Monday, 27 November 2006

England's performance ratings

After the heavy loss in Brisbane here are the marks out of ten for England's players:

Andrew Strauss - 3 After making two good starts Strauss was caught playing the pull shot in both innings. He played the shot in the first innings too early, before he had assessed the bounce of the pitch, and he mistimed it horribly. In the second innings the stroke was better executed, but he managed to pick out the fielder at fine leg. As it is one of his favourite shots and one which brings him many runs Strauss should not be put off playing it - he just needs to be more certain of the pitch before doing so.

Alastair Cook - 5.5 In his first Test innings in Australia Cook was unfortunate to receive a top class delivery from Glenn McGrath, which ended what had been a promising start. Second time around Cook showed his maturity and class in making 43, only to be found out by the other Australian maestro, Shane Warne. But Cook is a quick learner and over the rest of the series he should be able to build on the decent foundations he has laid in Brisbane.

Ian Bell - 6 A strong and resolute half century in the first innings revealed just how far Bell has come since his traumas of the last Ashes series. While everyone else fell around him he played with grit and no little skill. Unfortunately, he was unable to repeat the performance, falling for 0 to Shane Warne in the second innings.

Paul Collingwood - 7.5 He struggled in the first innings, never really coming to terms with the pitch and seemingly realising many people's fears that he would not be able to adjust to the bounce of Australian wickets. However, all these negative thoughts were banished by his magnificent, gutsy second innings 96. Deprived of a deserved century by a misjudged charge down the wicket to Shane Warne, he can still be highly satisfied with his display. Allied to his usual top class fielding, which included two fine catches, Collingwood was one of the pluses in England's defeat.

Kevin Pietersen - 8 Playing against his natural game in the first innings, Pietersen only succeeded in prolonging his agony, eventually being trapped lbw by McGrath. Clearly he was not impressed with his effort and strode to the wicket with much more of his customary swagger in the second innings. His batting was superb at times as he unleashed his wonderful array of shots, particularly targetting Warne. That he dominated the Australian bowlers for long periods is testament to his quality. Like Collingwood he failed to reach three figures, falling for 92, but the manner of his play will have left its marks on the Australian attack.

Andrew Flintoff - 7 While all the bowlers around him were struggling against the Australian first innings assault, Flintoff played a lone hand in stemming the runs and taking wickets. His return of 4 for 99 in the opposition's mammoth 602 was magnificent. Sadly, his batting was poor, as he followed a first innings duck with just 16 in the second innings, falling to a badly timed hit across the line to Warne. His captaincy was generally good, though he lacked inspiration when things were at their most difficult and he is still unsure when to bowl himself and for how long.

Geraint Jones - 6 A faultless display behind the stumps, in which he conceded only 2 byes over the two Australian innings and held the one chance that came his way. His batting, which was what got him back in the side, was good. In the first innings he seemed to have found some form only to be caught on the crease by a McGrath delivery which nipped back. With England facing defeat Jones played some excellent shots in his second innings, only to play on to a ball which kept low. It was shame as he was going well and might have made that bigger score that has eluded him for so long.

Ashley Giles - 5 Controversially selected ahead of Monty Panesar, because of his superior batting and fielding, Giles did not disappoint in this regard. Two handy innings of 24 and 23, despite being rusty, showed that he could still handle a bat against strong bowling. However, his own bowling was no more than adequate and did not offer Flintoff the control he would have wanted. Giving the ball a little more air and bowling slower than usual Giles managed to induce a poor shot from Damien Martyn, but that was the high point of his efforts with the ball, as the Australian batsmen came after him. In the second innings he only bowled 5 overs.

Matthew Hoggard - 5.5 Could not get the new ball to swing in the crucial Australian first innings and was pretty ineffective as an attacking force. However, Hoggard has more than just swing in his repertoire these days and he managed to keep the runs down with his subtle variations. In one superb over he got Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist out lbw, giving England faint hopes of restricting the Australian total. Sadly, it was too little too late and Hoggard was unable to find much swing in the second innings.

Steve Harmison - 3 An abject start to the series for England's number one strike bowler. His first ball, a wide to second slip, summed up his effort. Whether he was under-prepared, froze on the big occasion, or simply lost his rhythm, Harmison was embarassingly ineffective. His display has been dissected by everyone and his technique questioned. It is not the first time he has struggled on tour and failed to lead England's attack. He needs to find some form quickly, as neither he nor England can afford another similar effort.

James Anderson - 3 Though his bowling was not as bad as his awful figures suggest, Anderson was poor in this match. He was unable to find any consistency in his line and length and rarely threatened the batsmen. He gave away far too many boundaries and applied no pressure on the opposition. Flintoff could not rely on him in any way and his lack of swing, conventional or otherwise, was a worry. His selection ahead of Sajid Mahmood looks like a mistake, though Anderson had shown form in the warm-up matches. It is a shame as Anderson has fought hard to get fit, but Test cricket is a harsh place to gauge your form, especially against Australia in their own back yard.

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3 comments:

Tim Wigmore said...

Great piece Nick. I was most surprised with Anderson, having advocated his selection over Mahmood on the ground of greater consistency and his fine endeavours in India. However, with Mahmood's good game against Australia in the ICC, and his superior batting, I feel he should play ahead of Anderson in the next game, if England do indeed play a spinner.

Anonymous said...

hi there, though i agree with the relative score when compared to each other, i diagree with the magnitudes.

collingwood, pieterson don't deserve 7's or 8's basically because at this level, one or 2 of the batsmen NEED to make the big hundreds and eat up 300 deliveries.

yes, they both made fighting 50's, but i wasn't too impressed by them to be honest. i feel the batting was shoddy. if langer can blaze his way to a 100 on the 3rd/4th day then so can strauss/cook et al

Chrispy said...

While I think Fred bowled brilliantly in the first innings, I think that his woeful performance with the bat, hardly setting the captain's example caught at mid on, and his sometimes weary field placings, prevent him from getting a 7. I don't expect him to be superman, which is precisely why he should not be captain and batting six. Seven with Strauss captain and I think we balance the load a bit more. He can't perform brilliantly with bat and ball every game, which is why we shouldn't expect him to by putting him in at 6, then having him come in with barely three figures on the board.