Marks out of ten - England December 4, 2005

Vaughan's captaincy lacked his Ashes imagination

Hard on the heels of the Ashes triumph follows the fall, as England were dealt a great big spanking in Pakistan. A few delivered, many others didn't. Andrew Flintoff was his usual bighearted self, while the likes of Geriant Jones and debutant Liam Plunkett provided admirable backup.



Nobody poured more effort into England's campaign than Andrew Flintoff © Getty Images

8 Andrew Flintoff

Nobody poured more effort into England's campaign than Flintoff, and for that reason his desperate display at Lahore deserves some mitigation. Utter exhaustion is forgivable in the circumstances, especially when it is coupled with the sort of dejection he must have felt at finishing on the losing side at Multan. In that match he produced a career-best haul of 8 for 156 and looked the most complete fast bowler in the world. His batting suffered as a side-effect, and he produced more than his fair share of dumb dismissals. But he also produced a match-saving 56 at Faisalabad, not to mention more overs - 140.1 - than any other player on display.

8 Ian Bell

England's solitary success story in the batting ranks. A traumatic Ashes series looked like extending into a tough winter of drinks-waitering when he was initially overlooked for Multan, but Vaughan's knee offered a reprieve that he gratefully accepted. Capped his series with a century at Faisalabad, and made big runs in each of the three matches. Still shows a tendency to go missing when the stakes are at their highest, but has an appetite for accumulation that no England batsman has matched since Michael Atherton.

7.5 Steve Harmison

Widely tipped to go missing mentally, given his previous problems with homesickness in Pakistan, but instead hit a subcontinental length from his first spell at Multan and stuck to it rigidly to the tune of 12 wickets - nine more than the great Dennis Lillee managed on these same pitches. Mohammad Yousuf described his spell on the third evening at Lahore as one of the finest he had ever faced, and as if that was not inspirational enough, Harmison, at No. 11, was one of the few English players to execute the sweep shot properly.

7 Marcus Trescothick

Faultless display as England's stand-in captain at Multan, where his 193 should have set up a memorable victory, and made important first-innings contributions in the final two Tests as well. His second-innings stats were another thing entirely, however. He managed just five runs in three innings, including ducks at Faisalabad and Lahore as Shoaib Akhtar tore chunks out of England's resolve. Deserved better support from his team-mates, but his struggles confirmed that the defeat was no fluke.

7 Paul Collingwood

Stuck at his task, but not even scores of 96 and 80 at Lahore could fully convince the doubters, who question whether Collingwood has the technique or temperament to thrive as a Test-class No. 4. As a team-man, his attitude is unrivalled, and his disappointment at Lahore was keenly felt by all who have appreciated his uncomplaining approach, even when opportunities have been hard to come by. His bowling was heralded as a trump card on these wickets, but it was his rival Bell who bagged the most scalps - all one of them, and even that was dubious.

7 Geraint Jones

One of the few players to make genuine strides on this tour. His batting was solid without ever blooming into something spectacular, but it was his wicketkeeping that caught the eye - or rather, didn't, because he hardly had a blemish in all three matches. Crouching lower than in the summer, and with a wider cordon to allow him fuller expression with those diving chances in front of slip, he took 11 catches on the slow low strips and ensured that Matt Prior remained nothing more than an eager understudy.

7 Matthew Hoggard

Learned the ropes as a rookie on this tour in 2000-01, and proved that the lessons had sunk in with a disciplined and penetrative performance in all three Tests. Consistently found swing with the new ball - if only ever for a couple of overs - and seemed set to rescue his batsmen's blushes when he grabbed two early wickets at Lahore. Did as much as could have been asked of him.

6 Kevin Pietersen

A stylish hundred at Faisalabad, but it was the manner of his parting - caught slogging across the line one ball after raising his century with a six - that said the most about KP's contribution to this series. Initially earmarked as England's No. 4, Pietersen remained one place lower throughout, which was perhaps a hint that his application was not everything that Duncan Fletcher had hoped. His talent is so intense that he will always leave the fans wanting more. But in the second innings at both Multan and Lahore, they deserved more as well.

6 Liam Plunkett

England's youngest Test debutant since Ben Hollioake in 1997, Plunkett passed his test with flying colours and confirmed that he has a bright future in the game. Batted with nerve and plucked an effortless catch before he was even called upon to perform his strongest suit, but he didn't disappoint with the ball either, generating pace and accuracy, and providing England with two breakthroughs that, with a bit more of a total to defend, might have given Pakistan greater cause for concern.



A tough tour for England's semi-fit skipper © Getty Images

5 Michael Vaughan

A tough tour for England's semi-fit skipper. His trip appeared to be over when his knee locked up at Bagh-e-Jinnah, and though he returned for the final two matches, his rehabilitation appeared rushed at best and foolhardy at worst, especially when he mustered 11 runs at Faisalabad. A return to the top of the order heralded a late blossoming at Lahore, but it was all too brief. Fifty-eight sparkling runs in the first innings were rendered inconsequential by a rash sweep-shot, and his captaincy lacked the imagination he had shown in the summer

4 Andrew Strauss

Until this series, Strauss hadn't failed to score a century in a series against major opponents, but with fatherhood impending, he never looked like extending that proud record. His mind was back in England long before the rest of his body followed suit, as he proved by dropping Inzamam-ul-Haq on the midwicket boundary in the closing stages at Faisalabad. Though he's guaranteed an immediate return to the top of the order for the India trip, there is some question as to whether he should have come on this leg at all.

4 Ashley Giles

Arrived in the country with a reputation to maintain, but was hampered by a hip injury that forced him to miss the final match, and remained a shadow of the man who took 17 wickets in the same series five years ago. Sent down too many full-tosses that destroyed his rhythm, and was unable to extract anything but the most negligible turn. But his full value was only recognised in his absence, as England toiled for three days at Lahore with barely a sniff of salvation.

4 Shaun Udal

Promising beginnings at the end of a long, long wait, when he took his maiden Test wicket at the age of 36. But Udal's penetration receded as the tour progressed, as his economy-rate ballooned all the while. By the time he was selected as the solitary spinner at Lahore, Pakistan had his number, and cashed in with alacrity in their single mighty innings. That Udal bowled 18 overs in that innings, to Harmison's 43 and Flintoff's 36, was ample proof that he had failed his biggest test. His batting was a bonus, mind you. Almost Gilesesque, in fact.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo