Tuesday, 19 June 2007

England Series Ratings

England eased to a 3-0 series victory against the West Indies, but the opposition, with a few honourable exceptions, were no better than a poor county side. How did England’s players rate?

Alastair Cook 8
Two relatively routine Test centuries to take his tally to six – and two 50s to boot – were reward for a series in which Cook grew in confidence and aggression; in doing so, he showed the time is right for him to have an extended run in the ODI side.

Andrew Strauss 3
While his partner flourished, Strauss’ winter struggles continued as both his technique and previously unflappable temperament came under question. Although he made a very good 77 in the last Test, he averaged at least 21 less than all the other members of the top seven and has much to do to prove he has not been found out at Test level.

Owais Shah 1
Shah played two somewhat chaotic innings at Lord’s and, if this immensely talented player is to thrive at Test level, it will probably not be at number three.

Michael Vaughan 8
It was as if Vaughan had never been away. His comeback hundred hardly rivalled those of Boycott in ’77 and Thorpe in 2003, but, nonetheless, it was a highly fluent knock which showcased the best of Vaughan. His captaincy was an important facet of England’s three consecutive victories though both that and his batting will face tougher tests against India.

Kevin Pietersen 9
Pietersen made two fabulous consecutive hundreds, including his Test best, 226, to illustrate he has the patience and temperament to make huge scores at Test level. Despite a series average of 66, there were still a few too many moments of impetuosity.

Paul Collingwood 7
Collingwood looked worryingly troubled on occasions, but he rode some extraordinary good fortune to make 111 at Lord’s before scoring a terrific 128 on his first Test at home to cement his place in the side. At Lord’s, he also bowled well to claim the wicket of Bravo.

Ian Bell 7
Bell scored a rather facile century in the First Test, but his excellent 97 at Old Trafford made in the trickiest batting conditions England faced all series, was testament to his increased maturity.

Matt Prior 8
Prior scored a century on debut and 75 in the second Test, but it was his innings of 40 and 62 in the last two Tests, made under far more testing circumstances, that were more indicative of his qualities as a Test batsmen, although a few dismissals were born of over-confidence. His keeping, while never matching the levels of Read, was agile and is clearly improving.

Liam Plunkett 3
Plunkett took 4-60 in the match at Headingley, but this was in spite of serial inaccuracy. His action, a victim of excess biomechanics, is fundamentally flawed and if England leave him playing for Durham for the remainder of the summer it will help him realise his rich potential.

Steve Harmison 5
Harmison often seemed incapable of hitting the square, let alone the stumps, but he deserves credit for working through his problems, with the help of Allan Donald, to bowl with much more venom in the last three innings of the series. His commitment cannot be doubted, either, after bowling a spell of 17 consecutive overs to help England to victory on his home ground.

Ryan Sidebottom 8
England’s big find of the series, the shaggy-haired Sidebottom claimed 16 wickets at under 20, although he went wicketless in West Indies’ last two second innings, and also biffed impressively. Left-armers able to swing the ball both ways, as Sidebottom, a beneficiary of many years on the county circuit, proved he can, are rare and he deserves the series against India to prove he can trouble the world’s best batsmen.

Matthew Hoggard 7
Hoggard was reassuring, and most impressive, in claiming 5/86 on his return on the final Test.

Monty Panesar 9
Panesar was England’s key man; there were many occasions during the first and third Tests when it seemed as if only he could take a wicket. Although he was perhaps a little defensive in the first three Tests, he bowled with more loop at Chester-le-Street to claim 5-46. Overall, he was fantastic, claiming 23 wickets at 18 to continue his development as a spinner able to both contain and to take top order wickets even in unhelpful conditions.


Richard Lake said...

You beat me to it!

Can't argue too much with any of this. England pulled out their best when under the cosh, particularly Bell's 97 at Old Trafford, which I believe won the game for England. Likewise Colly's ton yesterday and the partnership with Prior.

I think 5 is a bit harsh on Harmison. His spell around lunch today was the best he'd bowled for a considerable time.

Strauss needs a break, but his innings was a welcome returrn to some sort of form. However, all in all, when you ask the question, who does Flintoff replace, I can't answer it

Tim said...

In an ideal world, it's Sidebottom.

I wavered between 5 and 6 for Harmison, but he was really dire for the majority of the first two and a half Tests.

Regarding Strauss, his innings today was, worryingly, one of a man in no form, despite his 77!

The Atheist said...

I thought you were rather generous to Harmison.

As far as I could tell, he bowled two good spells in the entire series. Both were during the West Indian tail. He didn't really offer a threat to the proper batsman. Fine, you can polish off the weaklings, but this doesn't make you a great bowler. 4 out of 10, max.

Also, I thuoght you a little rough on Bell. How do you score a "facile" hundred?

Tim said...

Against a side going through the motions, who have a mediocre bowling attack when England are already in the box seat.

His 97, though, was a tremendous innings.

Nick Gammons said...

I agree with Richard that Harmison deserved more than 5. He may have sprayed the ball all over the place at times, but was still good enough to bag 16 wickets, despite being very unlucky in the last Test.

Interesting to note that far from just getting tailenders, Harmison's 16 victims included 3 openers, 5 middle order batsmen and the wicketkeeper.

Also interesting to note that one of the complaints levelled at Harmison in the past is that he doesn't finish off the tail. It seems he can't win either way.

As I've said several times before Harmison is too good to be dropped, especially now that he is back under the captain who has brought the best out of him.

What odds that he can take another 200 Test wickets?

Lee said...

Tim thanks for your comment over at http://www.thegoogly.com/2007/06/west_indies_ser.html#more and yes you are right, we do largely agree.

We now have the phoney war of the oone-day series to get through, made all the more interesting by the imminent announcement of a new captain

Tim said...

Cheers Lee.

I'm actually looking forward to it more than usual, partly because there are likely to be a fair few faces and also because, at three games, it's short and sharp - every game is vital - just like thge old Texaco Trophy.