## England out-gunned, Pakistan out-prepared; ratings 14th September Russell Degnan

2nd TestIndiavEngland
Pre-rating1220.61134.0
Form+12.6-8.3
Expected MarginIndia by 93 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 246 runs
Post-rating1235.71123.4

There are clear benefits to winning the toss on a pitch that will only deteriorate, but it isn't necessarily easy to force a victory. A team needs to score quickly enough to either declare or bowl the opposition out for less. Failure to capitalise in the first innings, or a collapse in the third can negate the fourth innings advantage with a routine chase. As a team India didn't play this game particularly well. Kohli scored 167 and 81, Pujara 119, and there wasn't many other batting contributions. Anderson and Broad bowled well, Rashid took wickets against the tail. But the match was won ultimately at the end of the second day when England collapsed to a run out, a poor shot, and any chance of parity was gone.

England once again batted more overs than India, which says more about their bowling than their batting. The second innings was proper trench warfare that still took in 97.3 overs, including 38 on the final day when they lost 8/71. They made India work for their win, and that bodes well for any possible come back in the series. That disparity in scoring rate makes a huge difference to their respective abilities to win matches however, with England much more likely to draw than win.

The only significant issue for England is Duckett, whose clearly lacking some combination of form and technique. The rest of the middle order have had their moments in this series, and ultimately the issue is probably not the selection but the quality of the Indian spin bowling over England's and the batting of Kohli, Pujara and Rahane. On the one hand that is an easily and often over-turned margin. On the other, they need a player to score big, or a collapse to do so. Right now, the odds are definitely favouring India for both those events.

1st TestNew ZealandvPakistan
Pre-rating1009.21139.1
Form-18.7-10.1
Expected MarginPakistan by 15 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 8 wickets
Post-rating1017.31128.0

The scorecard probably understates the closeness of this match, and the difficulties New Zealand overcame in chasing down 108 in the last innings. Historically, scores that low are not chased very very rarely. But historically, the first three innings scoring only 500 odd runs is quite rare too. Williamson's 61 off 77 balls was not only the highest score of the match, but done at a pace that prevented any tension from arising. Raval's 55 and 37 not out in support were also impressive from a player on debut. The other debut from de Grandhomme was similarly successful with 6/41 in the first innings. With support from Boult, Southee and Wagner, and sprinklings of runs from most parties New Zealand were comfortable winners.

Nevertheless, Pakistan's ability to find the edge (if not always a safe fielder) means that they are always a good chance. Their batting was better in England, but a two-test series and little preparation makes tuning it a little difficult. It wouldn't be a surprise if the second test was closer, and New Zealand will need to improve their own batting to win again.

Rankings at 23rd November 2016
1.India1220.6
2.South Africa1151.9
3.Australia1144.9
4.Pakistan1128.0
5.England1123.4
6.New Zealand1017.3
7.Sri Lanka1000.6
8.West Indies831.6
12.Zimbabwe512.0

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 24th November, 2016 19:54:06   [#] [0 comments]

## The mysteries of consistent performance, ratings 16th November Russell Degnan

2nd TestAustraliavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1170.41128.7
Form-49.4+17.2
Expected MarginAustralia by 71 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 80 runs
Post-rating1144.11151.9

Not much needs to be said about the details of Australia's latest capitulation. When a side gets bowled out twice in 93 overs they won't win matches. When only three of the top four batsmen are worth their place (one barely) then they aren't going to score enough runs. When their bowling consistently splutters to a halt after the first or second burst then they'll continue to leak runs against the lower order - particularly India and England's lower orders. When the continual drubbings get to a side such that the fielding falls apart and the collapse becomes a clockwork inevitability, then you get where Australia are now.

South Africa, incidentally, are playing good cricket. They like Australian pitches (particularly green Hobart pitches) and Abbott and Philander made appropriate hay. But they aren't a dominant world beating side. The problems of Australia really are the problems of Australia.

