Andrew Strauss (11 and 32) – Two more starts and two more failures for England’s captain, whose poor run with the bat is no longer masked by big runs from England’s spluttering superstar bats. Led the team well in the field, but, in the toughest slot in the order, he must also lead the batting effort. England’s six specialist batsmen have contrived just 187 for eighteen times out in three of the four innings in this series and that’s a recipe for defeats. The “Whither Strauss?” whispers are growing.
Alastair Cook (94 and 7) – Got England to two short of 200 in the first innings in a return to the serene form of last winter, but could not get going in the second dig when England needed to put Pakistan’s bowlers on the back foot (and get themselves, literally and metaphorically, off it). His last ten innings have produced seven scores of 12 or lower, which isn’t helping his skipper locate his elusive form.
Jonathan Trott (74 and 1) – Did the Jonathan Trott thing again in the first innings to accompany Cook to England’s highest stand of the series (one of only two of 50 or more). Ill in the second innings when playing a shot that made everyone sick.
KP (14 and 1) – Might be a little relieved that Eoin Morgan is drawing some of the critics’ fire, but won’t be happy about much else. Is not being given pace to work with and is very vulnerable to the DRS (and the impact the DRS has had on umpires’ willingness to raise the finger) on low-bouncing pitches where even his wide stance and long reach cannot save him. Appears burdened by things on his mind and that’s never a good sign for a batsman – especially this one.
Ian Bell (29 and 3) – The plaudits of the summer seem an awfully long time ago, as the man who was seen as the perfect combination of style and substance appears consumed by self-doubt. The game is like that – few have ever mastered it for long and Belly Boy is not the first, nor will be the last, to learn that painful lesson. Will spend a lot of time with the video machine watching Ajmal’s releases – and will spend just as long hoping it makes a difference.
Eoin Morgan (3 and 0) – The fastest hands and the fastest feet in the batting unit are being used merely to propel him to the crease and back again, as the little magician fails to cast any spells. Doubters are no longer holding back on a batsman who has passed 50 only five times in 15 Tests and only 20 more times in all first class cricket.
Matt Prior (3 and 18) – A rare double failure, though he was being left high and dry in the second dig, so, unlike those who went before him, he has mitigation. Looks more and more crucial to the team with every match and will need to take a leadership role on and off the field, to allow Strauss to concentrate on his own game.
Stuart Broad (24-4-47-4 and 20-9-36-1, 58* and 0) – Back to the disciplined bowler and attacking batsman we have come to know in 2011. Having done his primary job with aplomb, he was able to sweep his first ball as a statement of his confidence and continue to bat with a freedom that no other England player has found in either match. Got done by a very good one in the second innings, though will be disappointed to have opened the lefty’s gate for the ball to knock out his off stump. Will play a lot worse and find himself on the winning side.
Graeme Swann (18-2-52-3 and 27-5-66-2, 15 and 0) – Outbowled by the returning Monty, but still exerted pressure and took wickets, so will look to continue when back in Dubai. Joined the shellshocked second innings procession, when his kind of quick thirty (with Matt Prior getting the same at the other end) would have seen England home. But that job should have been done by those picked to do the batting.
Jimmy Anderson (19.4-5-46-2 and 14-3-39-1, 13 and 1) – Led the attack well and took the catch that looked like it had secured a Dubai Decider for England when Asad Shafiq went and exposed the long Pakistan tail. In truth England’s bowlers did more than enough to win this match, so he can be pleased with his work.
Monty (33-9-91-1 and 38.2-18-62-6, 0 and 0*) – Since those glorious heroics at Cardiff back in 2009, he has played 48 First Class matches (note – not one First Class match 48 times). Still has the boyish enthusiasm, the loop in his action and the dubious fielding, but is a stronger character in the team and more willing to take responsibility. Will almost certainly retain his place for Dubai, but long term can England get a second spinner in by playing five bowlers or using Ravi Bopara as first change or maybe, just maybe, rotating Swann and Monty in Tests? Given the quality of the opposition they faced and Monty’s new demeanour after a change of county, in purely bowling terms Swanny’s 162 wickets at 29 isn’t that much different to Monty’s 133 at 34. If Swanny is going to play all three formats, he would be missed less in Tests than in limited overs matches with this Monty at Strauss’ disposal.