India vs England 2014: England marks out of ten
England humiliated India for the third time in a row to end to win the series 3-1. As expected, there were many positives for them during their comeback. Abhijit Banare rates the performance of the England players through the series.
After going down to India at Lord’s, Alastair Cook wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams that this England side would go on to not just script an elusive win but also register two victories in under three days. That detail signifies the importance of the English fight and Cook’s mental strength, that allowed them to bounce back. Below are the player ratings of the Englishmen who featured in the Test series.
1. Sam Robson: 2/10
He still averages better than the likes of Moeen Ali and Virat Kohli but Robson will be the last man in contention for England’s Ashes plans. He was the only batsman Indians found easy to dismiss almost every time in the series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular played around with Robson’s habit of poking outside the off-stump. Robson showed enough technical flaws to shake the faith of the captain and selectors. The fifty in the first Test helped him salvage some pride but Robson might be on his way out of this team.
2. Alastair Cook: 7/10
Cook deserves the points not for fighting hard for his batting form but the ability to maintain the immense pressure on India after the Lord’s defeat. Criticised for his strategies, field placement, bowling changes, it seemed everyone in England except Cook had asked for his resignation. To turn the tables in this fashion requires self-belief and Cook showed it. In hindsight, if Cook had stepped down, it would have shaken the squad a bit. But the way in which he led the team back to glory is laudable and deserves every bit of credit for England’s success.
3. Gary Ballance: 9/10
Here’s the first of the two pillars in England batting who scripted their 3-1 win. Ballance is not the ‘elegant’ left-hander you would want to see. Moreover, he too was under pressure for some off-field issues. Purely going by the runs he scored (503), Ballance would deserve a maximum of eight points but the additional point is for holding the England innings together. A fighting century at Lord’s after grabbing headlines for wrong reasons and then backing it with similar performances in the next three Tests surely warrants praise.
4. Ian Bell: 5/10
More than 50 per cent of his runs in this series came from just one innings. His 167 at Southampton took England to a big score but he wasn’t very impressive in other Tests. However, unlike a Robson or Moeen Ali, Bell can’t be called out of form as he looked in good touch in the small innings he played in other Tests.
5. Joe Root: 9.5/10
There would’ve been a big debated over Man of the Series between James Anderson and Joe Root. If Anderson flattened India with the ball, Root turned England’s fortunes with the bat. A tally of 518 runs in only seven innings at an average of 103.60, Root is a reassuring figure for England cricket’s future. It’s a shame that he won’t get a chance to score over 1,000 runs this year as England won’t play any Tests this year. He was calm, composed, showed maturity and technical soundness in the process of piling on the runs. Along with Balance and Bell, Root forms a solid middle-order for England. He is one of the best young players in the world.
6. Moeen Ali: 8/10
Moeen Ali was supposed to be England’s backbone at No 6, holding the innings together with the lower order. But little did anyone guess that Moeen would emerge as the best spinner and the second highest wicket-taker in the series. Forget the doosra, India couldn’t handle his regular off-spinners. He would’ve easily overtaken Anderson if India had not decided to come apart so easily in the final test at The Oval. 19 wickets at an average of 23 is more than special from a bowler who was termed as a part-time spinner. However, Moeen has struggled with the bat. At No 6, a lot was expected of him after the his show at Headingly. However, Moeen was undone by short balls.
7. Matt Prior: 1/10
Prior struggled, struggled and struggled. Similar to Robson, Prior displayed his weakness loud and clear for the opposition to exploit. The short balls just didn’t end after the Ashes disaster. Even the Indian pacer tested him and he fell for it. If the batting let England down, his work behind the stumps too was less than satisfactory. Prior dropped regulation catches. As many termed it, the pull shot which saw him dismissed at Lord’s was probably the last of Prior in Test cricket.
8. Ben Stokes: 1/10
Stokes already has enough of ‘0’, so he does deserve 1 point to take away for his bowling. And to be specific, a point has been given for going through the defence of someone like Cheteshwar Pujara at Lord’s.
9. Jos Buttler: 9/10
His lowest Test score is 45 runs! Well, the sample size of three Tests is certainly low but Jos Buttler has done what England so badly needed from Matt Prior. They needed the No 7 to shepherd the innings with the tail-enders and help them add crucial runs down the order. Buttler did it to perfection. Not only did he score half-centuries in consecutive Tests, he shared key partnerships at crucial stage of the matches to rescue England. The ability to soak up the pressure and grab his opportunities makes him an ideal long-term replacement for Prior. Though he struggled occasionally behind the wickets, he was far better than Prior.
10. Chris Jordan: 6/10
Tired of Ben Stokes’ poor form with the bat and an average show with the ball, Jordan was supposed to fill the gap and grab the fourth pacer and all-rounder’s spot. While Jordan wasn’t impressive with the bat, he struggled to get his line and length in place at Southampton. He fought back to correct himself at Old Trafford and managed to keep up the pressure created by James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Old Trafford and The Oval saw a different Jordan and picked up key Indian wickets.
11. Chris Woakes: 6/10
Though he was impressive, the wickets were eluding him until he finally got going. Woakes swung the ball well and filled the third seamers role in the absence of Liam Plunkett. His contribution would’ve gone unnoticed in the Broad-Anderson carnage.
12. Liam Plunkett: 5/10
Though he bagged a five-wicket haul, Plunkett was guilty of bowling short. While Stuart Broad and James Anderson too weren’t impressive early in the series, Plunkett’s strategy to bang it halfway down the deck made the job easier for the Indian batsmen. The most they had to do was see off an intense spell from Broad and Anderson early on and then get back to scoring runs. However, he bowled much fuller in the second innings at Lord’s and reaped the rewards. He is still their fastest bowler and will remain their third pacer.
13. Stuart Broad: 9/10
One of the two wreckers-in-chief with the ball. The Broad-Anderson pair was supposed to decimate a ‘strong’ Indian batting. But the Trent Bridge and Lord’s performance didn’t show any signs of how menacing they were. Broad ripped apart the Indian batting at Old Trafford with a six-for. He was equally good at Southampton and The Oval. Anderson’s wicket tally may undermine Broad’s performance but anyone with a sound cricketing brain will know the value of having two quality pacers piling on the pressure from either ends.
14. James Anderson: 9.5/10
While he wasn’t grabbing the headlines with the ball after the first two Tests, he certainly had showed his batting skills by sharing a record 10th-wicket stand and frustrating India. The controversy with Ravindra Jadeja led to him being criticised by former England players. But Anderson was focused on his goal and for the second time in a row bagged the Man of the Series award with 25 wickets at an average of 20.60. But the numbers don’t indicate the psychological edge Anderson created with his performance following the controversies. He is among the handful of experienced players around and he led the way for England. By playing five consecutive Tests, Anderson also proved his fitness to last despite the workload on him.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)