Pakistan v England 2015-16 November 6, 2015

Anderson, Cook England's twin peaks

England's captain and senior bowlers led the way but there were too few outstanding contributions elsewhere

James Anderson finished the second leading wicket-taker in the series © Getty Images


James Anderson (13 wickets at 15.61)

Has an England bowler ever performed better over a series in Asia? This was a herculean series for Anderson, taking 13 wickets at 15.61 with an economy rate 1.87. His average in the UAE his lower than anywhere else in the world. To think, there was even speculation before the series as to whether he was the right horse for the right course. At 33, a decline for a fast bowler can be just around the corner but there are no signs of that for Anderson.


Alastair Cook (450 runs at 90.00)

A series which reinforced Cook's prowess as a batsman in Asia. During his 263 in Abu Dhabi he became the highest scoring non-Asian batsman in the region. His 14-hour epic was a remarkable display of concentration in stifling heat. Given how much England lean on him, he needed to convert one of his other first-innings scores (65 and 49) into three figures, too, although others need to stand up. As a captain he tried what he could with limited spin resources and rarely went completely on the defensive.


Mark Wood (6 wickets at 28.33)

Was the best of England's quicks in Dubai with his standout international performance. Sustained pace and hostility on a docile surface. He had never been expected to play all three Tests, but sooner or later a long term solution to the ankle problem will have to be found. Feeling persists that, sadly, his won't be a long career. A very good No. 10 as he showed in the second innings in Dubai.

Stuart Broad (7 wickets at 27.28)

"Someone's repaying me for that eight-for at Trent Bridge," Broad said with a wry smile during the Sharjah Test. Wickets were hard to come by but five in the final outing were the least he deserved. Rarely bowled a poor spell, although that no-ball reprieve for Shoaib Malik in Abu Dhabi was a key moment. His batting revival, which began in the Ashes, has continued. He still wants to play one-day cricket, but his importance to the Test team is immense.


Joe Root (287 runs at 57.40)

Briefly the world No.1 batsman again but it was an unfulfilling series for Root. Three scores between 71 and 88 when centuries were the order of the day. Played spin as well as anyone, but the flat-footed drive outside off has become a feature dismissal this year despite all the success. Oddly under-used with the ball - just eight overs in the series - but the management insist it is not related to issues with his back.

James Taylor (78 runs at 39.00)

Somehow, Taylor should have played from the start. His comeback 76 in Sharjah showed his skills against spin; soft hands, smart placement along with whippet-like running. Bristled whenever the question of facing South Africa's quicks is posed. He'll soon have the chance to bury that debate.


Ian Bell (158 runs at 31.60)

It is now 23 innings since he started his Test year with 143 in Antigua. As in the Ashes, he chipped in - and showed commendable resourcefulness to graft away - however the tipping point is approaching. He insists the hunger remains, and he will probably go to South Africa, but that will be a defining tour. His nine scores of 0 and 1 in the year are a record for a top-order (Nos 1-7) batsman. The catching, too, remains a worry. It's hard to escape the feeling of a terminal decline.

Jonny Bairstow (134 runs at 22.33, seven catches)

Retained at the start of the series as the selectors went for continuity. In a way, Bairstow is the perfect proof of development but also frustration. Spent a long time at the crease in conditions he does not find easy, but ultimately was exposed by spin too often. Now set for a run as wicketkeeper-batsman in South Africa although missed a vital stumping in Sharjah when Mohammad Hafeez had 97.

Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali endured a tough time with the ball © Getty Images

Adil Rashid (103 runs at 20.60, eight wickets at 69.50)

England's reintroduction to Test-match legspinning was a challenging affair. Rashid's 5 for 64 in Abu Dhabi, which almost sparked a remarkable victory, was a tremendous show of character and resolve after a record-breaking first-innings drought of none for 163. But while inconsistency with (most) legspinners is a given, there was just too much from Rashid. Needs to keep bowling in first-class cricket and not be around squads as a 12th man next summer. Batted superbly in Dubai and in the modern game that will work in his favour.

Samit Patel (42 runs at 21.00, three wickets at 54.66)

A surprise Test return having been added to the squad as Zafar Ansari's replacement. Acquitted himself well, especially with the bat in the first innings in Sharjah when his 42 was a textbook example of how to play spin on a turning pitch - the ball to remove him from Yasir Shah was one of the best of the series. Patel, too, bowled some beauties but also a lot of rubbish. Still, could be an alternative to Moeen.

Ben Stokes (88 runs at 14.66, five wickets at 39.60)

The batting numbers were not pretty, but he twice came in down the order and in pain after his collar bone injury in Sharjah. Picked out by Trevor Bayliss as an example of someone learning quickly how to adapt against spin. As with all the quicks, his efforts with the ball were unstinting and often unrewarded. His run out in the first Test was stunning. Remains raw around the edges, but vital to England's future.


Moeen Ali (84 runs at 14.00, nine wickets at 48.66)

There was understandable reasoning to why he was promoted to open, but it was always a long shot to work. There was some promise first time as he added 116 with Cook in Abu Dhabi, but that was the high-point. The second-innings shot in Dubai was horrendous and the slog-sweep in Sharjah ugly. More worryingly, though, was the decline - or at least flat-lining - of his bowling. Had the knack of picking up wickets but looked more like a batsman who bowls than at any other time of his career.


Jos Buttler (34 runs at 8.50, five catches)

In the end, Buttler had to be omitted for the good of himself as much as the team. Dubai was a horrid Test for him, exposed by pace and spin, while signs were his keeping was starting to be effected. Until then, his glovework had continued to improve as the batting declined. Hopefully the one-dayers will free him up, but may need a period in first-class cricket before a Test return.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo