West Indies in England 2009

England's young quicks steal the show

Andrew Miller

May 19, 2009

Comments: 8 | Text size: A | A

West Indies marks | England marks

James Anderson appeals successfully for the wicket of Chris Gayle, England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street, May 16, 2009
James Anderson's control of swing is rapidly becoming masterful © Getty Images

James Anderson - 9

When the ball moves, no-one moves it better. An exceptional performance to seal the second Test, and two impressive incisions at Lord's as well, where he bagged Gayle and Sarwan in the follow-on to hasten West Indies to a three-day defeat. Anderson has six years on the clock as an international cricketer, and he knows it's time he made the most of his prime. Bowled with swing and control without sacrificing his pace, and for some strange reason became the most sought-after wicket in the England line-up when Edwards decided to knock his block off. His skill as a nightwatchman, however, is becoming legendary - 48 innings without a duck is proof of his stickability.

Stuart Broad - 9

The unsung star of the series. It was evident at Lord's that Broad had added some meat to his bones and a yard of pace to his action, but it wasn't until the second Test that we saw the full extent of his development. A thuggish streak runs straight through his veins, as shown by his superb extraction of the centurion Ramnaresh Sarwan, and the manner in which he put Fidel Edwards back in his box during his spat with Jimmy Anderson. He possesses a mean streak reminiscent of Glenn McGrath - he may not be the quickest, but he has height and attitude, and isn't afraid to show it. His batting looked sparky as well.

Ravi Bopara - 8

Two innings, two centuries, and hey presto, England's Ashes No. 3 was born. Ravi Bopara's selection seemed at first to be a whim, but was soon revealed to be a masterstroke, as he built on his previous hundred in Barbados to emulate the achievement of his mentor, Graham Gooch, 19 years earlier. He needed some luck - particularly at Lord's when he was badly dropped on 76 - but crucially he took it, and with a serenity that his predecessors, Bell and Shah, would not have been able to emulate. Tougher tests lie ahead, but mentally and technically, he's got what it takes.

Graeme Swann - 8

Came under sustained attack for perhaps the first time in his career during the second Test as Denesh Ramdin and Sulieman Benn cut loose in the first innings, but Swann still emerged in credit after his all-round heroics at Lord's. His batting is a bonus and may not always come off - he has a great eye, but does love to take the aerial route through the covers - but the intelligence and variety of his bowling will have England's Ashes think-tank salivating. West Indies' left-handers didn't know what to do with him as he beat them both sides of the bat at will. Hughes, Hussey et al will have taken note.

Graham Onions - 8

The statistics brook no argument. Four wickets in seven balls on debut at Lord's; two in three (and in Gayle and Sarwan it was no ordinary pair either) at a vital moment at Chester-le-Street. Onions has a happy knack for making breakthroughs, and his amalgam of pace, swing, bounce and innate aggression suggest he should be able to replicate such performances on less helpful surfaces later in the year. But until he is tested against more streetwise opponents, there will have to be a small asterisk against his achievements.

Alastair Cook - 7

His second-Test century was a triumph of the will. Like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, his technique will never attract wolf-whistles, but the determination with which he compiled his runs is incredible. Some would say he's never been the same since his working-over in Australia in 2006-07, and the way he still flinches outside off stump is Glenn McGrath's lasting influence. But Cook still emerged from that series with a century at Perth, and he's now made two more in three Tests. One day he'll iron out his technical glitches, and then there'll be no stopping him.

Matt Prior carves through the covers during his half-century, England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street, May 16, 2009
Matt Prior's confidence with the bat has all but sealed England's No.6 slot © Getty Images

Matt Prior - 7

His keeping will never convince everyone, but it was as a No. 6 batsman that Prior was being assessed in this series, and in that regard, he impressed with a pair of attacking performances. His 42 at Lord's helped rescue England from an awkward 109 for 4; his 63 at Chester-le-Street built speedily on their first-day advantage. Both innings were scored with total confidence, particularly through the off side. Whether Australia will offer him such width is debatable, but he's passed his audition thus far.

