After capitulating to a humiliating defeat at Adelaide here are the marks out of ten for England's players:
Andrew Strauss - 4 Threw his wicket away in the first innings, but finally showed some form in the second, only to be wrongly given out. It was a cruel blow, but the kind of thing that happens when a player is struggling. He has failed to adapt to conditions in Australia so far and has shown poor judgement. He will need to improve greatly in both areas if he is to make any impact in this series, which has nearly gone from England's fumbling grasp.
Alastair Cook - 3 Has developed a bad habit of nibbling at deliveries outside his off stump that he should leave alone. He is not the first left-hander to suffer in this way and he is unfortunate to have come up against the extreme accuracy of Stuart Clark, but he ought to have learned his lesson by now. England cannot afford for him to keep failing, as the pressure on the middle order is too great. It is time for Cook to step up and show the class and ability that he clearly has.
Ian Bell - 6 Another very good half century in the first innings, though he was out to a poor shot, when three figures was beckoning on a benign pitch. Like the rest of the England team he scored painfully slowly in the second innings and was then invloved in a comedy run out, which saw his demise. He has still not been entirely convincing at number three in this series, though he is much improved from the timid player that suffered against Australia in 2005.
Paul Collingwood - 9 Hard to criticise a man who made such a magnificent double hundred, but Collingwood was too defensive in the second innings trying to save the match. In compiling his double century he showed his class as well as his grit and vast powers of concentration. He didn't score quickly, but he did keep rotating the strike, never allowing the bowlers to get on top of him. He also showed that he could play Shane Warne, as well as the pacemen, unveiling some wonderful strokes. Sadly, he was unable to repeat this in the second innings, where his long vigil was more reminiscent of the great stonewallers.
Kevin Pietersen - 8 It is to be hoped that he will be remembered more for his electrifying 158 in the first innings than his 2 in the second. He dominated all the bowlers in making his wonderful century, none more so than Shane Warne, who looked at times like he had no idea how to bowl to him. In fact, he was reduced to negative bowling into the rough in an attempt to stem the flow of runs. Yet, having seemingly earned huge psychological points over the master leg-spinner, he was ironically bowled behind his legs by him in the second innings.
Andrew Flintoff - 5 Under the severest pressure as Australia chased victory Flintoff's captaincy showed serious flaws. He was unable to find successful fields for his bowlers and could not stem the flow of runs, let alone bowl Australia out. He also struggled with the bat, only managing to score at the end of England's mammoth first innings. When he was needed in the second innings he was caught between playing his natural attacking game and defending. The hapless compromise he found was sad to see. He bowled with fire in the match, but lacked the cutting edge he had shown at Brisbane. It is to be hoped that this was not because of his ankle injury.
Geraint Jones - 3 Did okay with the gloves for most of the match, but dropped a fairly easy chance on the last day and let a few byes through. His batting can only be described as woeful. After a poor first innings, he hung around for a while in the second, even managing to get into double figures, only to give it away with an awful shot. It seems that the reasons why he was dropped still prevail and his only real saving grace is the vocal support that he gives the team while in the field. However, this will not be as vocal as the calls for him to be dropped.
Ashley Giles - 2.5 Brought into the side because his batting and fielding were superior to Monty Panesar's, Giles failed to maintain his usual standards in either. He dropped Ponting in the first innings when he was on 35, which was the turning point in the match, then fell for 0 in England's second innings when they needed him most. His bowling, as at the Gabba, was ineffective, as he failed to apply any pressure on the Australian batsmen, who milked him for easy runs.
Matthew Hoggard - 9 His bowling display in Australia's first innings was a monumental effort and worthy of the man of the match award. Toiling away for 42 overs, Hoggard dug out seven wickets, in what amounted to a one man show. His control of line and length was impeccable and he gleaned what he could from the new ball. Fearful of what he might do in their second innings the Australian batsmen attacked him from the start. He still managed to claim one victim, taking his tally to 8 wickets in the match. Truly outstanding on a lifeless pitch.
Steve Harmison - 3 Showed some improvement in control from his terrible outing at the Gabba, but lacked penetration and consistency. There were no gifts from the Australian batsmen and England's premier strike bowler went wicketless in the match. Flintoff did not give him the new ball, which was testament enough to the travails that Harmison is going through. Without any kind of rhythm or sharpness it was unlikely that he would do much damage on such a lifeless pitch. England supporters must be hoping that something will spark him into life, as only wins matter from now on in this series.
James Anderson - 3 Another lacklustre performance on his comeback trail. Like Harmison he was unable to find any consistency or penetration on the benign surface. The reverse swing, which was one of the reasons for his selection, eluded him and the Australian batsmen found him too easy to play. He also continued to deliver too many four balls. In Australia's run chase he went for six an over in a short spell and was wisely not bowled again. It will be sad if this is the last action he sees in the series, but he has done little to justify his selection.
Tagged with: Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Ashley Giles, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, James Anderson