Which brings us to the autopsy. With one exception, the problems most people identify with Australian cricket have always existed. Selectors picking players on the back of a run of good form, ignoring their extended record, not accounting for their record as teenagers, getting hung-up over all-rounders because the bowling was failing, looking for upside instead of good records or X-factor over competency, or plumping for young players with almost no experience has happened throughout the past three decades. Examples abound, and except those few years when they picked no new players the selectors have always been hit and miss. The only thing you should ask of the selectors is that an argument can be made that it is the best available, and that they back their decisions. If the process is correct then the side shouldn't change, though the results depend on the quality in the side, and sometimes it just isn't there.

The Sheffield Shield has never offered either enough practice for players, nor opportunities for fringe/younger players (particularly spinners), nor enough data for selectors to make decisions from. It is an amateur structure in a professional era, but the best players never needed it. Certainly not the best bowlers, who often played less than a full season before making their Test debut. This, incidentally, is wrong. Players should play Shield cricket earlier in their career to ensure they keep progressing, they should have several seasons behind them on debut, and plenty of matches in different conditions to draw on. They haven't, they generally learn in the Test team, or float between the two until they are ready, at which point they feature in stories talking about their journey to success. But it was ever thus.

The schedule is no worse now than it was a decade ago, or two decades ago. To the extent Australia plays more tours in October now then that is their obligation to international cricket. The price of a consistent home summer. The players used to jump from ODI to Test matches in the middle of Test series. And before that they'd go to work or play grade cricket. Injuries occur roughly as often, though we tend to keep injured players in the system longer (courtesy of central contracts).

As for cultural explanations, perhaps, perhaps not. Sometimes the players coming through aren't as good. Sometimes you need to wait for the next decent lot of cricketers.

The only significant change over the past two decades, and it has likely been damaging, has been the influx of pathways and coaching, and the push for younger and more professional setups in Shield and grade cricket (and especially second XI sides). The downside to this is that Australia is not England. They've never had a large base of coaches because players always learnt from senior cricketers. The absence of senior cricketers (particularly in representative sides) means they don't learn the hard way, and the weakness in coaching (and to a degree playing opportunity) means some may not have learnt as quickly or at all. But this is still likely to be marginal. They are professional players with all the resources a very rich organisation can throw at them, and has thrown at them for a decade. Yet they play defensive shots like school-kids who've never seen a swinging or seaming ball.

Conditions weren't easy in Hobart, and a few players got decent balls, or played terrible shots. But ultimately the point of being a top-flight batsman is the ability to survive the former and excise the latter. They all have records that show an ability to do that (at least in Australia, against domestic bowling). For a side that was number one only a few months ago to produce several of the worst performances in Australian cricket history is actually quite baffling. Whatever is rotten, it is well hidden in the back of the fridge.

1st TestIndiavEngland
Pre-rating1224.41131.4
Form+26.9-18.1
Expected MarginIndia by 97 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1220.61134.0

There are two perspectives one might take on the English performance in the first Test, a performance that far out-stripped expectations. If it is a performance on the outside of variability, then they will surely regress to the mean, the four hundreds scored will become one, or none; their inability to bowl India out in 210 overs (only slightly less than half of those available) will mean they find themselves on the losing side. If so, then their inability to force a victory - largely, it should be noted, because India batted well, and kept them at bay, rather than because England lack for something - will be seen as an opportunity missed.

The alternative option is that this performance typifies what we can expect from England in this series: a dogged Cook supported by a fluent Hameed, runs through the middle order, and a consistent attacking threat (if not an economical one) from Rashid, Ansari and Moeen Ali, with incisive support from Broad, Stokes and presumably Anderson. In this case, England will likely win the series, on the basis that they will out-score India, and that even here, only Kohli stood between them and a chance at the tail. Given how close they got, the 30 overs the last two first innings wickets faced for 72 runs, and the unused resources in the second innings probably cost them 10 overs. The declaration was well timed, but given they were always likely to need a declaration, England might have began hurrying earlier.

By comparative ratings, by recent efforts in Bangladesh, by the sub-par performance of Ashwin and Jadeja, and the likely pitches to come, the first of these perspectives is more likely. Despite having the worse of the pitch, playing poorly over much of the last two days, and being behind the entire match, India still took a credible draw. Perhaps the pitch made a draw all but inevitable. It seems unlikely however, that England will find pitches that better suit them as the series progresses.

2nd TestZimbabwevSri Lanka
Pre-rating523.9991.7
Form-29.1+29.2
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 184 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 257 runs
Post-rating512.01000.6
Series rating517.0999.0

Despite suffering two significant losses there were plenty of moments to suggest that Zimbabwe is not hopelessly behind the Sri Lankan side. In the first test they were within a couple of hours of a draw. In the second, they too easily slipped from positions where other sides, better sides, would have pressed the advantage. In this test, Sri Lanka were 4/112 in the first innings, but Tharanga (79), de Silva (127) and Gunaratne (116) pulled them to 504. In response, Zimbabwe was 3/173 when Chari (80) was dismissed, but stuttered then collapsed, losing 5/19 to end up at 252. There is no shame in keeping Sri Lanka to 8/258 while they set up the declaration, nor being bowled out by Herath (8/63) for 233. It was inevitable when the earlier chances had been squandered.

Sri Lanka gain little from big wins against a side with barely any weight in their ranking, but they did climb back over 1000. With their young batsmen finding their feet, the future looks substantially brighter than six months ago. Though how they'll replace Herath when the time comes remains to be seen.

Rankings at 16th November 2016
1.India1220.6
2.South Africa1151.9
3.Australia1144.9
4.Pakistan1139.1
5.England1134.0
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka1000.6
8.West Indies831.6
12.Zimbabwe512.0

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 17th November, 2016 00:23:36   [#] [0 comments]

## Australia slip, ratings 8th November Russell Degnan

1st TestAustraliavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1190.61113.1
Form-35.9-18.5
Expected MarginAustralia by 89 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 177 runs
Post-rating1170.41128.7

Australia may be clinging to second in the ratings, but on form it is Pakistan in second, South Africa in third and Australia floundering in fifth. The setting was different, but pattern of this match closely followed the first test against Sri Lanka: a blistering start with the ball, with South Africa 5/81, followed by an inability to hold down the runs as the ball aged as de Kock (81) and Bavuma (51) got South Africa to a small but not disastrous total. Similarly, a blistering start by Warner 97 (100) and Marsh was frittered away by a poor collapse. The lead of two runs may have been enough if Australia had the skills to bowl when tired, but they don't, and Elgar (127) and Duminy (141) got South Africa to a winning position, leaving de Kock and Philander to put the foot on their throat. The second innings batting was admirable, and the overs they put into Rabada and Philander may come in handy later, but the loss was sizeable, the middle order unworkable (and injured), and the attack neutered. Injuries to Siddle, Voges and Shaun Marsh will probably save Mitch Marsh from having to justify his place, and may have long term benefits in renewing the side. But every player is under-performing, some just have more rope.

On the other side, South Africa came into the series with plenty of concerns, but got unexpectedly good performances from Elgar and Duminy. Cook looks out of place, and the form of Amla and du Plessis is still a problem, as is the loss of Steyn. On the other hand, Bavuma's runout of Warner and solid batting cemented his spot, Maharaj took wickets on one of the least friendly decks in world cricket, and Philander looked good.

And then there is Rabada. The worry with Rabada isn't his performances. His action (and height) are reminiscent of Malcolm Marshall, as is his ability to produce swing fast deliveries both ways. The worry is that at 19 he shouldn't be bowling as much as South Africa needed him to in this match. The length and frequency of his spells would make a baseball manager cry: 6 overs on day one, two spells of 7 overs on day two, two spells of 8 overs on day 4, two spells of 6 overs on day 5, and a couple of bursts to finish. Two weeks worth of pitching in five days at his age is bound to end badly. But in the absence of substitutes we'll have to hope rather than complain.

