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.