Who passed the test? Derek Pringle assesses England performances in South Africa

Click to follow
Michael Atherton

Test series figures: Batting: 5 matches, 8 innings, 390 runs, average 55.71, highest score 185*

Atherton has become not only the spine of England's batting but much of its flesh as well. When he fails, as in the last Test, England rarely make a working total. The outstanding batsman on either side: his undefeated 185 to save the second Test was hailed by Ray Illingworth as "one of the great innings". Apart from his decision to insert the opposition in the same match, he captained well. An example to his team-mates of what it takes to be a Test player.


Alec Stewart

Batting: 5 matches, 8 innings, 235 runs, average 29.37, HS 81

Disappointing series for such a fluent, confident player, considering he had looked good in warm-up games. Maybe his foot movement - often found wanting against the new ball - was less exposed against weaker opposition. Principal knock was the 81 that helped save the Port Elizabeth Test.


Robin Smith

Batting: 5 matches, 7 innings, 254 runs, average 36.28, HS 66

Apparently, this was the Test series he had been waiting for, playing for the country he had invested his future in against the one he had belonged to in the past. He played several hard-fought innings, including his highest score of 66 in Cape Town, without ever dominating.


Graeme Hick

Batting: 5 matches, 8 innings, 293 runs, average 48.83, HS 141.

Bowling: 45.4 overs, 117 runs, 1 wicket, average 117, best figures 1- 38

If he got over his first 30 minutes at the crease, when he looked ill at ease, he often resembled the awesome player we know him to be. His 141 at Centurion Park in the rained-out first Test was his best innings for England, a peak he never approached in the drier games despite the confidence it should have given him.


Graham Thorpe

Batting: 5 matches, 8 innings, 184 runs, average 26.28, HS 59

Last summer he was identified as England's best batsman byAtherton. He can score quickly, crucial if you want time to bowl sides out. Unfortunately, he only got going in the last Test. A poor series by his standards.


Jack Russell

Batting: 5 matches, 7 innings, 140 runs, average 28, HS 50*

Wicketkeeping: 25 catches, 2 stumpings

Apart from the ironic spilling of two relatively easy chances in the second Test, where he broke Bob Taylor's world record with 11 dismissals, Russell had an excellent series with the gloves. Batting for the first time in sunglasses, his form with the bat was a revelation, his role in helping Atherton save the second Test heroic.


Dominic Cork

Bowling: 189.2 overs, 485 runs, 19 wickets, average 25.52, best figures 5-84

Batting: 5 matches, 6 innings, 69 runs, average 13.8, HS 23*

In less than a year Cork has discovered what it takes to dismiss players at this level, a knack few manage consistently. It is his constant aggression and an ability to swing the ball away from right-handers that really impresses. His 19 wickets equalled Allan Donald's haul, a tally that earned the South African the man of the series award.


Peter Martin

Bowling: 105 overs, 218 runs, 11 wickets, average 19.81

Batting: 3 matches, 3 innings, 13 runs, average 4.33, HS 9

A replacement for the injured Richard Johnson, he was the find of the tour, his 11 wickets heading the averages. Like Cork, the tall Lancashire bowler swings the ball, though he could do with more of his

aggression. His accuracy and bounce also disconcerted, and if he can find another yard of pace he will have a long-term future.


Richard Illingworth

Bowling: 90.5 overs, 187 runs, 9 wickets, average 20.77, best figures 3-37

Batting: 3 matches, 2 innings, 28 runs, average 14, HS 28

If someone had told you two years ago that an injury to Richard Illingworth would have caused widespread dismay, you would have scoffed. But the Worcestershire spinner's stock has risen so much in the wake of Phil Tufnell's demise that it is hard to envisage an England team without him. Bowled almost as steadily as Atherton batted, conceding barely two runs an over. In fact in the two Tests he missed, England played their worst cricket, losing one and almost losing the other.


Angus Fraser

Bowling: 66 overs, 187 runs, 4 wickets, average 46.75, best figures 3- 84

Batting: 3 matches, 4 innings, 10 runs, average 5, HS 5*

Although people have written Fraser off before, and been forced to eat their words, his omission from the third and fourth Tests, as well as the one-day squad here, are a sign that he is nearing the end of his Test career. In the matches he did play, his accuracy and reliability were impeccable, though he rarely troubled batsmen as a front-line bowler ought, and his days at this level are now numbered.


Devon Malcolm

Bowling: 57 overs, 195 runs, 6 wickets, average 32.5, best figures 4- 62

Batting: 2 matches, 3 innings, 1 run, average 1, HS 1

As the one bowler South Africa feared, Malcolm should have been given a free rein. Instead he lost his confidence after being cajoled into changing his action by unsympathetic coaches. His descent from occasional fiery match-winner to uncertain medium-pacer was sad to see, and unless an old knee injury is troubling him more than is being admitted, Illingworth and his coaches have much to answer for. Like Fraser, the curtains on his Test career are surely about to be drawn.


Mark Ilott

Bowling: 44.4 overs, 130 runs, 4 wickets, average 32.5, best figures 3-48

Batting: 2 matches, 1 innings, 0 runs, average 0, HS 0*

Having grabbed the early plaudits in the warm-up games, Ilott had to wait until the third Test in Durban before he was introduced. Some of his spells were genuinely testing but he must perform with more fire when the ball fails to swing. Must stay free of injury if he is to convince selectors of his future worth.


Mike Watkinson

Batting: 1 match, 2 innings, 11 runs, average 5.5, HS 11

Bowling: 19 overs, 59 runs, 2 wickets, average 29.5, best figures 2-35

Only got his chance because of injury to Illingworth before the final Test, in which he bowled tidily. On the right type of pitch Watkinson can spin the ball a long way. Unfortunately, he tends to bowl at least one loose ball an over, an expense few captains can afford from a spinner.


Mark Ramprakash

Batting: 2 matches, 3 innings, 13 runs, average 4.33, HS 9

Bowling: 4 overs, 19 runs, 0 wickets

For his supporters, this was going to be the tour that saw Ramprakash spread his wings. In fact they ended up being clipped further as he failed to reach double figures in any of his three Test innings. Since being dropped, he has cut a forlorn figure who must now try and rebuild his reputation as an outstanding batsman in the forthcoming one-day series.


John Crawley

Batting: 1 match, 0 innings

Forced his way into the third Test through sheer weight of runs and Ramprakash's miserable form. Unfortunately he never got to see if his form in the practice matches would translate into Test runs, pulling a hamstring while fielding in his one and only Test, in Durban.


Darren Gough

Bowling: 27 overs, 112 runs, 0 wickets

Batting: 2 matches, 2 innings, 2 runs, average 1, HS 2

Gough's confidence, his strongest suit, has clearly been affected by injury, so much so that when he did bowl he was a pale imitation of the exuberant performer seen in Australia a year ago. Even before he tweaked his hamstring Gough was struggling with his form, though it is nothing the confidence gleaned from a few five-wicket hauls can't cure.


Jason Gallian

Batting: 1 match, 2 innings, 42 runs, average 21, HS 28

Bowling: 2 overs, 6 runs

Summoned from the A tour as a replacement for Crawley. Despite his prolific form in Pakistan he could not solve the problems England were having at No 3. His score of 28 at Port Elizabeth was the highest in that position until Robin Smith beat it at Newlands.