5 TestsIndiavEngland
Pre-rating1224.41131.4
Form+26.9-18.1
Expected MarginIndia by 97 runs

This is the scenario for England: they are playing the best side in world cricket; in their own backyard where their two spinners averaging under 17; against a largely settled lineup of batsmen in the peak of their careers; whose recent record is excellent, and whose home record is incredible; who bat deep and have good seam-bowling support.

They are doing so with an unsettled top-order which includes a teenage opener and a flaky middle order that recently collapsed to an inferior attack; they cover this with a deep batting lineup that is adept at rescues and occasionally more; but their key bowlers are coming back from injury and none of their spinners inspire confidence.

England are a good side, and over five Tests they will have their moments (or at least we have to hope so). Hameed is undoubtedly a talent too, though he could hardly be given a tougher first assignment. India are quietly outstanding however, and this series will almost certainly show just how good they are.

Rankings at 8th November 2016
1.India1224.4
2.Australia1170.4
3.Pakistan1139.1
4.England1131.4
5.South Africa1128.7
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka991.7
8.West Indies831.6
12.Zimbabwe523.9

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 8th November, 2016 21:07:17   [#] [0 comments]

## Not entirely surprising upsets, ratings 6th November Russell Degnan

Pre-rating629.01139.3
Form+37.4-9.0
Expected MarginEngland by 205 runs
Post-rating656.41131.4
Series rating924.2838.2

Like many young runners-up, Bangladesh took the leap at the next time of asking. It wasn't without stumbles, as they largely wasted the 170 run partnership between Tamin Iqbal (104) and Mominul Haque (66) in being bowled out for 220 to Woakes (3/30), Stokes (2/13) and Ali (5/57). But they have the self-belief now that they can match England, and in Mehedi (6/82) a spinner who can exploit weak techniques and turning pitches. Bangladesh lack ruthlessness. Rashid and Woakes rescued England, getting them from 8/144 to 244, a significant deficit turned into a small lead. But it wasn't a big lead, and for England, the repetitiveness of lower-order rescues is more worrying than comforting.

The target of 273 they set England was slightly easier than the one Bangladesh just failed to meet the previous week, and ought to have been bigger. Their habit of losing wickets on the last ball of the day and session, or to apalling shots, speaks to a mental lapse that will be improved with more cricket, but also needs constant self-assessment. When Duckett and Cook cruised to 0/100 the game was firmly in England's favour. Unfortunately for the English, a familiar weakness against turn and the fragile top-order reasserted itself. 2/124 became 5/127, and when Stokes was bowled by Shakib (so often a lone defender, now able to apply the killer blows) with 112 still required it was only a question of when, rather than if Bangladesh would win.

In a decent championship model we'd look at this result and wonder whether Bangladesh could qualify for the next round. Instead England look to India, with no little fear, and Bangladesh ahead to a patchy schedule of one-off tests and short tours. "Test" cricket, for so long a test of a nations' ability against England, remains so in many quarters. Bangladesh just passed theirs.

3rd TestPakistanvWest Indies
Pre-rating1146.2831.6
Form+5.3-0.6
Expected MarginPakistan by 157 runs
Actual MarginWest Indies by 5 wickets
Post-rating1139.1838.1
Series rating1014.1963.9

One of the notable aspects of the West Indies' series against India was that the young players performed well at times, just inconsistently (as young players are wont to do). Both that promise and those performances carried through to this series. Brathwaite has 37 tests behind him, enough for many to cast judgement, but he is still only 23, perhaps a few years from his best. If this test is any indication that bets may be very fine indeed. Unbeaten innings of 142 (carrying his bat) and 60 (negotiating a tricky chase) showed rare talent and skill. Gabriel, Holder and Bishoo, who all looked to have more ability than their figures suggest took the wickets, and Dowrich (just 25 himself) put down his own marker with 47 and 60*.

Pakistan won't be entirely upset with the loss as it was relatively close and they got contributions from numerous players. But as with their loss to Zimbabwe three years ago, those contributions fall short of what was required. They let the lower-middle order of the West Indies score valuable runs, and they tamely surrendered themselves. As with Bangladesh's win, the absence of a broader context beyond rankings may have affected their motivation to win a dead test match. With another five tests to play until January, Pakistan may increasingly find both motivation and energy lapsing. Fortunately, as far as rankings go, England's slip means they remain in third.

