Rory Burns: 20 runs at an average of five; three catches
He was twice out LBW and twice caught in the cordon, which is not a good look against a new ball that is always going to shape in the air and deviate off the proud seam. After a series with no failures, a series with no successes. A fallible slipping technique did not help matters. Grade E

Dom Sibley: 98 runs at 25; no wickets; three catches
In a tough series for openers, he twice batted two and a half hours to blunt the new ball and help set a platform. Grade B-

Joe Root: 94 runs at 31; one wicket at an average of 42; six catches
It will irk him as much as it does us that he gets the hard work done so often before he is walking back to the pavilion with a “nothing” score. That said, his 42 contributed to the 96 on the scoreboard before handing over to Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes for their first-Test chase to 277 – so that can count as “something”. For a man with the weaponry he can deploy in English conditions, he appears too sanguine about a drifting session of play. Shaking hands with 15 overs in hand, just two wickets from Yasir Shah and three No 11s, was inexplicable with World Test Championship points at stake. Had England not been rescued from a losing position in the first Test by Buttler and Woakes with the bat, and by Ben Stokes with the ball, Root may have faced more scrutiny about his captaincy. Grade C+

Zak Crawley: 320 runs at 160; one catch
Who expected the promise of July to deliver as soon as August? Balance is the key to his game, head, hands and feet instinctively in the right place at the right time for his array of attacking strokes. Roll in height and reach, allied to the surprisingly light footwork he uses to determine length to his taste, and England may have discovered the heir to Kevin Pietersen. He will have tougher days (especially as the analysts will be examining his game in minute detail) but the sky’s the limit for a batsman with his gifts. Grade A+

Ben Stokes: nine runs at five; two wickets at six; two catches
When Mohammad Rizwan was threatening to make a stiff target unreachable, an injured Stokes (playing as a batsman) grabbed the ball and got him out, later adding a bunny to puff the stats a little. It was remarkable but also, somehow, expected. Compassionate leave opened up his spot for Crawley; they will soon be batting together. Grade B+

Ollie Pope: 81 runs at 20
Pope was England’s top scorer in the first innings of the first Test, giving his team a toehold in a match they were losing. But Yasir Shah’s box of tricks subsequently proved too much for a player who is still finding his feet at the highest level. Grade B

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Jos Buttler: 265 runs at 88; nine catches
Those who supported their man through thick and thin were vindicated, but so too were those who claimed that he didn’t (then) have the technique for Test-match batting. The small but significant tweaks we saw in the West Indies series – a modified forward trigger, the head going at the ball and not falling away, footwork more nimble, less leaden – paid off handsomely in two masterful innings of forbearance and character, one to win the first Test, the other to secure the series. On the other side of the wickets, we got the soft smiles of satisfaction that came with spectacular catching and a few scowls from bowlers as sitters were spilled. He is still not the extraordinarily dominant player seen so often in white-ball cricket, but Buttler is a batsman who has finally found a method that works and he used it to deliver game-changing innings. Grade A-

Chris Woakes: 143 runs at 72; six wickets at 28; one catch
That he batted with such freedom to end a dry run might be expected. He has the talent and, five down with still 160 to get, what’s there to lose? But to get his team from “possibly” to “probably” to “definitely” with all the attendant pressures of a big fourth-innings chase? That is top class all-rounder work, not just a bowler who bats catching a lucky break. Grade A

Sam Curran: did not bat; one wicket at 44
He knocked over a well-set Abid Ali in the truncated second Test in a generally tidy bowling display. Grade B

Dom Bess: 28 runs at 28; three wickets at 79
Is Bess the new Chris Schofield, who Michael Atherton once snippily described as “a better batsman than he is a bowler”? He is a real competitor, who tries so hard and aches to succeed, but is he the best spin option right now? “Not even for Somerset,” is the rather damning reply, as his off-breaks were cut at will on a fifth-day pitch. Grade D

Jofra Archer: 16 runs at 16; four wickets at 40
He bowled very fast indeed at times with the infamous bouncer that disturbs – read hits – the very best batsmen when set on a flat deck. He doesn’t always get the wickets he deserves, but there’s no captain in the world who wouldn’t want him in their phalanx of rotating quicks. Grade B-

Stuart Broad: 51 runs at 26; 13 wickets at 16
The infamous petulant/passionate (delete to taste) reaction to being dropped for the first Test of the summer has fired a five Tests long fit of fury that has seen the stumps targeted relentlessly (even when fielding). Did we ever doubt the 500 wickets man? We did, but not in this late “sitting on the top of off stump” incarnation that asks so many questions of batsmen that they inevitably just have to get some wrong. Grade A

Jimmy Anderson: seven runs at seven; 11 wickets at 23
Like a practised conjuror who shows you the Queen of Hearts then whisks it from sight only to produce it from your zipped inside jacket pocket, Anderson’s skills of misdirection allow him to produce the ball on sixth stump when you see it on off and on off stump when you felt it was almost wide enough to leave. How much more Test cricket is in him, time will tell, but it would be a brave selector indeed who can find three or four better options than the 600 man for the first Test of summer 2021. Grade A-

Jimmy Anderson takes the stump after the final day of the third Test in Southampton.

