The dust has settled on England's four-Test series with South Africa, the Proteas comfortably beaten 3-1, with heavy defeats at Lord’s, The Oval and Old Trafford – with a thumping win over the hosts at Trent Bridge wedged in the middle.
In many ways it was a slightly curious series, with no close games and neither side able to mount any sort of fightback as soon as the other found themselves on top. It was ultimately a series played in conditions that were often bowler-friendly – something demonstrated by a return of just three centuries from both sides combined.
England and South Africa both used 14 players during the course of the series, here is how they rated.
Alastair Cook – 7/10 (Matches: 4, Innings: 8, Runs: 268, High Score: 88, Average: 33.50, 50s: 2, 100s: 0)
A solid enough start for the former captain in his new role back in the ranks, he made a couple of battling half centuries in testing conditions in both London Tests, although will be a little disappointed not to have converted either into hundreds. Caught well at slip as well.
Keaton Jennings – 3/10 (M: 4 , I: 8 , R: 127, HS: 48 , Av: 15.87, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
Never looked in good touch in the series and while he battled hard at times, a series average of 15.87 tells its own story and it seems England’s search for an opener will continue.
Gary Ballance – 4/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 85, HS: 34, Av: 21.25, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
Couldn’t convert his County Championship form to the Test side in the two games he played, before injury ruled him out of the remainder of the series, at least sparing the selectors the decision of whether to axe him again. Might have benefitted from a move to number five in the order.
Joe Root – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 461, HS: 190, Av: 57.62, 50s: 3, 100s: 1)
A fairly promising start for England’s new skipper who finished as the series’ leading run scorer scoring a brilliant hundred at Lord’s and a half century in all of the remaining Tests. Looked to have learned from the humiliating defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge and seemed a proactive leader.
Jonny Bairstow – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 330, HS: 99, Av: 41.25, 50s: 3, 100s: 0)
Has become such an important player for England, his wicketkeeping is now excellent and he is extremely dangerous down the order with the bat. He was very unlucky not to get a hundred at Old Trafford and finished the second highest run scorer in the series.
Ben Stokes – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 299, HS: 112, Av: 37.37, 50s: 2, 100s: 1, Wickets: 7, Best Innings Bowling: 2/34, Bowling Average: 43.00)
Stokes continues to impress and showed a pleasing maturity and awareness in making an excellent century at The Oval which set England on their way to victory. England are fortunate to have him in the side.
Moeen Ali – 9/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 252, HS: 87, Av: 36.00, 50s: 2, 100s: 0, W: 25, BBI: 6/53, Av: 15.64)
Man of the series – Moeen – shone with both bat and ball, finishing as leading wicket-taker in the series and becoming the first man in history to take 25 wickets and make over 250 runs in a four-Test series. A lethal man to have batting at number eight.
Liam Dawson – 3/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 18, HS: 13, Av: 6, W: 5, BBI: 2/34, Av: 33.80)
A seemingly bizarre selection that Dawson did little to justify in the two Tests he played.
Stuart Broad – 7/10 (M: 4, I: 7, R: 77, HS: 57*, Av: 12.83, 50s: 1, 100s: 0, W: 11, BBI: 3/46, Av: 32.00)
Didn’t produce a signature eye-catching spell that he has become known for, but instead bowled with improved consistency throughout the series. Didn’t perhaps get the wickets he deserved.
Mark Wood – 3/10 (M: 2, I: 4, W: 1, BBI: 1/3, Av: 197.00)
Injury concerns reared their head again and a return of only one wicket from the two Tests Wood played was disappointing. His new injury also seemed to impact his main selling point, express pace.
James Anderson – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, W: 20, BBI: 5/72, Av: 14.10)
Had an end of the ground named in his honour at Old Trafford and enjoyed a decent series on the field as well, despite being used sparingly at times. Finished with 20 wickets at an average of 14.10.
Tom Westley – 5/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 122, HS: 59, Av: 30.50, 50s: 1, 100s: 0)
Looked decent at times but didn’t completely nail his place in the side down. England though will surely persevere with him.
Dawid Malan – 2/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 35, HS: 18, Av: 8.75, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
Another rather curious selection with Malan benefitting ultimately from injury to Ballance, but he did little to suggest he was the right call.
Toby Roland-Jones – 7/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 63, HS: 25, Av: 21.00, W: 10, BBI: 5/57, Av: 22.20)
Enjoyed a headline-grabbing start to his Test career with a five-wicket haul on debut at The Oval and looked an excellent addition to the fold. Will find his place under pressure from Chris Woakes when he returns from injury.
Dean Elgar – 7/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 291, HS: 136, Av: 36.37, 50s: 2, 100s: 1)
Made South Africa’s only century of the series as well as two fifties, and battled hard in difficult conditions for openers.
Heino Kuhn – 2/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 113, HS: 34, Av: 14.12, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
A top score of 34 and an average of 14.12 tells the story of the series for Kuhn who had a fairly miserable time.
Hashim Amla – 6/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 329, HS: 87, Av: 41.12, 50s: 3, 100s: 0)
Suffers perhaps as a result of what we have come to expect from him, but rarely looked completely comfortable at the crease during the series. However he still finished as South Africa’s leading run scorer.
JP Duminy – 2/10 (M: 1, I: 2, R: 17, HS: 15, Av: 8.50, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
Horribly out of form coming into this series, and was dropped after just one Test and eventually released from the touring party.
Temba Bavuma – 7/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 257, HS: 59, Av: 32.12, 50s: 0, 100s: 0)
One of few South African batsmen who looked willing to grit it out in difficult conditions and looks set to be an important player for the Proteas. Failed to convert any of his starts into big scores though.
Theunis De Bruyn – 3/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 60, HS: 48, Av: 15.00, 50s: 0, 100s: 0, W: 0)
Only played a couple of Tests and did little to suggest he might become a mainstay of this side.
Quinton De Kock – 7/10 (M: 4, I: 8, R: 185, HS: 68, Av: 23.12, 50s: 2, 100s: 0)
Fantastic behind the stumps and a very gifted batsman, although threw his wicket away a couple of times and could perhaps work on reining in his natural instincts when the situation calls for it.
Vernon Philander – 7/10 (M: 3, I: 6, R: 177, HS: 54, Av: 44.25, 50s: 2, 100s: 0, W: 10, BBI: 3/24, Av: 23.40)
Must be hugely frustrating for South African fans, lethal when fit but so often missing through injury. England were fortunate Philander couldn’t play more games in the series. He is handy with the bat as well.
Keshav Maharaj – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, W: 17, BBI: 4/85, Av: 30.35)
Bowled with superb control and looked a very useful part of this South African side, allowing them to have only a four man bowling attack.
Kagiso Rabada – 6/10 (M: 3, I: 6, W: 16, BBI: 4/91, Av: 28.43)
A disappointing series for the hugely exciting young fast bowler. Missed one Test through suspension and failed to hit the heights he has set in the past.
Morne Morkel – 8/10 (M: 4, I: 8, W: 19, BBI: 4/41, Av: 26.36)
So unlucky not to finish with more wickets and was a constant threat to England batsmen throughout the series. Morkel was South Africa’s man of the series.
Faf Du Plessis – 5/10 (M: 3, I: 6, R: 171, HS: 63, Av: 28.50, 50s: 2, 100s: 0)
Du Plessis came into the series after one Test and helped inspire their win at Trent Bridge. Unfortunately his batting couldn’t quite match his captaincy and he would have wanted to contribute more runs.
Chris Morris – 6/10 (M: 2, I: 4, R: 75, HS: 36, Av: 18.75, W: 8, BBI: 3/38, Av: 25.75)
One excellent Test followed by a disappointing one and then ruled out of the last through injury. Is undoubtedly a very talented cricketer but needs to work on consistency.
Duanne Olivier – 6/10 (M: 2, I: 4, W: 7, BBI: 3/38, Av: 27.57)
Showed signs of promise in the two Tests he played, particularly at Old Trafford having not really been needed in the rout at Trent Bridge.