Sunday, 8 June 2008

England Series Ratings

Here are the series ratings for England's 2-0 win over New Zealand:

Alastair Cook 5
Another disappointing series. Cook needs to work on his off-stump weakness and his penchant for falling lbw if he is to improve on his recent record of one century in 12 Tests.

Andrew Strauss 9
Has responded superbly to his break from the side, playing with discipline and selectivity - and, pleasingly, being less wary of hitting the ball down the ground than before. But the South Africa series will show us whether he's really back to his best.

Michael Vaughan 6
Vaughan's Lord's hundred was sublime, although he rather faded thereafter. His captaincy was also impressive - though New Zealand's frail batting made his job rather easier.

Kevin Pietersen 7
As in New Zealand, he made a match-defining century in the last game of the season as England recovered from an ignominious position. But he would like to forget his problems against Daniel Vettori.

Ian Bell 2
A miserable series comprising three first-innings failures. Bell's talent is undeniable but being dropped may be in his, as well as his side's, best interests.

Paul Collingwood 2
No one doubts his commitment, but fundamentally his form is so wretched that he cannot survive much longer. His shoulder injury, rendering his bowling less effective, further diminishes his worth. It may be in his best interests to have the shoulder operation sooner rather than later.

Tim Ambrose 6
Ambrose kept superbly throughout and made a vital 67 in the third Test. South Africa's quicks will pose a big test, and Matt Prior is palpably a better batsman, but, for now, Ambrose appears to offer the best keeper-batsman combination England have.

Stuart Broad 6
Broad's calm, assured and skilled batting at number eight currently seem more valuable than his bowling. A bowling average of 43 is a poor return - while he has promise, he bowls too many 'four balls' and when (if?) Flintoff returns he may be the one to go. For all his batting qualities and clear relish for international cricket, Broad is not yet amongst England's three best pace bowlers.

Ryan Sidebottom 7
The exemplary stats - 17 wickets at 20 - conceal the fact he was much less consistently threatening than in New Zealand. Still, few will be complaining after another fine series.

Monty Panesar 6
Essentially anonymous for all but one afternoon, Panesar bowled a superb spell at Old Trafford that turned the tide of the series. As has been said ad nauseam, he needs more variations to threaten on flat wickets.

James Anderson 8
Mr Enigma can be happy with two good games out of three, even if he was disconcertingly wayward at Old Trafford, going for six an over in the first innings. He was devastating in the Third Test but many still need to be convinced he can provide a consistent threat over a whole series.

The Verdict
All is not as well with the England side as this ultimately facile win, and five Tests with unchanged personnel, would have you believe. We should not forget that England looked set to be humiliated at Old Trafford and were 86/5 at Trent Bridge. Their response to precarious situations was certainly commendable, but they should never have found themselves in these positions against such modest opposition. Both Bell and Collingwood should now be dropped - probably for Owais Shah and, after his superlative start to the season, Ravi Bopara. The seamers face a stern test against South Africa's strong batting line-up, but it is heartening to see the number of quicks challenging for spots - Chris Tremlett, Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff - if he can ever stay fit - and now, it would seem, a resurgent Simon Jones.


Matt said...

I have never viewed Bell as England quality and despite some glimpses of brilliance, this standpoint has been vindicated.

Who will take his place?

Chrispy said...

I don't think that any of Cook, Bell or Collingwood are safe. They all average 35 over the last year, which quite frankly is rubbish. Cook and Bell have youth on their side. Collingwood does not, is carrying an injury and is technically weaker. He is though the ODI Captain, which shouldn't effect things, but will. I personally would ditch Colli for Shah and prehaps switch Bell back to six. Tim Ambrose saved his own bacon with that knock, otherwise the vultures would have been circling. An average in the 20's won't be good enough long term though and he will face better sides than NZ, so he needs to improve his consistancy with the bat. Glovework is fine. He shows promise, but does he have shots other than the cut? We don't need two Strauss'! Strauss' resurgence is wonderful for him and England, Vaughan looks classy while his captaincy is spot on as usual, KP seems happier with his own game, these are all positives. Broad's bowling average will come down I think and his batting makes him a must at eight. Sidebottom is a certainty as is Monty, who showed he is a match winner again. He does though need to improve variation for flat tracks and ODI's. Anderson can still be eratic and expensive, but when it swings there are few better. A horses for courses selection in the future prehaps until he takes wickets consistantly on flatter tracks when it isn't Spring in England. Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff will be targetting his place and Broad's. Interestingly, with Broad's batting, Flintoff could conceivably come in for Collingwood, although none of Flintoff, Broad or Ambrose are likely to average above 30 by much any time soon. Bopara should be reintroduced to the ODI set up for a while before Test cricket again.

I'd go with:

Vaughan (c)
Ambrose (wk)
Broad/Anderson (conditions dependent)

We shouldn't forget that Bell can bowl somewhere around the Collingwood territory, whilst KP, Vaughan and Shah are useful offspinners. Flintoff in a four man attack is a risk, so he may well be in for Shah, with both of Anderson and Broad playing, although Jones could well rival Anderson for a place in a five man attack.

Nick Gammons said...

I agree with most of it, Tim, though I feel you are unfair on Panesar. He only bowled one big wicket-taking innings, but was hardly bowled in the first innings at Lord's or at all at Trent Bridge.

In his second innings spell at Lord's he got no luck with the umpiring and NZ tried to blow him away in the first innings at Old Trafford, which can happen to any spinner once in a while, even the greats, especially in the first innings of a match.

He has started to show some variety and is a much better judge of a pitch than when he first started. Old Trafford this time around was not as quick or bouncy as in years past, so he speeded up, which reaped dividends.

For me he would get an 8, considering that what little work he was given he did very well, in a series dominated by seam bowlers.

Rob said...

I think 2 for Bell and Collingwood is way to charitable, they are liabilities at the moment. 6's for Broad and Ambrose are probably about right -- its easy to get carried away by peole doing 'okay'.

Philip Oliver said...

I think you're spot on about Collingwood - his place is certianly safer due to the One Day captaincy. Any change needs to be made now, not in the winter, as the the replacement needs time in the team. Shah is the only real alternative. Leave Ravi for the One Day team... and bat him at three, not six or seven! He'll score quicker than anyone in the top order!

I'm worried about Ambrose. His mental attributes and glovework seem fine, but he appears to have a lack of shots. It could be said that he was able to only play square of the wicket because New Zealand bowled there, but the South Africans and especially the Australians will not give width. He needs runs as much as anyone against South Africa.

Richard Lake said...

There will be trickier tasks ahead for the rest of the summer for the likes of Ambrose, Anderson and Broad to prove their worth, but you can only compete against what's put in front of you. Likewise, it's nice to see Strauss, Vaughan, Pietersen, Panesar and Sidebottom contributing well and these are a pretty good nucleus for the team.

The three that are left are something of a worry. Cook had a few good starts and generally batted well in poor batting conditions. He was out-shone by Strauss, but it's easy to forget how young he is and his fielding has become an asset to the team.

The best two fielders are still Bell and Collingwood. However, both seem to have forgotten how to bat. Interestingly, they along with KP are also the two best batsmen in the One Day team and it may be that the lack of a break for either over the past few years is catching up on them.

A break for Bell could be a real benefit, a break for Colly could be the end of his test career.