South Africa in England 2012 August 21, 2012

Wasted starts and missed chances

ESPNcricinfo takes a look at the players England used during the series and many did not live up to their billing
50

8

Matt Prior
The deserved winner of England's Man of the Series. Prior kept well - he pulled off a couple of wonderful catches; not least the diving effort in front of first slip to dismiss Morkel at Lord's - and, despite batting at No.7, scored more runs in the series than any of his teammates. Typically selfless, he showed an ability to farm the strike or counterattack when required and generally looked as confident against South Africa's pace attack as any of his colleagues. The one blot on his record was the failure to cling on to a tough chance down the leg side offered by Hashim Amla at Lord's. Prior reckons it was his first drop standing back for two years.

Jonny Bairstow
A heartening return. Coming into the Lord's Test under some pressure - as a replacement for Pietersen and with his ability against short-pitched bowling in question - Bairstow answered just about every question put to him in impressive style. He scored contrasting half-centuries in each innings. The first time he came in with his side in some trouble and rebuilt the innings; the second time he provided impetus to a mis-firing run chase and might, with another hour at the crease, have pulled-off an unlikely victory. One game is too brief a window to make any long term judgements on Bairstow, but he looks to have the talent and temperament to enjoy a long career at the top level.

7

Kevin Pietersen
Whatever his faults and foibles, the one time in the series that the South Africa attack looked rattled was when Pietersen took the attack to them at Leeds. His first innings century was, by any standards, magnificent and he followed it with as many wickets in the match as Graeme Swann managed in the series. Sadly with Pietersen, his greatness as a batsman comes with some baggage and he sullied the memory of his great innings with a self-indulgent performance in the post-match press conference and some arrogant and divisive behaviour off the pitch.

Steven Finn
A bland performance at Headingley was followed by an excellent one at Lord's where, in the second innings, he produced a spell of fast bowling that might have swung the match England's way. Noticeably quicker than the rest of the England attack, Finn found life in the pitch that others could not and, notably, dismissed Amla and Jacques Kallis in both innings. Having not been able to force his way in at The Oval, his rivals will find it hard to displace him now.

5.5

Jonathan Trott
A frustrating series. Trott often looked in decent form and finished with a somewhat flattering average of 43.40. Perhaps we have come to expect too much of Trott, but but he never supplied the match-defining innings England required and often got himself out with uncharacteristically loose strokes. While Vernon Philander never dismissed him and Morkel Morkel managed it only once, he was dismissed by Dale Steyn four times in the series. His involvement in two run outs - Prior at Leeds and James Taylor at Lord's - also counts against him.

James Taylor
This series presented too small a sample size to make much of a judgement about Taylor's future at this level. He impressed with his courage and application on debut at Headingley, where he helped Pietersen add 147 for the fifth-wicket, and was largely innocent of blame when run-out in the second innings at Lord's. While he was unable to provide a match-defining contribution, he did not look out of his depth, either, and will not have done his future chances of selection any harm.

5

Alastair Cook
A series of diminishing returns. Cook started with a century at The Oval, but then suffered three scores under 10 and failed to pass 50 as he struggled to deal with the swing of Philander and Steyn and fell to them three times each. His first innings dismissal at Lord's - flashing at a wide one - was most unlike him and suggested judgement clouded by uncertainty. His dropping of Alviro Petersen at Leeds also renewed doubts about Cook's suitability to fill a catching role.

James Anderson
The figures are not good - his wickets cost more than 40 apiece - but Anderson was not helped by some awful slip catching and some excellent South African batting. He was the one England bowler who threatened and demanded respect throughout the series, though his reduced pace seems to have reduced his effectiveness and, when the ball does not swing, he loses much of his threat. His own catching, usually so reliable, was poor.

Graeme Swann
The bowling figures are ugly - a series bowling average of 77 is hideous, even - but Swann's main misfortune in this series was to come up against a batsman as good as Amla. The pitch at the Oval, in particular, offered Swann little and a couple of dropped chances did him few favours. He batted well - and selflessly - particularly at Lord's and showed through his absence at Leeds that he remains a valuable part of the England team.

4.5

Ian Bell
Bell escaped beneath the radar for much of the series simply because others fared worse, but there is no escaping the fact that a return of 144 runs with a top score of 58 is disappointing for one of whom so much was expected. There were times when Bell played South Africa's excellent bowling attack as well as anyone, but at no stage in the series did he play an innings that shaped a game. Great batsmen are judged by their performances in the biggest games and against the best players. Bell, by that yardstick, now aged 30 and a veteran of 80 Tests, seems destined to be remembered as good, but not great.

Stuart Broad
One good spell at Headingley could not mask the fact that this was a bitterly disappointing series from Broad. Lacking in pace, hostility and movement, Broad was reduced to the role of stock medium-pacer for much of the time which, after a year of stead improvement, marked a sharp retrograde step. He did show a glimpse of what was possible with one inspired spell in the second Test - anyone who can bounce out Kallis must still have the ability to bowl a quick ball - but with bat, ball and in the field, Broad failed to live up to his ability.

3

Ravi Bopara
Bopara's one Test of the series featured two far from pretty dismissals and would have done nothing to dissuade those who think he lacks the technique or temperament for this level. In the first innings he was caught in two minds by a bouncer and in the second, as England fought to save the Test, he played-on attempting a forcing stroke. He pulled out of the remaining Tests due to personal reasons and may well have slipped back behind several others in the pecking order.

2

Andrew Strauss
A chastening series that raises fresh questions about his future. Quite apart from dropping Amla before he had reached 50 at the Oval, Strauss never looked comfortable with the bat - he averaged just 17.83 and never made more than 37 - and, with little foot movement and even less confidence, appeared some way short of the required standard of Test opener. It meant he had enjoyed only one really good series with the bat in his last six. He made some odd captaincy decisions, too: the leg side bowling approach to Graeme Smith brought limited returns, while the decision to drop Swann for Leeds was a major blunder. Most of all, though, Strauss seemed jaded and unsettled by the Pietersen affair and admitted at the end of the series that he had some thinking to do before making any long term decisions about his future.

Tim Bresnan
After just two wickets in two Tests, Brenan was dropped for Lord's. He has never quite recaptured the nip he had against India and Australia and there were growing concerns that the elbow operation he underwent in December had robbed him of a crucial few mph. He struggled to make any impact with the bat, too, and may struggle to break back into the side ahead of Finn, Onions and co.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zenboomerang on August 23, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    @mikey76 :- "the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket"... Sour grapes at being knocked out of the tourament so early?... & your "you [Oz] are going to be a joke over the next few years"... Looking at how well we have done in U19 tournaments recently I think our future is looking very healthy & even England have some good prospects in the U19's... See, isn't it easy to be nice ;) ...

  • TeamSelector on August 23, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    I disagree ... KP deserved a 9 ...... He gave England the only sniff of winning a Test match with his brilliant hundred. Not to mention that he was their best spinner by a mile.

  • zenboomerang on August 23, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    @mikey76 :- "How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none"... lol - you do realise that the U19 WC's are ODI's?... Amongst this list (all U19's) are many fine past & upcoming Test, ODI & T20 cricketers: Graeme Smith, Craig Kieswetter (played for SA), Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Sanath Jayasuriya, Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, Eoin Morgan (played for Ireland), Steven Finn, James Taylor, Chris Woakes, Stuart Meaker, Steven Finn, Stuart Meaker, Ben Stokes, Venkatapathy Raju, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Chris Cairns, Martin Guptill, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Mushtaq Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Nasir Jamshed, Brian Lara, Ridley Jacobs, Jimmy Adams, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Darren Bravo, Kieran Powell, Cameron White, Xavier Doherty, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Phillip Hughes - to name a few ;) ...

  • phoenixsteve on August 23, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    @Jonesy2.... I guess you might be right about the England performance which was made worse by quality opposition. If they'd been playing a second rate team like the Aussies it wouldn't have showed! They would of course have to play really badly to lose to such a poor side as Australia. If you have any doubts BTW just see where the Ashes are and where they are likely to stay for some tme ahead! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    CDUP. Yes you can say Pietersen's 149 saved us at Headingley. But you can also say that had A Petersen been caught for 27 and not 180 odd then we would have levelled the series. You could also say if Amla had of been caught in the 40's at the Oval and not scored 311 that match would have been different. Cricket is full of if's and but's. England were outplayed yes, but not by as much as the scoreline suggests.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    Nutcutlet. I would have Kerrigan as my spinner, going on his performances for the Lions recently, and would like to see Ben Stokes instead of Buttler at 6. It's quite clear from the recent series that England need five bowlers. I would also say that KP will still be around then. I think this latest furore will be the spark that ignites the latter part of his career. I would also like to think that Broad isn't done yet.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    Chesty, the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket. How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none. England Lions on the other hand have but for the weather soundly beaten their Australian rivals, we have probably the most strenght in depth of any nation at the moment. Jonesy2 if Australia A are anything to go by, you are going to be a joke over the next few years. Still desperately trying to revive Johnsons career in vain. Lyon was treated like the club cricketer he is, an apart from Hughes and Cowan the batting was awful. We have fast bowlers coming through, genuine all rounders like Woakes, excellent spinners like Kerrigan and a handful of very good looking batsmen. I have a lot more confidence in our ascent back to No.1 than I do Austalia's.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    Chesty, the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket. How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none. England Lions on the other hand have but for the weather soundly beaten their Australian rivals, we have probably the most strenght in depth of any nation at the moment. Jonesy2 if Australia A are anything to go by, you are going to be a joke over the next few years. Still desperately trying to revive Johnsons career in vain. Lyon was treated like the club cricketer he is, an apart from Hughes and Cowan the batting was awful. We have fast bowlers coming through, genuine all rounders like Woakes, excellent spinners like Kerrigan and a handful of very good looking batsmen. I have a lot more confidence in our ascent back to No.1 than I do Austalia's.

  • King-Cobra on August 22, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    OMG !!! @jonesy2, That was spot on dude !!! Completely agree with every word of that !!!

  • CDUP on August 22, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    @Meety; SA was not marginally better. They controlled the series for 12 of 14 days, including the last day at Lord's. Any team can go out swinging 20/20 style if they have nothing to lose, and on many occasions get close to the opposition's score (although 51 runs isn't exactly a shave), but the truth is, in 9.5/10 cases they will fail, especially against a good bowling attack, and Smith knew this. The reason why the second test looked close was, firstly, KP's great knock (truly a day that belonged to England), and secondly Smith's positive approach to the match. Already on the fourth day the SA batsmen came out very positively, as can be seen in Kallis' s uncharacteristic exit, which gave the English bowlers some opportunities and the English batsmen a hope of a chase. Honestly though, SA were always in control and didn't marginally win the 1st or the last match - they owned them. Indeed, if it wasn't for KP's outstanding innings in the second test, things might have ended 3 - 0.

  • zenboomerang on August 23, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    @mikey76 :- "the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket"... Sour grapes at being knocked out of the tourament so early?... & your "you [Oz] are going to be a joke over the next few years"... Looking at how well we have done in U19 tournaments recently I think our future is looking very healthy & even England have some good prospects in the U19's... See, isn't it easy to be nice ;) ...

  • TeamSelector on August 23, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    I disagree ... KP deserved a 9 ...... He gave England the only sniff of winning a Test match with his brilliant hundred. Not to mention that he was their best spinner by a mile.

  • zenboomerang on August 23, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    @mikey76 :- "How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none"... lol - you do realise that the U19 WC's are ODI's?... Amongst this list (all U19's) are many fine past & upcoming Test, ODI & T20 cricketers: Graeme Smith, Craig Kieswetter (played for SA), Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Sanath Jayasuriya, Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, Eoin Morgan (played for Ireland), Steven Finn, James Taylor, Chris Woakes, Stuart Meaker, Steven Finn, Stuart Meaker, Ben Stokes, Venkatapathy Raju, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Chris Cairns, Martin Guptill, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Mushtaq Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Nasir Jamshed, Brian Lara, Ridley Jacobs, Jimmy Adams, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Darren Bravo, Kieran Powell, Cameron White, Xavier Doherty, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Phillip Hughes - to name a few ;) ...

  • phoenixsteve on August 23, 2012, 2:10 GMT

    @Jonesy2.... I guess you might be right about the England performance which was made worse by quality opposition. If they'd been playing a second rate team like the Aussies it wouldn't have showed! They would of course have to play really badly to lose to such a poor side as Australia. If you have any doubts BTW just see where the Ashes are and where they are likely to stay for some tme ahead! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    CDUP. Yes you can say Pietersen's 149 saved us at Headingley. But you can also say that had A Petersen been caught for 27 and not 180 odd then we would have levelled the series. You could also say if Amla had of been caught in the 40's at the Oval and not scored 311 that match would have been different. Cricket is full of if's and but's. England were outplayed yes, but not by as much as the scoreline suggests.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    Nutcutlet. I would have Kerrigan as my spinner, going on his performances for the Lions recently, and would like to see Ben Stokes instead of Buttler at 6. It's quite clear from the recent series that England need five bowlers. I would also say that KP will still be around then. I think this latest furore will be the spark that ignites the latter part of his career. I would also like to think that Broad isn't done yet.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    Chesty, the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket. How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none. England Lions on the other hand have but for the weather soundly beaten their Australian rivals, we have probably the most strenght in depth of any nation at the moment. Jonesy2 if Australia A are anything to go by, you are going to be a joke over the next few years. Still desperately trying to revive Johnsons career in vain. Lyon was treated like the club cricketer he is, an apart from Hughes and Cowan the batting was awful. We have fast bowlers coming through, genuine all rounders like Woakes, excellent spinners like Kerrigan and a handful of very good looking batsmen. I have a lot more confidence in our ascent back to No.1 than I do Austalia's.

