Second XI with Peter Miller and Tim Wigmore; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

We begin the new year with previews of some significant tournaments. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to run the rule over each team in WCL2 (0:15) and make predictions we'll come to regret. The Asian T20 Cup is also starting soon, with a smaller tournament, but as important as ever (10:15). There are also matches for the EAP team in the Australian Country Championships (12:45), and a tri-series in the UAE for the world cup qualifiers (except the UAE) (14:00). Russell than interviews the authors of a relative rarity: a book about associate cricket. Peter Miller (@thecricketgeek) and Tim Wigmore (@timwig_cricket) discuss their book Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts, how it came about, what it contains, and the challenges and opportunities in writing professionally about associate cricket. (15:30). There is news from the ICC with particular relevance to the USA, and from Nepal (38:40)

Second XI is released on January 19th. Other authors include Gideon Haigh, Sahil Dutta and Tim Brooks. Pre-orders are available. There will be a launch party at The Fentiman Arms in Oval on February 5 (@7pm to 9:30ish) where the authors will sheepishly sign copies.

Direct Download Running Time 44min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 16th January, 2015 06:36:09   [#] [0 comments] 

Prgamatism is boring, but sensible; Ratings 2nd January
Russell Degnan

3rd TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1239.21088.9
Form-13.9-31.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 125 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1232.01092.7

In retrospect, Australia didn't need so many runs.

But nor did they need to win; nor did they need to give India a sniff; nor would they necessarily have prised out another four wickets with another dozen overs (a couple with the new ball notwithstanding).

They would have won anyway, had they been capable of holding a catch. Statistically a set batsman scores around his average from any point in their innings. Ergo, dropping a catch adds their average to the total; dropping five adds about 200 runs; and that was the difference between winning and drawing.

The difference between drawing and losing is largely in the opposition's hands. India began day five in a position to attack: take three quick wickets, spend all day chasing 300 odd. Marsh, whose 99 was more important than he'll probably get credit, was the only batsman standing between them and a gettable target.

But India were flat. The fielding lacked intensity, the bowling wasn't being scored off, but nor did it look threatening. They left Harris and Marsh to work singles and wait. And Australia's batsmen were happy to do so. It was a disappointing way for a match to dribble out, but as noted in the preview, India are nothing if not patchy, particularly early in the day. Kohli's almost manic intensity will be a welcome change if he can lead his team to apply it constructively.

The exception to this was Rahane, whose fieldng was so vigorous, and his desire to be involved, to talkk to his partner while batting, and to guide his team to a draw impressed in a way that the tv footage can't pick up. He batted almost as long in his second innings 48 as his first innings 147, and if his new captain has come of age on this tour, then his younger counterpart has shown he'll make a valuable lieutenant.


2nd TestSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1300.5862.5
Form+9.7-26.3
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 269 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1293.6869.0

Rain had the final say in this match, and there is not much to write about; only 17 wickets fell just over 200 overs of play. The one important thing was that Brathwaite and Samuels both scored tons for the West Indies, taking them ast the follow-on, and leaving no doubt as to the direction of the match. An upset in the final test could push South Africa off the top of the official test standings, but there seems little chance of that.

1st TestNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating951.01050.1
Form+38.4+16.3
Expected MarginTied Match
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 8 wickets
Post-rating968.01042.1

The lack of depth in Sri Lanka's batting continues to haunt them, especially when Sangakarra fails. Karunaratne's 152 in the second innings threatened to create a threatening target, but with only Mathews pair of 50s in support, they ultimately just didn't have enough runs.

On the other side of the ledger, McCullum continues his incredible year, this time peeling off 195 in 134 balls, while Boult and Southee have established themselves as one of the pre-eminent new-ball pairs with their movement and control. It took a big effort to back up after enforcing the follow-on, but a 300 run first innings lead is a lot to come back from. New Zealand are almost at the 1000 mark for the first time in more than a decade, and with a young team, they'll be fascinating to watch for a few years at least.


Rankings at 2nd January 2015
1.South Africa1293.6
2.Australia1232.0
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1092.7
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1042.1
7.New Zealand968.0
8.West Indies869.0
10.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 2nd January, 2015 20:08:52   [#] [0 comments] 

A few good sessions; Ratings 26th December
Russell Degnan

2nd TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1244.51087.0
Form-13.6-47.3
Expected MarginAustralia by 129 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 4 wickets
Post-rating1239.21088.9

India really only lost three sessions in this match.

