ENGLAND SUMMER TEST RATINGS: Jonny Bairstow’s sustained aggression shone through while Jimmy Anderson showed there’s no reason he won’t face Australia next year at 40 – but the selection of struggling Zak Crawley felt like a cruel experiment
- England’s strong summer against New Zealand, India and South Africa analysed
- Jonny Bairstow’s aggression and 40-year-old Jimmy Anderson’s bowling shone
- However, Alex Lees had a mixed bag, and the selection of Zak Crawley felt ‘cruel’
- England have shown themselves in good stead ahead of next year’s Ashes series
England got the 33 runs they needed on Monday morning to seal a 2-1 series win over South Africa with a nine wicket victory in the decider at The Oval.
It brought to an end a successful summer of test cricket, with strong showings against New Zealand, India and South Africa, to put England in good stead ahead of next year’s Ashes series.
Jonny Bairstow and 40-year-old James Anderson have been two of England’s shining lights during the past few months, proving themselves as batter and bowler respectively.
However, Alex Lees had a mixed bag as he tries to get to grips with the set-up, and the choice to constantly select Zak Crawley despite his inconsistency felt like a ‘cruel experiment’. Here LAWRENCE BOOTH breaks down the best and the worst of England’s team this summer…
Stuart Broad, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes and Ollie Robinson celebrate England’s series victory
Broad (right) and 40-year-old James Anderson, who has shown age is no barrier to his bowling
9 James Anderson
A wonder of nature. Turned 40 in July, but looks as lithe and slick as ever. His 27 wickets came at just 17 apiece, and he kept England in the hunt at Edgbaston with a first-innings five-for against India. He also went at just 2.58 an over – England’s meanest bowler. There’s no reason to think he won’t be taking the new ball against Australia next summer.
9 Jonny Bairstow
The biggest beneficiary of England’s great unshackling. In five innings against New Zealand and India, Bairstow thrashed 589 runs from 578 balls, including four hundreds, 75 fours and 13 sixes. It was one of the greatest spells of sustained aggression in English Test history. It was devastating when he broke his leg playing golf.
Jonny Bairstow’s aggressive batting has helped him consistently rack high scores this summer
9 Joe Root
Adapted magnificently to his new life in the ranks. Even after tailing off against South Africa, he still averaged 68 for the summer, and was immense in three of the big fourth-innings chases: 115 at Lord’s and 86 at Headingley, both against New Zealand, and 142 against India – all unbeaten.
9 Ben Stokes
One of the two architects, with Brendon McCullum, of England’s Test renaissance, Stokes was a man mountain. Averaged 40 with the bat, 25 with the ball, and constantly urged his team to go harder. Paradoxically, his best innings – a century against South Africa at Old Trafford – was full of commonsense. Fears remain, though, about his left knee.
8.5 Ollie Robinson
The new-look Robinson – handed the new ball ahead of Broad – is a sight to behold, and his first-innings five-for at The Oval was a masterpiece of fast-medium English swing and seam. If he stays fit, anything’s possible, though his stamina will be tested more thoroughly in Pakistan.
Ollie Robinson’s new-look has helped him succeed, although Pakistan will test his stamina
8 Stuart Broad
Lost the new ball to Robinson, but still finished as England’s leading wicket-taker, with 29. His greatest strength was his reliability: in seven innings out of 11, he took at least three wickets. Never got the chance to be ‘nighthawk’, but his batting was always fun. Can he manage one more Ashes?
8 Ben Foakes
Helped get England’s ball rolling by partnering Root to victory against New Zealand at Lord’s, then made a high-class century against South Africa in Manchester. He didn’t catch absolutely everything behind the stumps, but he usually made the difficult look easy. Nailed on for Pakistan.
7.5 Ollie Pope
Having never batted at No 3, Pope repaid McCullum’s faith, starting with a sublime 145 against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. Perhaps more significant were knocks of 73 and 67 in seam-friendly conditions against South Africa at Lord’s and The Oval. Has the ability to be a banker for years to come.
7.5 Matt Potts
Instantly became part of England’s fast-bowling pecking order with debut figures of four for 13 against New Zealand at Lord’s. Removed Kane Williamson three times, then Virat Kohli at Edgbaston. Faded slightly, before losing his place to Robinson, but he will come again.
Matt Potts will see his time come again, after losing his place despite strong debut figures
7 Jamie Overton
Managed only two expensive New Zealand wickets on debut, but helped save England with the bat, making 97 in a match-turning stand with Bairstow. Pacier than his twin, Craig, but may fall away once England’s out-and-out quicks return from injury.
6.5 Jack Leach
His summer revolved around one Test, against New Zealand at Headingley, where he took 10 of his 16 wickets, responding superbly to Stokes’s show of faith. He’ll need help in Pakistan, though – possibly from Moeen Ali or Dom Bess.
6 Sam Billings
Came in at Headingley when Foakes caught Covid, and kept his place against India, where he put on a useful 92 with Bairstow. With Bairstow injured and Jos Buttler outside the Test fold, Billings may sneak on the plane to Pakistan.
6 Harry Brook
Sparkled all too briefly in his only innings, against South Africa at The Oval, but showed the gusto that England now demand from their middle order. The future looks bright.
Harry Brook’s only series was at The Oval, but he has a bright future in England’s middle order
6 Matt Parkinson
Bowled 15 serviceable overs on debut after stepping in as Leach’s concussion replacement against New Zealand at Lord’s, but England remain unconvinced he can flourish at the highest level. It will say a lot if they don’t pick him this winter.
5 Alex Lees
Added a few shots to repertoire after a stodgy debut series in the Caribbean, and got the chase against India going with a rapid half-century. There were plenty of failures too, but England are reluctant to continue the top-order merry-go-round, so Lees is likely to go to Pakistan.
4 Zak Crawley
At times, his selection looked like a cruel experiment: in seven of his 13 innings, he failed to reach double figures. England, though, expected nothing else, bizarrely insisting Crawley was not selected for his consistency. His unbeaten 69 to clinch the series gave them a little return on their investment, which will continue in Pakistan.
Zak Crawley finished unbeaten on 69, but it came at the end of a long and cruel summer
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