Risible Yet Historic Collapses; Ratings 20th August
Russell Degnan

3rd TestEnglandvAustralia
Pre-rating1088.01228.7
Form+5.4-9.8
Expected MarginAustralia by 20 runs
Actual MarginEngland by an innings and 78 runs
Post-rating1107.01204.3

Let`s not talk about the first innings. It has been done. Some days, everything finds the edge, and the hands of slips. It helps, no doubt, if you push at balls away from the body, searching for the ball, and only finding the edge. It also helps to be incapable of learning, match after match, series after series, for going on eight years.

But the second innings summed up the series. Australia began relatively well - albeit luckily - with fifties from the openers, and then collapsed, to an older ball on a more placid pitch (albeit still only the second day). To the same shots that caused their first innings demise. Voges dragged heir sorry carcass into the third day, but it was the sort of spineless prodding that stopped them escaping with a draw in Cardiff, and prevented them getting to a competitive total at Edgbaston.

England did as they`ve done for much of the series: hoped that Root got going, and supported him with the lower-middle order. They bowled full and outside off, moved the ball around, and waited. The bowling in this series, from both sides, has been largely good, sometimes brilliant. Australia could have done better: they remain too loose, and too short. But then, if the batsmen fail inside twenty overs, there isn`t a chance of winning regardless.

The post-mortem for this series could be brutal. Not outside the team, though cricket breached the national consciousness with this performance, which takes some doing. The reality is that there are just three players that could be guaranteed to play every match: Warner, Smith and Lyon. The quicks could, but can`t, and won`t. The rest are either retiring, being retired, or old enough to be moved on. Marsh (Mitch) might survive, but needs to perform, Marsh (Shaun) and Voges might stick around for the illusion of stability. But the retirement of Clarke points to a brutal reality for Clarke`s generation: outside him, his contemporaries never performed adequately, and that, more than anything, is why Clarke will end his career a five times Ashes loser.

1st TestSri LankavIndia
Pre-rating1011.21089.7
Form-28.4-11.8
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 11 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 63 runs
Post-rating1013.81083.9

Having written in the preview that India ought to have the batting to win, it ought to be noted that the collapse on day four proved that completely incorrect. In Kohli and to an extent, Rahane, India do have some quality batting. But in their muddled opening combination, the absence or lack of form of Pujara, and the five bowler strategy they have some serious weaknesses. Ashwin can, certainly, play at seven, but runs are needed at eight through eleven too, unless the bowlers are particularly good (in which case, why would you need five of them?).

Herath (7/48) remains a machine, well supported by Kaushal (5/134 and 3/47) but it was a poor effort from India who played into Sri Lanka`s hands having done all the work in the first two days. Done in by a combination of Chandimal`s counter-attack and a nervous tentative approach to a small chase that they didn`t get close to. Their lack of batting depth ought to be easily corrected, but their tendency to subside when in trouble is a problem. One that has afflicted them through English and Australia tours, and wasn`t, apparently, only due to Dhoni`s relaxed demeanour. This is still a close series, and a rather interesting one for both sides.


Rankings at 20th August 2015
1.South Africa1267.9
2.Australia1204.3
3.Pakistan1115.2
4.England1107.0
5.India1083.9
6.Sri Lanka1013.8
7.New Zealand1000.5
8.West Indies867.0
9.Bangladesh613.3
12.Zimbabwe559.8

10.Ireland611.1
11.Afghanistan586.2
13.Scotland418.9
14.Namibia369.1
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.248.5
17.Papua New Guinea219.4
18.Netherlands164.7
19.Hong Kong150.1
20.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 21st August, 2015 00:41:27   [#] [0 comments] 

A Bloody Slog, Ratings 6th August
Russell Degnan

3rd TestEnglandvAustralia
Pre-rating1075.11244.8
Form-27.1+30.0
Expected MarginAustralia by 35 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 8 wickets
Post-rating1088.01228.7

The first day of a test match is normally Napoleanic: a series of calculating tactical manouvers and skirmishes, designed to probe for weakness without over-committing. Edgbaston was the Somme, a senseless bloodbath of batsmen endlessly rising from the trenches, occasionally landing some blows, but ultimately perishing. Rogers, the grizzled veteran of past encounters kept his head down and the score something like respectable; the rest of the top-order failed, and the juniors, Voges and Nevill, merely stood shell-shocked, leaving balls they ought to have played. Bell and Root scored decisive 50s but they ought not have got out how they did, and perhaps, on another day, the totals would have been reversed. Such was the manic nature of the test.

The problems identified after the first test, hidden by a Smith double ton and some poor English batting at Lord`s, remain. The bowling is too erratic, the batting not very good, and the English tail scoring decisive runs.

You can add the return of Steven Finn, who bowled much as he did before the English management destroyed his confidence: a penetrating but erratic line, capable of taking wickets, but also leaking runs. The absence of Anderson takes out the one bowler (except perhaps Lyon, who quietly had an excellent test) who doesn`t go for runs on either side. Amongst all the 2005 tributes, it rarely gets mentioned that Australia`s one true advantage of England, was squandered by the inability of the other bowlers to stem the runs at the other end. They don`t have that advantage now, and (much as in 2009) the matches are swinging wildly around who holds off a collapse the longest. A change in personnel might arrest that - Siddle for instance, or Compton - but England have won the battles to date, and Australia will feel they can`t win through defence, so expect it to continue.

2nd TestBangladeshvSouth Africa
Pre-rating604.11279.2
Form+14.2-21.3
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 295 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating613.31267.9

8/246 is a rather intriguing position for a match to be after day one. Four washed out days in a row is rather less so. South Africa suffer a somewhat unfair penalty for two drawn matches against weak opposition, but remain the clear number one side.