In the first session of day 2 they dropped from 4/311 to all out 408. They had a good, not great first day, but were well placed to make either a competitive score, or an inadequate one, and ended up with the latter.

In the first session of day 3 they let Australia move from 4/221 (then 6/247) to 6/351 (and eventually 505) with sloppy bowling that played to Johnson's considerable batting strengths, and not his equally considerable weaknesses.

In the first session of day 4 they collapses from 1/71 to 7/157 to Johnson and Hazlewood and the match was effectively over.

There are a couple of things to take out of that. The first is that Johnson and Hazlewood (indeed most quicks) are vastly more effective early in the day, when they are fresh. Vijay and Pujara very successfully negotiated Johnson on the first day - though he was far from his best. On subsequent days they let Australia get on a roll and noone seemed capable of stopping it.

The second is that Australia are pretty vulnerable, but have match winners, and in home conditions that has been enough in recent times. That each decisive session was at the start of the day points to a laxity of preparation or mindset (off-field events on day four in particular seemingly unsettling). The collapse on day four in Adelaide was similarly damaging, and as in Brisbane, decided the match.

India aren't a million miles from winning matches in this series, notwithstanding that their bowlers have been generally poor. Melbourne will offer a little more, and they could come back to tie this series. But to do so they need to grind their way through important sessions. So far they've shown only an ability to gift Australia key advantages with loose play.

3 TestsSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1289.1870.2
Form-17.7-6.7
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 257 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 220 runs
Post-rating1300.5862.5

In the end, the expected margin was a grossly inadequate prediction. The West Indies had a good first hour and a bit, taking 3/57, and were never sighted thereafter. The loss of Roach hurt, as neither Taylor nor Cottrell could stem the runs or apply pressure, but Amla (208) and de Villiers (152) may have done the same to any attack, such is their skill.

It is unfortunate we'll never get to see them against their own, as Steyn, Philander and Morkel offer different tests of skill and mettle. In this case, the West Indies failed first to prevent Philander's constant probing from finding their outside edge; then in the second, with Steyn's pace and bounce, as they capitulated after following-on. It would be foolhardy to predict anything but a similar (if slightly less emphatic) result in the second test.

2 TestsNew ZealandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating951.01050.1
Form+38.4+16.3
Expected MarginTied Match

I couldn't resist predicting this as a tie, as the ratings so rarely predict them. Technically, New Zealand are very slight favourites. Given their recent form, and impressive comeback in the UAE; as well as the clear home advantage that they carry, and Sri Lanka's dismal touring record, this ought to be a comfortable victory. A team that was talented but young a couple of years ago is now finding their way in test crcket and producing not only performances, but increasingly results. Sri Lanka are a side increasingly capable of surprising. They had a very good 2014, defeating England away, and had both a narrow loss to South Africa and narrow victories over Pakistan at home. They too often depend on Sangakarra and Mathews to score their runs, and Herath to take their wickets, but Eranga and Pradeep showed they could exploit more helpful conditions in England and might do so again. Their biggest issue is likely to be that a 2-day warm-up is insufficient preparation to face a confident home side. Look for New Zealand to continue their ascension.


Rankings at 26th December 2014
1.South Africa1300.5
2.Australia1239.2
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1088.9
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies862.5
10.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 25th December, 2014 12:05:52   [#] [0 comments] 

End of Year Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to look back on some of the major themes of the past 12 months: promotion of associate cricket (14:40); the ascension of associate teams to test status (25:25); some of our highlights and players of the year (35:15); and the state of A+A cricket (46:30). There are a couple of tournament reviews, with the Africa Women's Trophy that serves as the regional qualifier (0:20) won by Zimbabwe, and Africa U/19 Girls won by Uganda (05:35), and a women's tournament in the gulf, won by the UAE (07:35). Afghanistan completed their tour of the UAE (10:00) but lost the series; and Kenya turned in some very poor results against Pakistan A (12:48). There is also governance news from Nepal (50:40), more proposed tournaments of questionable value in Canada and Europe (52:50), and some emerging opportunities for players and umpires in full member nations (59:15).

