End-of-series report: Prizes and plaudits for England's stars...

Stephen Brenkley assesses the individual contributions of Strauss's squad and delivers the bad news to Australian underachievers
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Andrew Strauss: 9/10

It was his team and they perfectly represented his character. He was patient, careful and calm but bold, adventurous and assertive when he needed to be.

Ignore those who deride his tactical instinctiveness because he compensates for this by allowing plans to develop and by understanding where they might lead. Test cricket is played over five days, not five minutes. Rarely can a captain have commanded both such respect and admiration. And he genuinely feels he ain't done nothin' yet. He might have liked more runs but his second-innings hundred in Brisbane and his brilliant 60 in the final match showed the cut of his jib.

Jonathan Trott: 8

Like Cook, he is not exactly an aesthetic delight and Keats might have struggled to write a poem about him. But like Cook he sets out his stall and will not be easily ejected from it. By the end he had turned scratching at the crease and the bottom-handed shovel into art forms. This time last year, Trott was struggling to come to terms with international cricket after an auspicious start. But he found acceptance within the team (remember, it takes all sorts) and gradually relaxed. The results have seen him blaze a trail, which started last summer in England and continued here with two judicious hundreds.

Jimmy Anderson: 9

When he came on this tour, it was widely feared that Anderson's brand of swing bowling would be neutered on Australian pitches under Australian skies. He proved everybody wrong by intelligent use of reverse swing with an older ball. Peculiarly enough, a sensational morning at Adelaide apart, he rarely took new-ball wickets. But ultimately he did not need to because of the damage he did later on. His manipulation of the ball personifies the skill of top-class bowling and he seems genuinely to relish being leader of the attack. Never failed as nightwatchman either.

Steve Finn: 6

Dropped after three matches when he was the series' leading wicket-taker. It sounds more brutal than it was and Finn probably agreed with the decision. He will take bundles of wickets for England but what this series showed was that Finn was not the finished article. The feeling is that he needs more bowling in his legs, yet he also has to be carefully managed. Slightly wayward, not quite sure of what he should be doing at any given moment, or at least how to do it, but he is tall, fast enough, another good team man and there really is plenty more to come.

Alastair Cook: 10

The perfect series. This was as predictable before the start as the good old Lib Dems ditching all their liberal policies once in power, but from the start Cook wore down the Australian bowlers so that by the end they hardly knew where to bowl at him. He completely overcame his defects, so that the old nick marginally outside off stump was never an issue. The middle of the bat looked to be its only part. The other day Cook used the expression "churn out the runs" and that is exactly what he did. He was still pinching himself yesterday and sensible enough to recognise that 766 runs in the series, with three centuries at an average of 127.66, was unlikely to happen again soon. Nor should his casting as ball polisher-in-chief be dismissed lightly.

Paul Collingwood: 5

He gets the extra mark for loyalty, a job well done over the years and for being a top bloke. But this was a woeful last series for him, added to the one he had against Pakistan in the summer. Eighty-three runs in six innings; he never looked like getting more and there was this time to be no redeeming innings. It was typical of him that, recognising this, he called it a day in Tests on the fourth morning at Sydney. It should be noted that his catching remained spectacular, the benchmark for all that England did and nobody who saw them – blink and you missed it – will forget him taking flight to catch Ricky Ponting or swooping low to catch Mike Hussey at Adelaide.

Kevin Pietersen: 7

The double hundred at Adelaide was worth coming for alone. It took us back to Pietersen's pomp when he truly was one of the best players on the planet. For those seven hours he was irresistible, playing and manufacturing strokes all round the ground. Australia may as well have given up bowling to him; they almost did. But that was almost a lone star. He failed badly in the Perth defeat and there was only one other fifty in the series for him. However, Pietersen has embraced the team ethos as much as the others and that says a great deal for him. He might still have nurtured his perceived mistreatment over his lost captaincy: he hasn't.

Chris Tremlett: 8

Although not an automatic choice for this squad, it was always felt that once he had been included it was not to carry the drinks. Brought into the side after Stuart Broad was injured, his gigantic presence and ability to extract rasping bounce might have scarred Australia's batting for years. For such a gentle soul, his perpetual hostility with a ball in his hand is a little surprising and the ball does his talking. He did enough to warrant a first-choice place in the team next summer and shows the value of a fast bowler learning and knowing his game. Outstanding.

Graeme Swann: 7

He did not take the wickets that had been preordained for him by the pundits. But Swann was denied any kind of surface save at Adelaide where his clever, acute bowling ensured that England romped to victory. If he stays fit – in every sense – there is no reason that he cannot play an integral role for four years or so. Although Swanny is the resident team joker, he is a deadly serious cricketer, as his fleeting anger at a dropped catch on the fourth day at Sydney illustrated. Can break the hearts of tired bowlers with his late-order hitting and his catching at second slip is of an extremely high order. His sprinkler dance has taken the nation by storm and yesterday at the SCG, when it was all over and the pitch was being put to bed, Swann and the cameraman for his video diary walked out for him to be filmed by the real sprinklers.

Tim Bresnan: 8

Might not have played any part in this series and was generally considered the weak link in the seam bowling. How misguided all that was. He played the final two Tests when young Steve Finn had come to a natural conclusion for now and he looked the part immediately. His relentless accuracy and ability to reverse swing the ball was edifying stuff and played a key part in stifling Australia. Not the worst wielder of the blade at No 8 and a strong, versatile fielder, he came into this series an underrated cricketer. Not any more, he's not.

Matt Prior: 8

Threatening to become one of the most complete of all England wicketkeeper-batsmen. His keeping is now athletically reliable – one missed stumping at Melbourne (there was a much tougher one in Adelaide) remains his only blemish of note. But he is at his most effective as a No 7 batsman coming in on the back of heavy runs earlier as he did in this series. At Melbourne he saw through a tricky beginning and just missed out on a hundred; at Sydney he never looked like doing so, dashing to three figures in thrilling style. It was a classic case of finishing off opponents.

Stuart Broad: 7

Took only two wickets in his two Tests before an abdominal injury forced him out of the series. But he had shown enough to confirm he would be a handful with his relentless accuracy and bounce. Broad is an important member of any England team of the era, but as the coach Andy Flower said, the best thing that happened to the squad was his injury. It meant England had to show their strength in depth and that all their planning was not in vain. It is no reflection on him that Broad was not missed.

Ian Bell: 7

He has become a butterfly at last. His first innings at Brisbane when the rest of the batting failed was extremely significant and he was throughout a joy to behold. Still, he must learn to cash in and realise that pretty little cameos do not Test matches win. All the investment in him is paying off, however, and he is also one of the side's top fielders in many positions. Had he not scored a hundred at the last attempt in Sydney there may still have been a sense of unfulfilment. As it is, his cup overfloweth and, with the prospect of promotion to No 5, there should be runs galore to come.

...but detention and low marks for the dunces in Baggy Green

Ricky Ponting: 5

As captain and batsman can never had a worse series. Will probably come back, needs to do so soon.

Michael Clarke: 5

Captain for the last match, did not ease Australian inadequacies. Runs have dried up.

Shane Watson: 7

Solid, correct batsman, lousy runner between wickets. A rare beacon.

Phil Hughes: 3

Technique hopelessly exposed by smart bowling. Needs major overhaul.

Usman Khawaja: 6

Looked the part briefly in the final Test but has not yet scored the runs.

Mike Hussey: 8

Carried the batting after his Test career was on the line.

Brad Haddin: 7

One wonderful innings from the wicketkeeper, a couple of other important ones but gone by the end.

Steve Smith: 5

Work in progress, last-innings fifty could not conceal defects. How he responds is the important bit.

Mitchell Johnson: 5

One sensational spell in Perth. Otherwise hapless. The great enigma.

Peter Siddle: 7

Hat-trick hero of Brisbane, then dropped. Big-hearted, needs support.

Ben Hilfenhaus: 4

Bitterly disappointing time for a good craftsman who lacked cutting edge.

Michael Beer: 4

Looked worthy but ordinary as spinner when at last picked for the team. Aussie spin stocks bereft.

Marcus North: 3

Test career over. Not quite up it.

Doug Bollinger: 3

Discarded after fitness concerns.

Xavier Doherty: 3

A shot in the dark. Did not work.

Simon Katich: 3

Injured opener.