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Marks out of ten for England after they retained the Wisden Trophy
June 12, 2012
Features : Not perfect, but an efficient job from England
Features : Anderson's absence and Onions' return
Features : Onions savours 'special' comeback
Features : Samuels' hunger for the fight
Report : West Indies fight as England quicks share honours
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of England
Strauss answered many of the questions about his own form with the bat with centuries at Lord's and Trent Bridge. He ended the series with an average of 65.20 and, of batsmen on either side, only Marlon Samuels scored more runs. Although Strauss was criticised for being overly defensive in the field at Edgbaston, he oversaw England's return to winning ways in typically unruffled fashion. He also took five catches - the joint highest of all England fielders, including Matt Prior.
Immaculate as ever. The figures may not show it - Anderson beat the bat without reward countless times - but Anderson was the leading bowler in the series and, most unusually for a fast bowler, is arguably England's best fielder in all positions. His absence - with the ball and in the field - was certainly felt at Edgbaston. You have to go back a couple of years to find the last time Anderson endured even a bad session with the red ball and, even if a little of the pace may have gone, such is Anderson's control and mastery of both seam and swing, that he is establishing a reputation as one of the finest seamers England have produced.
An impressive and heart-warming return to Test cricket at Edgbaston after injury threatened his career. It seems Onions, whose championship record this season is exceptional, was always more likely to play at Edgbaston than Steven Finn and justified that decision with a performance that displayed pace, consistency, fitness and skill. Given better support in the slips and he would surely have finished with even better figures than 4 for 88. Quite how much joy he would experience on Indian pitches is open to debate but, that tour apart, he should prove a valuable member of the England squad for the foreseeable future.
No-one on either side took more wickets than Broad - 14 in just two Tests - including a career-best 7 for 72 at Lord's. Odd as it sounds, he was not at his best even in that Test, where he took 11 wickets in all, and only belatedly found his ideal length. But for someone to take seven wickets in an innings and still have more to offer, suggests they have the ability to be quite a bowler. A lack of red ball cricket ahead of the South Africa series is the only concern about Broad. In all other ways, he should be a cricketer on the brink of great things.
Three half-centuries in four innings and a series batting average of 111 were a more than decent return for a man who came into the series under just a little bit of a cloud following a disappointing winter. A couple of those innings - the unbeaten 63 at Lord's and the unbeaten 76 at Edgbaston - came with England under a little bit of pressure, too, as Bell showed that, in the absence of top-quality spin, he has little to fear in international cricket. The resting of James Anderson at Edgbaston forced Bell into the slip cordon and resulted in two straightforward chances going down, but this was a reassuring return from a man of whom England will be expecting big things in against South Africa. Had the umpires not unnecessarily taken the players from the pitch for bad light on the fourth evening of the third Test, he might well have become the first Warwickshire player to score a Test century at Edgbaston.
Pietersen, too, looked in the best of form, but did not go to register the big score to demonstrate it. Some of his strokes - pulling in front of square and driving imperiously on the up off the seamers - suggested he is in peak form and he passed 50 twice in four innings. Underlying the impression that concentration might be his main enemy, he was twice dismissed by Marlon Samuels but never by Kemar Roach or Tino Best.
Under just a little pressure to justify his position as third seamer after the Lord's Test where he took 1 for 144 and was dismissed for a duck, Bresnan responded with a man of the match winning performance at Trent Bridge. Those eight wickets and an important, unbeaten innings of 39 amply demonstrated Bresnan's all-round worth and only Broad, on either side, claimed more than his dozen wickets.
On pitches offering him precious little, Swann experienced a relatively quiet series, but still weighed in with some valuable contributions. He took three important second innings wickets - including Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul - at Lord's as West Indies threatened to bat themselves into a strong position. Swann also claimed his first Test wickets on his home ground of Trent Bridge and, in a series in which Chanderpaul was only dismissed three times, Swann claimed him twice. He also scored an important 30 at Lord's to take the game away from West Indies.
Cook only scored one half-century in the series, but that innings - a calm 79 that helped England to victory at Lord's after they had slipped to 57 for 4 chasing 191 at Lord's - was a valuable contribution. After the debacle of Abu Dhabi, such assurance under pressure was heartening indeed, and Cook looked equally nerveless in chasing down the low total at Nottingham. He endured one horrid innings at Nottingham - he was reprieved twice after edging no-balls and still fell prodding at one angled across him - and seemed to over compensate at Edgbaston - where he was trapped leg before having moved across his stumps and tried to work the ball into the leg side, but no England pair have ever added more runs together than Cook and Strauss and that stability should serve them well against South Africa.
Looked in decent form throughout, but failed to capitalise on it. It is unlike Trott to miss out when set and he may reflect that he could have played straighter. And for a man who established himself in county cricket as a slip fielder of rare brilliance, it seems something of a waste that he finds himself at fine leg so often.
Maybe a little below his best at Edgbaston, where he was troubled by an eye-infection, but generally Prior was as quietly efficient as ever behind the stumps. Prior only had two innings with the bat, but was bowled through the gate on both occasions and may, against South Africa's attack, need to bide his time a little more. His strike-rate in this series was 92.10: entertaining, certainly, but what is the hurry?
It would be wrong to read too much into one innings of bowling on a flat pitch, but perhaps Finn was just a little disappointing at Edgbaston. He did not, by any means, bowl poorly, though he did seem to lose his line and length for a while on the fourth morning when Best's counterattack left him flustered. Perhaps, having been on the brink of the team for months, he may have suffered from trying too hard when given what he knew was sure to be a limited opportunity. Still, he had bowled with decent - though not outrageous - pace on the third day and remains a fine bowler to have in reserve. Aged 23, he still has time to pick up some of the seam and swing skills from Anderson and Broad.
Three completed innings is surely too short a sample size on which to judge a young player, but it seems fair to state that Bairstow is unlikely to be risked against South Africa's daunting pace attack. Wining an opportunity to claim the No. 6 spot for his own due to the absence of the injured Ravi Bopara, Bairstow struggled against the pace and hostility of Roach and Best and, after questions were raised against his ability to play the short ball at Trent Bridge, he was dismissed playing across a full straight ball at Lord's. He was, perhaps, unfortunate to twice be confronted by the second new ball, but the fact that Steve Davies was called-up to provide wicketkeeping cover suggests there are also doubts about Bairstow's current ability with the gloves. Aged only 22, he is highly rated by the team management, has time to come again and will remain part of England's limited-overs teams.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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