Ashes series player ratings: Woakes no longer the unsung hero, Tongue hard done by

Ashes series player ratings: Woakes no longer the unsung hero, Tongue hard done by

The introduction of Chris Woakes helped England turn the series around – Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes produced a memorable spell of bowling on day five at the Oval to ensure the Ashes series finished 2-2.

While the scoreline means Australia retain the urn, England denied them a first Test series victory as tourists since 2001.

England came from 2-0 down and were also strong favourites to win the fourth Test at Old Trafford before rain intervened and led to a draw.

Do you agree with our marks for the series? Have your say in the comments.

England

Ben Duckett – 8/10

Five matches, 321 runs @ 35.66

He deserved a hundred to crown his series because averaging 35 was good going, especially for someone who had never played a home Test except against Ireland. As for his strike-rate of 75, it was blistering, an all-time high for an Ashes opener but for his partner.

Zak Crawley – 9/10

Five matches, 480 runs @ 53.33

The most runs by an opener in an Ashes series for 30 years, even if a few came off his inside edge, at a strike-rate of 88. Game, set and match to the England management. Crawley, driving the wide ball and whipping the straight one to leg, threw Australia off their traditional stride or strut. Near immaculate slip-fielding too.

Moeen Ali – 7/10

Four matches, 180 runs @ 25.71, 9 wickets @ 51.44

Two economical and vital spells: at Headingley, when he dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, and at the Oval when he spun out Australia’s middle order so calmly. But for the most part it was his batting that vindicated his return in lieu of Leach, particularly when he took on No 3. For returning to Tests when utterly unprepared, he deserved the distinction of 3000 runs and 200 wickets.

Moeen Ali celebrates the wicket of Travis Head - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Moeen Ali struck twice after the restart on day five at the Oval – Getty Images/Stu Forster

Joe Root – 8/10

Five matches, 412 runs @ 51.5, 6 wickets @ 28.66

Not quite the glorious output which he led us to believe there would be when scoring his gorgeous 118 in the first innings of this series. Disturbed by Australia’s bouncers mid-series, then copped the two grubbers when nearing his hundred at Old Trafford and the Oval. An ever more valuable offspinner.

Harry Brook – 8/10

Five matches, 363 runs @ 40.33

As in the case of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett, the series-crowning century was elusive, but it was still a powerful start for an Ashes debutant. Having been guilty of giddiness at Lord’s, he was no Flash Harry when he buckled down to the match-winning innings at Leeds.

Ben Stokes – 9/10

Five matches, 405 runs @ 45, 3 wickets @ 29.66

There cannot be a rabbit in England, or Australia, that he has not pulled out of his hat in levelling the series from 2-0 down. The odd excess of unconventionality, but arguably the finest Test captain England have had, for bringing the best out of his players, and taking 20 wickets in almost every game. So chivalrous too…and he can bat as well by the way.

Ben Stokes hits a six on his way to his Lord's century - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Ben Stokes came close to replicating his 2019 Headingley heroics at Lord’s – PA/Mike Egerton

Jonny Bairstow – 6/10

Five matches, 322 runs @ 40.25

Three innings of substance and impact did not quite make up for the ropey wicketkeeping, mainly when standing up, which was inevitable because of lack of match-practice after his serious operation. But he kept alright in the end, with a great grab off Moeen’s spin in the final session.

Chris Woakes – 9/10

Three matches, 19 wickets @ 18.14, 79 runs @ 19.75

Amazing strength and conditioning. He looked ordinary in his two Warwickshire red-ball games, but was back to his best once given the chance of a comeback in the third Test, bowling spell after probing spell. Useful runs too. All done with extreme self-effacement.

Mark Wood – 9/10

Three matches, 14 wickets @ 20.21, 83 runs @ 20.75

The series should have turned England’s way when Nathan Lyon hobbled off at Lord’s, but it didn’t until Wood tore in for his opening spell at Headingley and electrified all involved. Some outswing too, his natural zest, and the fastest slogger in town. What a package.

Stuart Broad – 8/10

Five matches, 22 wickets @ 22.40, 78 runs @ 13

So unceasingly consistent in all his Ashes series, a marvel of competitive longevity. No other England pace bowler has ever played six home Tests in two months without breaking down. What a record: 3,000 runs and 600 wickets. He can retire having done it all.

England's Stuart Broad celebrates after taking the wicket of Todd Murphy - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Stuart Broad took the final two wickets at the Oval on his final day of Test cricket – Reuters/Andrew Boyers

James Anderson – 5/10

Four matches, 5 wickets @ 88.40

Never been quite himself – like a deep fake image – since he was not invited to take the new ball on day one at Edgbaston. Was it a temporary loss of confidence as he searched for a wicket ever more desperately? Only time will tell, but it will be soon either way, as he is 41.

Ollie Pope – 4/10

Two matches, 90 runs @ 22.5

England’s official vice-captain brought the house down by reading the game-situation wrongly, after Nathan Lyon limped off at Lord’s, and threw himself into high-risk attack. Needs a spell away, to realise cricket is only a game.

Ollie Pope is bowled by Mitchell Starc at Lord's - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Ollie Pope endured a dismal outing at Lord’s when he also suffered a shoulder injury – PA/Mike Egerton

Ollie Robinson – 6/10

Three matches, 10 wickets @ 28.4, 59 runs @ 19.66

Steady as normal but did not penetrate as he had done last summer. A strike-rate of one wicket every ten overs – with a few no-balls thrown in – was disappointing for someone who sometimes took the new ball.

Josh Tongue – 7/10

One match, 5 wickets @ 30.2

He must be wondering what he has to do to get selected after five wickets at Lord’s. He and Mark Wood could have played together, at Old Trafford and the Oval, and put the wind up Australia.

Australia

Usman Khawaja – 8/10

Five matches, 496 runs @ 49.6

Faced far and away the most deliveries in this series but not quite to maximum effect because he had the slowest scoring-rate of any batsman. England should have wised up earlier and pitched fuller, to exploit the minimal footwork and stop him pulling.

David Warner – 6/10

Five matches, 285 runs @ 28.5

Fought tooth and nail in his final 60 to prove the hunger is still there. But a tell-tale sign that a batsman’s end is nigh is when he ceases to convert a good start into a hundred, just notching 30s and 40s, as here.

Marnus Labuschagne – 6/10

Five matches, 328 runs @ 32.8

England did well to keep him on a leash except for his second-innings century at Old Trafford. Brought the right amount of intensity to his fielding – he was superb at mid-on or mid-off – but maybe too much to his batting, when he was forever tinkering.

Steve Smith – 8/10

Five matches, 373 runs @ 37.29

Magnificent as ever in his obsessiveness and defiance but never blinded England as he did in 2019, never forcing them to bowl at his legs. One of the all-time greats a little past his prime yet still great viewing.

Travis Head – 7/10

Five matches, 362 runs @ 36.2

When England pitched the ball up, and especially when Moeen Ali did so at Edgbaston without any long-on or long-off, Head took the game away with his fast-handed driving. When England pitched short, and he stayed side-on, it was a very different ball-game, because he could not ride the bouncers.

Mitchell Marsh – 8/10

Three matches, 250 runs @ 50, 3 wickets @ 55.66

His 118 at Headingley was arguably the best innings of this series after Ben Stokes’s 155, full of superlative drives and pulls, an amazing comeback after four years out of the side. Surely has to be a permanent feature of their Test side in future, alongside Green or not.

Mitchell Marsh celebrates his hundred at Headingly - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Mitchell Marsh made a strong case to stay in Australia’s Test team – PA/Mike Egerton

Alex Carey – 7/10

Five matches, 200 runs @ 22.22

All the publicity after his stumping of Jonny Bairstow clearly dented his confidence, making him more defensive as a person and batsman. So he did not play a barn-storming innings like Bairstow, yet he still kept wicket much better than his counterpart.

Mitchell Starc – 8/10

Four matches, 23 wickets @ 27.08; 82 runs @ 16.39

Is he fast? Yes. Is he left-arm? Yes. Is he tall? Yes, very. So select him for every game! It does not matter what length he bowls. In only four Tests, he was Australia’s leading wicket-taker with 23. And unlike like most fast bowlers, who hate their own medicine, Starc at eight handled the bouncers coolly.

Pat Cummins – 8/10

Five matches, 18 wickets @ 37.72, 162 runs @ 23.14

He began the series superbly, as the best fast bowler in the world, and ended very well – his figures at the Oval misleading – but flagged in between. As a captain he kept a steady hand on the tiller except at Old Trafford, while his batting in crises was reminiscent of his Test debut, when he steered Australia home aged 18.

Pat Cummins celebrates taking a wicket at the Oval - Ashes series player ratings: Mark Wood electrifying but Scott Boland gets Bazballed

Australia captain Pat Cummins finished the season on a high at the Oval – Getty Images/Daniel Leal

Todd Murphy – 7/10

Two matches, 7 wickets @ 25.85

England would have him! A sparky as well as studious-looking offspinner who was not as economical as Nathan Lyon but he mopped up England’s tail just as well. And a better batsman than Lyon too, his 34 at the Oval a critical contribution.

Josh Hazlewood – 7/10

Four matches, 16 wickets @ 31.68

A steady comeback after injury, if you can call 4.5 runs per over steady, but he did not take enough early wickets to justify his captain’s decision to give him the new ball, so England usually made quick and flying starts.

Scott Boland – 3/10

Two matches, 2 wickets @ 115.5

Australia’s first victim of Bazball. His hitherto immaculate line on offstump wavered under England’s assault, so he could not provide the reserve-seamer back-up that Australia’s three main quicks needed.

Cameron Green – 5/10

Three matches, 103 runs @ 20.6, 5 wickets @ 47

He did not kick on in any department – soft dismissals as a batsman, little bowling and that not very accurate – except his fielding. A great gully, though only four catches.

Nathan Lyon – 8/10

Two matches, 9 wickets @ 29.33

Australia’s most economical bowler – and nine wickets in only 66 overs as England tried, and failed, to hit him out of the attack. Australia lost control when he hobbled off at Lord’s, but England had already lost Jack Leach.

Scyld Berry’s combined team of the series

  1. Usman Khawaja

  2. Zak Crawley

  3. Moeen Ali

  4. Joe Root

  5. Steve Smith

  6. Ben Stokes (c)

  7. Alex Carey (wkt)

  8. Chris Woakes

  9. Mitchell Starc

  10. Mark Wood

  11. Broad or Lyon (depending on pitch)

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