't make up my mind if it's unduly harsh. I suppose ones and twos are there to be handed out and in this game he really didn't bring much.

    Mind you, I think Bell should definitely be penalised for his one-dimensional contribution. He only took one catch in the whole match, didn't offer to bowl and despite the thirty odd cameras we didn't even see any evidence of him stamping on the ball. Shocking. ;)

  • Comment number 14.

    Strauss and Cook battled well for the opening partnership and looked to be cruising at one point. Strauss deserves an extra mark at least for carrying England through to and beyond Tea.

  • Comment number 15.

    Excellent ratings Oliver, can't disagree with any of them really.

    Pietersen's tour goes from indifferent to worse. He has some serious work to do to get things back on track. Is KP finding it difficult to adjust to being in a team where all the players are contributing rather than relying on him to get them out of a hole every time?

  • Comment number 16.

    am i the only one who thinks that mr boycott commenting on the radio goes to far in his comments about players to the point of insulting them and he is always stating the obvious why dont the other commentators tell him to be quiet

  • Comment number 17.

    With the exception of Andrew Strauss who surely deserves a couple more I think you got the marks pretty much right. However your comment on Broad having the new ball?? Surely not, they tried that and it definately didn't work. Onions and Anderson are simply better bowlers with the new ball, in fact they are better bowlers full stop.

  • Comment number 18.

    Would have given the same ratings except for KP who would only get 1.

  • Comment number 19.

    KP...2 joke
    0 shoulod not be on the tour!
    Strauss, 8... great captain...
    Horrific wicket

  • Comment number 20.

    Broad only deserves a 4 since he always feels the need to review whenever he happens to be given out (even though he must know whether he's hit the ball or not!). Pretty poor example of sportsmanship!

  • Comment number 21.

    jowcor wrote:
    am i the only one who thinks that mr boycott commenting on the radio goes to far in his comments about players to the point of insulting them and he is always stating the obvious why dont the other commentators tell him to be quiet.

    Hear hear! He's very free with his comments about what's wrong with players, and a bit ungenerous about their good points. And nobody is ever as good as him.

  • Comment number 22.

    Thirladean (comment no. 10),

    I am one of the people who needs to apologise. Up until this test series I have always doubted Ian Bell, but I hold my hands up - he played an extremely gutsy innings today and without him England would not have won.

    Well done England, an amazing day's cricket, can't wait for the last test to start!

  • Comment number 23.

    Although i would agree with some of the ratings, i can't understand why people think Strauss and Trott deserve a higher rating. What we have to remember is that, regardless of the situation on days 4 and 5, we got ourselves into that situation with some poor bowling and batting. These ratings tend to reflect the latter part of the game much more than our first innings (with the exception of KP) and SA's innings'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Not sure about most people's comments about KP. I reckon people look for KP to fail. Commentators and public a like seem to jump on his back as soon as he's out of nick. He's not played well in TWO test matches so everyone's calling for his head, ridculous! If we went on that principal there would be few teams that would field the same consecutive IX's

    Wouldn't surprise me if we see a big innings from KP in Joberg next week!

  • Comment number 25.

    Ben is quite right. Pietersen is not in his best form, but his record since he came into the team shows that he is England's best batsman. I suspect that Graeme Smith would have declared somewhat earlier if he hadn't been aware that Pietersen was capable of scoring 150 and winning the match for England. You might even say that Pietersen's reputation cost South Africa victory. I am not his greatest admirer, but to speak of dropping him is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 26.

    Pietersen will be sorted out in time for the final Test, I can see him playing one or two important innings to help seal the series. Like Strauss, he is too good a player to fret about and will bounce back. Apart from that, nothing much to say, the ratings are ok although I'm with others that Lord Brocket should get an extra point.

    Oh, and on a mischievious note, if England end up winning this series, could we perhaps nominate Graham Onions for an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for his superhuman role in saving two Tests? :)

  • Comment number 27.

    I am big believer that form is temporary class permanent, but KPs head / mind / brain has never been his strength, i feel he has lost all focus.
    He is a walking wicket at present
    Anyone know his average since he lost the captaincy ?
    Anyone else concerned Jimmy is not doing as much damage to the top order as his talent should do with the new ball?

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with most except Strauss is definitely harsh as he's captained an England team to being guaranteed of not losing a test series in SA and has turned them into what will become the best team in the world rankings in the next eighteen months !!

    KP is and always will be quality I personally agree with the rating for this match but am relieved that we've moved on from total reliance on him and Freddie to deliver or we lose as in my belief was the case before we went to the mauling in Australia in the ashes before last.

    Final point is while I agree with your score for Broad I disagree totally with your point about new ball bowling, I don't believe he is yet good enough to be the new ball bowler as he is far less reliable than Onions, Anderson and even Sidebottom with regard to his accuracy.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think everyone is getting on KP's back a bit early. Let us not forget that he has only played five test match innings since a major operation and four months out of the game. To expect anyone to come back after that and start hitting centuries every time is asking a lot, even from such a class player. Give him time and he will come good.