  • mikey76 on August 22, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    Chesty, the U-19 has pretty much no bearing on the future of test cricket. How many U-19's go on to fruitful careers in test match cricket?? Virtually none. England Lions on the other hand have but for the weather soundly beaten their Australian rivals, we have probably the most strenght in depth of any nation at the moment. Jonesy2 if Australia A are anything to go by, you are going to be a joke over the next few years. Still desperately trying to revive Johnsons career in vain. Lyon was treated like the club cricketer he is, an apart from Hughes and Cowan the batting was awful. We have fast bowlers coming through, genuine all rounders like Woakes, excellent spinners like Kerrigan and a handful of very good looking batsmen. I have a lot more confidence in our ascent back to No.1 than I do Austalia's.

  • King-Cobra on August 22, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    OMG !!! @jonesy2, That was spot on dude !!! Completely agree with every word of that !!!

  • CDUP on August 22, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    @Meety; SA was not marginally better. They controlled the series for 12 of 14 days, including the last day at Lord's. Any team can go out swinging 20/20 style if they have nothing to lose, and on many occasions get close to the opposition's score (although 51 runs isn't exactly a shave), but the truth is, in 9.5/10 cases they will fail, especially against a good bowling attack, and Smith knew this. The reason why the second test looked close was, firstly, KP's great knock (truly a day that belonged to England), and secondly Smith's positive approach to the match. Already on the fourth day the SA batsmen came out very positively, as can be seen in Kallis' s uncharacteristic exit, which gave the English bowlers some opportunities and the English batsmen a hope of a chase. Honestly though, SA were always in control and didn't marginally win the 1st or the last match - they owned them. Indeed, if it wasn't for KP's outstanding innings in the second test, things might have ended 3 - 0.

  • supacodger on August 22, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    I hope Andrew Strauss will take absolutely no notice of this article, casting doubt on his place as captain and opener. There is no-one more suited to the captaincy at present. The press dislikes stability in the English team because it gives them nothing to write about, Would they prefer Strauss to quit so that they can churn out articles speculating on who should be his successor?

  • t20-2007 on August 22, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    @land47....completly agreed with you...Pls dont rate England on 3 test...cos they havent played it ..they were slaughtered excepth the 149 made by KP...thr is nothing on offer

  • Meety on August 22, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    @dsig3 - "...I have seen both bowl at 150km at times.." AND you are talking about Anderson & Broad! No way, whilst pace isn't anything, there bowling speeds were not really any different to the 10/11 Ashes. @landl47 - the 1st Test skews the overall stats, based on Test 2 & 3, England had their moments, but you cannot ask what-ifs of dropped catches. The Saffas dropped less, but they did drop one or two & AB deV - fluffed at least one stumping, also - the UDRS went against the Saffas. In the end the last 2 tests are a better indication of where the teams are at. The Saffas marginally better. Funnily, whilst I agree with the commentry on Trott, I think he was marked too harsh - should of been closer to SEVEN (IMO)!!! == == == I never quite get the ratings. Not really concerned, but IMO whilst having a good game & deserving 8/10 for the actual MATCH, these are supposed to be series ratings & therefor as Bairstow only played ONE match the best score he should get is THREE (for the series).

  • jonesy2 on August 22, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    hahaa wow very kind. they were basically all a 1 or 0. the problem with england is they never had the talent and ability to sustain any sort of success. theyre only going to slip further and further now. broad isnt club standard, anderson is ineffective most of the time if the little things arent helpful to him, finn is a frog in a blender although he can take a wicket every now and then in between getting smashed for many a run, swann is pretty good but isnt good enough to dominate batsmen and usually ends up getting dominated himself, bresnan is worse than broad and there really isnt anyone else. the batting is one dimentional like i have said all along and doesnt pose any threat when bowled to properly. cook and trott used to be hard to get out but both have serious weaknesses in the so called armour. but i do hope england stick with the likes of strauss, bell, broad, finn and bresnan for the next 2 ashes series.

  • CDUP on August 22, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    @landl47 "forget about the other two" tests? In other words, England would have won if not for the bad fielding? That's saying they would have won if they capitalised on SA's mistakes, instead of their own success. These ratings are not based on performances in relation to the final results, but on overall individual performances and contributions in the series. Never mind the bad fielding, very few of the English players made real differences on the pitch. SA on the other hand shaped their own success. Yes, Prior might have dropped Amla on 2 at Lord's, but Amla went on to seize his second chance and score a century. In the same breath, Prior, in his excellent second innings at Lord's, managed to survive 2 'what if' situations, but unlike the English bowlers, who missed 'what if' chances and then allowed the batsmen to resettle, the SA bowlers got on with it and made sure they got him a few overs later.