Jimmy Anderson takes the stump after the final day of the third Test in Southampton. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/PA


Shan Masood: 179 runs at 36; no wickets; one catch
An outstanding 156 in the first innings of the series put his team ahead in a match they were winning for all but the last two hours or so. Thereafter, he struggled, as England’s wily old pair of pacers targeted his pads and swing and seam did the rest. Grade B

Abid Ali: 139 runs at 28
His compact, orthodox style is a throwback to the pre-Sehwag, pre-Warner school of opening batsmen who get in and graft for their runs. Despite his modest returns, Ali batted over an hour in four innings of five in tough conditions, so he can be pleased with his work. Grade B

Azhar Ali: 210 runs at 53; no wickets
The effigies were being readied as one of cricket’s gentlemen could not buy a run and had failed to drive home a winning position as captain in the first Test. Then, having toughed it out early on in the third Test, he unfurled a sublime exhibition of subcontinental batting, solid defence punctuated by languid drives and controlled cuts and pulls that had this observer thinking of Zaheer Abbas. With the follow-on enforced, as the man in form – not out in the first dig and with eyes adjusted to the gloaming – he had the cojones to walk out in light so challenging that he did not, as it turned out, have to take guard. What mattered is that he was willing to do so for his team. His grace on the field and in interviews, under pressure, deep into weeks of lockdown, far from home, in miserable weather, does him, his country and cricket great honour. Grade A

Babar Azam: 195 runs at 49; one catch
He arrived with a reputation that marked him out as the successor to the great Younis Khan, who looked on, coach’s notebook in hand. In glimpses you could see why, but batting in England is a hard road to travel and innings that promised to shape days merely shaped sessions. Grade B+

Asad Shafiq: 67 runs at 13; one wicket at 24; three catches
The senior pro with plenty of experience in England, he never looked at ease and found ways of getting out that dislayed his lack of confidence. Grade D

Shadab Khan: 60 runs at 30; two wickets at 24; two catches
A livewire in the field, a smile never far from his lips, he batted and bowled with plenty of confidence and showed enough to suggest that he might grow into a Ravindra Jadeja-type player for Pakistan. Grade B

Fawad Alam: 21 runs at 11; two wickets at 23; one catch
He infamously waited for more than a decade for another chance at Test cricket and promptly made a four-ball duck. His esoteric face-forward, bat-raised stance, followed by a hop into a side-on crouch as the bowler hits the crease, has delivered big runs in domestic cricket, but whether such a blizzard of movements can work at the highest level remains to be seen. Grade C

Mohammad Rizwan: 161 runs at 40; five catches, one stumping
He seized the gloves from former captain Sarfraz Ahmed (not a development met with universal acclaim) and it was easy to see why. An outstanding, if not flawless keeper, he batted with sound judgment and no little aggression and displayed that extra bit of vim all glovemen need. When he stumped Crawley to end his monumental innings, he celebrated, then led the charge of Pakistan players to congratulate the young Englishman – a wonderful moment in our game. Grade B+

Yasir Shah: 63 runs at 16; 11 wickets at 33; one catch
The veteran turned his leg-break, hurried on his top spinner and threatened, even if the old one wasn’t quite there, to slip in the googly, all done with the bounce of his much-missed predecessor, Abdul Qadir. The challenge of leading an inexperienced attack in English conditions proved a little too much in the end, but I will not be alone in hoping to see him open his box of tricks one more time in front of English crowds come the next tour. Grade B

Mohammad Abbas: six runs at two; five wickets at 36
Really? Five wickets? Every time you looked at the screen, he was wobbling one past a groping batsman like a Lancashire League pro hoping for a decent collection. But sometimes it’s like that – the ball hits the middle or fails to carry off the edge or misses the bat completely. Were he a little taller and a little quicker, he would almost beMohammad Asif, and he would have 15 wickets and not five. Grade C+

Shaheen Shah Afridi: 14 runs at five; five wickets at 52
He swung it into the pads, seamed it away towards the cordon and tried out the middle of the pitch with some sharpish short stuff, but, once the shine and hardness left the new ball, he looked like a 20-year-old making his way in the game. Grade C

Naseem Shah: five runs at two; three wickets at 69
It was no hype! The kid has the most beautiful flowing action, which can generate 90mph at will, and he possesses a heart that keeps him charging in and bowling fast. But he doesn’t know how to get batsmen out yet – how could he at 17? Grade C-

This article appeared first on The 99.94 Cricket Blog
Follow Gary Naylor on Twitter

source: theguardian.com


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