India in England 2014 August 18, 2014

Root star of England's improving show

Marks out of ten for England during their 3-1 series victory over India
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10
Joe Root
Sure, there may well be tougher tests to come. But what other mark can you give a man who averaged in excess of 100 and who contributed two centuries and three half-centuries in seven innings?

9
Gary Ballance
The apparent ease with which Ballance has taken to Test cricket - and to the No. 3 spot - has been one of the highlights of the summer for England. Capable of solid defence and blessed with excellent concentration, he also demonstrated a welcome ability to change gear when required. And he caught well in the slips.

James Anderson
Petulant at Trent Bridge and poor at Lord's, Anderson responded with three of the best Tests of his career. Forget the comparisons with other bowlers, when the ball swings, Anderson is lethal. Was twice Man of the Match and finished as Man of the Series.

8
Jos Buttler
If he was sometimes untidy with the gloves and enjoyed a little fortune with the bat, Buttler was also selfless and brilliant at times. His batting, whether attacking at the Ageas or defending at Manchester, showed promise and he missed only one chance. He also completed a fine run-out at The Oval and provided the fresh start England required after the debacle of Lord's.

Stuart Broad
A fine series with bat and ball, Broad, Lord's apart, bowled with excellent consistency - no regular bowler cost fewer runs per over - and impressive skill. It was especially impressive bearing in mind his long-standing knee injury and, at The Oval, his broken nose. Man of the Match in Manchester.

7
Alastair Cook
His batting remains unconvincing - nobody benefited more from India's porous slip cordon - but he did register three half-centuries in his last four innings and he did respond to a mountain of criticism with calm and unfussy determination. A lesser man, a lesser leader, might have crumbled. He cannot be rated just on his batting and, after an awful game at Lord's, deserves credit for the much-improved display from his side in the final three Tests of the Investec series.

Ian Bell
His century at the Ageas Bowl was of typically high class and helped change the course of the series. And, if he had some luck at the start of that innings, he was also the victim of the ball of the game at The Oval. Still, England were hoping for more of Bell, who is now the senior batsman in the middle order and, by the high standards that he must now be judged, this was a slightly disappointing Test season.

Moeen Ali
Disappointing as a batsman but exceeding all expectations as a bowler, Moeen played a significant part in two victories and was hailed by his captain as improving more quickly than any cricketer he had ever seen. The suspicion that he has an issue against the short ball will be tested mercilessly at Test level.

Chris Woakes
The figures may not show it, but Woakes bowled with control, skill and no little pace in this series. He will bowl less well and claim double the amount of wickets.

Chris Jordan
A nervous start gave way to an increasingly assured performance with the ball. Jordan benefited from continuity of selection and, by the end of the series, was demonstrating the pace and swing he manages at county level.

6
Ben Stokes
Bowled better than his figures - and seven wickets at 33.14 is not at all bad - suggest but looked hopelessly out of form with the bat. Remains a big part of the team's plans.

Liam Plunkett
Unfortunate to play on the slowest wickets in the series and then forced out of the series through injury, Plunkett nevertheless added some bite to the England attack and surely has a role to play. He was also obliged to pursue an unwise short-ball ploy at Lord's that damaged his figures.

4
Sam Robson
One fifty in seven innings is a disappointing return for an opening batsmen and the manner of several of his dismissals - pushing outside off stump or beaten by straight deliveries - is a concern.

1
Matt Prior
It seems harsh to judge a man who was so patently unfit and who has served England so well, but Prior was a shadow of the man who was a fixture in the side only a year ago. His batting became frenetic and his keeping standards plummeted. The fact that it took him so long to accept his obvious injury issues might be interpreted as reflection of the pride he took in representing England.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zarasochozarasamjho on August 21, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Good article as it is balanced and well-reasoned; as they usually are from George. One word of genuine advice; never give a PERFECT score to ANYONE for ANYTHING. Perfect is an ideal that you strive for, but not humanly possible to achieve it. Another way to define PERFECT would be to say no room for improvement - and I am sure you would not say it yourself. Had Root scored enough runs in the test that England lost, then that test too would have been a win for England, making it 4-0, rather than 3-1. Even this performance added on will not make Root perfect.

  • Speng on August 20, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    As pointed out I think Ballance should've gotten at least as much as Root. Especially since he was basically opening with Cook's (early) and Robson's poor form going up against B. Kumar at his most dangerous.

    Moeen is a conundrum because one doubts he'll ever take that many wickets in a 5 match series again even on a subcontinent turner and he's a walking wicket against the short ball currently. I reckon when they go to the WI next spring that they need to trial another spinner alongside him on the spin friendly pitches to get head to to head comparison BUT he needs to bat better to justify his spot.

    Cook's captaincy was better after Lords but the quality of the opposition made it seem better than it was but he had the team more aggressive with the bat and the ball. Also managed to stop the Indian tail wagging which had been a worrisome trend.

    It's so hard judge when the competition was so hopeless though...

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 20, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx (post on August 20, 2014, 10:33 GMT): so what are you implying? Are you saying the great Don Bradman's figures are grossly exaggerated because he remained not out in some 10 innings in tests? I haven't seen anybody label Root, Ballance etc. as world beaters and that they'll dominate records/rankings in years to come; we're all just happy some young guys are showing class and excellent form for a change. I'm infamously/frequently harping on about a certain Australian opener who seems to be "all or nothing," but every time I point this out or express concerns about him being relied upon in swinging conditions (where he's inept) I get shot down.

  • xtrafalgarx on August 20, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    Joe Root is an all or nothing player. If he gets in - forget it. It's a 100. However, he hardly ever gets middling scores, you can nip him out early and he won't hurt you at all over a series. A lot of his hundreds, have been not outs. They have been big hundreds as well so a lot of his runs he has in his career are just played of a handful of innings. Think about it, the big 180, the 200 no, 150 no, 149 no, 109. That's close to 800 (close to 50% of his career runs in just 5 knocks) runs for once out, heavily inflated, misleading figures.

    Don't get me wrong, i would pick him in the Aussie team still, but hmm...Jury's out. Same goes for Ballance.

  • landl47 on August 19, 2014, 23:43 GMT

    Just a little thought- if Joe Root gets a 10 for 518 runs in a 5-test series, what mark would you give Garry Sobers for his series in England in 1966? In 5 tests he got 722 runs, average 103; took 20 wickets @27; held 10 catches and captained the side to a 3-1 win.

    Now THAT'S a 10.

  • landl47 on August 19, 2014, 20:43 GMT

    @HatsforBats: had you seen more of the series, I think you would have seen that Cook made considerable improvements in his captaincy along the way. Like you, I was critical of his tactics up until the 3rd test. At last he seemed to get it; he used his bowlers in shorter spells so they came back fresh, he put more faith in Moeen, he set more attacking fields, he used some innovative field placings. Most of all, he stopped letting the game drift and made changes instead of just hoping things would change.

    There was an energy and enthusiasm about the England side in the last couple of tests that hadn't been present for a while. It helps, of course, when you're winning!

    This side has some way to go, but for a team with 6 players 25 or under and only 2 over 30 (Australia has 6 regulars in its side older than the oldest England player) it was a promising start. Cook must get some credit for that.

  • landl47 on August 19, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    Personally, I think Ballance had the best series of any of the England players. He and Root had almost the same number of runs and Ballance got them at #3, often having to go in when the ball was still new. His lowest score was 27, whereas Root had a 3 tucked in among the big scores.

    However, all the scores are subjective and don't mean much. We get the usual anti-Bell sentiments from Village Blacksmith, but actually Bell was important to this side in helping the younger players- he gets a lot of credit for pointing Moeen in the right direction.

    I'm glad Woakes was given some support; I think he bowled very well in the last test and showed the benefit of sticking with promising young players. If he can improve his inswinger and learn to hide what he's going to bowl a bit better (and hopefully he's working with Anderson, who is excellent at both) he'll be a good test player.

    A good start for a young side.

  • dummy4fb on August 19, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    So why was Joe Root not Man of the Series?

  • badboyblue on August 19, 2014, 12:28 GMT

    Agreed with the ratings although Joe Root having a faultless performance in every innings is a bit OTT but I will give him 9.5/10 - he was the best player along with Anderson. Moeen seriously needs to improve on his batting as we cannot rely on his bowling despite the fact he had a very successful series with the ball. He was picked as a top 6 batsman so somewhere along the line he needs to sharpen up his batting otherwise someone else will take his place

  • shane-oh on August 19, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    @HatsforBats - sure, fair point. I didn't actually see that match but it was clearly an incredible achievement for Agar, I didn't see what Cook was doing with his field placements.

    I do think Cook is getting a better balance now between conservatism and attack. Sometimes you need to be conservative - test cricket hasn't changed so much that there aren't times where stopping the runs is important.

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