Monday, 18 December 2006

England's performance ratings

Having handed over the Ashes at Perth here are the marks out of ten for England's players:

Strauss - 5.5 Hard to be too critical of a batsman who received two poor decisions in the match. In the first innings he looked in good form, not for the first time in the series, only to be given out caught when he clearly didn't touch the ball - a decision which deprived him of turning his 42 into something far more substantial. In the second he was adjudged lbw to a ball that would have gone over. True he didn't play a shot, which is always risky, but the umpire failed to take into account the exaggerated bounce at the WACA when raising his finger.

Cook - 8 A wonderful century in the second innings more than made up for his low score in the first. Showing immense patience and determination, Cook fought through the difficult times, especially the torment of Warne's wily leg-spin, to register his maiden Ashes ton and his fourth overall. Once again his maturity at just 21 was staggering and his capacity to learn and improve plain for all to see. It is a shame that he has had to learn his trade in the spotlight of an Ashes series, but it will serve him well in the rest of the series and in the bright future he clearly has.

Bell - 7 Out to an absolute peach of a delivery in the first innings, he responded with an exhibition of timing and sumptuous strokeplay in the second. Taking on Warne as soon as he come on Bell unleashed some mighty blows, including two sixes. The only shame of it was that he drove loosely 13 short of a deserved hundred. Overconfidence had got the better of him, something which would have been unthinkable just a year and a half ago. He also continued to show his prowess at silly mid-on, taking a great catch off Panesar.

Collingwood - 3 Sadly, the suspicion that he would struggle on bouncier pitches was confirmed as he followed his fantastic double century at Adelaide with two low scores here. Both times he failed to come to terms with the surface and his technique was exposed. No-one could doubt his fighting spirit, but when his team needed runs and momentum he stagnated and simply had no answers. His catching and fielding were as sharp as ever, but could not atone for his lack of runs.

Pietersen - 8 Left to play for a long time with the tail in the first innings and stranded on 60 in the second, Pietersen showed the strength of his temperament as well as his class. At times he looked like he simply could not be got out, an idea confirmed by Ricky Ponting's ultra defensive field placings. For a while in the first innings he seemed unsure how he should play with the tail, especially when Hoggard was with him, but his decision to play positively was the right one, though it ultimately led to his demise, as he played a poor shot. In the second he tried to bat time, while keeping the score ticking over, which worked for a while. Unfortunately, he was unable to protect the tail, who fell cheaply.

Flintoff - 4 A shadow with the ball throughout the match and with the bat in the first innings, he finally showed what he is capable of with an attacking cameo in the second innings. It was too little far too late and did nothing more than postpone the inevitable loss for his team. Bowling at reduced pace, presumably because of his injured ankle, Flintoff went wicketless in the match. His captaincy was okay, but he lacked inspiration in Australia's second innings which was the decisive one of the match. It may be that little could have been done to stem the flow, but it is at times like those that the best captains find a wicket from somewhere.

Jones - 2 The abject nature of his batting display in this match defied belief. After throwing his wicket away for nought in the first innings, chasing a wide delivery, Jones managed to be run out in the second because he left his foot on the line playing forward to Shane Warne. It was a sharp piece of fielding from Ponting, but a batsman in any kind of form would have managed to get his foot back in time. Add to that the desperate dropped catch and missed stumping and you have a truly awful allround performance. It is a shame for any player to finish in a such a way, but surely this is the end of the Test road for Jones?

Mahmood - 2 Underbowled in the first innings when Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar did most of the damage, Mahmood was given only a few more overs in the second to show what he could do. The lack of faith shown in him by his captain must have dented his confidence and could not have helped when he was finally thrown the ball. In the 17 overs he did bowl in the match he failed to show control of length or line and was dispatched to all parts of the field. His batting was little better, though he was under immense pressure both times he strode to the crease. It was sad to see such a talented young player on the periphery of the match, given little chance to show his ability.

Hoggard - 5 Bowled well with the new ball in both innings, but was unable to find the edge of the bat. His delivery to get rid of Langer in the second innings was superb, but it was his only wicket in the innings. As usual he gave everything, despite the scorching heat, and another day he might have had more reward for his efforts. He stayed with Pietersen for a long time in the first innings, fending off everything the Australian attack threw at him. Sadly, he was exposed in the second, bowled by a wonderful yorker from Glenn McGrath.

Harmison - 7 He finally came to the party in the first innings, bowling with fire and extracting steepling bounce at times from the WACA pitch. Yet, it was his control of length which got him his wickets as he pitched the ball up. None was more important at the time than Ponting, who he trapped lbw in the first innings for just 2. Unfortunately, he was unable to repeat his performance in the second innings, when, like Hoggard, he failed to get the edge with the new ball and was put to the sword later in the searing heat. A wonderfully fiesty 23 in the first innings showed Harmison had come to fight, but there was little he could do against Warne in the second when he was out first ball.

Panesar - 9 A stunning return to the side, claiming 8 wickets in the match, including a five wicket haul in the first innings, when he ripped through the Australian line-up. Strange to say he can bowl much better, but there was an infectious enthusiasm in his performance which carried him through that incredible bowling spell. The Australians seemed to be in his thrall as he extracted bounce and turn from the first day pitch. Even when Symonds went after him there was an inevitability that he would eventually get him out. In the second innings Panesar continued to bowl well, though the Australian batsmen were under less pressure and able to attack him. He was caught in the whirlwind that was Adam Gilchrist's quickfire hundred, which ruined his economy rate, but came out of the match as England's best bowler, justifying the cries for his selection. He even managed to show he could bat with a well crafted 12 not out in the first innings.


Tim Wigmore said...

"Overconfidence had got the better of him, something which would have been unthinkable just a year and a half ago."

What an interesting point about Bell. With him, unlike Pietersen, I would prefer he was a little too attacking than too tentative. In time, though, I'm sure he'll strike the right balance.

Matt Cartwright said...

I think to give Jones a 2 was generous. The guy has batted like a number 10 at best (bar a couple of 50's in the 2005 ashes) since his first few games for England. His selection smacks of the 'cliquey' selection choices which have destroyed our chances of at least making a fight of this series. I think it was always going to be too much to ask for us to perform like 2005 but at least some hungry in-form players would have given it a fight. The test side finally started to hit some form against Pakistan at teh back end of the summer only for their confidence to be shredded by being dropped for players who's time has gone. I want to be philosophical and realistic about this but I am currently so angry and dissapointed I am aiming my fury at our gifted No.7. Mr. Gammons you know my feelings about Geraint Jones and you will know who I am simply by my comments. I'm tipping us to get turned over in Melbourne but to nick a win in Sydney to save some pride. Ahhh

Chrispy said...

Fair ratings Nick. Flintoff was average, Jones terrible and Mahmood was conspicuous by his absence. Perhaps his face doesn't fit with Flintoff. Whilst he should have been bowled more I also think that he needs more county games before playing on the biggest stage again. The guy is still young and is yet to have one full season in county cricket.

However, why would we want our international cricketers to spend time playing cricket, I mean it just makes no sense at all, better to wrap them in cotton wool and unleash them on the unexpected opposition ala Harmison, that is if the opposition is standing at second slip of course! Tremlett was probably the best man for the job experience wise, whilst it is Broad who has the long term future at the top. Anderson, Plunkett and Mahmood should never have been placed above these two, especially for a series in Australia. I hope to see both named in the ODI squad, but will undoubtedly be disappointed once more. Ho hum!