Direct Download Running Time 64min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 24th December, 2014 22:22:06   [#] [0 comments] 

Attacking cricket is good cricket; Ratings 16th December
Russell Degnan

1st TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1250.41082.6
Form-6.9+74.7
Expected MarginAustralia by 134 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 48 runs
Post-rating1244.51087.0

A thoroughly entertaining test that was closer than the margin might have suggested. There is something poignant about Warner and Smith scoring the bulk of the runs; two occasionally maligned players reaching their batting peak much as Hughes would have. Warner began with the ease of someone who cared for little more than bludgeoning anything he could to all parts. India's obliging first five overs were, in the end, rather crucial to the result. Fortunately for them, and the match, the re-introduction of the bouncer brought Warner, the match, and the contest back onto an even keel.

Notwithstanding the margin - and without Kohli's mistimed shot, or Saha's nonsensical heave India might have, even ought to have won - India also took just 12 wickets in the match. Australia look a batsman short - two with Clarke now injured - but they still coasted along for long periods, and Adelaide was India's most likely venue to score heavily.

Kohli was immense, Vijay very good, and the others either unlucky or poor. The tail is long, and it is hard to see how Karn Sharma brings more with the ball than is lost from Ashwin's batting. The Australian pace attack will be stronger in Brisbane, though this was Lyon's match, who was rewarded for his persistence and variety. Off-spin bowlers in Australia have a hard life. Lyon will shortly become Australia's highest ever wicket-taker of that variety; ponder that a while. He is still new to the game, still struggling on slow, low pitches, but a very good bowler. This was due reward.

3 TestsSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1289.1870.2
Form-17.7-6.7
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 257 runs

257 runs. That's not the margin of a game that swings one way or another, that's a flogging, by an innings and some, especially when you remember it accounts for the odd unavoidable draw. The West Indies are still producing committee reports at home, while the touring side goes into a contest with the world's best absent a decent consistent pace bowler, a batsman of class, not just talent, on the right side of 40, or a spinner not banned by the ICC.

South Africa probably won't win by 257 runs, because they are rebuilding part of their batting order, and adjusting the bowling to the loss of Kallis. But a few good sessions from any of Steyn, Philander and Morkel will settle this. The gulf in talent is decent, the gulf in quality is much bigger.


Rankings at 16th December 2014
1.South Africa1289.1
2.Australia1244.5
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1087.0
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies870.2
10.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 17th December, 2014 00:11:07   [#] [2 comments] 

The prelude to summer; Ratings 9th December
Russell Degnan

A long month, with another to follow. So back to series summaries for a period.

2 TestsPakistanvAustralia
Pre-rating1078.21273.7
Form-21.9+61.0
Expected MarginAustralia by 98 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 221 runs
Pakistan by 356 runs
Post-rating1109.61250.4
Series rating1465.1888.1

A series that was largely won in the first session. Pakistan went to lunch at 2/50 off 29 overs, but Azhar Ali and Younis Khan halted what had briefly looked like a Johnson-led collapse that would have gifted Australia the best use of conditions and a leg-up. The pace bowlers tired though, Pakistan took full toll, and only Warner's 133, Mitch Marsh's 87 and Steve Smith;s 97 offered the slightest resistance from then on. Younis Khan was immense, and Azhar Ali and Misbah profitted in his shadow.

The bowling was decent from Pakistan but Australia were poor, showing neither improvement with the bat nor greater clarity of selection, from the disastrous tour of India that preceded the Ashes, and indicative of a team that, even more than normal, is a home-track bully.


3 TestsBangladeshvZimbabwe
Pre-rating587.3570.7
Form-20.2+27.2
Expected MarginBangladesh by 58 runs
Actual MarginBangladesh by 3 wickets
Bangladesh by 162 runs
Bangladesh by 186 runs
Post-rating594.6559.8
Series rating717.2439.8

The first test of this series will go down as a forgotten classic - forgotten already because noone much noticed when it was being played. Zimbabwe's 240 ought to have been higher when so many batsmen got starts, but Shakib tok 6/59, and Panyangara's 5/59 could not prevent a lead of 14 runs to he home side. Taijul Islam's 8/39 set a target of merely 101, made slightly harder by starting at 3/0, and eventually achieved with 3 wickets in hand.