1st TestZimbabwevSri Lanka
Pre-rating534.8981.7
Form-29.8+36.2
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 173 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 225 runs
Post-rating523.9991.7

But for a couple of umpiring errors Zimbabwe might almost have been the third team to defy expectations as they took this match into the final hour. What they didn't do was keep it closely fought. Perera and Tharanga each scored 110 and Silva 94 in a total of 537. Cremer (102*) and Moor (79) combined to drag Zimbabwe past the follow-on when it looked dire at 6/139 but it was largely rain that prevented the early declaration and a more comfortable victory.

Cremer, again held up the Sri Lankan attack, and in batting out 90 overs in each innings they forced Sri Lanka to work. The pitch, sluggish and low helps with that, but Sri Lanka are better equipped than most to play on such a surface. They creep closer to New Zealand in the rankings, with plenty of opportunities to switch places in the coming months.

Rankings at 6th November 2016
1.India1224.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1139.1
4.England1131.4
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka991.7
8.West Indies831.6
12.Zimbabwe523.9

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 6th November, 2016 18:53:02   [#] [0 comments]

## Australia plays moneyball, ratings 29th October Russell Degnan

Pre-rating613.01143.3
Form+21.5-3.9
Expected MarginEngland by 215 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 22 runs
Post-rating629.01139.3

Without hyperbole, one of the closest and tensest Test matches in history. Plenty has been written about the performances of the key players: Stokes, Shakib, Tamin, Bairstow, Moeen and Sabbir Rahman, whose second innings 64 not out harked back to the trial by fire of Justin Langer. What was most remarkable was the evenness of the chase. Neither side were ever on top, with Bangladesh always slightly behind, except briefly before Batty got one to kick on Mushfiqur, and before the fall of the third wicket.

This evenness is remarkable when you consider how rare it is for a game to be balanced. Teams chasing less than 20 runs per wicket tend to win 80 or more percent of matches, dropping to less than 20% when they need more than 30 runs per wicket. For almost all of Bangladesh's chase though, they sat in between those two averages, never getting ahead, but never so far behind that the game was gone. But that also meant forever teetering on the edge.

Falling just short is no barrier to overall success - Australia have made a habit of it for decades - and if anything, the confidence that they can match a side like England over five days ought to herald a new era of better results. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to get over the hump. In the meantime, their rating kicks a little, and the chance to break into the top eight in a year or two beckons.

2nd TestPakistanvWest Indies
Pre-rating1146.2830.5
Form+10.2-3.6
Expected MarginPakistan by 158 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 133 runs
Post-rating1146.2831.6

Like England, Pakistan failed to beat their expected margin against the West Indies, but they were never in danger of a loss, having declared at lunch on the fourth day with 455 runs to play with. The match played out more or less as expected. Younis Khan (127) returned and he and Misbah (96) allowed Pakistan to post 452 in the first innings. Once again, the West Indies leaked too many runs, though at least Gabriel and Holder were in the wickets. Bravo, opening was the top-scorer with 43 in their disappointing reply. The total of 224 was beneath the follow-on, but with time, a day's worth of bowling behind them and Yasir Shah eyeing the pitch, it was no surprise to see Pakistan out for another two sessions.

It was Yasir (6/124) who ground his way through a stiff West Indian resistance. Eight players passed double figures, with Blackwood (95) and Brathwaite (67) top-scoring and Chase and Hope soaking up nearly a session of deliveries between them. Given the expectations, this tour has not been a bad one for the West Indies. But it isn't clear they have a path to victory given their bowling attack. For most of the past decade their bowlers have sprinkled rare days out - such as Bishoo in the first test - with struggle. Their recent batting has occasionally been gritty, but they've had only five 150 run partnerships in the past three years, three of which involved Chanderpaul. The top six nations have, by contrast, had a minimum of 18. Ultimately that is talent, but it is a talent gap without any "franchise" players to build around either.