  • Comment number 30.

    Spot on, Oliver!

    I'm another who has doubted Bell on many ocassions and he has proved something to me in the last couple of weeks. He has certainly earned a good long run in a team now ;)

    The only thing about that.. is that i'm still not 100% comfortable with only 4 bowlers. Again in this match we were bowling Trott/Pieterson to burn overs whilst the pacemen recovered. Admittedly, Bell at 6 probably saved us (Prior is utterly hopeless in a defensive situation). I'm not sure there's an ideal solution to that problem at the moment.

    But.. given a 4-bowler attack, i'm certain we have the right 11 now.

  • Comment number 31.

    Good ratings, possibly one higher for Onions for his heroics (+ he had Smith dropped), and one higher for prior (coming in twice under huge pressure).

    Agree on KP, some of his one day shots aren't ideal in a test match.

  • Comment number 32.

    #21. A little unfair to the Blessed Geoffrey. I heard him commentating on Bell's first innings and he was positively purring. Admittedly it was a most disconcerting experience for the listener.

  • Comment number 33.

    An absorbing test match which was a credit to both teams and captains............Mind you, I like to wager Mr G M Smith now wished he'd hurried along with the 1st innings over rate.

    Solid marks though I agree with comments regarding Strauss' leadership, which is a solid 1.5 additional marks.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think its great news that we are competing with one of the best Test nations on their home turf with no Freddie and an obviously out of form KP. KP has not faced many balls since coming back from injury but its only a matter of time before he hits form. All of our other batsmen and bowlers have contributed over the last 3 tests and all we need now is a major knock from KP to give us a 2-0 series win.

  • Comment number 35.

    I would rather have Sir Geoffeey telling it how he is than some of the past TMC commentators sitting on the fence, he said at the beginning of the series Harris could not bowl for toffee and he was right, i like his banter with Aggers and he will not say anything on air that he would not say to the players.
    The current team in the box is excellent, keep it together and do not let the dreadful Blowers back who gets everything wrong all the time.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm delighted for Bell. I've said it before, and will say it again: he's is my favourite batsman. He's had a hard time, and even I have wondered whether he shouldn'tbe left at Warks for a year or two to get everything back to normal. But he's back, and I hope for good!
    As for KP: I think he's out of nick, and needs some time to get back to hsi own standards. Why not rest him for the Bangladesh tour and maybe let him play in Ozz in NZ for a while, much like Strauss did 2 years ago? Get him rejuvenated for the summer and obviously the Ashes DU.
    Just to make sure: I'm NOT suggesting he be dropped, but merely given a rest and time to get back up there. It also gives the opportunity to look at another batsman or two in Bangla, which can't be bad...

  • Comment number 37.

    to be fair to Boycott, he does come from one hell of a cricketing family, his mum and all that

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks for so many replies already. There seems to be a theme that I may have undermarked the top three by a point each, which I can live with.

    However, look at it this way: In two innings on a very flat wicket England could not manage 300. If I add a point to the top three, England's top seven would end up with the following ratings: 6, 7, 6, 2, 8, 9, 7. Collectively, that would look a bit better than what they actually achieved.

  • Comment number 39.

    yes your marks are correct but with pietersen two was one two many on a wicket like that to score nil and six when you had somebody else score 183 he just needs to get back in the nets and do the simple things like score the ones and twoes

  • Comment number 40.

    At times Boycott goes over the top but I would rather listen to him for an hour than Vaughan for a single minute. He makes too many anti-England comments for a recent member of this team.

  • Comment number 41.

    As for Pietersen, I do believe his form will return pretty soon, and why not in Johannesburg? And a tour of Bangladesh, who are not as poor as some people think, on slow wickets where he will have to work for his runs, may be just what he needs. Can't see him being rested for that in view of having missed so much cricket last year.

    Oh and Boycott's family? Imagine playing cricket in the back yard at his place, with his grandmother bowling 90mph yorkers and his mum snarling away at short leg. A fearsome prospect...

  • Comment number 42.

    Not too sure that I'm fond of ratings at all. They seem a bit "schoolmasterish" to me. However, Strauss seems to thrive on the captaincy and has done an excellent job since he took over. (I was one of those who would have given him the task over Pietersen in the first place.)

    And Pietersen? He'll come good. Remember Edrich in 1939? - Probably not! :) - However, WJ came good to the tune of 200+ in the final Test - also on tour in S. Africa. I'm looking for Purple Pietersen in Jo'burg, rather than the Beige Pietersen we've been seeing just lately.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great Blog oliver,

    I think the Trott rating was a little bit better than he deserved given his talent and the avaialbe wicket.

    Straus was excellent as a captain, but mediocore as a batsman and maybe deserved 1 point more.

