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ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over England following their first series whitewash to Pakistan, a series where England had a rude awakening following a trailblazing two years
February 7, 2012
News : Ajmal comment sparks action confusion
News : Bell dropped from limited-overs squads
News : Bell's one-day career not over - Flower
Features : England spun to record low
Players/Officials: James Anderson | Ian Bell | Stuart Broad | Alastair Cook | Eoin Morgan | Monty Panesar | Kevin Pietersen | Matt Prior | Andrew Strauss | Graeme Swann | Jonathan Trott
Matches: England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC)
Series/Tournaments: England tour of United Arab Emirates
Andrew Strauss 5/10 England's captain was never fluent but no-one battled harder with the bat. Hampered by his preference to play spin off the back foot, Strauss countered by attempting to use his feet against the spinners with partial success. But with only one century in his last 28 Tests and just two half-centuries in ten Tests since the end of the Ashes, doubts are beginning to grow. He deserves some credit for the excellent spirit in which the series - which had potential to become controversial - was played and for his honest assessment of Pakistan's strengths and his own side's weaknesses.
Alastair Cook 5 No England player faced more balls in the series than Cook. There were times, using his long reach and infamous patience, when Cook seemed able to negate the spin threat, though run scoring remained problematic. He produced England's highest score of the series - 94 in Abu Dhabi - but generally sold his wicket more cheaply than has been case in recent times, against spin and seam.
Jonathan Trott 5.5 That he was England's leading run scorer says little: this was a disappointing series by Trott's high standards. He squandered two good starts in his first and last innings of the series and once gave his wicket away when not calling for a review that would have reprieved him. He played the spin as surely as anyone and still appears to have the technique to prosper. He was also the unlikely producer of a very good delivery that dismissed Younis Khan in the first Test.
Kevin Pietersen 2 There were glimpses - the most fleeting of glimpses - of what might have been in Pietersen's final innings of the series when he skipped down the pitch to hit the spinners back over their heads. No-one doubts Pietersen's talent but in this series he was hamstrung by serious technical errors: a lack of balance causing him to lunge rather than press forward and a failure to play straight. He also missed a relatively simple run out that might have changed the course of the second Test. He is good enough to bounce back so long as he retains the appetite for the hard work required.
Ian Bell 1 2011 suddenly seems a long time ago. A tally of just 51 runs at an average of 8.5 tells its own story of a gruesome series. Bell's inability to pick Saeed Ajmal's variations - he fell to the doosra four times in six innings - rendered the man who came into the series with a reputation as England's best player of spin all but hapless. His dismissal in the second innings of the third Test - guiding a long hop to point - summed up a horrid tour.
Eoin Morgan 2 Fragile against spin and seam alike, this was a series that dealt a serious blow to Morgan's hopes of establishing himself as a Test cricketer. He was somewhat fortunate to retain his place for the last Test but responded with an improved performance. But a temptation to play across the line against spin and away from his body against seam is a dangerous combination.
Matt Prior 7.5 A cricketer at the peak of his powers. The only man in the England side to average more than 30 with the bat, Prior played the spin as well as anyone and was twice left stranded without partners. He also kept well. While he has long been very good standing back to the seamers, he now appears almost as competent standing up to the spinners.
Stuart Broad 8 Immaculate with the ball, Broad displayed stamina, skill and consistency in this series. His bowling, maintaining a probing line and length and generating just a little seam and swing movement, would have made the likes of Glenn McGrath proud. There is not much higher praise than that. He also produced a fine innings in Abu Dhabi that, but for an appalling batting collapse from his colleagues, might have shaped the second Test in Abu Dhabi. But he loses a mark for selling his wicket too cheaply on two occasions. He is already one of the world's top bowlers. With just a little more application, he could be one of the world's top all-rounders.
Graeme Swann 7.5 Somewhat hampered by the lack of left-handers in the Pakistan line-up, Swann was obliged to play the supporting role to Panesar for much of the series. Swann still finished with the best strike-rate of any of the England bowlers - he claimed a wicket every 53 deliveries - and produced some useful contributions with the bat. Indeed, he averaged more than Bell, Pietersen or Morgan.
James Anderson 8 Dangerous with the new ball - he may have caused permanent damage to Taufeeq Umar's Test career - and now boasting supreme levels of control, Anderson's labours deserved more reward from unresponsive pitches. Perhaps he has lost just a little pace but such is his ability to swing and seam the ball that he remains a reliable bowler in any conditions and a lethal one when conditions help. Anderson also battled hard with the bat, contributing more runs than Bell.
Monty Panesar 8 Two Tests and two five-wicket hauls: the Panesar comeback can only be said to have been a resounding success. After a nervous start in Abu Dhabi, Panesar grew in confidence and revelled in his heavy workload. He will never be a bowler replete with variation and he does tend to offer a few more short balls than he would like but, generally, Panesar provides consistency, control and, in helpful conditions, can be very dangerous. He has improved with the bat and in the field, too.
Chris Tremlett 4 Wicketless in his only Test, Tremlett was subsequently forced to return to England with a back injury that will require surgery. It was wretched luck for a fine cricketer whose body seems unable to withstand the rigours of fast bowling. He bowled respectably in the first Test, too, albeit without much of the pace or devil he had shown at Perth, Cardiff or The Rose Bowl. Fears are growing that it may prove to be his last international appearance.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
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