Pakistan 0-3 England: player ratings for the Test series – The Guardian

Harry Brook, Ben Stokes and Ben Duckett excelled for England as they won a series that was closer than the score suggests
By Gary Naylor for the 99.94 Cricket Blog
Ben Stokes: 173 runs at 34.6; one wicket at 124.0; four catches
None of this happens without Stokes. He did not look fit enough to bowl and was short of his best with bat in hand, finding odd ways to get out, but it doesn’t really matter when he can inject such confidence into his team. Stokes is redefining Test cricket and, perhaps, sports leadership more generally before our very eyes – and it’s a privilege to witness. Before a ball was bowled, he donated his tour fee to Pakistan Flood Relief and then joined his opposite number in playing the series in a great spirit, accepting the responsibilities that came with a first visit for 17 years. This tour was about joy not pain. The naysayers are still waiting to say “I told you so” but their beer is going very flat now. Grade A

Zak Crawley: 235 runs at 39.2; three catches
Would Bazball work overseas? Would it even be attempted? Three hours before the scheduled start of the series, the question was whether we would even have a Test match at all, given the bug laying England low. With three fours crashed in the first over, Crawley answered those questions with an emphasis that shocked even Bazball’s most fervent converts, driving length balls through the covers with the power and elegance that vindicated the faith shown in him over his long development as a Test opener. England were 174-0 at lunch, his share 91, and en route to breaking records and (eventually) Pakistan’s spirit. Crawley did not make as many runs again but he continued to play with all his chips pushed into the middle, setting a tone that brooked no argument down the order – and that’s why he will stay where he is. Grade B+
Ben Duckett: 357 runs at 71.4; two catches
Still sweeping, swishing and swiping, he retained the aggressive intent that marked his first try at Test cricket six years ago. But, looser in the shoulders as a result of Ben and Brendon’s philosophy, it worked so much better this time round, his short stature (in contrast with his opening partner) giving bowlers no length to find between the punches and the drives and the pulls and the cuts. Duckett favours, as does his generation, staying leg side of the ball and trusting his hand-eye coordination, so juicier pitches will examine his weaknesses outside off stump more, but let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Grade A
Ollie Pope: 238 runs at 47.6; 13 catches; one stumping
Pope took the gloves at short notice from the stricken Ben Foakes at Rawalpindi and, having delivered a competent 250 overs keeping and a century to boot, held on to them for the second Test. He did little wrong again but, in acknowledgement of the workload, dropped down the order for the second dig – what an effort though. He delivered another busy half-century in the third Test to round off a splendid series in which he built up credit not just as a batter but as a team man. Grade A
Joe Root: 125 runs at 25; five wickets at 39.2; three catches
Suddenly Root is the elder statesman picking out tunes on an acoustic guitar while all around him the kids are playing death metal turned up to 11. Not exactly lost in this new world, but a growing tendency to get out while forcing things suggests he might be wiser playing his own game at a hardly pedestrian strike rate of 60 or so. Once again, he proved to be a handy third spinner on subcontinental tracks. Grade B-
Harry Brook: 468 runs at 93.6; two catches
Clarity of thinking marked an extraordinary series in which he seemed only ever five minutes away from clouting a boundary. His weight of stroke, the product of superb balance and fast hands rather than slogs, ensures that a purple patch of form brings a cascade of runs. Brook hit 12 sixes in this three-match series; Jos Buttler only hit 33 in his 57 Test career. If it’s bowling that wins Test matches, it’s batting like this that provides the time and scoreboard pressure for pacers and spinners to attack for hour after hour. Has any batter ever enjoyed a more spectacular first full series? Grade A+
Ben Foakes: 64 runs at 64.0; three catches; one stumping
He recovered from the bug to take his place in Karachi, keeping with neat confidence and the occasional moment of genuine flair, but also advancing the score from 145-5 to 324-9 in a critical stay at the crease. Foakes moved the scales both ways in his favour on the balance of adding skills behind the stumps at a cost of runs in front. Grade A-
