The Ashes was fought ferociously, but often inconsistently, and with that came inconsistent performances. SACricketmag.com rates the players’ performances throughout England’s 3-2 victory over Australia.
Alastair Cook – 7
He’s had better Ashes series as a batsman, but not as a captain. Led from the front with some brilliant decisions on the field. His batting was better than the stats suggest, too.
Adam Lyth – 2
His high score of 37 says it all. Didn’t know whether to play it or leave it and broke the unwanted record of the lowest run tally by an English opener in an Ashes. England will look for a new opener for the upcoming series against Pakistan in the UAE.
Gary Ballance – 4
A bit unlucky to be dropped as he looked good value for his 61 in the first Test, but got bogged down and stuck in his crease as the series wore on. He will definitely pull on an England jersey again as he regains his form.
Ian Bell – 4
When he’s in good nick, he’s a joy to watch, but utterly frustrating when he’s not. Averaged a disappointing 26.87 in the series, leaving him uncertain of his future.
Joe Root – 9
The Man of the Series. It wasn’t just the runs he scored, it was the timing of them. Brad Haddin’s drop when Root was on 0 in the first Test will go down as the defining moment of the series, as he went on to score 134.
Jonny Bairstow – 5
Bairstow has probably done enough to play in the UAE. I have my doubts however, as he looked extremely uncomfortable against the pace of Mitchell Johnson. His one good knock of 74 looked scratchy, so England are no closer to seeing if he can make the step up to Test level.
Ben Stokes – 7
The stats don’t reflect this man’s worth. They will suggest two good innings, one good bowling spell and one good catch, but his character and class goes beyond that. The energy and fighting spirit he brings to the team is something England have been lacking since Andrew Flintoff’s retirement.
Jos Buttler – 5
Some might suggest he deserves less than this, in an era where batting holds as much value as the glovework, but in Buttler, England have a quality wicketkeeper. He has a lot to work on as a Test batsman, but hopefully the brains trust will help him integrate his shorter format qualities into the five-day arena.
Moeen Ali – 7
It takes a lot of mental strength to play at No 3 for your county, and then try to make an impression at 8 for your country, but he did exactly that, frustrating the Australians almost every single time he walked out. He broke the record for the most runs at 8 in an Ashes series, and incredibly, his partnership with Stuart Broad was more prolific than any other for England. His bowling was at times good, but not good enough to be the frontline spinner. There’s no doubt his batting is better than his bowling. The selectors have a very difficult decision to make as to what his exact role should be.
Stuart Broad – 9
Broad’s record-breaking 8-15 doesn’t tell the whole story of what was arguably his finest ever series. His line and length throughout was outstanding and it’s seen him rise to No 2 in the world rankings. Topped the wicket charts with 21 – three more than Mitchell Starc.
Mark Wood – 6
An infectious attitude helps Wood’s cause, but he is also a genuine talent. He boasts pace and can swing the ball late given the right conditions. Took the wicket that won England the series.
James Anderson – 7
His wicketless outing at Lord’s was painful, but when the conditions are right, he is one of the best swing bowlers in the world, and proved that in Birmingham with his 6-47 in the first innings.
Steven Finn – 8
Another English bowler to take a six-wicket haul, and it happened on his first Test outing in two years. Averaged 22.50 in the three Tests he played. England have four genuinely class fast bowlers to choose from.
David Warner – 7
The manner in which he lost his wicket throughout the series overshadowed the runs he scored. He performed consistently well in terms of runs scored, but was left frustrated every time he walked back to the pavilion. If he can improve his temperament, he can be one of the very best.
Chris Rogers – 8
Rogers can retire from Tests with his head held high. He used his experience of English pitches to his advantage, with some hard-working knocks. He added something else to his armoury – scoring quickly. He equaled the record for the most fifties scored in a row. A pity his international career started so late.
Steve Smith – 7
A curious series for Smith, who finished the series as the highest run-scorer and the world’s No 1 batsman, yet technique concerns still linger, as he was brutally exposed in the third and fourth matches with single figure scores in all four innings. He remains a mercurial talent, however, and looks a good fit to take Australia forward as the captain.
Michael Clarke – 3
A disastrous series for the skipper, which ultimately prompted his retirement. 132 runs in nine innings at 16.50 is no way to bow out, but he will be remembered for the 27 Test centuries he amassed throughout his 115 matches.
Adam Voges – 4
Unlikely to hold on to his place in the side as he approaches 36. Added very little value at No 5, until the series was already lost.
Mitchell Marsh – 6
Marsh performed admirably when he was sworn in for the second Test at the expense of Shane Watson, before being inexplicably dropped for his brother in the fourth. Looks a fantastic fourth seam option, but needs to work hard if he wants to be a No 6 in the batting lineup.
Peter Nevill – 5
Impressed on his debut, but time will tell if he can command the sort of authority behind the stumps that Brad Haddin did. Grafts well as a batsman and looks a solid wicketkeeper.
Mitchell Johnson – 6
Johnson was always going to struggle to live up to his previous Ashes series, and that was confirmed with his worst-ever Test figures in the first Test. His pace and bounce is still there despite only showing it in glimpses.
Mitchell Starc – 7
Starc failed to display the type of control he did with the white ball during the World Cup, but he was still Australia’s leading wicket-taker. He’s got the pace and potential, so if he can gain more consistency, he can be a world-class Test bowler.
Nathan Lyon – 8
Deserves plenty of credit for taking 16 wickets at 28.25 on generally unhelpful wickets for the spinners. Consistent if not match-winning, but kept chipping away when Starc and Johnson were wayward.
Josh Hazlewood – 5
A capable wicket-taker in conditions which suited him, which reflects well on his average, but too often did he mess up his lines with the new ball, taking the pressure right off the batsmen.