By David Green
England beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in the three-Test series 1-0. Here’s the England report card for the series:
Andrew Strauss – 2 (27 runs at 6.75): His first series as the specialist Test captain was an unmitigated disaster with the bat as his problems with left-arm seam and locating his off-stump were exposed by Sri Lanka’s pedestrian attack. He has now been sent to Somerset for a master-class with Marcus Trescothick. As skipper, timed declarations right at Cardiff and The Rose Bowl, but was too unadventurous at Lord’s.
Alastair Cook – 9 (390 runs at 97.50): Couldn’t buy a run last summer but has now completed his transformation into the left-handed Jack Hobbs – albeit less eye-catching than The Master. He now has six consecutive Test innings of 50 - a record he shares for England with Patsy Hendren, Ken Barrington and Ted Dexter - or more and a career average approaching 50. Let’s hope for more of the same against India.
Jonathan Trott – 8 (267 runs at 66.75): Scored a typically efficient (some would say dull) double hundred at Cardiff and then proceeded to get out to loose shots in each of his last three innings. Was he responding to the ridiculous criticism in the media of his relentless style? His career average is now 62.23, which is still the second-highest ever after Sir Don Bradman.
Kevin Pietersen – 6 (162 runs at 40.50): Poor start to the series was revived first through a confidence boosting, hardworking fifty in the second innings at Lord’s and then from a wonderful 85 at the Rose Bowl. Judging by the quality of his straight driving, KP is now back to something like his pre-captaincy best. India have been duly warned.
Ian Bell – 10 (331 runs at 331.00): Is any batsman in the world playing better at the moment? He was full of poise and positive intent throughout the series with two contrasting fifties at Lord’s, sandwiched by fluent unbeaten tons at Cardiff and the Rose Bowl. Now looks the complete batsman and has all the shots. Full marks - just look at that series average!
Eoin Morgan – 7 (168 runs at 56.00): Slotted in nicely at No 6 and struck two quick fifties in the final two Tests. A superb fielder, he is a splendid replacement for Paul Collingwood. A tougher examination of his technique awaits though against India.
Matt Prior – 6 (130 runs at 43.33): Wonderful hundred at Lord’s made Prior worthy of the predictable Gilchrist comparisons that followed. He also made a never-to-be-forgotten contribution to a lucky glazier in the St Johns Wood area of London. He did well enough behind the stumps, although his Cristiano Ronaldo emulating full-length dives were still not enough to reach some of the wayward balls bowled by the likes of Stuart Broad and Steve Finn.
Stuart Broad – 3 (8 wickets at 48.75, 57 runs at 19.00): Poor at Cardiff, dreadful at Lord’s and a bit better at the Rose Bowl. Even allowing for recent injuries, a strike rate of a wicket every 15 overs is simply not good enough for a frontline bowler who took the new ball on five out of six occasions. Now has just 15 wickets in his last seven Tests and will be lucky to retain his place once Tim Bresnan is fit again.Graem
Swann – 7 (12 wickets at 23.58): Tremlett’s willing accomplice in the final day demolition job at Cardiff. Consistent throughout the series and did enough to show just why he is the number one spinner in the world today. He will hope for better weather and more helpful wickets when Indiaarrives in July.
Chris Tremlett – 9 (15 wickets at 23.40): The man mountain was magnificent on the final afternoon in Cardiff and brilliantly hostile in the first innings at his former Hampshire hunting ground. Must be a frightening prospect to face on this form, looks like taking a wicket nearly every ball and could be the weapon of mass destruction England need to topple India. Have Tremlett and Curtly Ambrose ever been seen in the same room? Thought not. Struggled to cope with the slope at Lord’s.
James Anderson – 7 (7 wickets at 29.00): His swing and consistency were missed at Lord’s. Was England’s best bowler in the innings he did bowl at Cardiff and looked dangerous at the Rose Bowl without ever reaching the heights he scaled in the winter. India will find him a different prospect to the bowler they faced in 2007.
Steve Finn – 6 (4 wickets at 34.75): Came in at Lord’s and improved after a wayward start to become the youngest England bowler ever to reach 50 Test wickets. A potent (if at times inaccurate and misfiring) weapon for England to have up their sleeve.
(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also@TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfil his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)