England players during the presentation ceremony after the fifth Ashes Test © Getty Images
England were whitewashed by Australia in the 2013-14 Ashes series. England were routed after a record fourth Ashes crown in-a-row, but Australia were too strong in all five Test matches. When a team loses 0-5 in a series, there are not many great individual performances to boast about. There a few good innings and spells, but in large nothing that would have won them any matches. Shrikant Shankar reviews each and every England player’s performance throughout and draws their report card for the five-match series.
Unlike Australia, England did not use the same 11 players for the duration of the five-match Ashes series. England used a total of 18 players in the series, of which only six played in all the matches. Below is the report card for the England players for the whole series:
According to batting order from the second innings in fifth Ashes 2013-14 Test
Alastair Cook — 3/10
Alastair Cook’s problems against the pace of Australian bolwers highlighted his dismal series © Getty Images
After scoring a colossal 766 runs in the 2010-11 series, a return of 246 runs in the 2013-14 series reflects the disparity between the two series for Alastair Cook. He was the left-handed Don Bradman the last time England toured Down Under, but now he is a mere shadow of himself. Cook scored only three half-centuries in 10 innings. He made 13 and 65 in the first Test in Brisbane. Then scores of three and one followed in Adelaide. He then got 72 in the first innings in Perth, but was bowled first ball in the second inning by Ryan Harris with a beauty of a delivery. Cook then scored 27 in the first innings in Melbourne. His best knock came in the second innings where he scored 51 off 64 deliveries. He struck seven fours and looked set for a big score. But it was not to be. The fifth Test in Sydney also proved to be massive failures as two scores of seven followed. Captain Cook’s leadership was questioned throughout the series, especially by Australian legend Shane Warne. Cook also lost confidence in some of his players like Monty Panesar and Scott Borthwick, which was not great to see. The series was one to forget, but the question is how.
Michael Carberry — 3.5/10
Michael Carberry’s bat breaking into two pieces symbolised England’s Ashes campaign Down Under © Getty Images
Cook’s opening partner Michael Carberry had solid starts in the first innings of the first four Test matches. His scores in the first innings from the first four matches read 40, 60, 43 and 38. All are good starts, but he could not convert them to big scores. His second innings scores till the fourth Test read 0, 14, 31 and 12. Hardly anything of substance. His 12 in the second innings of the fourth Test came from 81 deliveries and drew a lot of flak. In the County circuit, he is one of the most attacking batsmen but that was not reflected in the series. In the fifth Test, he got out for a duck and then scored 43 off 63 deliveries in the second innings — a score that could just prolong his Test career. He went onto score 281 runs and was England’s second highest run-scorer. But in the series, he will be remembered for two things. First, he dropped what many would call a lollypop of a catch at chest height to dismiss Brad Haddin in the first innings in Adelaide when he was batting on five. Haddin went onto score 118 and Australia won the match with ease. Carberry will also be remembered for his bat breaking in two while playing a forward defensive stroke to Harris in Sydney.
Ian Bell — 3/10
Ian Bell was the Man of the Series in the 2013 Ashes. In the 2013-14 series, he just could not get going. He only managed 235 runs with two half-centuries to his credit. His unbeaten 72 off 106 deliveries in the first Test in Adelaide was as good as any innings in the series, but many felt his talents were wasted at No 5 from the second Test to the fourth Test. He also played some loose shots that cost him his wicket far too many times for his liking. He was promoted to No 3 for the fifth Test, but to no avail. Overall, Bell had a very poor series.
Kevin Pietersen — 4/10
Kevin Pietersen presented a sorry figure throughout the Ashes series as he failed to provide England with the inspirational touch © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen finished as England’s highest run-scorer in the series, but was the only consolation for the big-hitting batsman. Pietersen scored 294 runs in the series with two half-centuries. He scored 53 in the second innings in Adelaide and 71 and 49 in the fourth Test in Melbourne. Those were just about the best that Pietersen could offer for England. Some of his shot selection for his dismissals drew the wrath of some former England players viz. Geoffrey Boycott. While Pietersen got out to Peter Siddle thrice, others too had quite a bit of success against him. Often he was positioned at fine-leg and spent his time signing autographs at the boundary. More responsibility is what many former players are asking of Pietersen, but that was only evident in small quantities during the series.
Gary Ballance — 3.5/10
One cannot do much on debut when a side has lost the first four Test matches of the series. Gary Ballance showed some determination and focus in the first innings in Sydney with 18 off 51 deliveries. He got an unplayable delivery in the second innings from Mitchell Johnson and was out for seven. Not much can be made of his performance in the series based on just one match. But he showed some character and that is important. His rating would go in accordance to the one match he played.
