England got the 33 runs they needed on Monday morning to seal a 2-1 series win over South Africa with a nine-wicket win in the deciding match at The Oval.
He ended a successful summer of Test cricket, with strong performances against New Zealand, India and South Africa, to put England in good stead ahead of next year’s Ashes series .
Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson, 40, have been two of England’s shining lights in recent months, proving their worth as hitters and bowlers respectively.
However, Alex Lees had a mixed bag as he tried to get to grips with the setup, and the choice to constantly select Zak Crawley despite his inconsistency felt like a “cruel experience”. Here, LAWRENCE BOOTH breaks down the best and worst of the England squad this summer…
Stuart Broad, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes and Ollie Robinson celebrate as England win the series
Broad (right) and James Anderson, 40, who has shown age is no barrier to his bowling
9 James Anderson
A wonder of nature. Turned 40 in July, but still looks so supple and smooth. His 27 wickets came to just 17 apiece, and he kept England in the hunt for Edgbaston with a first innings five against India. He also went just 2.58 years above – England’s baddest bowler. There’s no reason to think he won’t take the new ball against Australia next summer.
9 Jonny Bairstow
The biggest beneficiary of England’s great rampage. In five innings against New Zealand and India, Bairstow batted 589 runs from 578 balls, including four hundred, 75 fours and 13 sixes. It was one of the greatest periods of sustained aggression in the history of the English test. It was devastating when he broke his leg playing golf.
Jonny Bairstow’s aggressive striking has helped him consistently score high this summer
9 Joe Root
Adapted beautifully to his new life in the ranks. Even after losing to South Africa, he still averaged 68 for the summer and was immense in three of the big fourth-inning chases: 115 at Lord’s and 86 at Headingley, both against Nova Scotia. Zealand, and 142 against India – all unbeaten.
One of the two architects, along with Brendon McCullum, of the Test England renaissance, Stokes was a mountain man. Averaged 40 with the bat, 25 with the ball, and constantly urged his team to go harder. Paradoxically, his best run – a century against South Africa at Old Trafford – was full of common sense. Fears remain about his left knee, however.
8.5 Ollie Robinson
Robinson’s new look – who handed the new ball past Broad – is a sight to behold, and his first five innings at The Oval were a masterpiece of English fast-medium swing and tailoring. If he stays fit, anything is possible, although his endurance will be tested more thoroughly in Pakistan.
Ollie Robinson’s new look has helped him succeed, though Pakistan will test his stamina
8 Stuart Broad
Lost new ball to Robinson, but still finished as England’s top wicket-taker, with 29. His greatest strength was his reliability: in seven out of 11 innings he took at least three wickets. He never got the chance to be “nighthawk”, but his stick was still fun. Can he handle another Ashes?
Helped get the England ball rolling by linking Root with the win over New Zealand at Lord’s, then had a classy century against South Africa in Manchester. He didn’t catch absolutely everything behind the stumps, but he generally made the difficult look easy. Nailed for Pakistan.
7.5 Ollie Pope
Never beaten at No 3, Pope repaid McCullum’s faith, starting with a sublime 145 against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. Perhaps more significant were the shots of 73 and 67 in seam-friendly conditions against South Africa at Lord’s and The Oval. Has the ability to be a banker for years to come.
7.5 Matt Potts
He instantly became part of England’s fast bowling pecking order with first figures of four for 13 against New Zealand at Lord’s. Retired Kane Williamson three times, then Virat Kohli at Edgbaston. Passed out slightly, before losing his spot to Robinson, but he’ll be back.
Matt Potts will see his time return, after losing his place despite a strong start
Managed just two expensive New Zealand wickets on his debut but helped save England with the bat, scoring 97 in a decisive game with Bairstow. Pacier than his twin, Craig, but could fall out once the England Rapids return from injury.
6.5 Jack Leaching
His summer revolved around a Test, against New Zealand at Headingley, where he won 10 of his 16 wickets, responding superbly to Stokes’ show of faith. He will, however, need help in Pakistan – perhaps from Moeen Ali or Dom Bess.
6 Billings Sam
Came to Headingley when Foakes caught Covid and kept his place against India, where he put up a useful 92 with Bairstow. With Bairstow injured and Jos Buttler outside the test crease, Billings could sneak on the plane to Pakistan.
6 Harry Brook
Brilliant too briefly in his only innings, against South Africa at The Oval, but showed the enthusiasm England now demand from their middle order. The future looks bright.
Harry Brook’s only series was at The Oval, but he has a bright future in England’s middle order
6 Matt Parkinson
Won 15 usable overs on his debut after replacing Leach with a concussion against New Zealand at Lord’s but England remain unconvinced he can thrive at the top level. It will say a lot if they don’t choose it this winter.
5 Alex Lees
Adding a few hits to the repertoire after a lackluster first streak in the Caribbean, and kicking off the India chase with a quick half-century. There have been plenty of failures too, but England are reluctant to continue the top-notch ride, so Lees is likely to go to Pakistan.
4 Zak Crawley
At times, his selection felt like a cruel experiment: in seven of his 13 innings, he failed to hit double figures. England, however, expected little else, bizarrely insisting that Crawley had not been selected for his consistency. His unbeaten 69 to clinch the series gave them a small return on their investment, which will continue in Pakistan.
Zak Crawley finished 69 undefeated, but it came at the end of a long and cruel summer
ENGLAND SUMMER TESTING RATINGS: Jonny Bairstow and Jimmy Anderson showed why they are among the best