Fraser's series verdict: Heroes and villains
Monday 30 June 2008
Owais Shah – 199 runs at an average of 39.8.
Shah showed what an adaptable and intelligent player he is during the five games. He finished England's innings in the first one-dayer at Chester-le-Street in style with a flurry of powerful and cleverly placed boundaries, but built innings when his side lost early wickets in other games. There will be a temptation to move him up the order but he should stay where he is.
Stuart Broad – seven wickets @ 21, with economy rate of 3.58.
Broad was England's joint highest wicket-taker in the NatWest Series and he bowled with greater consistency than his fast bowling colleagues. In Bristol he conceded just 14 runs in 10 overs, an outstanding achievement. The bounce he extracts from pitches makes it risky for batsmen to take him on. Another step in the right direction for England's most exciting young cricketer.
Graeme Swann – seven wickets @ 23.28, with economy rate of 4.17.
For most it will be a wild shy at the stumps in the controversial "Tacklegate" defeat at The Oval which Swann will be remembered for in the series, but that would be unfair. As the figures suggest, Swann bowled very nicely in the five matches. The off-spinner varied his pace well and bowled an excellent line. He is capable of scoring useful runs in England's lower order too.
Tim Ambrose – 10 runs at an average of 2.5.
England's wicketkeeper was a surprise selection for the series and it may be some time before he gets another chance in limited-over cricket. Batting at seven has its challenges because, on the majority of occasions, a player has to get on with it immediately. To do so a batsman has to make the right decisions and Ambrose failed to do this. A dropped catch on Saturday summed up his plight. It is to be hoped that these failures do not affect his confidence in the Test series against South Africa.
Ryan Sidebottom – two wickets @ 75, with an economy rate of 5.35 runs per over.
England's player of the year has tormented New Zealand over the past four months, taking 41 wickets in six Tests. But the Black Caps got their own back in this series, smashing him around at the end of an innings in the three games he played. The return of Andrew Flintoff would put his place in the one-day side in jeopardy, a worrying situation with Sir Allen Stanford's upcoming multi-million dollar match.
Paul Collingwood – 149 runs @ 37.25, seven wickets @ 15.85.
The batting and bowling of the England captain was excellent but they will not be what he is remembered for in the series. Had Collingwood called Grant Elliott back, following his collision with Sidebottom, he would be being praised to the hilt for his sportsmanship. But he did not and he is being vilified. It was not a split-second decision, as Collingwood protested; he had a couple of minutes to mull it over. Good leaders make the right decisions under pressure.
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