Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 16, 2019

The Ashes 2019 – England Report Card

Joe Root (325 runs at 33; 3 wickets at 41) – Grade C

A shadow of the bustling batsman and dressing room joker of not so long ago. No century in the series, and not much fun either. He won’t ever say that he’s had enough of cricket, but it sure looks like that now – and who can blame him? His captaincy attracted a lot of criticism, but when you have only one batsman average more than 40, you’re going to spend a lot of time playing catch-up, never a good look for a skipper. Out-reviewed his opposite number comfortably. Bowled well in the rush for the line at The Oval – amazing what the release of pressure does.

Rory Burns (390 at 39) – Grade B

Started with a century that deserved more than to be somewhat forgotten in a 250+ runs Steven Smith dominated defeat, but was sorted out by the short ball subsequently. Having worked on his game, that flaw is still there but much diminished – so he’s a quick learner. His acrobatic catching in the cordon is a bonus – he might be better employed at first slip. He’s probably be a couple of centuries off being penned in as next captain, a particularly seductive proposition as he’s a red ball specialist.

Jason Roy (110 at 14) – Grade E

Removed from the firing line when his “stand still and slash at it” technique that works in white ball cricket was horribly exposed in Test matches.

Joe Denly (312 at 31) – Grade B-

The James Vince question persists – do the lovely cover drives outweigh the windy wafts? Benefited from the unfounded assertion that “There’s nobody pushing for a place”, but looks more like a sixth bowler option on the subcontinent who can score a fifty or two than a regular Test opener. He deserves his chance to prove me wrong.

Ben Stokes (441 at 55; 8 at 45) – Grade A

That it is not “Stokes’s Ashes” is hardly his fault, his epic innings to win the Headingley Test one for the ages. Now a batsman who bowls, he is following the path trodden by Jacques Kallis – a top order bat who can break partnerships or capitalise further if it’s his day. Like some of his team-mates, looked exhausted by the demands of a summer that cannot – and should not – be repeated.

Jonny Bairstow (214 at 24; 20 catches, 2 stumpings) – Grade C

Regressing to some of his technical problems of the past, hands pushing hard at the ball, the gate an inviting target for a bowler prepared to home in on the stumps. A run of low scores improved (if that’s the word) to a run of starts that he failed to convert. Given the fact that he’s not the best keeper in the country, maybe not the best in the team, that’s a disappointing return. England’s policy of playing two keepers looks like it might have run its course.

Jos Buttler (247 at 25) – Grade B-

No batsman is deliberately given the role of batting with the tail, but such was Buttler’s lot for much of the series and it undoubtedly impacted on his numbers. Like Jason Roy, his one day virtue is something of a five day vice, the firm base and arms-free approach inevitably making him vulnerable to the moving ball, as even straight ones are not lined up properly. He’ll almost certainly retain his spot, but he has to start scoring centuries soon if he is to warrant a top six slot.

Moeen Ali (4 at 2; 3 at 57) – Grade E

A feast or famine player who was definitely in famine mode before he was hooked after the Edgbaston defeat. Too gifted to be written off already, but how patient selectors can be with a bowler who gives away so many boundaries and a batsman who so often rolls the dice, remains to be seen.

Chris Woakes (120 at 20; 10 at 33) – Grade C+

A strangely anonymous series for the English conditions specialist whose bit part status was as much the result of Joe Root’s reluctance to bowl him as it was of his own inability to take wickets in bursts. Perhaps it’s perception as much as anything, the captain’s new all-action man toy, with its 90mph arrows, looking a lot shinier than his old reliable, slightly vanilla, ex-favourite.

Sam Curran (32 at 16; 3 at 23) – Grade B-

Added variety and no little skill with his left arm bustlers ducking in and holding their line out. Promoted to Number 7, he batted like a Number 9, his skittishness unworthy of a man who has plenty enough ability to make 50s on a regular basis. Like so many in this England squad, his role is not clearly defined – which can’t be fair to a 21 year-old.

Craig Overton (26 at 13; 2 at 54) – Grade C-

Batted with great heart, but looked rather pedestrian in a series dominated by speedsters and seamers. Might need a similar number of injuries to pacers to get another gig in Test cricket – but, with the schedules as they are, expect to see him trundling in again some time soon.

Jofra Archer (48 at 7; 22 at 20) – Grade A

An effortless fast bowler, an effortless star player, we really do believe the hype. Wasn’t at full tilt all the time, but when he was, he could knock over anyone, metaphorically and literally. Like another Yorkshire Ashes captain with a Sussex quick (Ray Illingworth and John Snow) Joe Root knew how valuable Archer’s pace was and went to the well a little too often for the Bajan’s own good. A superstar is born – however you look at it.

Jack Leach (54 at 14; 12 at 26) – Grade B

Decent bowler, competent late order batsman, handy fielder – a perfect example of how analysis can rather miss the story. Leach was the sung as much as unsung hero of Headingley, with his 1* an essential component of an extraordinary win. he’s much more than a turn though, his ability to hold an end in the first innings while attacking in the second, a brief that’s far easier to say than to deliver. Plenty of courage – moral and physical.

Stuart Broad (61 at 12; 23 at 27) – Grade A-

Lost his old mucker almost before the series started, but shouldered the responsibility of leading the attack with real gusto, charging in for spell after spell and spell, many of them excellent, few (if any) poor. At 33, he got through more overs than anyone except Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, and almost all were at full gas. Had David Warner on toast, but his seam movement troubled all the Aussie bats (yes, even “him”).

James Anderson – Grade N/A

Injured.

 

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Responses

  1. Is the picture a little Ern / Urn ? The Aussie report cards have Benny Hill in the guise of Ernie, so I suppose he’s one as well. Significantly, his song was Christmas no. 1 mere months before the previous tied Ashes series.

    Of course that Ernie, in spite of his quick thinking and hand speed with the strawberry yoghurt, was ultimately defeated in love. I suppose you can pursue these narratives too far.

    Cheers for the cricketing thoughts Gary, I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from them.

    • As ever your kind words are much appreciated.

      Oh also…Cheers for the cricketing thoughts DaddyPig, I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from them.


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