- England came from behind to win the Wisden Trophy by two Tests to one – the first time the hosts have overturned a deficit in a three-match series in England since the 1800s
- Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes were the stars of the England rejuvenation when the bio-secure series moved from Southampton to Manchester
England were most convincing in the third and final Test – perhaps as a result of fatigue in the West Indies camp – but could Stokes’ future in the batting order be at number four?
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – Stuart Broad joined the 500 Test wickets club and Ben Stokes became the world’s number one all-rounder during the series played in a bio-secure bubble, but how did Britwatch rate the action?
We’re living in very strange times, but a big thank you must go to the West Indies and the ECB for getting a highly competitive, high quality, three-match Test series on the calendar. It has set up the cricketing summer brilliantly, and makes everyone who has struggled through the COVID crisis feel a little bit brighter.
Find player averages and ratings below, with a short summary of each man’s performance.
Rory Burns – 7/10 Matches: 3, 234 runs at 46.80 – England have finally settled on an opening partnership, and that security seems to be encouraging Burns and Sibley to play patiently and set a strong foundation for the team, even if it takes longer than some England fans would like. Part of England’s first century partnership for the 1st wicket in a home Test in four years, but still has struggles against spin, particularly Roston Chase, who dismissed him in four out of five innings.
Dom Sibley – 8/10 Matches: 3, 226 runs at 45.20 – His gritty, ugly century in the second Test was just what England needed after being beaten comprehensively in Southampton where English runs were in short supply. As long as he plays Test cricket, critics will be quick to highlight his reticence to play through the off-side, but Alastair Cook had a limited array of shots at his disposal, and he managed to eke out over 12,000 Test runs!
Zak Crawley – 5/10 Matches: 2, 97 runs at 24.25 – Was left out of the finale as a result of Stokes’ inability to bowl, but is still young and learning how to bat at the top of the order. Only really got in once, and made a classy 76 which underlined his talent.
Joe Denly – 4/10 Matches: 1, 47 runs at 23.50 – The 34-year-old has almost certainly played his last Test. Has been given a long run in the team, 15 matches to be precise, and his average of 29.53 without a century is simply not good enough for a man batting in the top four. Has a chance to prove he belongs at international level in the one-day squad.
Ben Stokes – 9/10 Matches: 3, 363 runs at 90.75, 9 wickets at 16.33 – England’s best cricketer for the last 18 months, and his performances are becoming increasingly dominant. The way Stokes seamlessly flicks between gears when he is batting is a gift very few have: a 300+ ball century in the first innings of the 2nd Test was followed by the fastest 50 by an England opener in the second innings. Always makes things happen with the ball, but his workload must be managed carefully.
Ollie Pope – 6/10 Matches: 3, 134 runs at 33.50 – It is well known number six is a great position for a batsman to develop at Test level, as the batsmen above you have faced the bowlers at their freshest with a new ball: by the time Pope marches out, bowlers are fatigued and the ball is soft. Sadly, he didn’t cash in at all this series until a vital partnership with ‘keeper Jos Buttler in the deciding Test match, where Pope made 91.
Jos Buttler – 6/10 Matches: 3, 151 runs at 30.20 – It feels as if, despite playing for England in Test cricket since 2014, Buttler is still trying to work out how to best manage his red-ball game. So destructive in limited overs cricket with every shot in the book, Buttler has too much talent to be ignored. But his Test career average (31.63) is remarkably similar to his first-class average (32.06) which suggests he may be playing at his maximum potential in Test cricket. His strike rate in this series of 53.16 – slower than Zak Crawley’s – shows he is trying to remain patient in search for meaningful scores.
Dom Bess – 5/10 Matches: 3, 83 runs at 83.00, 5 wickets at 41.60 – His spin wasn’t needed at all in the last Test, and Bess’ ability with the bat makes him the better pick in English conditions over his county teammate Jack Leach. Still unconvinced at his ability to rise to the pressure when presented with a turning pitch. Outbowled by Chase, who is predominately a batsman.
Jofra Archer – 5/10 Matches: 2, 26 runs at 8.66, 4 wickets at 50.50 – Much was made of his decision to break bio-secure rules between the first and second Tests, and I hope the various character assassinations and the awful abuse he receives on social media doesn’t grind Archer down. When he is firing on all cylinders, he is the reason you want to watch sport: he gets you on the edge of your seat, with the knowing anticipation something memorable is about to happen. Didn’t produce here, however.
Mark Wood – 4/10 Matches: 1, 7 runs at 3.50, 2 wickets at 55.00 – When England rocked up in Southampton, cricket pundits around the world were beaming at the prospect of seeing Archer and Wood bowl together, providing England with pace unlike any other attack in English Test history. Sadly, England lost and Wood suffered as part of the rotation policy in place. If serious judgements have been made on this series, he can’t expect to be in England’s strongest XI now.
