- England won their first Test series vs Pakistan in 20 years, but the rain washed away both matches played at the Ageas Bowl
- Despite only one result, there were landmark performances from batsman and bowlers alike
- England’s victory came despite missing Ben Stokes for the majority of the series who is in New Zealand for family reasons
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – The beautiful British summer weather brought a disappointing end to what could have been a captivating series, but there was still time for new names to establish themselves and old ones to silence the doubters.
People have cast aspersions at Joe Root‘s captaincy but his young side have now strung together series wins in their last three outings, and you’d have to go back to the Boxing Day Test in Centurion to find a losing England side under the Yorkshireman. There were standout performances from Zak Crawley who had been left out of the first Test altogether and James Anderson who became the first pace bowler in Test history to reach the 600 wickets mark. Britwatch rated every player who participated in a fascinating yet ultimately frustrating series and you can find out more about their performances below.
Rory Burns – 3/10 Matches: 3, 20 runs at 5.00, HS: 10 – To the armchair fan in need of entertainment, not many would be picking the incumbent openers to get them on the edge of their seats. Burns’ left-eye dominance makes his technique appear ugly when in form and just plain awkward when out of form. Heavy scrutiny will be on the Surrey man next time he pulls on an England shirt, wherever and whenever that may be.
Dom Sibley – 4/10 Matches: 3, 98 runs at 24.50, HS: 36 – Although England ended up winning the series, no half century from either opener isn’t a recipe for success moving forward. Sibley must work on rotating the strike to thrive at Test level, and he has been caught down the leg side enough times now for it to be deemed as a technical flaw.
Zak Crawley – 9/10 Matches: 2, 320 runs at 160.00, HS: 267 – The cricketing community watched with awe and wonder as a relative unknown at Test level picked apart Pakistan’s attack in the third and final Test, putting any talk of a Pakistan rescue mission far from anyone’s mind and brought all the focus on just how assured the Kent batsman looked when compiling his best ever first class score. Captain Root will be happy he won’t have to jump up to number three to replace Crawley any time soon. Here to stay.
Joe Root – 6/10 Matches: 3, 94 runs at 31.33, HS: 42 & 1 wicket at 42.00 – The first multi-match Test series in which he hasn’t made a half-century since 2013 in New Zealand. Despite those raw numbers, he got out to some excellent deliveries and is looking assured as captain of this side. Will always be huge speculation given his ability and position, but should be allowed to grow this young side in his way.
Ollie Pope – 5/10 Matches: 3, 81 runs at 20.25, HS: 62 – Only one of four England batsman to make a half-century against Pakistan, but not much else to write home about for Pope. Struggled to pick up the length of Yasir Shah’s quicker deliveries, which may cause doubts as to his effectiveness in sub-continental conditions.
Jos Buttler – 8/10 Matches: 3, 265 runs at 88.33, HS: 152 – Voted man of the series by the tourists, something finally has clicked with the bat in red-ball cricket for Buttler. Just when the clamour was at its strongest for Buttler to be replaced by the better ‘keeper in Ben Foakes after some disappointing displays with the gloves, he shows just how strong-willed he is by producing his best series with the bat ever in Test cricket (in terms of average). He only hit 28 boundaries in the 533 deliveries he faced, showing his temperament for Test cricket has improved. Chance to flourish in all formats now.
Chris Woakes – 8/10 Matches: 3, 143 runs at 71.50, HS: 84* & 6 wickets at 27.50 – The fact there was zero talk of Ben Stokes’ absence in the final two Test matches just goes to show what a brilliant job Woakes did with bat and ball. Produced a magnificent partnership with man of the series Buttler to swing the crucial opening test match England’s way and thrives in his under appreciated role with the ball.
Dom Bess – 3/10 Matches: 3, 28 runs at 28.00, 3 wickets at 78.66, BBI: 1/40 – The Somerset spinner is still only 23, and his interview in Sky Sports’ Player Zone with Shane Warne shows how much he is willing to learn, but against top players of spin as Pakistan are, Bess lacks true wicket-taking ability. England won’t be the best Test side in the world with him in the side, and Jack Leach and Adil Rashid are good, experienced alternatives. Hoping he will gain confidence on more receptive pitches in the subcontinent.
Jofra Archer – 5/10 Matches: 2, 16 runs at 16.00, 4 wickets at 39.50, BBI: 3/59 – Because of the circumstances in which he qualified to play for England, and his seemingly effortless ability to bowl at 90mph, Archer will receive an inordinate amount of criticism when he performs anywhere below his best, as he did for most of this summer. With Broad and Anderson in the side, Root still needs to work out what role Archer has in this side, and make it explicitly clear to the player himself what that is. One does sense he is a man for the big occasion however and will no doubts be a threat when England head Down Under in 2021.
Stuart Broad – 8/10 Matches: 3, 51 runs at 25.50, 13 wickets at 16.46, BBI: 4/56 – Voted player of the summer by BBC Test Match Special listeners, and it’s easy to see why. The forthright interviews, the celebrappeals, the lower-order slogging and the Karate Kid lockdown look got every England fan’s tongue wagging from their sofas this summer. The fact he can out-bowl England’s greatest ever fast bowler helps a little bit too.
James Anderson – 8/10 Matches: 3, 7 runs at 7.00, 11 wickets at 23.45, BBI: 5/56 – History was made on the final day of the Test cricket summer when a quiet, often grumpy-looking lad from Burnley made Azhar Ali his 600th scalp in the oldest form of the game, joining the greats of Anil Kumble, Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan as the only ever bowlers in history to do so. The fact his bowling average is still coming down at the age of 38 shows there should be no talk of retirement yet. In fact, if you only counted the wickets Anderson has taken in his 30s, he’d only be behind his great mate Stuart Broad in English history.