    Cook on the other hand should definately of got an extra point, as well as scoring 2 50s he is vice captain and offers a lot of support to Straus.

    I think Prior needs to learn to defend a bit better, having a keeper who can thrash a big score like adam gilchrist is very handy, but we also need one who can grind out an innings ast the crease like alec stewart did for years.

    Would you consider dropping KP for the final test and bringing in another bowler in the form of sidebottom to see if we can reduce South Africa's batting potential. I feel that given his poor form of late KP should be rested and allowed to get his focus back.

    By swapping him for sidebotom we bring in an extra dimension to our bowling and as it currently stands lose nothing from our batting potential. Hi s presence may even remove some pressure from broad allowing him to be more of a batting threat.

  • Comment number 44.

    It was pretty much a team performance, though I feel rather concerned about the manner of Trott's dismissals- straight bat young man please! A year ago the team was reliant on Kp and Fred. Now it would be nice to see Kp do something for the team cause. Even his fielding was under par. What's the story?
    It was pleasing to see Ian Bell really look like he was up for the battle, rather than shuffling in rather apologetically as we have seen in the past. Could be a turning point for him.

  • Comment number 45.

    I think the ratings are generally fair, and i'm glad Bell is doing well as, although he's had his troubles, he has genuine class at the crease. I would perhaps.. like so many others.. have marked Strauss up a point or to for his leadership, and reasonable knock against the new ball and steyn in the second innings.

    I would like to know, however, if i'm the only person who wonders when Peitersen is going to stop being selected on reputation alone, I think it's about time he made some serious runs, as he hasn't batted well for more than the odd innings here and there for a long time.

  • Comment number 46.

    Any chance of some saffer ratings?

    For me Smith was the key player in the match. His massive total putting the saffers completely in charge but then a conservative declaration that left England only the chance of drawing and the opportunity to score a sporting victory by dead batting - by now he should have known we are quite good at that!

    Great game though.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ben wrote:
    Not sure about most people's comments about KP. I reckon people look for KP to fail. Commentators and public a like seem to jump on his back as soon as he's out of nick. He's not played well in TWO test matches so everyone's calling for his head, ridculous!
    I seem to recall England's sixth highest wicket taker of all time being dropped after only ONE bad Test Match - and he never played again......

  • Comment number 48.

    Fair ratings, OB.

    Good old England though. Must have been so boring supporting Australia when you just knew they would win all the time.

    Can't beat supporting England for a good old white-knuckle ride.

    And if you didn't read Andy Zaltzman's blog from 3 days ago (see adjacent link) it's worth a look just for the line that reads:

    "I fully expect Graham Onions and James Anderson to bat England to another fingertip draw in Cape Town on Thursday, before Strauss and his men romp to victory in the final Test."

    Well done for some awesome stargazing there Mr Z., well done on the rating Mr B. and well done England on another epic test match.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'd have given Strauss a lot less. 3 perhaps. Winning the toss and deciding to bowl is always a risky decision, doing it with only 4 bowlers in the South African summer heat, is foolhardy, he has done it twice in the 3rd and 1st tests and doesn't seem to have learnt his lesson, and again relied on a bowler to bat out the match.

    My opinion is that had he opted to bat first in both matches it would have been the Saffers trying to bat out the final day, and with a spinner who is worthy of the name on our side we'd have had a better chance of winning it!

    So had he called the other way England could be 2-0 or even 3-0 (and secured the series) allready. Yes captains sometimes have to take risks, but he seems to take his risks for the match at the toss, then play it safe.

    Strauss is also now getting similar scores to Vaughan when he was getting massive media pressure to quit besides being our best ever captain, he is also the lowest scoring English specialist batsmen in the series, in short he needs to sort himself out.

    The rest of the team i'm not worried about and agree with your scores, one or two players will always mis-fire, it is increadably rare for all 11 to meaningfully contribute to the game, hopefully KP will hit a rapid ton in the final innings in the final test to win us the match and the series, now that would be somthing!

  • Comment number 50.

    Re: 47. Stephen Jackson

    Agree with you Hoggard was dropped unfairly and treated badly by yorkshire and the ECB. He's a likeable character and I always thought he was one of our most underrated players.

    Having said that, in a similar way to Nitini he was coming to the end. KP on the other hand should (fingers crossed) be coming into his prime.

    In Strauss' opinion players have to be poor through 3+ matches before he considers dropping them. I think this is a good way to run a team as players know they have the backing of their captain. Look at what Struass vote of confidence did for Cook!

    Re: 38. Oliver: take your point about the pitch and the top three but still think Cook deserves a 7 being the Second highest 'run getter' for England in the game.

  • Comment number 51.

    Good work Oliver. The key points here are that Bell confirmed his place as a batsman of Test match quality - the most talented batsman of his generation will now hopefully be able to kick on and cement his reputation. KP is woefully short of form but his class will tell - no need to panic while the others front up. Colly is in the form of his life, Cook has rediscovered his, Broad needs greater consistency.

