Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 23, 2011

England vs India Series – England Report Card

A still from Andrew Strauss' mantelpiece.

Andrew Strauss (229 runs at 38) – Basking in the well-deserved glory of leading the World’s Number One ranked Test team with the Mace in his hands to prove it. As a captain, his results brook no argument – he is one of England’s best ever – but his greatness is manifest less in his onfield decisions and more in his closeness to coach Andy Flower. Together they have woven a thread of excellence through their squad with much of that work done away from the limelight with a fastidious attention to detail that makes full use of extravagant resources. On the field, both his batting and captaincy seem subdued, even tentative, but right now, that’ll bother him not a jot.

Alastair Cook (348 runs at 58) – Only got going once in a generally poor series, but made that once count, really count. It takes a special kind of player to make a score like 294 and Cook is special – not in the way Lara was special with his flashing feet and blade, nor the way Tendulkar is special with his super-compact technique and iron mental discipline. Cook’s specialness lies in his willingness to be patient, to play long innings in which he almost visibly relaxes and blocks for an hour, before coming again. That needs both a supreme self-confidence to ease back on the throttle in expectation of going very big indeed and a team that understands why progressing from 130 to 140 in an hour might be the best thing. Will look to get in and get going in the ODIs more often than he did in the Tests.

Jonathan Trott (98 runs at 25) – Played only the first two Tests before England’s manifest superiority became clear. Typically his one contribution to the series before injury was overshadowed (by KP’s double ton at Lord’s) but Trott had arrived at the crease with England stuttering at 19-1 and saw England past 62-2 and on to 160-2, comfortably outscoring KP and allowing the big man to settle into his work – work that later produced 202 runs. The innings victories in the final two Tests might lead one to believe that he is not as important to England as his numbers suggest – but he is.

KP (533 runs at 107) – And still not Man of the Series! Very much struttingly back in form, getting on top of bowlers and staying on top by bullying anything less than genuine quicks from well down the wicket and slapping spin away with his enormous reach. Once in, he scores so quickly that it makes batting at the other end much easier and lifts his team’s morale as he flattens the opposition’s.

Ian Bell (504 runs at 84) – Continued his rich vein of form, this time mostly at Number Three stepping into the injured Trott’s shoes. Where KP bludgeons, Bell caresses but the result is the same – Bell scoring just five fewer boundaries at a strike rate just half a run short of the Number Four over the four Tests.

Eoin Morgan (194 runs at 32) – Will be pleased to have notched a century, but, rather like Colly in The Ashes, the men ahead of him scored so heavily so often that his runs weren’t always needed. He’ll have tougher duels in the future – not least with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

Ravi Bopara (51 runs at 51) – Didn’t do much wrong, but didn’t do much right either – partly because he hardly had a chance to bat and partly because he still looks a bit down on intensity in the field. Looked more of a sixth bowler than a fifth.

Matt Prior (271 runs at 68) – In a difficult series for keepers, he outperformed his opposite number behind the stumps (though that isn’t saying much) and showed again what a threat he is at Seven. In the crucial First Test, he came in at 270-5 in the first innings and left at 390-6, then came in with the lead at 250 but with five second innings wickets gone and walked off undefeated with the Indians set 458 to win. Makes runs when needed and makes them quickly.

Tim Bresnan (154 runs at 77, 16 wickets at 16) – In at Trent Bridge for the injured Tremlett, he looks like he has played international cricket since he was 16 (when he made his Yorkshire debut). Uncomplicated batting or bowling, he uses classical techniques to play straight and bowl straight, hitting the ball hard and hitting the bat hard. It is a testament to the luxuries at Strauss’ disposal that he may well make way for Chris Tremlett come England’s first Test of the winter.

Stuart Broad (182 runs at 61, 25 wickets at 14) – Man of the Series that many thought he should have sat out re-learning how to bowl in county cricket. Out for a golden duck in the first innings at Lord’s, but roared back to take 4-37 in 22 overs and never looked back. Made useful runs yet again, but his bowling showed a maturity and consistency previously lacking – his length was fuller, his line tighter and his bouncer intimidating. India just couldn’t deal with him at all.

Graeme Swann (28 runs at 18, 13 wickets at 41) – Ashley Gilesesque figures from a man whom the Indians targeted throughout the series, determined not to let him just bowl. For a while, it worked, but it didn’t matter as the seamers were cleaning up. In the second innings at the traditionally happiest hunting ground for an English spinner, The Oval, the pressure was on to deliver and 6-106 shows that Swanny can still rise to the occasion. Will look forward to the predictive element of Hawkeye becoming part of the DRS again though.

Jimmy Anderson (20 runs at 20, 21 wickets at 26) – At times, he could look a little weary, but then his mastery of swing, the product of a perfect wrist position at release, got him a wicket and a hit of energy and he was back pulling batsmen this way and that as they groped for the ball.  Perhaps not quite as potent as he was Down Under, but was always good and often very good. Showed also how much India missed Zaheer Khan, their Jimmy Anderson.

Chris Tremlett (4 runs and 4 wickets at 31) – Just the one Test, but bagged the captain twice and showed how at home he is in Test cricket. Will be back and just a scary.

Gary Naylor, whom you can tweet at @garynaylor999 and find at Cricket On Fivespincricket.com and Testmatchsofa.com

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Responses

  1. Congratulations England! The mace is well deserved.

    From a neutral point of view, considering the strengths and weaknesses of each side and match situations, I’d have controversially plumped for Rahul Dravid as Man of the Series. He was a colossus and a champion in the true sense of the word. Without him, India will find Test match cricket even tougher in future.

    • Nesta – I agree on Dravid, and so did Andy Flower, who picked him. Broad was England’s Man of the Series, Dravid India’s, but if only one were chosen, Dravid would get my vote.

  2. Now that you both have said what needs to be said about Dravid, I suggest we do not do the Indian team the honour of a report card.

    England played like a champion team and I am looking forward to their series against SA.

    I think the England lower order, especially Broad and Prior made the difference in the first two tests.They effectively killed whatever little faith and hope India had in their ability to match England in these conditions.Kudos to them ! Amazing sense of self-belief and sticking to the basics in the best possible way. All the investment in the support staff and high performance program seems to have paid off handsomely.


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