Ben Stokes – 5/10 Matches: 1, 9 runs at 4.50, 2 wickets at 5.50 – Two low scores but two quick wickets were Stokes’ only contributions before being removed from the bio-secure bubble for family reasons.
Sam Curran – 4/10 Matches: 1, DNB, 1 wicket at 44.00 – Played in the Test worst affected by the weather, which led to a frustrating time in the bubble for the blonde left-armer. Still waiting for his chance when Anderson retires or, more likely, doesn’t want to bowl too much overseas in less than welcome conditions.
Shan Masood – 6/10 Matches: 3, 179 runs at 35.80, HS: 156 – Cricket can be a funny game, as proven by Shan Masood’s series. A magnificent hundred in his first innings up at Old Trafford where he seamlessly went through the gears as he guided his side to what looked like a strong position in the opening Test. However, a duck followed in the second innings, Pakistan lost all 10 wickets for just 169 runs and in turn lost the series. Just 23 runs in four innings after the hundred underlines the old mantra that opening the batting really is feast or famine.
Abid Ali – 4/10 Matches: 3, 139 runs at 27.80, HS: 60 – Conversely to his opening partner, Abid Ali never made a telling score, but hung around for a bit longer on the occasions in which Masood made single figure scores to end up with only 40 runs fewer than Masood. Scored a hundred on his Test and ODI debuts, so the talent is obviously there, and even the best players like Virat Kohli can struggle when they first tour England.
Azhar Ali – 7/10 Matches: 3, 210 runs at 52.50, HS: 141* – Captain Azhar Ali’s technique was under intense scrutiny when he kept falling over his front leg to be pinned lbw twice in the opening Test. However, he went away mid-series and corrected his technical failing and when all the cards were stacked against his side, Azhar made a brilliant, unbeaten century to ensure Pakistan batted long enough for the rain to save them. Leads by example, but questions have to be aimed at his captaincy when Woakes and Buttler took the game (and, ultimately, the series) away from Pakistan in one partnership.
Babar Azam – 6/10 Matches: 3, 195 runs at 48.75, HS: 69 – Every time Babar comes to the crease, the world watches. He is one of those cricketers where every innings feels like something straight out of a career highlights reel. Two fifties in the series was the joint-most of any player, but he must make the big scores to be truly considered world-class.
Asad Shafiq – 3/10 Matches: 3, 67 runs at 13.40, HS: 29 & 1 wicket at 24.00 – A series to forget for Shafiq. Coming in at no.5, you expect conditions to be easier than the rest of the top order with the shine having gone off the ball and the bowlers into their second or third spells. But sadly, Shafiq didn’t turn up for his side this time around.
Fawad Alam – 4/10 Matches: 2, 21 runs at 10.50, HS: 21 & 2 wickets at 23.00 – Selected as a more respected batting option than Shadab Khan for the final two Tests, Fawad made just over a third of Shadab’s runs in three times as many innings. His technique is rather unappealing too.
Mohammad Rizwan – 8/10 Matches: 3, 161 runs at 40.25, HS: 72 – The best ‘keeper by far when discussing pure glove work this summer, Rizwan also made useful contributions with the bat including two half-centuries. Having replaced the enigmatic Sarfaraz Ahmed, it may have been difficult to make an impression. But he certainly impressed many fans with his consistency this summer and the award of man of the match in the 2nd Test was recognition of that.
Yasir Shah – 6/10 Matches: 3, 63 runs at 15.75, 11 wickets at 33.45, BBI: 4/66 – Always a threat no matter what the conditions, England played Yasir better as the series went on. His eight wickets at Old Trafford was testament to a pitch which had something for everyone, batters and seamers included, and perhaps the weather denied the groundsmen in Southampton to produce equally as exciting pitches. Always willing to do a job for his skipper, Yasir bowled the most overs of anyone in this series despite the seam-friendly conditions.
Shaheen Shah Afridi – 5/10 Matches: 3, 14 runs at 4.66, 5 wickets at 51.60, BBI: 2/121 – The stats don’t entirely reflect how well the Pakistan seamers bowled, in stages. England’s experience with the ball shone through in the end, with no home seamer’s economy rate more than 3.00 an over, allowing Root to always be in control in the field. Although Shaheen had the wood over Rory Burns, dismissing him three out of the four times Burns took to the crease, every other batter played him well.
Mohammad Abbas – 7/10 Matches: 3, 6 runs at 2.00, 5 wickets at 35.80, BBI: 2/28 – The metronomic Abbas didn’t quite have the explosive figures like he did when Pakistan toured England in 2018, taking half the number of wickets this time, but his persistent line and length meant his economy was the best in the touring side. Crawley handled him brilliantly by advancing down the pitch to nullify his seam movement.
Naseem Shah – 5/10 Matches: 3, 5 runs at 1.66, 3 wickets at 69.33, BBI: 1/44 – At just 17 years of age, Naseem is one of the brightest talents in world cricket right now. His figures don’t back up how dangerous he can be, as proven by the unplayable deliveries that removed Root in the third Test and Pope in the first, who top-scored. Just needs to apply himself when the wicket is flat and maintain a nagging length so the batsmen can’t get on top of him.
Shadab Khan – 6/10 Matches: 1, 60 runs at 30.00, 2 wickets at 23.50 – Did very little wrong in the match he played up in Manchester other than he was on the losing side. Pakistan decided to plump for a more seasoned batsman in his place, which didn’t work out for them. Still an important member of this Pakistan side.
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