    Paramount though, is that Strauss's captaincy is what lifts a team that is second best on paper to a position where we cannot lose to the No 1 rated team in the world on their own turf. He was born to captain the side and is not far from being rated in the same bracket as Brearley and Vaughan. Well done sir.

    Smith and his team are still a force - Kallis and his captain turning this into runs and Amla too. De Villiers is as talented (more?) as Bell but is not performing. Prince and Duminy no good right now although the latter's bowling...

    Boucher still annoyingly good and Morkel and Steyn a top class opening pair. Bet they wish they could have a Graeme Swann though.

    Here's to a KP inspired win in Jo'berg!

  • Comment number 52.

    I think these ratings are about right. I don't think KP deserves more than 2, but hopefully he'll bounce back.

    However, I do feel that Collingwood deserves perhaps one more, since his grit was just as important as Bell's. Also, Broad definitely doesn't deserve 5. He would get 10 for self-publicity of course, very much helped by his well placed father and sister who run his publicity machine, but despite all that, trying to refer when you know you are out is really embarrassing.

  • Comment number 53.

    Yeah Collingwood and Bell played very well, but when the other nations are in similar positions their players can still score at a decent pace. Cause I'm not being funny, most bowlers could last a couple of hours blocking and not scoring. Though Bell scored at a good rate. And can someone please tell me why the ECB continue to pick players who aren't perfomrming, like Pieterson... A good player yes but there are other players who probably could and are performing better than him at this time.

  • Comment number 54.

    Re. comment 53. No, it is not actually very easy at all to stay in for that amount of time, even if you are not scoring runs. Anyone who has played cricket knows that. Steyn bowled some amazing deliveries, which would have finished many other players even if playing defensively. You also shouldn't play an attacking shot to a well pitched out-swinger, and certainly not to one that reverses.

  • Comment number 55.

    If there is no KP inspired win as some people suggest their will be, then he should be dropped from the test squad to be replaced by someone who can score more than 6 runs per test match, he is just wasting a space which could be given to a young batsmen with potential or one who has been on form in county level.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sorry what I really should have said there is that even with the very talented players England have chasing down 'big' scores is an dalways seems to be behond them. Australia would do everything they could to chase down scores of 400+ and normally triumph, but England can't. Cook and Strauss looked to do so, but when they went, followed by KP the chances of a win was over because our numbers 3,5 and 6 don't use there talents to rack up centries.

  • Comment number 57.

    Yes it was great that england dug themselves out of a hole but what about the performance that got them into the mess in the first place. I bet if South Africa had been in the same position in the forth innings they would have gone for the win. Especially on such a flat surface.

    Has anyone else noticed this test series is going the same way as the ashes? Opposition nearly win, england win, opposition nearly win so in johannaesburg england are going to win again?

  • Comment number 58.

    Well I don't think they will win but also I know England wont loose. Going by the ways we normally play, Strauss would be happy with the draw!

  • Comment number 59.

    I think England will be going for the win of course... as we did in the second test, where we complete stomped on them if you remember. Someone said SA should be 2-1 up. But I think Eng are the stronger side. Two losing draws... but the last one was down to just two specific SA innings - Kallis and Smith... and then there was one very very convincing England win. And on SA turf, with KP off form. I know which team I would be backing.

    Look at the bigger picture: England are 1-0 up, and 132-3 at the beginning of the day, chasing down 466 on the final day, which would be breaking a record or two. Even with the greatest batsmen, it makes no sense to play relatively risky attacking shots, when you can come back another day and wrap up the series.

  • Comment number 60.

    Well, I was pleased to read all the previous posts suggesting that Strauss was given too low a score as he has to be judged on his captaincy as well as his batting. I accept that the team winning the toss should always bat first but how often does a wicket perform as well as this one did in the fourth innings? Did he take this into account or not? Was it luck or a fabulous slice of juicy judgment?

    Strauss is both an excellent captain and bloke - possibly the best balanced character we have had in this role for a long time. I have always rated MV very highly (After 2005 who would not?) but Strauss comes across as just a tad more likeable which is hard when you are a leader of a bunch of egotistical sportsmen. I feel he is a little less patronising as well and his smile is his best feature as it is very genuine and natural. I like the tightness around his mouth and eyes when he is not happy as it shows he understands when things are not going well but does not let it affect his overall positive attitude.

    As for KP - well, he was brought back in too soon. I would have dropped him for this Test as he is simply out of touch but there is always a player who is 'untouchable' regardless of performance and he holds this position for now. Form is always temporary but he is not fit enough to show his class. I know he will be in the team for the last Test but I doubt he will contribute much. Why he was appointed as captain is a mystery to me as he is too much in love with himself to care about others. Nothing wrong with being selfish aka Mr Boycott but not when you are captain. I realise that a lot of the shrinking violets out there will find his abrasive comments a bit too blunt, scary and difficult to digest but despite some over the top moments he has especially when poor Aggers is around he usually talks a lot of sense and is also usually right in what he says. It is only the way he tells it that upsets people.

