As a thrilling series between England and India comes to an end, we rate the performance of England’s players.
Alastair Cook: 6
Like all openers in the series, Cook reached the Oval without even a half-century to his name. When he announced his retirement days before the final Test, the general consensus was that it was the right time. One Test and 218 runs later, fans were begging him to continue. He received the fairytale send-off his service deserved but found the conditions as hard as anyone in the first four Tests. That he capitalised so emphatically when they were in his favour showed the mental fortitude he possessed to make him one of England’s greats.
Keaton Jennings: 3
As difficult a series it has been for openers, Jennings in particular struggled at the top of the order On a couple of occasions – most notably in the first innings at Edgbaston and the Oval – Jennings negotiated the new ball well without capitalising on his starts. Usually, 18 innings without a half-century would leave his spot under serious threat, but chief selector Ed Smith has hinted that he’ll probably retain his place for the tour of Sri Lanka, largely owed to Alastair Cook’s retirement.
Moeen Ali: 8
Out of the side for the first three Tests, Moeen Ali exhibited his match-winning qualities on his return to the team. At the Ageas Bowl, Moeen picked up his sixth Player of the Match award – only Ravi Jadeja has as many from fewer Tests – with nine wickets in the match and crucial first innings runs to dig his team out of a hole. In that Test, he produced significant turn, comfortably out-bowled Ravi Ashwin and provided England with a potential No.3 option, so that Joe Root could drop down to his preferred position at four.
Joe Root: 6
A similar series to Cook’s. Arguably, Root had never looked so out of form in his England career as he did in the first four-and-a-half Tests of this series. He struggled for fluency, and his move down to No.4 suggests the discomfort he found batting in the top three. His Oval hundred – his first in over a year –was Root back to his best, accumulating runs with ease. But in his personal battle with counterpart Virat Kohli, he was comfortably second best with the bat, but boosted his credentials as a skipper.
Jonny Bairstow: 5
Two fifties and three ducks is Bairstow’s series in a nutshell. He scored crucial runs in the first two Tests to propel England into some strong positions but failed to carry that form through. A finger injury sustained at Trent Bridge might have hindered him at the Ageas Bowl but ultimately England need more game-defining innings from their No.5. The struggles of India’s wicket-keepers highlighted just how far Bairstow has come with the gloves, but England do have another keeping option in Buttler if they opt to bat Bairstow in the top four.
Ben Stokes: 6
Like many batsmen in the series, conditions forced Stokes to curb his natural attacking instinct with the bat. The swinging ball restricted Stokes to an uncharacteristically watchful strike-rate of 38.53. He didn’t score a hundred but toughed it out at Trent Bridge and the Ageas Bowl to lay the foundations for the lower order to score freely. Stokes, as the team’s fastest bowler, also added a useful extra dimension to the attack, picking up important wickets when called upon. His scalp of Kohli in the second innings of the first Test was one of the turning points of the series.
Jos Buttler: 8
An outstanding series for Buttler and one that totally justifies Ed Smith’s decision to recall him. He showed that he’s able to adapt his game according to the match situation. A maiden Test hundred in a losing cause at Trent Bridge was well deserved for his efforts throughout the series. He top-scored five times for England this summer and in a series of fine margins, his contributions were vital.
Sam Curran: 8
Player-of-the-match in the first Test when he took crucial wickets in the first innings and scored a stunning counter-attacking 63 to give England a total to defend when England were 87-7, staring at defeat. He repeated the trick at the Ageas Bowl when he hit 78, and England look to have found a serious player. With the ball, his pace makes him look innocuous but he regularly produced wicket-taking deliveries that batsmen had no answer to. His dismissal of KL Rahul in the first innings at the Oval was a prime example.
Chris Woakes: 9
Put in a near perfect display in the second Test, continuing his marvellous record at Lord’s. Injuries limited Woakes to just two Tests in the series but he bowled with great control and his hundred in the second Test reminded everyone of his capabilities with the bat. In home conditions, he’s one of England’s most effective players and shouldn’t be forgotten in England’s heap of all-rounders.
Adil Rashid: 6
An odd series for Rashid. Recalled in contentious circumstances after having previously ruled himself out of all red-ball cricket earlier in the year, Rashid never seemed to have the trust of his captain. The arrival of Ishant Sharma to the crease tended to be when Rashid was brought into the attack, while Moeen Ali took more wickets and nearly bowled more overs in two Tests than Rashid did in five. However, his wickets of KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant in the second innings at the Oval showed his value in a side that can look toothless on slow, lifeless wickets.
Stuart Broad: 7
Halfway through the Lord’s Test after Woakes scored his century, it was unclear who would drop out of the team for Ben Stokes after his court appearance. With Anderson, Woakes and Curran all performing well it wasn’t inconceivable that Broad would be the man to make way. He responded superbly, however. Four wickets in the second innings at Lord’s paved the way for a successful series in which India’s openers managed just one score past 50 between them.
James Anderson: 9
The leading wicket-taker in the series somehow didn’t take the wicket of Kohli in the series, but posed a constant threat to the India captain throughout. With one England great departing this series, this one proved how difficult it will be find a replacement for him. Anderson also ended the series in fairytale fashion, knocking Shami’s middle stump out of the ground to become the seamer with the most wickets in the history of Test cricket. Take a bow, Jimmy.
Ollie Pope: 4
Asked to bat in a position he had never batted in first-class cricket on debut was a tough, maybe even unreasonable, ask. He played expansively, if a bit loosely, and even though he didn’t reap instant rewards this series, he surely has a future in the England Test side.
Dawid Malan: 3
Disregarded after the first Test, he seems a long way away from the side now.