2 TestsZimbabwevSri Lanka
Pre-rating534.8981.7
Form-29.8+36.2
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 173 runs

For Zimbabwe, there may be more riding on this match at home against a middling ranked full member than meets the eye. As the ICC's slow march towards a Test championship or something they can rebadge as such continues, the question of mismatched games against the weaker full members looms over the discussion. Sri Lanka's habit of destroying weaker sides in the early 2000s was one of the reasons Zimbabwe voluntarily withdrew from Test competition.

This match, against a much weaker side, but one that showed plenty of ability and promise against Australia, will clearly highlight the divide between the bottom and those who might soon find themselves at the bottom. A close and compelling match will do much to encourage a kinder appraisal of future match-ups. A blow out may reinforce the widely held belief that it is a waste of time entertaining the top and bottom. With Bangladesh bridging the gap, the African side might find themselves stranded on the wrong side of the river.

3 TestsAustraliavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1190.61113.1
Form-35.9-18.5
Expected MarginAustralia by 89 runs

Home sweet home. In the past couple of years Australia have turned into the worst travellers in world cricket. Their record at home, on bouncing flat tracks that reward batsmen who can pull and cut, and bowlers with pace and patience, is exemplary. South Africa are better suited than most to challenge Australia at home, and have won the series on their last two tours. The challenge for them will be consistently backing up their bowlers with enough runs. Their last series against England was marked by some very high totals and some horrid collapses. Starc in particular is capable of ripping through a lineup and both sides are capable of losing a match in a session.

Some comment has been raised on the choice of Mennie over Bird on batting grounds. There is merit to the argument given how little separates the two players on first class bowling averages, and how vast the gap in lower order runs. The alternative argument, that you should always choose the better bowler regardless of the gap in their bowling, or the runs another contributes with the bat or in the field, would logically mean giving up 20 or 30 runs with the bat for a 1 or 2 run gain with the ball. Good bowlers are far and away the most valuable players in Test cricket, regardless of whether they contribute with the bat, but they need to be obviously better than the alternative. Bird, excellent player as he is, probably isn't, and in any case, there is no guarantee either would get a cap in Perth.

Rankings at 29th October 2016
1.India1224.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1146.2
4.England1139.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies831.6
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 29th October, 2016 17:30:43   [#] [0 comments]

## The trouble with rating teams that don't play, ratings 20th October Russell Degnan

3rd TestIndiavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1213.91016.9
Form+23.8-13.1
Expected MarginIndia by 149 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 321 runs
Post-rating1224.41009.2
Series rating1345.4881.4

The pre-, and in many cases, post-series assessment of India and New Zealand's relative levels of ability are not borne out by the rankings. India have increased their lead at the top, defeating New Zealand by marginally more than expected in the first two tests and by a larger margin in the third. Bar the fourth innings of this match their batting held up well, without providing the sort of runs they'd need to win. Similarly, barring the first innings here, where Kohli and Rahane produced a 365 run partnership, they largely kept India in check. But New Zealand needed to play better than their rating suggested, and India worse, was there to be an upset. India played consistently well throughout, and in Ashwin (13/140 here, 27/480 in the series) they have a match-winner.

No disrespect to them, but New Zealand aren't that strong a side, who are undoubtedly worse without McCullum and Southee, playing in conditions they have little experience in. The result was near inevitable, provided they couldn't find enough runs to draw a match - a relative rarity in modern cricket. Boult had a decent series, incidentally, and only in the final test did the Indian batsmen make hundreds. New Zealand made none, and even Williamson averaged below 35. India will be hoping for more from Yadav, and their openers but they look well placed for England's tour; a side that bats similarly deep and makes up for a lack of spin with a solid pace attack.