    My only serious criticism is that the SA team were not scored in the same way. Why not? Maybe they deserved to win this Test but the level of concentration and focus shown by two English batsmen countered all of the very hard work of the South Africans who were on top for most of the match. Despite GS's fabulous batting performance he will always be an average captain as he is far too cautious and pedantic which is surprising for such a young man. He has some fantastic bowlers and players at his disposal and I honestly believe that Strauss has the edge in this area regardless of all the silly media reports to the contrary.

    Whatever anyone says the real winner, as always, was the game of cricket. I love all versions of the game but Test cricket should remain supreme to the rest because it is the only version that proves substance is more ultimately more important than style. Real men playing a real sport that came down to the wire after 5 full days of strenous effort. Is it my imagination or is this becoming a more frequent event nowadays?

    I cannot wait for the last Test and wish I could see it in person. Being a bit of a pedant myself I would like to know why the word 'focused' now has 2 s's instead of just the one? Does anyone check these things?

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 61.

    I think Oliver has it about right though I do think that Collingwood should go up the scale - how many times have England relied on this man to dig them out of trouble (can this possibly be the one Shane Warne was so contemptuous of - surely not)?

    Let's not go down the football road of dropping people from the team all the time because of a couple of bad performances. KP is not my top pop, but I think the team should stick with him as he will come good after a very long lay-off from injury. To those who doubt, listen to the Q & A session with Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher about continuity, and don't start on the miserable football road.

  • Comment number 62.

    ... In fact, what is interesting about this is that Strauss's England has effectively demoralised the two supposedly 'best' captains in 2009 and 2010 - Ponting and Smith - and two of the greatest teams at the moment. I don't care how they do it, but rubbing Aus and SA nose in it is definitely a good thing. I think this is a very good time for English cricket.

  • Comment number 63.

    Re. comment 59. I do agree with you, especially loosing 3 wickets on day 4 and leaving a massive score, being impossible to catch on the fith day. But I just feel that in any position batters must look to be positive, and give it a go, cause I'm the sort of guy who believes it's better to go after big scores and maybe lose than to block deliveries all day and draw. But thats just me, and also Test cricket is the supreme format of the game,and even though I like teams chasing scores and big shots, watching two teams fighting for five days is what cricket is all about! Not twenty 20, thats just a format for a bit of fun and enjoyment either before or fater the main show, and that is Test Cricket!

  • Comment number 64.

    For Strauss to get the same rating as Broad is a joke, and I think Cook and Colly also deserve a raise

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree the broad thrust of your original comments and marks - mine (in batting order) would be 7,7,6,1,9,9,7,6,8,9,7. This side is developing into a hard nosed, professional outfit under very sound management and captaincy. The team spirit, and I mean this in a real sense - the team is far greater than the sum of it's parts - is as good as it gets with one exception. Kevin Pietersen is an egotistical show pony who always plays self-indulgently regardless of the match situation. He is wonderfully talented and, once on top of the bowlers, can take a game away from the opposition on his own but he is one-dimensional and, when he can't bully, he has no patience and no Plan B. If I were in the management team I would take him aside before Jo'burg and tell him the above straight and that his attitude is unacceptable. I would tell him he is eminently droppable and I would give him one Test to demonstrate a change of heart. This does not mean he must score heavily to stay in the team but it does mean dropping him if he gets out irresponsibly again and/or sulks and shows off in the field as he has been doing. If he was to be dropped, I would offer him a one-day only central contract and wave him off to the IPL!

  • Comment number 66.

    For those who have talked about KP being dropped in favour of an in form, young county batsman, I would like to point out that it is January, -10 degrees and not much cricket happening in this country. Thus there is no form batsman from the county circuit. The only man in the squad with an outside chance of making the test team is Siders. Carberry, Wright and Rashid have no chance, unless KP did something really silly....

  • Comment number 67.

    Comment 63 - agree with you Ollie that you must be positive. Luckily, a bit of negativity helped us today! And somehow that blocking suits Colly's personality.

    Comment 65 - Mine would be 6,6,5,2,9,9,7,3,8,8,7.

  • Comment number 68.

    K.P doing something silly?
    No way...

  • Comment number 69.

    Well seeing others have done it:

    One other thing, Anderson has a much higher average than I ever though! Whats going on there?

  • Comment number 70.

    whats with all this Broad bashing? Yes, he had a poor Test but have people forgotten he has been instrumental in our last 2 test victories? He singled handedly obliterated 2 world class middle orders in the space of 3 Tests.

    With regard to the referral he made in the 2nd innings, some people are too idiotic to realise it was done to kill a couple of minutes of time.

  • Comment number 71.

