The one-day action is over for another season after England and Australia (with a little help from Bangladesh) slugged it out across the country for the past month. The matches were all about laying markers for the Ashes and striking some psychological blows. After slow Australia cantered to the NatWest Challenge as they found their form at the right time. Andrew Miller rates the performances with an view to the major contest ahead.



Adam Gilchrist found his form in explosive style at The Oval © Getty Images

Adam Gilchrist - 8

Explosive throughout, but prone to the odd untimely departure, Gilchrist appeared to be lacking his usual stickability at the top of the order, until his thrilling hundred in the final Challenge match. It had been two years since his last and largest one-day hundred, but on this evidence he is not yet ready to settle for conventional pinch-hitting - he is still hungry enough to continue pile-driving through the entire 50 overs of an innings.

Matthew Hayden - 4

Shoulder injuries, alleged run-ins with schoolkids and that tete-a-tete with Simon Jones and Paul Collingwood - it's been an eventful series for Hayden, but unfortunately not with the bat, the one department in which he has been largely anonymous. The bullying superbat of two years ago is looking ever so slightly vulnerable.

Ricky Ponting - 6

Returned to form with a century in the penultimate match of the series, and it could not have been more timely. With a persistent habit of falling across his stumps, Ponting's only other innings of note had been a subdued 66 against Bangladesh. But at Lord's he regained his balance, and with one sublime flick into the Mound Stand off Andrew Flintoff, the confidence flooded back into his Ashes campaign.

Damien Martyn - 7

Quiet and accumulative, it has ever been thus for Martyn, whose timeliest contribution came in the must-win encounter at Chester-le-Street. Playing the straight man to Andrew Symonds' simmering brute at the other end, he made 68 not out from 81 balls, and put a fifth consecutive defeat beyond the bounds of possibility. Ever unflappable, he looks set for a run-laden summer.

Andrew Symonds - 9

His absence was keenly, and embarrassingly, felt by the Australians at the start of the series, but once he had served his time for his misdemeanours in Cardiff, Symonds returned with a vengeance, and was indisputably the Player of the NatWest Series. His bombastic batting was offset by innumerable tight and frustrating spells of offspin and medium pace, and some of the sharpest fielding on show.

Michael Clarke - 6

Opened up with two composed performances in the defeats at Cardiff and Bristol, but was less effective on his return from a troublesome back injury. An important 80 ensured against a second embarrassment against Bangladesh, but he dealt in single figures thereafter, and has yet to recapture the boyish brilliance that won him the Allan Border Medal.

Mike Hussey - 8

A revelation, though not to English audiences, who have watched him stack up the runs in four seasons with Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire. At times it was like watching Michael Bevan making a comeback, as he chivvied the lower-order with a succession of invaluable innings, as often as not unbeaten. His 62 not out in the NatWest Series final deserved to be a matchwinner.

Simon Katich - 5

Opportunities were thin on the ground, but he did his best to make his time in the middle count, with 36 not out against Bangladesh and a sedate 30 against England. His solitary dismissal, a rush of blood and a catch at cow corner, is not one he will want to dwell on, however.

Shane Watson - 4

Briefly turned into a laughing stock after his ghostly revelations at Durham, and didn't do a whole lot to redeem his reputation on the pitch, save for three timely wickets in the final match against Bangladesh. Lost a sledging contest with Kevin Pietersen and seemed distracted by off-pitch matters.



Brett Lee bowled at express pace and sealed his Test place © Getty Images

Brad Hogg - 6

England - and Bangladesh for that matter - couldn't keep him out of the wickets, and he was the only Aussie bowler to reach double figures in the NatWest Series. Settled well into the role of Supersub, although he might have felt rather superfluous had Ricky Ponting not called correctly on two of the three occasions.

Brett Lee - 8

Needed a massive performance to force his way back into the Test reckoning, and produced it as well, with fast and furious spells all throughout the tournament(s). His pace and swing consistently gave England's top order the hurry-up, and that beamer controversy aside, he has reached the start of the main event in the perfect form and frame of mind.

Jason Gillespie - 3

A late return to form at The Oval, but Gillespie was a troubled man for much of the series. He lacked his usual bite off the pitch and was more often to be seen shaking his mullet in bemusement than snarling in aggressive celebration. The hunter turned hunted on this occasion, with Marcus Trescothick extracting an overdue pound of flesh, and Kevin Pietersen taking it upon himself to flog his morale into the stands and beyond.

Mike Kasprowicz - 5

Started his summer abysmally, conceding 89 runs in eight overs in Australia's defeat against Somerset, but he gathered his rhythm steadily as he acquired overs under his belt, and by the end he was looking Australia's best bet as their third seamer for the Ashes, behind Lee and the indefatigable McGrath.

Glenn McGrath - 8

Preparing for his sixth Ashes campaign, but still a class apart, McGrath was the constant menace at the top of the order. His unwavering line and length provided the perfect foil to Lee's bat-jarring pace, but he maintained a cutting edge all of his own. One regret is that under the new ODI rules, we will be seeing less of his batting.

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