9

Stuart Broad
Has he ever bowled better? While Broad's career has been littered with brilliant spells, it is perhaps not since the UAE tour at the start of 2012 since he has bowled with the consistent excellence he demonstrated in this series. Pitching the ball noticeably fuller - apart from at The Oval where he slipped back into old habits - he gained movement in the air and off the seam and probed just outside off stump. Even at Lord's, where he was confronted with a surface offering him little, he demanded respect and picked up extravagant rewards in 'that' spell at Trent Bridge. He averaged almost 20 with the bat, too, and with Moeen contributed the most runs of any England partnership throughout the series.

8.5

Joe Root
It is hardly surprising Root has developed a bad back: he has been carrying England's batting from several months. England's only centurion in the series and the top scorer in all three first innings of the Tests they won, Root has flourished despite routinely coming to the crease with his side in trouble and on a couple of tricky surfaces. His strike-rate - 67.08 runs per 100 balls - reflects his fluency and aggression and if there were times - such as his second innings dismissal hooking at The Oval - when it was clear he would have benefited from a slightly more conservative approach, that is only to be expected from a 24-year-old. Recently promoted to No. 4, he is already a fine player and there is no reason why he shouldn't continue to improve. He also took some eight catches - only the wicketkeepers on either side took more - some of which were brilliant and claimed four wickets. It might have been a very different story if Brad Haddin had taken that chance at Cardiff, though.

7

Moeen Ali
Finished the series as England's second highest wicket-taker (12 wickets is more than Ashley Giles took in 2005 and only two fewer than Graeme Swann in 2009) and third-highest in their batting averages. Indeed, an England No. 8 has never previously made 250 runs in a series as Moeen managed here. While he did not always completely convince with the ball - he conceded almost four-and-a-half runs an over - he just about held it together in the face of Australia's attempts to attack him and produced two match-shaping innings with the bat despite often having to bat with tailenders. Nobody is claiming he is the best spinner England have ever had, but the package of skills he offers played a decent part in England winning the Ashes.

Steven Finn
While Finn was unable to quite sustain the standard he set on his remarkable comeback at Edgbaston - where he claimed eight wickets in the match and six in the second innings - he still finished the series with the best strike-rate of any bowler on either side with more than 10 victims. A newly acquired ability to swing the ball added another string to his bow and, if there were moments when he struggled to find his rhythm at Trent Bridge and The Oval, there had also been moments when he bowled in excess of 90mph and looked back to something approaching his best. Either way, from the low points of the last couple of years, this was a hugely encouraging return.

6

James Anderson
Wicketless at Lord's and absent for almost half the series (he missed the final two Tests and most of the second innings at Edgbaston), Anderson had to be content with a supporting role in what was almost certainly his final Ashes series. While his six wickets at Edgbaston played a huge role in that victory, he looked worryingly innocuous on a flat track at Lord's. Might it be the years - and all the overs - are beginning to catch up with him? In typical English conditions he can still be lethal, but he seems unable to deliver the excellent spells quite as often as he once could in less helpful conditions. This could prove a tough winter.

Ben Stokes
He produced one brilliant spell of bowling, probably the best catch of the series and two decent innings, but this was only a partially satisfying campaign for Stokes. While he showed his character, class and potential with the bat in the first two Tests of the series, he also showed some naivety with his dismissals at The Oval. With the ball he suffered more than most from dropped chances over the first few games and showed an ability to swing it both ways while cutting through Australia at Trent Bridge. The stats do not yet reflect his worth, but England's ability to field a man capable of contributing match-defining performances with bat and ball should help balance the side for much of the next decade.

Alastair Cook
It is telling that Cook's two best innings - and his only half-centuries - came in backs-to-the-wall fights to avoid defeats. Such situations bring the best out of him. They play to his strengths. At other times, he has sought to spread his wings a little more than is wise - think of his dismissals at Cardiff - and failed to provide the solid platform England required to protect their fragile middle-order. Cook caught well and impressed most onlookers with his improved captaincy. But as a batsman - still his primary role in the team - he disappointed with a series average of 36.66. England will need a great deal more from him if they are to succeed in the UAE or South Africa.

5.5

Mark Wood
At his best, bowling with pace and generating swing, Wood looks every inch a Test bowler. In this series, though, Wood was probably only at his best at Cardiff. A slightly lacklustre display at Lord's was followed by being rested and then a modest return for the final couple of games. With doubts remaining over his resilience for back-to-back Tests, in particular, the England management will surely need to use him sparingly if they are to benefit from the best of his undoubted ability. Because, at his very best, he can make a real difference. He can bat, too, and ended the series averaging more than four men who had batted in his side's top six.

4.5

Gary Ballance
In retrospect, Ballance could well feel a little aggrieved at being dropped after Lord's. One of his four innings - the first in Cardiff - helped shape the game (he posted 153 for the fourth wicket with Joe Root after coming together with the score 43 for 3) while only one man in England's top five scored more runs in the match at Lord's. Still, he had not always convinced against New Zealand, did look uncomfortable against the short ball and was criticised - perhaps unfairly - after he appeared to be stuck in the crease by a swinging Mitchell Johnson delivery that bowled him at Lord's. He will surely return to be given another chance to show that his technique - while unusual - can work at this level and it would be a surprise if he did not return to the team - perhaps at No. 5 - in the UAE.

Jonny Bairstow
Forcing his way into the side due to some prolific form in county cricket, Bairstow made a lively 74 against a somewhat dispirited Australia at Trent Bridge. His struggle in the second innings at The Oval - against both Johnson and Nathan Lyon - was painful to watch, though, and he may struggle to retain his place in the XI for the first Test in the UAE. With Jos Buttler struggling, however, he also has an opportunity to gain a spot as keeper at some stage.

4

Ian Bell
Beautiful and infuriating in equal measure, Bell had the sort of Ashes that polarises views upon his future in the side. His supporters would point out that, in a low-scoring summer, he contributed three half-centuries in nine innings and, when promoted to No. 3, was the highest run-scorer in the match in tricky conditions at Edgbaston. His critics would counter that, as an experienced batsman in a young side, more was required than a top-score of 65 not out and an average of 26.87. Certainly his form has been disappointing for one so richly talented - at one stage his century in Antigua was his only score above 30 in 11 Test innings - and many of the old criticisms of his ability to perform under pressure have returned. Chances of retirement, despite his post-Oval comments about "taking stock", have receded and it would be a huge surprise if he was not in the UAE.

3

Jos Buttler
Buttler admitted he had endured "a really poor series" and is hard to disagree. While his keeping continues to improve - he took a couple of outstanding catches standing back in the series and one very good one down the leg side standing up at The Oval - he is still learning his trade as a first-class batsman. Naturally a dasher, it seems he is trying to force himself into being a more traditional grafter without the technique or temperament to match. While he battled hard in reaching his highest innings of the series at The Oval, the manner of his dismissal - driving on the up to extra cover with rain clouds approaching - was hideous.

2

Adam Lyth
England batsmen of an earlier age could only envy the opportunities given to Lyth this series. But to play all five Tests, never reach 40 and average just 12.77 is a poor reward for such faith. Among openers to have batted eight times in an Ashes series, only Graham Gooch - who averaged - 12.12 in 1981 - has averaged lower. Lyth struggled to judge which balls to leave or play and, losing confidence with his defence, three times was drawn into unnecessary aggressive strokes that led to his wicket. He is a far better player than he has shown here and has, aged 27, time to come again. But it would be a surprise if he makes the squad to the UAE.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo