England players surge up Ratings
Mike Atherton's innings of 108 at The Oval is the best Test innings of his career so far, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Ratings. The innings was against an attack in which Ambrose and Walsh bowled most of the overs, in a low-scoring match. It's lifted Atherton to 11th in the latest ratings, one place behind England's leading batsman Alec Stewart.
10 Alec Stewart
11 Mike Atherton
10 Andy Caddick
11 Darren Gough
20 Dominic Cork
40 Craig White
The fact that Zimbabwe and the West Indies are not the strongest of Test teams has been taken into account. So has the tendency over the summer for low scores (indicating conditions that favour the bowlers). Even allowing for that, all four England bowlers have made big climbs. Caddick (up two places to 10th) and Gough (up seven places to 11th) remain the main strike force, but Cork (up ten places to 20th) and White (up 49 places to 40th and still qualifying) give the team strength in depth. But Walsh (4th) and Ambrose (5th) still rate higher than any of them.
What nobody seems to be talking about is the new strength of England's tail. A year ago, England's batting collapses were an international joke. But what could be expected of a tail comprising Tufnell, Mullally and Giddins (the 9/10/Jack for England at The Oval last year)? Now the ratings suggest England's tail, led by Dominic Cork, would be the envy of some other countries. It has been a significant factor behind England's success.