1st TestPakistanvWest Indies
Pre-rating1152.2826.1
Form+26.5-16.7
Expected MarginPakistan by 163 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 56 runs
Post-rating1147.3830.5

For a team that made 3/579 in the first innings, Pakistan made hard work of this match. Partly this was from some resilient West Indian batting, with Bravo making 87 (258) and 116 (249) with support from Samuels and Holder. The grinding meant that despite batting 232 overs against only 187 for Pakistan the West Indies came up 56 runs short. The West Indies might have got closer if they'd bowl better, as every bowler leaked runs at an alarming rate. That they managed to get close enough to scare Pakistan came down to Bishoo taking 8/49 in the second innings - though not without luck as Pakistan tried to build a lead.

Ultimately, given the timing of the victory and the margin, Pakistan batted, declared and collapsed almost exactly as they needed to. The top order of Sami Aslam (90), Azhar Ali (302*), Asad Shafiq (67) all average in the 40s and there is batting below. Yasir Shah was somewhat over-used, but eventually broke through. But their ranking drops, as they missed expectation, and could drop back below England in future test matches.

For the West Indies, this result may be as close as they'll get, but after the mostly dispiriting matches against India, making Pakistan work for a victory is a big improvement.

Pre-rating613.01143.3
Form+21.5-3.9
Expected MarginEngland by 215 runs

The bad news for England is that it is going to be very difficult to beat the margin against Bangladesh. Their one day performances indicate a side that is more competitive than at any time in the past; but without a test match in over a year, their ranking won't yet show it. The good news is that their game weight is as low as 6, compared to England's 21, so any rating adjustments will fall largely on the home side.

The most promising sign for Bangladesh is the increasing frequency of first innings leads. Having not had a lead batting second until 2012, they've now had one in 5 of their past 11 attempts, with five draws and a win (over Zimbabwe) in the same period. They've been less successful batting first, but if they can continue to be competitive in the first innings it is only a matter of time before it translates to victories across both. England, whose record against spin can be patchy, are not the guaranteed victors they were on previous tours.

I-CupPapua New GuineavNamibia
Pre-rating228.1306.5
Form+26.4-80.4
Expected MarginPapua New Guinea by 11 runs
Actual MarginPapua New Guinea by 199 runs
Post-rating249.9273.9

Sometimes the form table is a more reliable guide, and in this case it points to a Namibian side in deep decline from the days when they were challenging for associate trophies. P.N.G. are definitely an improving side, and they are finding their feet in the longer format. Assad Vala (144*) scored his third century in four matches, and he anchored the islanders' score of 311. Only Sarel Burger (52*), inexplicably batting at six, prevented a complete disaster as Vanua and Siaka (contributing much more with ball than bat) rolled Namibia for 146.

Scholtz completed a 10-wicket haul (11/170) in Papua New Guinea's second innings, but they had already set an insurmountable target and Vanua and Siaka were again the key wicket-takers in a comfortable fourth day victory. Papua New Guinea rise to fourth in the table. Their ranking has a way to cacth up, but form would put them just below Hong Kong, 100 points below Scotland, while Namibia would be just above Canada. If they only played enough matches to keep the ratings accurate.

Rankings at 20th October 2016
1.India1224.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1147.3
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies830.5
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 20th October, 2016 21:39:05   [#] [0 comments]

## The best Indian team ever?, ratings 8th October Russell Degnan

3 TestsIndiavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1205.41021.9
Form+26.7-12.5
Expected MarginIndia by 142 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 178 runs
Post-rating1213.91016.9

This is the best team India has ever had. Certainly, that is a disputable point, but after their victory in the second Test India reached their highest ever rating. While they achieved the feat at home, against a relatively weak New Zealand side missing their best batsman and best bowler, in a match that went nearly exactly to script, they did so in a manner that past Indian teams generally would not.

In a low scoring match, they got contributions from Pujara and Rahane in the first innings, and Kohli, Sharma and Saha in the second. Kumar and Shami showed some tricks and speed in the first innings, taking 8 wickets, and Ashwin and Jadeja did the job in the second, with six. Unlike Indian sides of the past, built around awesome batting and spin bowlers but little else, this Indian side bats deep, they field well. It is young and improving with much to prove, though their recent away record is better than most with five wins and eight draws, but they aren't (yet) rated as a great team. Merely the best their nation has produced, and almost certainly the one with the most potential.