James Anderson – 7/10 Matches: 2, 25 runs at 12.50, 5 wickets at 30.00 – It seems as if Jimmy Anderson ages like a fine wine. Still leads the attack with great control, consistency and discipline, and was unlucky not to add to his five wickets in the series. Rare you see him with only the fourth best bowling average in the side, however.
Joe Root – 7/10 Matches: 2, 130 runs at 43.33 – Led his side brilliantly after missing the first Test for the birth of his second child. Used his battery of bowlers skilfully, allowing each to shine when the time was right. Looking like he’s somewhat approaching his fluent best with the bat, although he only made one 50+ score in four innings.
Stuart Broad – 10/10 Matches: 2, 73 runs at 73.00, 16 wickets at 10.93 – Don’t leave this man out again, England. Made some very strong statements after his exclusion from England’s ‘strongest XI’ in Southampton, but my word didn’t Broad back them up in some style. Became only the 7th man to reach 500 Test wickets during the third Test, where he also bludgeoned his first half-century since 2017, and England’s third-fastest of all time. A true cricketing great.
Sam Curran – 6/10 Matches: 1, 17 runs at 17.00, 3 wickets at 33.33 – The left-armer still has a big part to play if England want to be successful in the next few years, with the variety Curran’s medium-fast swing brings to the table. Seems to be the natural successor with the new ball when Anderson retires.
Chris Woakes – 8/10 Matches: 2, 1 run at 0.50, 11 wickets at 16.63 – Didn’t justify his selection as a number seven batsman in the third Test but is an invaluable asset in English conditions with the ball. His ability won’t be truly recognised until he can step out of the shadows of England’s two greatest Test bowlers ever, and nor should he slip into the shadows of Archer and Wood, just because they exert more pace. Woakes is England’s third-best seamer, period.
Kraigg Brathwaite – 5/10 Matches: 3, 176 runs at 29.33 – Frustrating for both the opposition in his stubbornness at the crease and his own team as he fails to build on good starts.
John Campbell – 3/10 Matches: 3, 84 runs at 16.80 – Doesn’t have the patience and concentration to open the batting against the moving ball.
Shai Hope – 4/10 Matches: 3, 105 runs at 17.50 – Where’s all this man’s talent gone? Such a brilliant performance at Headingley in 2017, and with an average over 50 in ODI cricket, Hope also has lapses of concentration that belies his ability.
Shamarh Brooks – 6/10 Matches: 3, 195 runs at 32.50 – Couldn’t convert two nicely constructed half-centuries into match-winning performances.
Roston Chase – 6/10 Matches: 3, 157 runs at 26.16, 10 wickets at 34.00 – The bane of Rory Burns’ life, England found a way to play his off-spin after his five-wicket haul. Batting was average, as it was for most of his teammates.
Jermaine Blackwood – 7/10 Matches: 3, 211 runs at 35.16 – A fantastic, match-winning 95 in Southampton, he couldn’t find another meaningful score to help his side retain the Wisden trophy, although he looked the most likely.
Shane Dowrich – 5/10 Matches: 3, 126 runs at 21.00 – Struggled with the wobble of the ball which is often observed in England. Looked uncomfortable against short-pitched bowling.
Jason Holder – 7/10 Matches: 3, 114 runs at 22.80, 10 wickets at 30.10 – Always leads his side with great dignity and leads from the front with the bat and in the field. West Indies are lucky to have him as skipper. His only blemish was looking disenchanted when Ben Stokes started smashing it to all parts during the second Test.
Alzarri Joseph – 5/10 Matches: 2, 59 runs at 19.66, 3 wickets at 60.66 – Work to do to match the exploits of the more experienced Roach and Gabriel, but certainly looks a talent. At least he can hold a bat, unlike a lot of his fellow bowlers.
Kemar Roach – 7/10 Matches: 3, 15 runs at 5.00, 8 wickets at 36.50 – Baffling how he failed to pick up a wicket for large parts of the first Test. Always there for his captain when needed, especially during the periods Gabriel’s body broke down.
Shannon Gabriel – 7/10 Matches: 3, 4 runs at 2.00, 11 wickets at 32.27 – Playing three Tests back-to-back will mean Shannon will be sore on the flight back to the Caribbean, but he should be proud of his nine-wicket match in Southampton.
Rahkeem Cornwall – 2/10 Matches: 1, 12 runs at 6.00, 0 wickets – The 22-stone spinner makes every couch potato wonder how they didn’t end up becoming an international cricketer. Great catch at slip off Chase to remove Burns for the fourth time, but nothing else to write home about.
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