    Strauss - 6 - After a blistering 50 at Durban, was back to his old self a little. He's a lot better than what he displayed at Newlands.

    Cook - 7 - Back to back half centuries. Looks very neat. All he needs now is to not give away his wicket so easily. I honestly believe had him and Strauss batted on into the last day, we may have been talking about a world record run chase.

    Trott - 6 - Looks good at times, but didn't stamp his authority on this game at all.

    Pietersen - 3 - Looks out of sorts completely.

    Collingwood - 8 - Obdurate. Helped us win the draw.

    Bell - 9 - MOTM for the England team. Good knocks both innings. His 78 in the second innings was as invaluable as a big 100 on another day.

    Prior - 8 - Good glovesman, top scored in the first innings for England. Averaged 40 with the bat. Can't say fairer than that.

    Broad - 6 - Not a great game from Broad

    Swann - 8 - Another good game with the ball from Swann.

    Anderson - 8 - Good wickets haul, took the pressure with the bat

    Onions - 7 - Can't be hard on him. He'd like more wickets but Anderson and Swann did very well on that front in this match. Saves the day with his batting.

  • Comment number 72.

    Not sure Cook should be advised to be more circumspect with the pull-shot. Yes it got him out but it is also his main attacking & scoring shot.
    As for those that suggest England should have gone for the win & that SA & Australia would have done exactly that...absolute poppycock of the highest order. Chasing a world record 4th innings score England played perecentages and it paid off. There was no incentive to go for the win. If it was the final test and we are 1-0 down then yes, but where is the logic to do it this time?
    No sane team in world cricket would have cahsed the win in England's situation.
    Congrats Colly, and Bell and all the boys. Before today I'm not sure I would have backed Bell to save my place in the queue for the bank, let alone a test match.
    I'm v v happy to have been proved wrong..
    Think SA bottled it again though - what was Harris doing all day? Think the pressure began to tell? Don't think Swanny would have served that up if the roles had been reversed.

  • Comment number 73.

    No I just said that Colly scored amazingly slow, and that players should always look to be positive!

  • Comment number 74.

    I think 2 was a bit generous for KP. After all he's not much use as a bowler, is he?

  • Comment number 75.

    Strauss - Mon Capitano - saved the game - 9
    Pietersen - 2 is generous - sorry - 0
    Onions - the hero again - 11


  • Comment number 76.

    We have regained the spirit of Boycott... able to bat forever without scoring runs to secure a draw when it matters. Test Cricket has returned !!!

  • Comment number 77.

    I think we all agree that KP needs to deliver in the final test.

    ...but can we take a chance on him?

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    KP had a bad test and series yet he still averages more than strauss in this series. He averages over 30 on his comeback from injury series and people think he should be dropped? Stick with him.

  • Comment number 80.

    A bit generous with Mr. Pietersen. 1 mark for turning up, and 1 mark for not taxing the scorers too much.
    Next please ....

  • Comment number 81.

    Oliver, everyone can have their own ratings as you say. However, the premise behind them is a nonsense. You condemn Cook and Pietersen for failing to capitalize on a "belter of batting pitch". Have you been watching a different match? 291 and 273 dont say a batsman's paradise. In fact, the evidence is that everyone struggled desperately against the new ball and it was huge credit to those who got through it. If Swann had taken Smith on 1 in the first innings the SA innings could have been rubble before lunch on day 1. Similarly, SA's 2nd innings total was based on their seeing off the new ball. And Steyn to Colilngwood was as good as Test match cricket gets. All due to a pitch that was offering significant assistance to bowlers. This was no Oval wicket.

  • Comment number 82.

    #60. Joe, I'm as pedantic as you in the spelling stakes. I think there should only be one 's' in 'focused'. But then maybe I'm biasssed? Ah, to have benefittttttttttted from a more rigorous approach to English at school! Could some experts possibly be bused in to resolve the confusion?

  • Comment number 83.

    Oliver I think Ian Bell has got 1 point more than what should have. ok he played decently in the first innings, and played the innings of his life in the second one, but on both those inningses, he didn't finish the job. he got out in the softest possible way as well both times. so I think he should get an 8.

  • Comment number 84.

    Does anyone else feel AB Devilliers should keep let his outstanding talent do the talking and not get embroiled in other things, he has a short memory when calling in to question what has gone on in this match.
    While i am not defending Anderson it should be down to the officials to decide if action is being taken, i did not here the England team condeming AB when he caught Straus on the half volley at Headingley !
    As for people expecting too much from KP this is rubbish, it is he who is always telling us he wants to be the best in the world etc, a little less talk and more thought about how he is getting out to rubbish like Harris would help
    Also Broad is still learning the game and his role in the side, he is an outstanding talent who will like all developing players have good days and bad days, he has been instrumental in winning two matches against top teams with the ball ( Swan excepted who else has )
    Complaining about his refferal just shows the how little some people understand about the game

  • Comment number 85.

    kp didn't have much preparation for this test series after his injury - maybe he can score a few in the match before the final test. and trott too as he is slightly off the boil.

    rest strauss, prior, anderson and swann ?

    good to see cook and bell silence their critics - something prior has also done.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm actually a bit worried about KP. He really is a nervous player at times. Look how many suicidal singles he takes to get off the mark, or how often he tries to go for outrageous shots for a hundred. Both of these are a sign of insecurity, in a way, in that when he feels under pressure (to get off the mark or through the 'nervous nineties') he takes unnecessary risks. My worry is the worse his tour goes, the more pressure he'll be feeling, the more risks he takes (like walking down the pitch second ball to a seamer with a newish ball in the 1st innings here) and the more often he comes unstuck.

