Woakes stands tall, but too many batting holes

Five things we learned from England v Pakistan (3:28)

Melinda Farrell, George Dobell and Jarrod Kimber look back on five things we've learned from the England v Pakistan Test series. (3:28)


Chris Woakes (177 runs at 35.40, 26 wickets at 16.73)

Outstanding. The top wicket-taker in the series, Woakes bowled with pace, skill, control and consistency and looked, in almost every spell, the most dangerous of England's bowlers. After earning multiple honours board mention at Lord's (he claimed five-wicket hauls in both innings), he took another seven wickets in Manchester (and contributed a composed half-century as nightwatchman) and five more in Birmingham. He finished having set a new record for the number of wickets by an England bowler in a series against Pakistan.


Alastair Cook (423 runs at 60.42)

Cook batted with fluency - only Moeen Ali scored his runs more quickly - and consistency against a fine bowling attack. If there were times it seemed he squandered his platform - pulling on to his stumps at The Oval and pushing at one away from his body at Edgbaston - it was a sense magnified by the lack of contribution from others in the top order. Cook also demonstrated his growing captaincy skills by coaxing an out of sorts (Woakes aside) bowling attack to victory at Edgbaston and suggesting Anderson apologise after his disagreement with the umpires. Lost half a mark due to his drops in the slips. Needs to find a way to improve England's over-rate, though.

Joe Root (512 runs at 73.14, 1 wicket at 27)

It is probably unreasonable to expect more from a 25-year-old than Root produced here. So infuriated was he with himself after his two impatient dismissals at Lord's that he produced perhaps the most mature innings of his career at Old Trafford. And, if he endured a disappointing game at The Oval, again allowing his impatience to get the better of him, it was a reminder that England have come to rely on him too heavily. Not at his best in the slips, though he remains a fine catcher.

Jonny Bairstow (366 runs at 52.28; 14 catches, one stumping)

After a poor miss at Lord's, Bairstow enjoyed an improved series with the gloves and another consistently good series with the bat. While he may have some frustration at not converting any of his four half-centuries into centuries, he twice departed selflessly trying to up the pace to set-up a declaration. Guaranteed to start the winter as first choice keeper.

Moeen Ali (316 runs at 63.20; 11 wickets at 46.54)

The simple summary would state that Moeen shone with the bat and subsided with the ball. The truth, though, is a little more complex. After a poor Tests at Lord's, Moeen's place in the side looked as precarious as at any time since his early Tests. But he weighed in with five wickets at Old Trafford, two vital half-centuries at Edgbaston and a high-class century at The Oval. While his economy rate of 4.62 an over is simply not good enough, he did end the series with a better strike-rate than every England bowler other than Woakes. He suffers, in part, for being the least bad spinner (arguably, anyway) in a period when England's spin resources have never been so low.


James Anderson (nine wickets at 25.66)

After missing the first Test - controversially according to some - Anderson was as tight and controlled as ever for the rest of the series. While he admitted his pace had dropped, he suggested his experience and skills compensated. Sure enough, he bowled with great skill in harnessing the reverse swing at Edgbaston, but looked just a bit toothless at The Oval.


Stuart Broad (13 wickets at 28.61)

Claimed six wickets at Lord's and finished with perfectly respectable bowling figures, but this was a slightly underwhelming series from a man who has become accustomed to match-turning spells. Though there were moments of great skill - he produced a lovely cutter to account for Asad Shafiq at Old Trafford and produced a sharp spell at The Oval - but he was generally content to provide a holding role on these sluggish surfaces, bowling within himself and concentrating on moving the ball into right-handed batsmen.


Steven Finn (5 wickets at 70.40)

While never quite at his best, Finn bowled some way better than his figures suggest. The slow pitches and dropped catches did him few favours, but he was generally unable to recapture the pace that rendered him so dangerous on his return last year or in South Africa at the start of this year. Dropped for the second Test, he returned with two important wickets in the second innings in Edgbaston and retained his place for the final Test. Hard to see how he makes it into the Test team in Asia, though.


Gary Ballance (195 runs at 27.85)

Top-scored in the first innings at Edgbaston but failed to cement his return to the side. While three dismissals to balls turning sharply from outside off hinted at a problem against spin that could be exploited this winter, there were few signs of the problems against left-arm pace that bothered him last year. In danger of being branded alongside Hales and Vince, but in reality looked a little more assured.


Alex Hales (145 runs at 18.12)

After the apparent progress made against Sri Lanka, this was a hugely disappointing series. Only once could Hales reach 25 and five times in the series his uncertainty around off stump was exploited with catches to the cordon. He remained fallible in the field and provided a glimpse into his growing anxiety by remonstrating with the third umpire at The Oval. There was one important innings - he helped his captain erase the first innings deficit in Edgbaston - but Hales faces an anxious wait to see if his success against Sri Lanka earned him the credit to secure his place in Bangladesh and India.

James Vince (158 runs at 22.57)

There were moments - not least in the second innings at Lord's and in the Edgbaston Test in which he contributed 81 runs - when it appeared Vince might be learning the discipline and denial required in Test cricket. But even at Edgbaston he enjoyed some fortune and a tally of five dismissals to edges to the keeper or the cordon and a poor shot in the final innings at The Oval suggested a recurring fault outside off stump that threatens his future at this level. Seven Tests in succession without being able to repay the selectors' faith with a half-century leave him unlikely to make the tour squad. Rarely convincing in the slip cordon.


Jake Ball (one wicket at 88)

Given only one Test, on a slow, low wicket at Lord's, Ball bowled a little better than his figures suggest and produced a nice yorker to account for Azhar Ali. While he will remain part of the squad of seamers England look to over the next few years, it is hard to see a role for him in Asia.

Ben Stokes

Broke down with a calf tear at Old Trafford in his comeback Test after knee surgery. If the recurrence of injury raised questions over his long-term prospects - memories of Andrew Flintoff came to mind - his absence was alleviated in part by the emergence of Woakes. The ability to play them both provides England will enviable options and depth.