  • Nutcutlet on August 22, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    The signs are there. Jimmy is past his best (though still very good) & Broad, a much more besetting concern IMO, is so down on pace & venom that I cannot believe that he has been anything appoaching fully fit this summer. His effectiveness as a Test cricketer is now under scrutiny by more discerning judges. Fortunately, Warwickshire's Woakes is ready to step up & is able to make healthy contributions with the bat. This is my England Test XI three years hence: Cook (c), Root, Trott, Bairstow, Taylor, Buttler, Prior (w/k -vice c), Woakes, Briggs/Tredwell, Meaker, Finn. Only Finn of the 2012 bowlers survives. The others, given their workload/chronic conditions will have gone back to county cricket, or, more likely, retired from fc cricket all together. Perhaps Stokes will be vying for a place. Well,I can only be wrong, but I'd bet that I am more accurate than the majority of economic forecasters!

  • gudda1122 on August 22, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    well now it will be intresting to see how england fare in Indian sub continent......England is lion at there home...but even by RSA they have been tamed as sheep

  • Chesty-la-roux on August 22, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    The future is bleak for england I am afraid. Looks like they are destined to spend many years languishing in the lower half of the test rankings. Meanwhile in other news, englands youth are busy fighting it out with West Indies youth for 5th place in the U19 world cup.

  • jezzastyles on August 22, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    Great to see Prior get the England camps Man of the Series award, he's the best specialist WK in the game today. Yes, Anderson did beat the bat, but there are no consolation prizes for doing so - a bowler must take wickets. When Ben Hilfenhaus first started fror AUS, if he was judged on beating the bat alone, he would have been a world-beater, but he didn't get the snicks or the wickets, and he had a relatively poor start in test cricket. Anderson must lift his game in IND. Now onto the IND tour. No need for knee-jerk reactions. Strauss is a fine captain, ENG weren't that far off winning the last two tests, no matter what your detractors say. Bairstow and Taylor both seem like good prospects for the future - stick with them. Cook/Strauss/Trott must start laying the platform more consistently (all very good, experienced players). KP - you played better without him, enough said. Swann will have a dominant tour of IND, 24+ wickets & man-of-the-series award, ENG to win 2-0. Good luck.

  • dsig3 on August 22, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    Anderson and Broad dont want to bend their back anymore. I said this after watching the Pak series and the English commenter s go their backs up. I have seen both bowl at 150km at times. It doesn't mean they have to do it all the time, but you have to be able to rush in occasionally. England have been resting on their laurels since the ashes. A familiar story, same thing happened after 2005.

  • SICHO on August 22, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    I don't think Cook and Anderson deserve 5, and so is Broad a 4,5. Cook did absolutely nothing after the 1st innings of the 1st Test. Anderson was a new ball boy, once South Africa survived it, he had nothing to offer. Broad must get a 3.5, what has he done rather than his suprise spell at Headingly? Nothing at all.

  • landl47 on August 22, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    This is a very difficult series to rate because the first test was so one-sided. However, when you look at tests 2 and 3, England's failure was in the field; they actually batted and bowled quite well in both games, though it wasn't the top of the order that did most of the scoring. In the second test, Cook dropped an easy chance off Petersen who then added another 153 and Finn knocked off a bail while getting poor, distracted Smith out for 6, who then made a half-century. In the third test, Prior dropped Amla on 2 and Anderson dropped deVilliers on 8- those two drops cost 150 runs in a game England lost by 50. Of course SA deserved to win, because dropped catches lose matches, but if those had been taken, the series might have looked quite different. What would the ratings have been then? And yet the batsmen and bowlers would have done nothing different (except for Finn's knee). So mark England down on the first test and forget about the other two.

  • on August 22, 2012, 2:19 GMT

    Bairstow 8/10, are you serious? And what did Strauss do for his two points? He scored no runs, captained badly, and allowed his best player to be dropped for sending silly texts when he alone could have shrugged the whole thing off and ended it. KP being 'derogatory' about Strauss, when he's led and batted as he has recently, seems quite justified now.

  • on August 22, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    All the carping and clamoring for change is stupid. The fact is England was beaten by a better team, plain and simple ! England's rise to number 1 is admirable, but I never expected their stay at the top to be prolonged. This team is not in the mold of the dominant West Indies or Australian teams, those teams crushed their opponents and had truly great players up and down their eleven. England has one truly great player in KP who can make the opposition worry about what to do with him. Unfortunately, he is a bit of a head case and typically the ECB does not know how handle him so they discard him. I am WI fan and wish my team played as well as number 2 team does. Relax England this is the best team you have had in ages !!

  • Patchmaster on August 21, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    Broad has to be dropped for Onions. Broads batting is no longer a factor to consider either, neither is his arrogant attitude. How long can Bell carry on being an 'almost' player ? I'd rather see Compton have a chance in stead of Bell now, time to change the guard. Bairstow is a definite prospect for the future, and once he relaxes a bit, I think he'll destroy a few attacks, like he does for his county. Finn is a gem of a bowler, and I think with Anderson, Finn, Onions, they still need to find another person to replace Broad, hopefully Bresnan can find that extra yard of pace again, and he can bat a bit too which helps. As for Swann, I think some young spinners will be thinking their time is here. Swann seems to be like Vettori and just doesn't threaten batsmen much these days.

  • CoorparooMaverick on August 21, 2012, 23:35 GMT

    No sure how JB gets an 8? he scored two 50's in one test, to me that would be deserving of a 6.5 - a good effort but not a game changing effort, for that match, not the whole series mind. if performance was based ob one match then Broads 8/165 should be regarded much higher. Prior was Engs best but still an 8 says to me that he was excellent but from what i watched he was only better than the rest of the team, which does mean much. JT 48 runs at 16, how is that worth 5.5? where those marks given out on potential? Poor Straussy i think 2 is a little harsh, he wasn't alone out there.

  • randommagician on August 21, 2012, 23:22 GMT

    I can think of two more blots on Prior's copybook- the appalling shots he played to be dismissed at crucial times in the second innings at the Oval and the first innings at Lord's. He probably deserved England's man of the series accolade though. I feel these ratings are generous to Cook, Trott, Swann and Broad incidentally.

  • edrich on August 21, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    tlotoxl- my point is not for a replacement for Prior (though I wouldn't object) but for an appreciation that he failed in his role to assess the state of the match and steer the innings.In this series his performance was critical at so many junctures and he failed at them all.Scoring runs when the pressure is off is one thing.There can be no excuse for sweeping a leg-spinner when there is a new ball soon and a match to be batted out.Lord's first innings was barely an improvement which makes me wonder how often he can make a real impact on the game.Praising his performance throughout the series is incredible to my mind so much so I thought the SA decision over man of the series was a ploy to push the dagger in deeper but we were so pleased with our "futile gesture" of the last afternoon we didn't even recognise the slight. With a few exceptions no-one performed well and questions must be asked of the management as to why. Prior's series showed nothing had been learned along the way.

  • __PK on August 21, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    How does James Anderson rate a 5/10 (pass mark) when "The figures are not good"? Stuart Broad was "bitterly disappointing" but still only just failed (4.5/10). And how to Strauss manage to accrue 2 whole points when he did nothing?

  • on August 21, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    So, the worst performer was the captain. Hahahaha. That's priceless.

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    Have to say I don't think Prior quite deserves an 8 although I feel he was our man of the series. If you can base it on one test Jonny deserves it. Think Jimmy bowled better than his figuers and marks suggested.

  • liz1558 on August 21, 2012, 21:08 GMT

    The tone of your individual assessments is spot on. England are a better side than this and the medium pace filth offered by Anderson and Broad was especially disappointing. They looked gutless and very playable, lacking in the hostility, incision and menace that were there in spades up to last summer. England just didn't look prepared for this series or how good SA would be. They had the guts to get to the top, but not the self-belief to stay there. The 2005 team atrophied in exactly the same way, and that is the most disappointing thing; this team has done exactly what Vaughan's team did.

  • KevinCostna on August 21, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    England fielder dropping catches, bowlers bowling at a reduced avg. speed, batsmen not able to play long innings and the captain making strategic mistakes....... all point to only one thing. England and its players are playing too much cricket without the rest thats physically needed to be at your best. Wait a sec, isn't this what KP was complaining initially. We dont care to listen coz he is a selfish, unpatriotic, and egoistic person. And now, Broad gets a 2 wk break n exemption from ODIs so he can be fresh for T20s. I smell too much hipocracy here.

  • phoenixsteve on August 21, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    Fair enough ratings and a good summary George. Maybe a bit hard on Ravi and a bit generous on Bresnan. I can't figure out why he ever got a place in the side ahead of Onions and Finn? His batting is above that you'd expect from a bowler but he's hardly an all-rounder! Things could have been diffeent if key catches had been held though & as much as I like and respect Andrew Strauss - he had a shocker! (series that is - not just 1 match) As for KP, it's now emeerging that he might have been very disloyal - even traitorly! However he's such a special player that there MUST be a way to get him back in the side? England in the past have coped with Boycott, Broad (snr), Snow,Dexter, etc - who were far from 'team' players. Inappropriate media outbursts have come from Swann, Broad & others besides Pietersen. Silence the chump, forbid him to text or comment no matter how much he's goaded - but for pity's sake give the guy a chance to blaze the trail for his adopted country? COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Dunross on August 21, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    Ian Bell should go as he has shown time and time again he is useless when it really matters. Sure he is great to watch but only when others ( most notably KP) have paved the way for him and it's 400 for 3.

  • Tlotoxl on August 21, 2012, 20:34 GMT

    @edrich: while I agree with some of what you say RE: Prior he did score 100, 75 and 100 runs in the three tests at no 7, who would you have? the only other choices IMHO were KP on field fine but off-field obviously not or Anderson whose figure do not reflect the quality of his bowling but was down on pace

  • TFERGI on August 21, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    Sat Matthau - bells 50's were both quite tough I thought

  • Long-Leg on August 21, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    Can anyone explain to me why both Anderson and Broad seemed to bowl so much slower than usual in this series? Broad in particular was at least 5 mph down on his normal pace.

  • 12thUmpire on August 21, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Straussy should continue his captaincy role, but trade his batting position with Prior, Broad, or Swann. Now that the series in toughest format against the toughest opposition is over, England can bring Bopara back from "rest" / "rotation" in safer formats or safer oppositions and give him an extended run.

  • on August 21, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    India would have fared much better had they toured this year as the Englishmen looked awfully jaded.

  • edrich on August 21, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    I can only think that you are party to a huge South African joke in making Matt Prior man of the series. Let us consider: In the second innings of the first Test just two overs from the second new ball Prior sweeps Tahir out of the rough and is caught.He doesn't need to do anything other than pad the ball away.England are,after all,trying to save the match.It is vital he is there for the new ball.He fails.Stupid is not a word that does his actions justice. In the third Test he drops Amla who then adds a hundred plus to his score .But even before that, consider his actions in England's first innings-struggling for parity the second new ball again available.It is vital Prior sees it through and stays.He cannot even be bothered to try.The very first delivery with the second new ball he plays a brainless shot and is caught.Any hope of a substantial lead is gone and extra pressure piled onto Bairstow who later succumbs. The man is not a thinking cricketer as I understand cricket.

  • djdrastic on August 21, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    I'm sure there is no love lost between Strauss and Pietersen after the latter completely derailed all efforts for england.Bairstow looked in great touch though.As much as the pom commentators and front foot lunge don't want to admit to it , South Africa are just a much better unit.

    If the weather didn't muck up proceedings it would have likely have been 3-0.

  • DaveMorton on August 21, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    You (the gentlemen of the press) started by over-praising a decent, but only decent, England team. Perhaps you were fooled by dominant performances against an awful Australian side, and an Indian outfit that was one of the weakest and worst led teams ever to land on these shores. Now you've gone too far the other way. The cricket was great to watch and (the Oval apart) the team was competitive against a very good S African side. There are issues to be addressed; the catching has been awful for a year, now, and the best available bowling attack [Anderson, Finn, Onions and Panesar] would give us four number 11s. Panesar easily outbowled Swann in UAE, should anyone query my judgment.

  • bumsonseats on August 21, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    i think the bowlers were not up to the mark. we did not bowl with any aggression for the whole series. the speeds were down on what was needed even finn did not reach the 90mph that i expected. broad was poor though out the series the poorest since he arrived on the test scene. jimmy did not bowl well i thought he would have caused the saffars the most trouble and when not taken wickets, thought he would have kept it tight. its a long time since the bowlers have bowled so poorly as a unit. all in all we were crap.

  • Mann123 on August 21, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Well since we love to bring India into most cricket discussions, lets do it here too. Its quite amazing how all the English players seems to have lost form as soon as they faced a tougher opposition. I believe its all about how good the opposition lets you to be. Greater skills and application from South Africans ensured the weaknesses in English players were exposed. Some of their players just like Indian players in sub-continent were living in a false belief that they are among the best in the world until they met their real competition.

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    bit hard on Swann I think... I'd give him at least 6, but otherwise pretty fair

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    One positive for England out of this series is that, after his performance at Lords Finn has now cemented his place in the Test side. With Anderson & Broad lacking energy, he was clearly the "go to" guy and should end the argument between himself & Bresnan for the 3rd seamer's spot. Also - & this maybe controversial to some -has there ever been a more fairweather player than Ian Bell? His backers may point to an inns here or there, but fact of matter is that he never makes runs when it matters most, when the chips are down.

  • datewithdestiny on August 21, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    If you are rating two teams on 10 in a series, have one person do it.. whats the point of having two different people rate on different subjective scales..

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    Difficult to disagree with the above assessment. Time is not on Andrew Strauss' side, and I suspect that Bopara has played his last test. Bresnan sadly has gone backwards - perhaps the elbow is not as fully recovered as was suggested? The KP affair helped no one - the curse of Playfair once again - and I suspect it will be some time before he's in England colours again (if ever). The ECB hasn't exactly covered itself in glory in all this affair either (but no one will be suspended or disciplined - and someone should have been...) Both Bairstow and Taylor need to be invested in long term and some younger bowlers might need some test exposure sooner rather than later - Briggs and Woakes come to mind. Root of Yorkshire looks a distinct possibility to replace Strauss at the top of the order and perhaps some test exposure (against NZ next Summer perhaps

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Frustrating series for Anderson really - he missed the edge time and time again, and in another series may very well have picked up many more wickets at a much better average. Can't really argue with the other scores... do please note everyone that Swann's economy for the last match was even better than Philander's! The problem was nobody was striking at either end enough, except for a few brief spells from e.g. Finn.