The other tests were also close. But Zimbabwe never quite looked like winning. In the second, Shakib combined 137 with 10/124 for the match, taking the key wicket of Masakadza (158 and 61) in both innings. At tea on day 5 Zimbabwe were 5/117 and a draw looked possible. 11.1 overs later they were all out. The third was a virtual replay, right up to the dramatic collapse on day 5, losing 5/34. A three-nil result was perhaps an unfair reflection of the tightness of the two sides. On the other hand, a Bangladesh side that can take advantage of superior positions is an interesting prospect.


3 TestsPakistanvNew Zealand
Pre-rating1109.6937.8
Form+38.8+16.3
Expected MarginPakistan by 86 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 248 runs
Match Drawn
New Zealad by
Post-rating1106.1951.0
Series rating966.41087.7

Pakistan started this series as they left the previous, losing only 5 wickets in one of the more comprehensive victories you'll ever see. It was somewhat unexpected then, to see such a close second test, with Pakistan 65 runs from victory and 5 wickets from defeat when stumps were drawn. Latham and Taylor scored tons, matched by Sarfraz Ahmed, while Zulfiqar Babar took 8/233 in 72 overs.

It isn't clear what difference the improvement in the second test meant for the third though. The death of Phillip Hughes in Australia, interrupted Pakistan at 3/281 after day one, and the match turned in ways that seemed largely not to matter. Hafeez was stopped at 197, as Craig took 7/94 in the morning. McCullum (202) and Williamson (192) played the sort of innings that is only possible when you don't care if you are dismissed, and only Asad Shafiq slowed New Zealand on their way to victory. In many ways it was an exhibition match, completed to fulfill commitments, and because cricket was as good a way to mark events as any.

4 TestsAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1250.41082.6
Form-6.9+74.7
Expected MarginAustralia by 134 runs

As with the test between Pakistan and New Zealand, the team more mentally attuned will have a significant advantage. Don't assume that will be India though, who have posted their own tributes to Hughes, had their preparation disrupted, and are missing their captain. Australia could be focused, could be distraght and distracted; might be aggressive (though the sledging is likely to be toned down), or could go through the motions. My gut says they'll be the former, mixing bouncers with hook shots and playing hard.

India, whose recent touring record in Australia is poor, and looked hapless towards the end of the English tour, would have looked at Adelaide as their best chance of a win (after, perhaps, Sydney). If they bat well, and preferably second they will have a strong chance of a draw, and perhaps more. But it would be a shock if Australia didn't win.


Rankings at 9th December 2014
1.South Africa1289.1
2.Australia1250.4
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.England1084.7
5.India1082.6
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies870.2
11.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
10.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.Canada147.9

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 9th December, 2014 00:24:58   [#] [0 comments] 

EAP Trophy, Americas Division 2 T20; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

A silent moment to mark the sad passing of Phillip Hughes and Hillel Awaskar, but cricket moves on. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to review Americas division 2 (3:58) which saw Suriname assert themselves as the best team in South America. Papua New Guinea's win in the EAP Trophy is then discussed, along with Fiji's victories to take them back to the WCL. (10:40). Afghanistan dominated the ACC U/19 tournament in Kuwait, but the UAE has improved (19:20). And there have been various matches involving the leading associates, with some good and bad results (21:30). There is news from the ICC: the 10-team world cup has been confirmed, the ICC awards were announced, and there is some disturbing news about the umpiring panel (39:32). And there is news from Afghanistan, and Kenya as we lead up to WCL2 (48:03).

Direct Download Running Time 54min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 5th December, 2014 10:34:40   [#] [0 comments] 

World Cricket League Division 3; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

With the completion of World Cricket League division 3, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to give a complete wrap of Nepal's victory, and the fall-out from the relegated Americas sides. There is also a review of the PNG v Hong Kong ODIs, ACC U-16 Elite, UAE vs Pakistan and Afghanistan v Pakistan U-19 matches. There is news from Nigeria, Nepal, Guernsey, France and our other old friends. And previews of the East-Asia Pacific T20 qualifiers and some junior events.

Direct Download Running Time 52min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 14th November, 2014 21:29:10   [#] [3 comments]