Andrew Strauss - 6

Both his dismissals were uncharacteristically loose, but for the time he was at the crease, he looked as solid as he had done during his trio of centuries in the Caribbean. It was his captaincy which caught the eye, however, and not just for the ostentatious use of Swann as a new-ball bowler at Lord's. Tactically astute and sympathetic to his bowlers, he looked like a man in command of all he surveyed.

Paul Collingwood - 6

He may have scored four centuries and a 96 in his previous eight Tests, but he sat on the bench throughout the IPL, and his wooden dismissal in the first Test at Lord's provided his detractors with further ammunition - there's something about Collingwood's attritional style that doesn't permit him to fail without calls for his head following close behind. Happily his series finished on a much lighter note in front of his home fans - a handy half-century and a joyous (and unexpectedly accomplished) couple of sessions behind the stumps as Matt Prior's deputy.

Kevin Pietersen - 5

An anonymous series by his usual strutting standards. There was nothing KP could do about the exocet that nailed him first-ball at Lord's - not even his late return from the IPL could be blamed for that - although he looked sure to wreak his vengeance when got off to a flyer at Durham. But not for the first time in his career, a left-arm spinner proved to be his downfall. From Daniel Vettori and Yuvraj Singh, and now to Sulieman Benn, there's something about that breed that gets right under his skin.

Tim Bresnan - 5

A late, late showing on the final day of the series, as Strauss saw fit to give him free rein to express himself at last, and he didn't disappoint with three morale-boosting wickets. Swung the ball prodigiously in perfect conditions, albeit with rather less control than some of his colleagues. Judgment still needs to be deferred on this one.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by MrKricket on (May 19, 2009, 23:14 GMT)

Be interesting to see the ratings post the Ashes series! I'd bet on Pietersen improving and Bopara middling out - too bad McGrath isn't playing but M. Johnson is assuming the mantle. Good on England for showing some form albeit against a Windies team that was probably thinking about how much money they were missing out on in the IPL!

Posted by Nipun on (May 19, 2009, 18:04 GMT)

England were miles ahead of a haplessly woeful West Indies team in this series,no doubt,but a look at their team lineup convinces me of yet another English nightmare in 2009.Man by man,they are far behind the Aussies.

Posted by r1m2 on (May 19, 2009, 17:40 GMT)

I don't understand the mark of 8 for Ravi Bopara. He played as a batsmen, played two innings and scored 100s in each. I'd rate that a perfect 10. Is Mr. Miller giving him a lower score for playing a few rash strokes resulting in him being dropped a couple of times in reaching those tons? Since he's playing as a batsman, his bowling is bonus and that should not hold against him. Did he drop any crucial catches? What is counting against him to get a 10 or at least the highest score (anyone got) of 9?

Posted by pragmatist on (May 19, 2009, 17:17 GMT)

Pleased for Jimmy Anderson, looks good now he's back on home turf and has gone back to his old action. Can't see Bresnan being a Test player - with Prior at 6 you can afford another quality bowler - thinking Mahmood or Tremlett - rather than 'freddie light'.

Posted by wilecoyote on (May 19, 2009, 15:44 GMT)

KP a 5? more like a 3, and what exactly is a "breed"

Posted by Big_Chikka on (May 19, 2009, 15:11 GMT)

Yes, bowlers bowled well. Well done to the team. Good all round performance, and Ravi scored runs too, as predicted by the people that selected him as well as a few other people who have seen the quality of his game.

Hope to see this team develop, and further cement their places by beating the Australians.

Will love to see Broad and Onions really shake up the Australian batsmen, that will be the real "test" as I believe the Australians will be more adept at playing the bowling in the UK.

Posted by springonion on (May 19, 2009, 14:14 GMT)

Can't argue too much with that, and although everything seems set for the Ashes, the West Indies really could not be bothered. Flintoff in for Bresnan will make the bowling attack stronger, though Strauss, Bopara, Prior and even Cook are going to face stern tests against the Aussies, and that may well be where the Ashes is won and lost.

Posted by dutchy on (May 19, 2009, 14:01 GMT)

Prior is being judged on his batting not his keeping?! What sort of idiotic statement is that? All keepers should be judged first and foremost on their keeping - this is the sort of attitude that has helped keep the English cricket team second rate.

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Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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England v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 15, 2009
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South Africa v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 13, 2009
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