The Ashes: Alternative England marks out of ten

Every cricket site, blog and their dog have been arbitrarily awarding England and Australia’s cricketers marks out of ten for their performances in the Ashes. There’s nothing more to add, really. Everyone knows that Ian Bell had a good series. So here’s some marks out of ten that really count, starting with England.

Alastair Cook – Bus-hailing ability – 2/10

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“Where can we hire a pedalo?”

It’s not all chauffeur-driven Bentleys for England’s Ashes-winning skipper – on Sunday night he was reduced to hailing a night bus. Cook gains marks for his technique – any bus driver could recognise that as the signal for him to stop. However, it appears that Cook and Prior are not actually standing at a bus stop and by the look of the passing buses, none of them are in any danger of stopping. Matt Prior’s not even trying to stop a bus – he appears to be trying to get a hitchhike.

Joe Root – Mastery of disguise – 2/10

Root’s adoption of a green-and-gold beard / wig at the Walkabout bar in Birmingham was completely ineffective in fooling David Warner as to his identity. Considerable loss of credit for failure to realise that a wig and a beard don’t look anything alike and that green-and-gold is only likely to draw attention to oneself. Gains a mark for getting Warner packed off to southern Africa.

Jonathan Trott – Shot-selection – 3/10

It was a strange series for Trott, who flashed but never made one of his monster scores that sends the crowd into a hypnotic stupor. Part of this might have been to do with the two short midwickets who seemed to follow him around for most of the series. Credit Clarke for the tactic. Trott, however, completely unperturbed, just kept hitting it straight to them or occasionally bisecting them. So much of his concentration was focused on finding the infinitesimal gap between them that he wasn’t watching as the Australians continually, and pretty effectively, tried to bounce him out.

Kevin Pietersen – Youth and vigour – 5/10

At times during this series, it looked like Pietersen could have done with a walking stick in the outfield. Following various knee and achilles’ ailments, he’s really starting to show his age and you have to wonder how long it will be before he’s herded into the back of a cattle-truck and shipped off to the IPL, where he’ll happily spend the rest of his days depositing unknown Indian bowlers into the stands. Until then, he should at least make a pretence of still being young and fit, perhaps by bringing back ‘The Skunk’. Gains marks for a swashbuckling innings and athletic catch at the Oval.

Ian Bell – Mental fragility – 0/10

Remember when Shane Warne made Bell look like a six-year-old playing cricket? We barely do. The Ian Bell of today laughs in the face of such Sherminator references, before nonchalantly late-cutting another ball to the inexplicably-still-vacant third man boundary.

Jonny Bairstow – Fielding – 8/10

Jonny Bairstow is a very, very good fielder. We saw him in the flesh at Lord’s and jeez can he move across the turf. He did this job with aplomb. The trouble is, apparently he was in the team for something else, called ‘batting’ (we’ve got no idea what it is either). Loses marks for permanently looking startled.

Matt Prior – Quiet brilliance – 3/10

Nobody notices what he does until he doesn’t do it. Let’s not forget the dark days of Geraint Jones and Tim Ambrose. Prior is the 14th highest run-scorer in Test cricket since the start of 2008. Oh, and he has 192 Test dismissals in that time as well. One bad summer does not a bad cricketer make.

Tim Bresnan – Manfully pushing on through – 5/10

Eh oop, Tim lad, thou’s like little girl for not playing through t’Ashes series with broken back. In my day we’d’ve ‘ad to do twenty-five hour shift at t’mill before walking two ‘undred mile to get to ground in time for start of play. Ye’ll be drinking mild next.

Stuart Broad – Poker face – 9/10

Look out Shane Warne – there may be one more blond-haired Test bowler sitting around playing cards in a few years. Broad’s composure upon creaming the ball to slip at Trent Bridge was stunning – not so much as a blush or anything. He loses a mark for eventually admitting he hit it instead of blindly denying it for the rest of the series.

Graeme Swann – making the most of the situation – 6/10

The England management have spent most of the last six months praying frantically for a dry summer while simultaneously forbidding watering of any patch of grass that may or may not play host to a Test match any time soon. The Trent Bridge pitch was about as dry as the Atacama desert. Swann bowled reasonably well over the series but 26 wickets at 29 is at least 20 wickets less at 10 runs a piece more than he should have got given the pitches that had been handed to him on a plate.

James Anderson – Bladder control – 4/10

Anderson was one of the England players who allegedly decided to leave their mark on the Oval wicket by pissing on it, as one does. While we admire their restraint in not leaving anything more… solid on the wicket, it’s not exactly the done thing, chaps. Anderson gains marks for holding on until it was dark but loses them for ‘breaking the seal’ and for not being bothered to go and use a urinal. Or at least tearing a urinal off the wall and bringing it out with him.

Simon Kerrigan – cricket-playing – 1/10

Plus one mark for finding his way from the team hotel to the ground and managing to put his boots on the right feet. Minus marks for pretty much everything else.

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