Will Jacks: 89 runs at 22.3; six wickets at 38.7
He responded to a last-minute call-up to take six wickets in Pakistan’s first innings in Rawalpindi. Inevitably, he found it harder to catch his skipper’s eye after that, his attacking line and tossed up off breaks still a work in progress, offering too many scoring opportunities. Jacks batted in the now orthodox fearless style going at almost a run a ball. He will be back. Grade B
Liam Livingstone: 16 runs at 16.0
Injured on the second day of the whirlwind first Test, Livingstone barely got a shake before flying home. His might prove one of the briefer Test careers. Grade C
Rehan Ahmed: 11 runs at 5.5; seven wickets at 19.6
Ahmed is raw – as a teenager with just three first-class matches behind him will be – but he seized his chance with a blizzard of wickets from leg breaks and googlies (and, to be fair, long hops). He smiles more on his debut Test than some England players have in 50; things are very different now. Whether his variations will work as successfully once the analysts dissect them remains to be seen, but he has the temperament, shoulders and environment to build a career as a three-dimensional player. Grade A-
Ollie Robinson: 74 runs at 18.5; nine wickets at 21.2; three catches
Robinson has often been criticised for a lack of conditioning, but he played all three Tests, bowling more overs than any teammate except Jack Leach, took wickets with some super deliveries and maintained a run rate below 2.5. Job description delivered without so much as a slumped shoulder. Stokes has solved the Robinson riddle and is reaping the rewards. Grade A-
Mark Wood: 77 runs at 38.5; eight wickets at 20.4
The Durham man would not know how to slump a shoulder, charging in with an ageing ball to bowl at 88mph+ whenever his captain asked it of him. To have flogged eight wickets in two matches from these surfaces without a single catch going to slip is a tremendous effort. Grade A-
Jack Leach: 15 runs at 15.0; 15 wickets at 44.6; four catches
There were times when he genuinely did spin and flight the ball, so it was all the more infuriating to see England’s senior spinner spend so much time firing the ball into a surface that would not help, even from the vestigial rough on pitches that refused to deteriorate. He was outbowled at times by tyros – Jacks, Rehan Ahmed and even Root – but his head did not drop, his captain’s support never wavered and the wickets eventually came. He played his part. That said, one wonders, nearly five years into his Test career, whether he will ever give himself the chance to find, consistently, the dip, drift and sharp turn that he has in his locker but seems reluctant to use. Grade B
Jimmy Anderson: 17 runs at 5.7; eight wickets at 18.5; one catch
The veteran pacer used all of his wiles in taking four second-innings wickets to set up the thrilling win in Rawalpindi, a match in which he bowled 46 overs. He had less work at Multan, but found a way to contribute by keeping the pressure on batters who were unwilling to take chances against the old maestro. Grade A-
Babar Azam: 348 runs at 58.0; one catch
Lesser men would have wilted in the eye of the storm but he, and his team, did not, playing the game with grace and heart, something that seemed to be acknowledged by fans in the stadiums who are not slow to dispose of an effigy if they so desire. One of the great multi-format batters of these times, he showed his class, particularly driving dreamily through the off side but, in a callow batting line-up, the feeling persisted that getting him out opened up an end. Grade B+
Imam-ul-Haq: 229 runs at 57.3; three catches
He scored his customary century at Rawalpindi and was much missed when forced out of the third Test through injury. Grade B+
Abdullah Shafique: 213 runs at 35.5; four catches
The bright new hope of Pakistani batting started with a century that portended another prolific series but couldn’t continue his run of big scores after that. He did not fail, but he did not cross 50 after that when his team very much needed him to do so. At 23, Shafique is very much a player to watch. Grade B-
Shan Masood: 54 runs at 27
The incoming captain of Yorkshire was recalled to open in the third Test and got off to two positive starts but failed to go on. Grade B-
Azhar Ali: 112 runs at 28
