Andrew Strauss – First and foremost, mission accomplished and immortality secured. Orchestrated a perfect first day by getting the toss right and then inserting Australia (and don’t forget the naysayers who felt that was wrong). Shuffled his beautifully selected pack of seamers with uncanny success, then stood on the Australian throat to finish the first day well ahead with ten wickets in hand and the Urn within reach. As he has done throughout his captaincy career, he converted every piece of good luck into the hard currency of runs and wickets. And the greatest piece of good luck of all, was the appointment of Andy Flower as Head Coach amidst the wreckage of England’s cricket leadership just two years ago.
Alastair Cook – The measure of his progress in the last month is that 82 felt like a failure. Of course it was anything but, building a platform for the middle order to exploit. In every sense a complete contrast to his opposite number, who was given a debut at 20, rather than Cook’s 21, but looks highly unlikely to score almost 5000 runs before the age of 26 without some of Cook’s old-fashioned virtues, displayed to great effect again in this Test.
Jonathan Trott – In terms of average, the second best batsman ever to play the game… which is ridiculous. But he is the second best England Number Three of my time (after Gower) and delivered the job description once more with an epic of concentration and technical rectitude that showed exactly what Test cricket is all about. Tired towards the end of his knock, but was alert enough to run out the hapless Hughes when the opportunity presented itself an hour or so later. The hard man’s hard man, harder still for his utter disdain for such fripperies as sledging and positive body language.
KP – Learned from his skittish approach in Perth to play sensibly before getting a good one from Siddle. Dropped a catch very early on and with Perth’s criticism fresh in his mind, but his head doesn’t drop and, after being on the sidelines of the celebrations in 2009, deserved to be at the heart of 2010-11’s huddle.
Colly – A cruel man would say that he did more to secure the Urn in 2005 than he did in 2010-11, but this is not the time for such cynicism.
Belly – Played a foolishly aggressive shot too early in his innings, but fielded well, catching Mike Hussey exactly as planned. Might have largely wasted the form of his life, but the truth is that England’s top four have been so good that he has hardly been needed.
Prior – Had been keeping as well as anyone in the world until he missed a stumping most schoolboys would have effected, but caught well and batted positively to get England’s innings (and his own, after his no ball reprieve) going again after quick wickets. Needs to improve on his management of referrals.
Bresnan – For many, a old-style fudged selection, playing because he can bat a bit rather than bowl a lot at Test level. But Saker and Flower knew the pitch and knew their man. From first to last delivery, bowled the perfect line and length, gave nothing to hit and threatened every Australian. 34 – 15 – 75 -6 are McGrathian figures and just reward for his McGrathian bowling. It’ll probably never happen again, but what a time to give the performance of a lifetime.
Swanny – Continues to pay almost 40 runs for each of his wickets in this series, but that’s only half the story. He strangled Australia with almost as many dot balls as the immaculate Bresnan at the other end, to do exactly what his captain required. A rare example of an extrovert who delights in shunning the limelight and lets his team-mates have the glory while he gets on with the job.
Tremlett – Another controversial Tour selection that this writer did not support, but another coup for the Saker-Flower brains trust. His quiet introversion has been transformed into silent unflappability, as he comes back after boundaries with unplayable deliveries wearing exactly the same expression on those chiselled features. Not quick, but quick enough, with disconcerting bounce and accuracy, he is suddenly a vital member of a very impressive bowling outfit.
Anderson – Bowled a little too full with a new ball that wouldn’t swing for him, but found the perfect length once the ball was worn enough for conventional and, later, reverse swing. Now a master technician, he will trouble batsman with better application than those at the other end in this match and will get more edges and wickets as a result. Went to Aus with high expectations and fulfilled them all.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.