    He needs a bit of space, a big bit of luck and a decent knock but if he's feeling under pressure and as though he has to prove himself then I can't see it happening as he'll never take the approach that Strauss did in NZ, Bell did here or Collingwood has countless times and play 'ugly' in order to stay at the crease and play himself back into form.

  • Comment number 87.

    You seem to have been very generous to Swanny. Sure he's had a great few months but in this game gave us nothing with the bat and that dropping G Smith at the start of South Africas Sencond innings meant SA could take the game away from us.

  • Comment number 88.

    Take away Pietersen's 2 and give one each to Strauss and cook. Then it's just about right.

  • Comment number 89.

    Re the pronunciation debate. Both focused and focussed are accepted. In theory the single 's' is enough because the stress is on the first, 'fo-' syllable of the base word. People who write the double 's' are trying to avoid the analogy with 'used'. That's cool too, don't worry, be happy.

    By the way, I think it should be 'to bus' -> 'bussed' because this word is only one syllable long, i.e. the first & last syllable are the same thing, "both" of them therefore carrying stress.

  • Comment number 90.

    Just want to comment on Boycott! i think he speaks his mind too much, is sometimes a bit rude and definately offends alot of people!

    Oh and of course in his mind the best batsman ever.

    And this is why he should be on the radio and tele more, absolutely brilliant!!!! the fact that people complain about him means he is totally more interesting than alot of commentators!!

    missed Blowers though!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Gotta say that I’ve been one of the Bell knockers (that doesn’t sound right) in the past and prior to the start of this test series, but I take back all the accusations I threw at him after his last 2 test performances.

    Fair enough he still has some way to go to "cement" his place in the team, but the guy has shown a great fighting spirit and true determination to play a massive part in the last 2 tests.

    In regards to KP, I don’t think it was his kind of Test. I mean he aint exactly the type to block every delivery and scrap for is life. His mentality is to attack whether right or wrong. Sure he deserves his 2, but he’ll bounce back. Pretty sure the guys won us a few test matches in the past………………………yeah that’s right he has.

  • Comment number 92.

    The National side at the wicket looked like Rabbits caught in the headlights. They had an opportunity to win but lacked the will and determination. A Draw with such an opportunity to win can never be presented as a great achievement. Am I the only person in the country who would rather see a 4-0 wipe out in favour of S.Africa, (a wipe-out where we at least strove to win), to this Percentage Cricket? This Mediocrity where the batsmen cling to the hope of a draw and then express their wholly inapppropriate satisfaction with the result? Whatever happened to the Desire to Win?

  • Comment number 93.

    43. Sidey in for KP? Nope, don’t like that. Jo’burg could have interruptions and a sporting enough wicket anway. Four bowlers when you’re 1-0 up is the way to go.
    47. Yup, Hoggy had one bad Test and that was it. He was seriously unlucky, but KP’s track record is a bit special. It would be crackers to even consider dropping him.
    49. Strauss looks in pretty good touch really. I think it’s a bit of a statistical quirk that his runs aggregate is so low.
    57. Ashes parallels are weird, partic for the first two matches!
    81. You try telling Graeme Smith this wicket offered “significant assistance to bowlers”. Don’t think he’ll concur...
    87. Ah – the dropped catch. True, there could have been a one-point deduction for that I guess...

  • Comment number 94.

    Cook a 6 for making 2 half centuries in a for England low scoring match while seeing off the new ball and facing, amongst others, the nr 1 bowler in the world???

    Admittedly I only watched the highlights so I'm not quite sure whether Cook really looked in excellent touch in both innings. Imo he got out in the second innings coz at that moment England still got a chance to win the match and therefore the series. 350 odd to go, plenty of overs left, 10 wickets in hand, 2 settled batsmen and a ball in one of his favourite areas. This time he got out, next time the same ball goes for 4, he misses or the ball lands safe and a few overs later he gets a screamer while trying to defend.

    I read your marks a few times lately and I noticed you generally condemn players who got out while playing attacking shots. I totally disagree with that. Obviously if Swann would have nicked that cut shot he suddenly played it's a different story coz there was no need to hit that harmless ball.

