England's marks out of ten August 24, 2009

Super Strauss at the forefront

A look back at how England's players contributed towards regaining the Ashes


Andrew Strauss
The supreme leader. At the forefront of everything good about England's campaign, he batted with an insouciance that put his colleagues to shame, and exuded calm authority in the field and at the crease. His final-day run-out of Michael Clarke ensured he finished as the series' leading run-scorer, the only one of England's statistics that went any way towards explaining the result. Neither Len Hutton nor FS Jackson could have carried an Ashes campaign more single-handedly.

Jonathan Trott
Only one Test match, but what a Test match. The first cricketer for more than 100 years to make his debut in an Ashes decider, Trott conferred an instant authority on proceedings with twin innings of 41 (unluckily ended with a run-out from short leg) and that magnificent stage-setting 119. His selection was a leap of faith, with changes essential after the humiliation at Headingley.


Matt Prior
A significant contribution with bat and, more surprisingly, with the gloves. Conceivably over-promoted at No. 6, but he was second only to Strauss among England's run-scorers, and though he lacked a major innings, his series was packed with critical cameos, particularly at Lord's where his second-innings 61 signalled the decisive tempo change. Behind the timbers he was as flawless as he has ever been, pulling off screaming one-handers and sharp-eyed stumpings, including a fantastic grab high to his left to extract Marcus North at The Oval.

Stuart Broad
The big blond allrounder in whom England's faith is now invested. And yet, for three-and-a-half Tests, Broad's contributions were a confusion. His bowling was out of sorts as he struggled to identify his role in the five-man attack, while his batting - ever reliable - actually seemed to be clouding the issue, as it persuaded the selectors to keep the faith when logic suggested an alternative seamer should be called upon. Thank goodness for small mercies. Broad finally found his range with a meaningless six-for in defeat at Headingley and followed up with the spell that won the series on second day at The Oval.


Graeme Swann
Decisive contributions to each of England's victories - four second-innings scalps at Lord's, eight in the match at The Oval - and that is all you can really ask of a match-winning spinner, especially when he slaps so many lower-order runs that he ends up averaging more than any of England's regular middle-order. But in between whiles he was anonymous - wicketless on an apparent spinner's surface in Cardiff, and strangely insipid at Edgbaston even after producing the greatest delivery of his career to bowl Ricky Ponting.

James Anderson
Derided as a "pussy" in Justin Langer's leaked dossier, Anderson showed at Lord's and Edgbaston that he certainly knows how to roar. When the ball was swinging there was no-one more deadly on show, although his returns faded when pure line and length was required. Nevertheless, his consistency is growing and his threat is always there. And though his heroic run of 54 duck-less innings came to an end at The Oval, his role in the Cardiff rearguard has already entered folklore.


Andrew Flintoff
You just can't keep him down. Insignificant in Cardiff, absent at Headingley, and a wicketless source of angst for a nation at Edgbaston, the ravages inflicted on his body meant that his entire summer revolved around three individual moments - with bat, ball, and in the field. His 74 at Edgbaston was his last hurrah as a strokemaker, his dead-eyed run-out of Ricky Ponting at The Oval was the death-knell for Australia's Ashes prospects. But towering above them both was his rumbustuous bowling on the final day at Lord's, when few batting line-ups could have withstood his force majeure.

Ian Bell
To give credit where credit's due, England's most lampooned batsman fronted up in two of the three Tests he played, scoring a lucky but handy 53 at Edgbaston, and a first-day 72 at The Oval that was arguably the key innings of the match. In between whiles he vanished without trace in the Headingley debacle, but he wasn't alone in doing that. His natural diffidence will forever undermine his contributions, and Johnson's bouncer-yorker barrages will give him nightmares long after the hangover has passed. But the boy might just have become an adolescent this week.

Paul Collingwood
Gains an extra mark for the ballsiness of his final-day batting in Cardiff, without which none of what transpired would have been possible. But the limp prod to gully that ended that innings of 74 with safety still far from ensured was a harbinger of his struggles to come. Tormented by even the subtlest outswingers, he fiddled where once he had left, and his form collapsed in the final three matches. Without Pietersen's dominance to work off, his flintiness became a flaw.

Kevin Pietersen
A picture of misery as he hobbled round The Oval with his right leg in plaster, several yards adrift of his cavorting, triumphant team-mates. No-one could have envisaged an Ashes win without a major KP contribution, least of all the man himself. Nevertheless, he top-scored in the first innings at Cardiff (before that pilloried dismissal) and played through clear pain to set up the Lord's success. The ego will recover soon enough.

Graham Onions
Hugely unlucky to be muscled out for the finale, his probing full length taught his senior colleagues valuable lessons. His wickets came in clusters, including two in two balls at the start of the second day at Edgbaston, and his partnership with Anderson showed signs of growing in stature. Inked in for the winter tours, and he'll be around for a while.


Monty Panesar
One match, one wicket, but one unforgettable performance. Who'd have thought Panesar's batting would end up winning the Ashes?

Steve Harmison
Lurked all summer long, racking up the five-fors for Durham and waiting in the wings for a chance to claim his kills. His brutal bowling for England Lions in Worcester sowed the first seeds in Phillip Hughes' demise, and though he disappointed at Headingley after threatening with the new ball, he finally cashed in at The Oval to scatter the tail in 13 balls. Forever frustrating, but Australia fear his presence.


Alastair Cook
Forever battling with his shredded technique, Cook collared Mitchell Johnson on that decisive first morning at Lord's, but his 95 in that innings was nearly half his series contribution. His mental fortitude kept his neck off the chopping block when batting scapegoats were being sought after Headingley, but a tally of two 50-plus scores in ten Ashes Tests is not really good enough.


Ravi Bopara
Entered the series with a fanfare on one hand, after his three centuries in a row against West Indies, and a loud raspberry on the other, as Shane Warne among others queued up to suggest that cockiness was not the sole requirement for Ashes success. Mugged by Peter Siddle on the first day at Cardiff, Bopara spent the rest of the series with his feet hovering in no-man's land, and the gullies queuing up to collect his conviction-less prods. He'll be back, presumably the wiser.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo