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England's best in Ashes: Ian Bell leads the way

August 26, 2013 08:56 IST

England's best in Ashes: Ian Bell leads the way

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The Ashes this year was more about individual brilliance than a team effort.

While both the teams struggled to assert themselves on the other, it was left to the few individuals to rise to the occasion and deliver the goods.

England had more of such ‘impact’ players, despite the fact that their captain (Alastair Cook) and the dependable Jonathan Trott underperformed, and that explains why they retained the urn for a third straight time, winning the five-match series 3-0, despite being way below their best. Here’s a look at the top performers for England in the series.

Ian Bell        

The English batting was undoubtedly a major disappointment. Not once did the home team score in excess of 400 in the five Tests. Besides, it took them till the fifth match to stitch together three 50-plus partnerships in succession – for the opening three wickets at The Oval.

Amid this struggle though there was one man who stood tall. Ian Bell had been one of the top scorers – with 329 runs in six innings (@65.80) – when England registered that memorable triumph Down Under in 2010-11.

In this series the 31-year-old surpassed all expectations, probably even his own, as he amassed a whopping 562 runs in nine innings (@62.44) to emerge as the best batsman from the home side.

Bell was consistent personified as he notched up three centuries – 109 each at TrentBridge and Lord’s and 113 at Chester-le-Street – and two fifties.

He was expectedly named England’s man-of-the-series. 


Image: Ian Bell
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Swann accounted for a whopping 26 dismissals

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Graeme Swann

The most consistent bowler in the series, Graeme Swann was among the wickets in every match.

Be it his match-winning nine-wicket haul (5-44 and 4-78) in the second Test at Lord’s or his fiver in the third Test at Old Trafford, the offie always had Australia on the tenterhooks.

Having contributed 15 wickets in England’s win Down Under in 2010-11, Swann picked up 11 more on this occasion, to finish as the highest wicket-taker in the series, yet again playing a crucial part in his team’s cause. 


Image: Graeme Swann
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Anderson's 22 wickets put him behind Botham

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James Anderson

If Graeme Swann was the highest wicket-taker, it was James Anderson who started it all for England.

His 10-wicket haul in the opener at TrentBridge not only helped England eke out a narrow win but also set the course for the rest of the series.

When England won 3-1 Down Under Anderson had contributed with 24 wickets. He snared 22 to help them retain the urn.

More importantly, during the course of the series the 30-year-old surpassed both Fred Trueman (307) and Bob Willis (325) to become England’s second highest wicket-taker in Tests.

Ian Botham (383) still leads, but on current form, few will bet against Anderson surpassing the legend in the near future. 


Image: James Anderson
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Broad picked up 22 wickets as well

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Stuart Broad

He was one of England’s three highest wicket-takers in the series with 22 scalps.

Though Stuart Broad was consistent throughout, it was his performance in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street that stood out. The 27-year-old almost single-handedly won England the match with an 11-wicket haul (six for 50 and five for 71).

During the course of the series Broad also became only the 15th English bowler to have 200 Test wickets to his credit.

Besides, he did his bit with the bat as well, the vital 65 in the opening Test at Trent Bridge being his most notable contribution. 


Image: Stuart Broad
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Pietersen did his bit, so did young Root

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Kevin Pietersen/Joe Root

No English win in recent times is complete without a contribution from the flamboyant Kevin Pietersen.

Not quite consistent, the 33-year-old nonetheless amassed 388 runs, including a brilliant 113 at Old Trafford, a knock that helped England avoid follow-on.  Not to forget his belligerent 62 in the fourth innings at The Oval, at 36 balls the fastest fifty by an Englishman in the Ashes, that almost ensured an improbable win.

More importantly, during the course of the series Pietersen surpassed Graham Gooch as England’s highest run scorer across all formats.

As regards, Joe Root it is his 180 in the second Test at Lord’s that earns him a mention. It’s a knock that played a key part in ensuring the annihilation of the visitors in what was the lone lopsided contest in the series.

The young batsman is a good talent no doubt, but needs to be more consistent. 


Image: Joe Root (left) and Kevin Pietersen
Photographs: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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