    What I'm trying to say is that imo luck is always involved in the game of cricket, ie getting a second life due to a dropped catch or inmediatly nicking a ball which imo is a better shot than missing. Therefore I base my opinion on all the balls the batsman faced so if the shot Cook got out to, regardless whether it was a defensive or offensive shot, was a rare bad shot I would have given him a 9.

  • Comment number 95.

    as a PS to my earlier post, should there be a word count limit to these comments? whilst all in interesting some posts on the durban match were more like essays. word limit say 100 or 150 words ???

  • Comment number 96.

    My ratings

    Strauss: 6 - Not a great match, as captain or batsman.
    Cook: 8 - Batted well in both innings but didn't go on.
    Trott: 6 - Started well, but like Cook failed to go on.
    Pietersen: 2 - Single figure scores, poor performance for KP.
    Collingwood: 7 - He made a fantastic contribution to the second innings.
    Bell: 8 - Two good innings, bad time to get out second innings.
    Prior: 7 - Held first innings together, more good keeping.
    Broad: 4 - Not great bowling, bad batting.
    Swann: 6 - Wasn't his game, two in two, well done.
    Anderson: 7 - Bowled well and made good innings in second.
    Onions: 6 - Poor bowling first day but bowled well after, final over.

    As for changes: NONE AT ALL!
    The last thing England want is an injury or to move around batsmen.
    Sidebottom: Will not help bowling at all, Anderson and Onions are better
    Rashid: Not ready yet and England won't play two spinners or replace Swann.
    Wright: Changes line-up completely, England won't want that.

  • Comment number 97.

    re: comment 84. I have been playing cricket for 30 years Mickemmo, at Schoolboy county level, but then deteriorated to local cricket teams in my 20s and 30s, so yes, I do understand the game. Referrals have only recently been introduced, so it is not about great wisdom and knowledge here - people are still feeling their way through it. I still believe Broad didn't like the fact that he had been given out, and the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to walk, even in those circumstances. I think it will be very sad if the new system destroys that spirit.

    Yes, Broad can be a great asset, but I think he is massively pumped up by a publicity machine which the likes of Swann and Anderson (both better bowlers in my opinion, and in Swann's case, a better batsman too) don't have. This seems unjust, but maybe epitomises the elitism and unfair advantage that has always plagued cricket. He is helped by his father and sister. Good for him you will probably say, but I hope he merits all this attention in the longer run.

    I hope I didn't make any errors of grammar there, in case the grammar police pompous up.

  • Comment number 98.

    Message for Ollie and all those complaining about lack of being positive, not going for the win, etc - I have just watched a test over here in Oz that Pakistan had won and was impossible to lose, they threw it away being positive, caught twice on the boundary going for sixes in the first innings then again threw it away trying to go for positive shots chasing 176. Over here they are describing it as one of Australia's best wins ever in test history, incidentally Australia have now won the series 2-0 with a test to go due to Pakistan being positive. Funny enough. there was extensive coverage of the final day highlights that were missing on all the news bulletins of the first few days (And Ponting's job is safe again).

    Back to England - It is fantastic to see the fight back in an England team with the team digging in as they did - look what happened to SA when they were asked to do the same - they went to bits. If SA were 2-1 up, do you think that come the same scenario day 5 of the last test that they wouldn't scrap out the draw. All I can say is that after watching English cricket for years it's absolutely fantastic to see them fighting every ball, as in the past we would have been 2-1 down at this stage. Got to say a big well done to Andrew Strauss and the team (and of course the barmy army for their support), can't wait to see you all over here in Brisbane 25th Nov 2010, hopefully they will allow the trumpets in this time (All the Queenslanders do).

  • Comment number 99.

    jowcor wrote:
    am i the only one who thinks that mr boycott commenting on the radio goes to far in his comments about players to the point of insulting them and he is always stating the obvious why dont the other commentators tell him to be quiet.

    Hear hear! He's very free with his comments about what's wrong with players, and a bit ungenerous about their good points. And nobody is ever as good as him.


    I'm surprised he wasn't more gracious on the final day- Colly stood in the middle, played defensive shots and trickled runs at a snails pace. He made a career out of that didn't he?

  • Comment number 100.

    97. William, oh for a gentlemans game, where the batsman walk, the bowlers dont have to appeal, AB doesnt claim catches on the half volley, where all teams do not appeal fully knowing it was not out what a wonderful world it would be
    Broad was not 100 % sure he was out and with the review system working most of the time but open for abuse ( as in the last over with the saffers appeal ) he thought he would chance his arm as would most of the team
    i do not think Broad is a publicity machine, that is KP talking to the media all the time, Broad remember will make mistakes at his look at Freddie when he started, let him develop and get off his back
    Anderson is a better bowler at present but does he do it enough when it matters ?
    On the refferal system i think it is working but only shows up even more when an umpire is rubbish like Darrel Harper ( what marks for him 1 0r 2 )
    ps did you play your cricket down south ?


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