England vs New Zealand round-up

Third Test

England wrapped up a 2-0 series victory on the 4th morning of the 3rd Test, with Ryan Sidebottom being the main destroyer in New Zealand’s 2nd innings. This completed an excellent match for England with victory being by the sizable margin of an Innings and 9 runs.

The bowlers can be very proud of their efforts in this match, with both Sidebottom and Anderson taking excellent hauls, and Broad chipping in with vital wickets, and his test-best 64 runs in England’s innings. The batsmen, however, should be less happy with their performances in this match, and the series as a whole. Cook, Bell and Collingwood all failed in England’s only innings, Strauss got himself out when well set (although he has had an excellent series), and Vaughan continues to be an enigma in England’s upper order: He looks in sublime touch, but then misses a straight ball attempting a flourishing drive. In this match, only Pietersen and Ambrose stood up to be counted, forming a vital partnership when all around them were getting out.

Series Ratings

With the whole series over, how did England’s XI perform? – In batting order:

Alastair Cook: 5

Formed an excellent 100 partnership with Strauss at Lord’s, but is still weak around his off-stump. Needs a big score urgently.

Andrew Strauss: 8

Excellent series overall. Superb 100 in the difficult chase at Old Trafford, and consistent scores throughout the series. Looks a different man from 12 months ago.

Michael Vaughan: 7

Good 100 at Lords, and vital contribution at Old Trafford. Still has a habit of getting out when looking well-set. Good captaincy in general.

Kevin Pietersen: 7.5

Not at his most consistent with the bat, but crucial runs at Trent Bridge when no-one else seemed to be able to get anything to hit the middle of the bat. Needs to re-exert his personality on proceedings, but signs of that are returning.

Ian Bell: 2

Where are his next runs coming from? Scratched around with Collingwood to eke England over the line in Manchester, but is back to his timid worst at the moment.

Paul Collingwood: 2.5

Another man who can’t buy a run. His fielding was excellent though, and that gains him his 0.5 point on Bell.

Tim Ambrose: 6

Excellent keeping throughout the series, on difficult pitches – a big turner at Manchester, and the seaming, swinging wicket in Nottingham. Looked fragile with the bat early on, but a match-turning partnership with Pietersen at Trent Bridge shows his potential.

Stuart Broad: 8

The new Ashley Giles of England’s batting line-up, but with more potential and an even-better technique. Contributions all through the series rounded off with a beautifully crafted test-best of 64 at Nottingham. Will be disapointed with his return of only 7 wickets, but they came at crucial times.

Ryan Sidebottom: 8

Another excellent series from the bowling perspective: 17 wickets at 20.5. England’s leading bowler now takes wickets on reputation as well as from his skill – a useful attribute meaning that even when not as his best he is still a danger to the opposition.

James Anderson: 9

The leading wicket taker in the series with 19 wickets at 19.3. Promoted to the heady heights of number 9 in the 3rd test following Sidebottom’s back spasm, and rewarded his captain’s faith with a pleasing test best of 28.

Monty Panesar: 8

Monty’s batting seems to have plumbed new depths managing 1 run in three innings, but his bowling is as good as ever. Didn’t have a role in the final test with the seamers going so well, but turned the series with his test best 6-37 in Manchester.

Looking ahead to South Africa

Assuming Collingwood and Bell get some runs in the One-day series ahead, and the Flintoff regains match fitness, how will England shape up against South Africa – it is a very difficult choice as to which seamer you might drop to fit Flintoff into the side, but his batting is not of the standard it used to be. I would put Stuart Broad ahead of him in a current batting line up. For the 1st test against South Africa I would like to see:

Cook
Strauss
Vaughan
Pietersen
Collingwood
Prior
Broad
Flintoff
Sidebottom
Anderson
Panesar

There is a big case for the inclusion of Matt Prior (currently the 2nd highest run-getting in County Championship Division 1) instead of Ambrose if England go for the 5-man attack option, although I can understand why the selectors would keep faith with Ambrose.

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