It was a stop-start series for the old stalwart, who missed the second Test after toughing it out with a hand injury in the first. There were emotional scenes at Karachi as England’s players honoured a great in his valedictory match – one wonders if it got to him a little, out fourth ball for a duck in his last innings. Grade C
Saud Shakeel: 346 runs at 57.7; no wicket for 30 runs; five catches
Azhar’s heir apparent in the upper order, the left-hander’s compact technique has little to go wrong and he placed a high price on his wicket. Shakeel looked for all the world like a man playing in his tenth series and not his first. He has a big series coming up against New Zealand. Grade A-
Mohammad Rizwan: 141 runs at 23.5; one catch
As bouncy a presence as ever behind the stumps, he just could not get going with bat in hand. England were wary of the damage he could cause over a couple of sessions on flat pitches, but those sessions never came. Grade C-
Agha Salman: 184 runs at 36.8; one wicket at 95.0; two catches
The all-rounder provided useful ballast in the middle order, but his bowling was little more than fodder for England’s ravenous batters. As with many selections in this series, one had to wonder whether the talent factory that is Pakistani domestic cricket did not have better options that were ignored in favour of a 29-year-old with just two Tests behind him. Grade C
Mohammad Nawaz: 46 runs at 23.0; one wicket at 88.0; two catches
Another inexperienced all-rounder in his late 20s who looked short of the class required for Test cricket, particularly with ball in hand on unforgiving pitches. Grade C-
Faheem Ashraf: 37 runs at 9.25; no wicket for 43 runs
Another curious selection whose medium pace did not enjoy his captain’s confidence, so he ended up playing as a specialist batter with a career average below 30. Grade D
Nauman Ali: 35 runs at 17.5; four wickets at 41
He was drafted in for the third Test to provide a bit of control and, relatively speaking, he did so, allowing Abrar to weave his spells at the other end without the scoreboard advancing eight runs between his overs. Grade B-
Mohammad Wasim: 10 runs at 10.0; one wicket at 111
His figures on debut do not do him justice as he found more reverse swing than any other bowler at a lively pace. Surely he will play in the upcoming Tests, because Pakistan’s bowling should never be bereft of the ball that tails in to the batter’s toes. Grade B-
Naseem Shah: 21 runs at 10.50; five wickets at 41.2; two catches
The teenage tearaway only knows one way to bowl and he paid the price for his flat-out approach, missing the last two Tests with injury. To his credit, Shah stood up to a mauling at Rawalpindi and never shirked his responsibility to bowl fast. He batted with great courage too. Grade B
Zahid Mahmood: 18 runs at 4.5; 12 wickets at 36.2
It boggled the mind why the Pakistan selectors could have chosen a 34-year-old leg spinner for his debut in the first Test. England treated pie after pie with the contempt they deserved. We saw a different bowler at Multan where, perhaps a little more relaxed after his monstering in Rawalpindi, he turned the ball and dismissed batters as a result. His figures flatter him a little (except his economy rate of almost seven) – a comparison with Abrar would be a better indicator of his performance. Grade C-
Haris Rauf: 12 runs at 6.0; one wicket at 78
The big quick was injured in the first innings of the series, his point of difference missed in an attack that became too samey without either of its 140kmh men. Grade C
Mohammad Ali: 0 runs at 0; four wickets at 65.3; one catch
Another debutant handed a cap late in his career, he looked more like a Lancashire League pro who would take 7-35 on a green top at Haslingden than an heir to Wasim and Waqar. England’s batting line-up did not need a second invitation and tucked in. Grade D-
Abrar Ahmed: 29 runs at 14.5; 17 wickets at 27.2
Many Pakistan supporters were bemused by Ahmed’s omission from the first Test and it didn’t take long to see why, his mix of off breaks and leg breaks flicked from the front of his hand dismissing the first seven batters as England navigated their way to 281 all out in Multan. He found it a little harder to get through English defences after that but remained the biggest threat. Whether he crashes and burns like Narendra Hirwani or finds a home in franchise cricket like Sunil Narine – on whom he appears to have modelled his batting – remains to be seen, but I won’t be alone in hoping he stays in Test cricket to delight us for years to come. Grade A
This article is from The 99.94 Cricket Blog
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