3 TestsSri LankavIndia
Pre-rating1011.21089.7
Form-28.4-11.8
Expected MarginIndia by 11 runs

Sri Lanka hae been in something of a free fall of late, and the post-Sangakkara era is unlikely to remedy that problem. The ratings call this as ridiculously close, but India are a better side in somewhat familiar conditions, and ought to have the batting to put these matches away. The oft-weak Indian attack and the inconsistent Sri Lankan batting will be the most intriguing match-up in this series. But the chance to watch Kohli take on Herath ought to be the reason to watch. A good performance could push India back up to third in the world - Sri Lanka will be happy if they can hold on to sixth ahead of New Zealand.

Rankings at 6th August 2015
1.South Africa1267.9
2.Australia1228.7
3.Pakistan1115.2
4.India1089.7
5.England1088.0
6.Sri Lanka1011.2
7.New Zealand1000.5
8.West Indies867.0
9.Bangladesh613.3
12.Zimbabwe559.8

10.Ireland611.1
11.Afghanistan586.2
13.Scotland418.9
14.Namibia369.1
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.248.5
17.Papua New Guinea219.4
18.Netherlands164.7
19.Hong Kong150.1
20.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 6th August, 2015 18:01:03   [#] [0 comments] 

It doesn`t rain but it pours; Ratings 29th July
Russell Degnan

2nd TestEnglandvAustralia
Pre-rating1093.61221.3
Form+13.0-22.7
Expected MarginAustralia by 14 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 405 runs
Post-rating1075.11244.8

Being at the World T20 Qualifiers, I saw only a few highlights, but heard many a description of Australia`s dominance. As we`ve seen repeatedly over the past two years, they are a very very good side if they get runs on the board, and if their bowlers take early wickets. The weaknesses if they don`t, particularly if Smith fails (and he can`t score runs every innings), remain. Nevill looked good, but it was an easy moment to bat. Rogers has scored heavily, but may be suffering the after-effects of illness. It seems churlish to downplay such a dominant victory, but the series remains tied, and Australia remain a side that has lost as well as won by big margins in recent series.

England, following Australia`s lead in the first test, have dropped Ballance in favour of the in-form Bairstow. Form though, is at best, a limited effect. Bell will definitely be one hoping so, as he hasn`t scored runs in some time. The shift up the order could be disastrous for England if they continue to expose Root and those below him to the new ball. Cook has played well, given his own problems, but batting all the way down is only a partial substitute for runs at the top.

1st TestBangladeshvSouth Africa
Pre-rating597.51288.3
Form+4.4-12.2
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 295 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating604.11279.2

What was shaping up as an interesting contest, with Mustafizur Rahman taking 4/37 on debut, to keep South Africa to 248, and the home side responding with 326. But with both day 4 and 5 rained off, there was no chance of a result, and Bangladesh`s best opportunity of a win against one of the top half dozen in some time went begging. It seems unlikely the home side is pleased with either washed out draws or the income losses associated with them. Yet, matches for Bangladesh are the last scheduled, and the most likely to suffer from this kind of waste. Hopefully the second test will be luckier, but it seems unlikely Bangladesh will make as good a start.

Rankings at 29th July 2015
1.South Africa1279.2
2.Australia1244.8
3.Pakistan1115.2
4.India1089.7
5.England1075.1
6.Sri Lanka1011.2
7.New Zealand1000.5
8.West Indies867.0
10.Bangladesh604.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland611.1
11.Afghanistan586.2
13.Scotland418.9
14.Namibia369.1
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.248.5
17.Papua New Guinea219.4
18.Netherlands164.7
19.Hong Kong150.1
20.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 29th July, 2015 09:33:16   [#] [0 comments] 

Day 14: World T20 Qualifiers A+A Podcast
Russell Degnan

Semi-Finals
Hong Kong 116 lost to Scotland 117/5
Ireland 128 lost to Netherlands 129/5

Fifth place playoff
Oman 127/9 lost to Afghanistan 130/5

Hosts:
Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79)
Russell Degnan (@idlesummers)

Direct Download Running Time 6min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 26th July, 2015 06:03:35   [#] [0 comments] 

Day 13: World T20 Qualifiers A+A Podcast
Russell Degnan

PNG 127/6 lost to Afghanistan 128/4
Namibia 148/9 lost to Oman 150/5

Hosts:
Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79)
Russell Degnan (@idlesummers)

Direct Download Running Time 15min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 24th July, 2015 16:51:05   [#] [0 comments] 

Day 12: World T20 Qualifiers A+A Podcast
Russell Degnan

Afghanistan 161/7 lost to Hong Kong 162/5
Namibia 135/6 lost to Netherlands 137/6

Guest Interview: Mark Chapman

Hosts:
Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79)
Russell Degnan (@idlesummers)

Direct Download Running Time 15min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 22nd July, 2015 07:04:34   [#] [0 comments] 

Day 11: World T20 Qualifiers A+A Podcast
Russell Degnan

Jersey 122 lost to Ireland 123/3
USA 142/6 defeated PNG 129/9
Hong Kong 197/8 defeated Namibia 114

Hosts:
Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79)
Peter Della Penna (@peterdellapenna)

Direct Download Running Time 15min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 20th July, 2015 17:51:47   [#] [0 comments] 

Day 10: World T20 Qualifiers A+A Podcast
Russell Degnan

Nepal 105/8 lost to Jersey 107/3
Scotland 173/5 defeated Oman 150/7
Afghanstan vs Canada abandoned
Namibia 181/5 defeated PNG 132
Hong Kong 125/9 lost to USA 128/3
Kenya 97 lost to Netherlands 98/6

Hosts:
Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79)
Tim Wigmore (@timwig)

Direct Download Running Time 15min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 19th July, 2015 18:00:31   [#] [0 comments]