Ben Stokes — 7/10
Ben Stokes proved to be the only bright spark in an otherwise disastrous series for England © Getty Images
The saving grace for England in the entire series! Ben Stokes did not play the first Test in Brisbane, but played the rest of the four matches. He was England’s lone centurion in the series. His 120 off 195 in the second innings in Perth pushed the match till after lunch on Day Five. That was the best England could offer in the whole series. He also took a six-wicket haul in the first innings in Sydney. He is a genuine all-rounder and had a lot of heart. He was very expensive with the ball, but that is down to a lack of experience and willingness to bowl full in search of wickets. Stokes finished with 279 runs and 15 wickets. The best thing about him was that he was the only England batsman to look comfortable against Johnson. He can only grow from such an experience.
Jonny Bairstow — 3/10
After Matt Prior was dropped for the last two Tests, Jonny Bairstow came in behind the wickets. But he did not solve any questions with his performances with the bat or the gloves. He looked suspect against pace bowling and had some indifferent moments as wicketkeeper.
Scott Borthwick — 3.5/10
Like Ballance, Borthwick made his debut in the fifth Test in Sydney. A leg-spinner by trade, his inclusion was down to his batting abilities and agile fielding. While he scored only five runs in total, Borthwick did take a splendid catch at deep square-leg to dismiss George Bailey — something Monty Panesar could never do. He took one wicket in the first innings, but took three wickets in the second. It has to be noted that his wickets came at a time when the Australian batsmen were swinging their bat at everything in search for more runs. A great consolation he can take from the series is that he had a better strike-rate than Johnson with the ball!
Stuart Broad — 6.5
Stuart Broad’s performance with the ball stood out for England in Australia © Getty Images
Stuart Broad was by far England’s best bowler in the series. If not for Ryan Harris’s five-wicket haul in the last innings of the series, Broad would have ended as the second highest wicket-taker. He took 21 wickets and began the series with a six-wicket haul in the first Test in Brisbane. He would be disappointed with only 155 runs to his name with the bat. He came into some form in the second innings of the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney, smashing 42 off only 36 deliveries including three fours and four sixes.
James Anderson — 3.5/10
James Anderson’s lacklustre performance played a big hand in England’s 0-5 loss to Australia © Getty Images
James Anderson was the leading wicket-taker in the 2010-11 Ashes series as he took 24 wickets. This time around, he took 14 wickets. He was poor in the early part of the series as the ball just did not swing for him. He started regaining a bit of his touch in the later part of the campaign. He showed enough fight and courage with the bat in his hand rather than with the ball. He took a barrage of quick bouncers onto his body from nemesis Johnson throughout the series.
Boyd Rankin — 2/10
Again his ratings will be based on his sole appearance in the fifth Test in Sydney. Boyd Rankin suffered a miserable debut. He strained his hamstring twice and also bowled some wayward deliveries which were short and wide. Rankin might have taken a wicket of the last ball he faced as well. Peter Siddle’s wicket was his only wicket in Tests.
The rest that played some part of the series
Jonathan Trott —2/10
Despite facing a stress-related illness, Jonathan Trott’s batting seemed suspect. On both occasions in the first Test, Trot fell to well-planned Australian bowling tactics.
Joe Root —3/10
Like all other England batsmen, Joe Root also had a poor series. He scored 192 runs from the first four matches. His only notable contribution came in the second innings in Adelaide with an 87.
Matt Prior —3/10
Matt Prior had a disastrous series with the bat and with the gloves. He was dropped for the fourth and final Tests of the series. He had one score of 60 in the second Test. He did have a nightmare behind the wickets in the third Test in Perth.
Graeme Swann —2/10
It is sad that a spinner like Graeme Swann had to retire on a bad note during the series. Swann only managed to take seven wickets from the first three matches. He also did not contribute enough with the bat.
Chris Tremlett —3/10
He only played the first Test in Brisbane and did not do much to trouble the Australian batsmen. Chris Tremlett finished with four wickets.
Monty Panesar —2/10
The manner in which Cook lost his faith in Panesar was not encouraging to the bowler and the fans. Panesar was picked for England in the second Test and the fourth Test. The left-arm spinner took three wickets in the first match.
Tim Bresnan —3/10
His selection raised eye brows, but it was down to Tim Bresnan being able to bat and also bowl a few overs. While he did that in the third and fourth Test, Bresnan was not effective enough with the ball taking only five wickets. His contributions with the bat too were nothing to cheer about.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)