England's Lord's report cards

Blog Opinion

The senior players failed to live up to expectations, once again putting all the pressure on the 'new era' lads, who for the most part came to the part.

England were below par at Lord's this week, losing the second Test by 95 runs early on day five. The senior players failed to live up to expectations, once again putting all the pressure on the 'new era' lads, who for the most part came to the part.

Here's how we marked them with our red pens.

<b>Alastair Cook</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 4 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 10 and 22

Oh Cooky. The skipper's dire run of form continues as he nears 30 knocks without a Test century, spanning more than a year. One cannot imagine him carrying on like this for much longer, despite his protestations that his 'inner steel' will see him score some runs soon. The team is struggling with the pressure his failures put on the rest of the order, and his captaincy was quite abysmal in this Test. How his bowlers didn't get a clip round the ears on day one, bowling short and wide on a green deck, boggles the mind. He gets four out of 10 purely because the second innings saw him bat for 93 deliveries, so at least he neared a hundred in something.

<b>Sam Robson</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 4 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 17 and 7

The Middlesex opener really should have done better on his home ground, especially given his good form prior to this match. He was clearly feeling the pressure of helping his captain, eating up deliveries to take some shine off the new ball, but was unable to apply his Aussie batting technique to good effect this time.

<b>Gary Ballance</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 8 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 110 and 27

The Zimbabwe-born Yorkshireman was impressive once again, continuing to fill the number three slot with aplomb, and he was the only reason England had any kind of lead after the first innings. The century was a battling one as wickets tumbled at the other end, before he too became one of Bhuvi Kumar's victims. The second innings was less successful, but once again he was chucked in very early, after Robson's failure, and took the gloss off the ball with a 59-ball knock.

<b>Ian Bell</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 4 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 16 and 1

Unless you looked at the scorecard to confirm it, you may not even have known Bell played in this game. Ok fine, he took two catches, but his failures with the bat were depressing, though hidden somewhat behind Cook's disasters. If Cook were scoring runs, Bell's failings would be in the spotlight, and he's been one of the senior players to let the side's new players down badly, leaving their efforts in vain.

<b>Joe Root</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 7 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 13 and 66

Yorkshire's batsmen were England's bright spots at Lord's, with Root's second innings an impressive one, if useless in the end. His half century, added to the double ton he made here against Sri Lanka, showed his comfort on the 'slope'. His knock was at better than a run a ball, as he was seemingly determined to reached the 319 required to win. But he ran out of partners, and in the end fell the same way most of the others did: to a short ball from Ishant. Still, his efforts have seen the joking talk of him being skipper become slightly more serious.

<b>Moeen Ali</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 6 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 32 and 39; <i>Wickets</i>: 3

The frustrating thing about Moeen in this game was that he wasn't bad, but he wasn't amazing either. England needed more than one batsman per innings to score big runs, and he got settled both times, only to fall when he should have been kicking on. Some will say he should be batting up the order, but considering the top order's failures, he was essentially in the middle as a number four. As for his bowling, he continued to be middling, taking one and then two scalps at little under three to the over. Not a front-line spinner, but not rubbish either.

<b>Matt Prior</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 4 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 23 and 12

This was not a Test Prior will want to remember. The first innings with the gloves saw him drop more than one relatively easy catch, and he gave up 17 byes, and 19 in the second innings. He was sluggish behind the stumps, though his fast bowlers didn't help, bowling wide and making him fling himself around for much of the first day. But it can no longer be said that he's a significantly better keeper than Jos Buttler, especially given his form with the bat. When the number 10 is in better for than you, and is sent in as a night watchman to protect you with an hour to go in the day, then you have to know you're in poor form. The calls for him to be dropped are nearly louder than those for Cook.

<b>Ben Stokes</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 4 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 0 and 0; <i>Wickets</i>: 5

the only reason Stokes doesn't get three is that he was decent with the ball, taking two and three wickets. His batting though, which was England's only bright spot in the Ashes, continued to suffer. He recorded two ducks, making it three in a row, and had no clue about facing India's pacemen. Stokes stands a real chance of being dropped in favour of Chris Jordan for the third Test, and not many would object to that.

<b>Stuart Broad</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 3.5 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 4 and 8; <i>Wickets</i>: 3

The T20 skipper was very poor in this match, though whether that's due to the fact that he's probably not fit is up in the air. He was sluggish, and when presented with a green track on day one, only managed to bowl short and wide. He took three wickets in the game and did not make the batsmen play much, while going at four to the over in both innings. His batting was below par too, for someone who considers himself a good batsman. And he is, but not in this match.

<b>Liam Plunkett</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 7 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 55 not out and 7 not out; <i>Wickets</i>: 4

The Yorkshire bowler was sent in to bat ahead of Prior in the first innings, and ended up scoring his maiden Test half century and the second best knock of the innings behind Ballance's ton. He was unbeaten in both innings, and if not for his heroics, England would have been in arrears in the first dig. His bowling was decent too, taking three wickets in India's second innings. He's not been Mitchell Johnson in terms of a comeback, but he's overshadowed Broad, and sometimes Anderson.

<b>James Anderson</b><br><b>Rating</b>: 5 out of 10<br><i>Runs</i>: 19 and 2; <i>Wickets</i>: 5

England's attack leader did not have a good build up to the game, after an alleged showing match with Ravi Jadeja, and he allowed this conflict to affect his game. He was dismissed by Jadeja in both innings, first via a stupid reverse sweep after batting quite well, and then by a suicidal run out. But he's not a batsman, despite his 81 in the first Test. His bowling in the first innings was good once he got on target, taking four wickets, but the second dig saw just the one scalp, that of Murali Vijay, who had already made 95. Will Jimmy be rested, is the question.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

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