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  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Frustrating series for Anderson really - he missed the edge time and time again, and in another series may very well have picked up many more wickets at a much better average. Can't really argue with the other scores... do please note everyone that Swann's economy for the last match was even better than Philander's! The problem was nobody was striking at either end enough, except for a few brief spells from e.g. Finn.

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    Difficult to disagree with the above assessment. Time is not on Andrew Strauss' side, and I suspect that Bopara has played his last test. Bresnan sadly has gone backwards - perhaps the elbow is not as fully recovered as was suggested? The KP affair helped no one - the curse of Playfair once again - and I suspect it will be some time before he's in England colours again (if ever). The ECB hasn't exactly covered itself in glory in all this affair either (but no one will be suspended or disciplined - and someone should have been...) Both Bairstow and Taylor need to be invested in long term and some younger bowlers might need some test exposure sooner rather than later - Briggs and Woakes come to mind. Root of Yorkshire looks a distinct possibility to replace Strauss at the top of the order and perhaps some test exposure (against NZ next Summer perhaps

  • datewithdestiny on August 21, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    If you are rating two teams on 10 in a series, have one person do it.. whats the point of having two different people rate on different subjective scales..

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    One positive for England out of this series is that, after his performance at Lords Finn has now cemented his place in the Test side. With Anderson & Broad lacking energy, he was clearly the "go to" guy and should end the argument between himself & Bresnan for the 3rd seamer's spot. Also - & this maybe controversial to some -has there ever been a more fairweather player than Ian Bell? His backers may point to an inns here or there, but fact of matter is that he never makes runs when it matters most, when the chips are down.

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    bit hard on Swann I think... I'd give him at least 6, but otherwise pretty fair

  • Mann123 on August 21, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Well since we love to bring India into most cricket discussions, lets do it here too. Its quite amazing how all the English players seems to have lost form as soon as they faced a tougher opposition. I believe its all about how good the opposition lets you to be. Greater skills and application from South Africans ensured the weaknesses in English players were exposed. Some of their players just like Indian players in sub-continent were living in a false belief that they are among the best in the world until they met their real competition.

  • bumsonseats on August 21, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    i think the bowlers were not up to the mark. we did not bowl with any aggression for the whole series. the speeds were down on what was needed even finn did not reach the 90mph that i expected. broad was poor though out the series the poorest since he arrived on the test scene. jimmy did not bowl well i thought he would have caused the saffars the most trouble and when not taken wickets, thought he would have kept it tight. its a long time since the bowlers have bowled so poorly as a unit. all in all we were crap.

  • DaveMorton on August 21, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    You (the gentlemen of the press) started by over-praising a decent, but only decent, England team. Perhaps you were fooled by dominant performances against an awful Australian side, and an Indian outfit that was one of the weakest and worst led teams ever to land on these shores. Now you've gone too far the other way. The cricket was great to watch and (the Oval apart) the team was competitive against a very good S African side. There are issues to be addressed; the catching has been awful for a year, now, and the best available bowling attack [Anderson, Finn, Onions and Panesar] would give us four number 11s. Panesar easily outbowled Swann in UAE, should anyone query my judgment.

  • djdrastic on August 21, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    I'm sure there is no love lost between Strauss and Pietersen after the latter completely derailed all efforts for england.Bairstow looked in great touch though.As much as the pom commentators and front foot lunge don't want to admit to it , South Africa are just a much better unit.

    If the weather didn't muck up proceedings it would have likely have been 3-0.

  • edrich on August 21, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    I can only think that you are party to a huge South African joke in making Matt Prior man of the series. Let us consider: In the second innings of the first Test just two overs from the second new ball Prior sweeps Tahir out of the rough and is caught.He doesn't need to do anything other than pad the ball away.England are,after all,trying to save the match.It is vital he is there for the new ball.He fails.Stupid is not a word that does his actions justice. In the third Test he drops Amla who then adds a hundred plus to his score .But even before that, consider his actions in England's first innings-struggling for parity the second new ball again available.It is vital Prior sees it through and stays.He cannot even be bothered to try.The very first delivery with the second new ball he plays a brainless shot and is caught.Any hope of a substantial lead is gone and extra pressure piled onto Bairstow who later succumbs. The man is not a thinking cricketer as I understand cricket.