3 TestsPakistanvWest Indies
Pre-rating1152.2826.1
Form+26.5-16.7
Expected MarginPakistan by 163 runs

Only three years ago these looked like two sides heading towards each other. Pakistan were ageing with few young batsmen on the horizon and their best bowlers suspended; the West Indies were bringing in youth and slowly climbing out of a twenty year hole. Since then, the former have got the injection of youth they required, a coach that brings the best out of those talents and some quality bowling. The latter have drifted, partly for administrative reasons, and partly as those young players have not developed, slipping further from the seven teams above them, as series after series results in heavy defeat.

This will most likely be no different. Pakistan are a much better side, playing at "home" with the recent successes of the English tour behind them. The West Indies still have started again with a young side that had its moments against India, but not enough to threaten a victory. The hope is that they'll continue to show enough to prevent this being an ugly series.

Rankings at 30th September 2016
1.India1213.9
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1016.9
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies826.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.Papua New Guinea228.1
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 8th October, 2016 13:28:28   [#] [0 comments]

## Ashwin's predictable influence, ratings 30th September Russell Degnan

3 TestsIndiavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1195.41029.7
Form+26.7-3.3
Expected MarginIndia by 134 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 197 runs
Post-rating1205.41021.9

The first test in this series went nearly exactly to type. New Zealand did well to restrict India to 315. As expected, Jadeja and Ashwin added valuable runs and they proved decisive in giving India a first innings lead with the tourists losing their last five wickets for seven runs - Ashwin 5/73 and Jadeja 4/93 were lethal, as they so often are at home.

While, once again, none of the Indian batsmen made centuries, they dominated the third and fourth days, putting up 5/377 in good time and leaving Ashwin 6/132 ample overs to win with half a day to spare. New Zealand's batsmen failed to score a ton either, though Williamson made 75 in the first innings, and Ronchi 80 and Santner 71 both made fifties in the second. There was no sustained partnerships though and with Williamson absent from the second Test the short batting lineup and mismatched abilities to produce and play spin will likely lead to a very similar result.

Rankings at 30th September 2016
1.India1205.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1021.9
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies826.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.Papua New Guinea228.1
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 30th September, 2016 17:31:24   [#] [0 comments]

## The long Indian summer begins; ratings 22nd September Russell Degnan

1st TestIndiavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1195.41029.7
Form+26.7-3.3
Expected MarginIndia by 133 runs

The most immediately striking thing about the two lineups announced for this Test is the depth of batting. New Zealand come in with three spinners and two seamers (one too many, surely, when the spinners could operate for long periods), and a short batting lineup that will depend on runs from Santner and Craig to support the top.

India, by contrast, have Jadeja at nine. Although Ashwin isn't capable of batting at six, he is nearly perfect as a classy and attacking number seven, with more to work with below. This depth underlines why India is the number one rated side, and at home this should be a comfortable series. New Zealand, for all their improvement under McCullum, remain below the standard of the top handful of sides. While Sodhi and Santner are promising bowlers, neither have stellar records, and the optimistic view of this trip is as a useful learning experience.

Rankings at 22nd September 2016
1.India1195.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1027.1
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies826.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.Papua New Guinea228.1
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 22nd September, 2016 15:04:26   [#] [0 comments]

## South Africa do their thing; ratings 14th September Russell Degnan

1st TestSouth AfricavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1107.81031.6
Form-39.0+1.2
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 88 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 204 runs
Post-rating1113.11027.1
Series rating1174.6970.6

South Africa rediscovered their ability to grind out a decent total on the first two days, putting together five fifties in the top-order, on their way to 481. A brief less-than-impressive interlude for South Africa to set a target aside, the remaining three days were a statement from Steyn; 8/99 in the match, keeping New Zealand to 214 and 195, but more importantly taking wickets early, and when required. Some had more than a sniff of luck to them, but when bowling with intent at pace that is what tends to happen.

The win keeps South Africa closer to the top-4 than to New Zealand, whose upwards trajectory seems to have stalled. Their respective series against Australia and India will be fascinating, both for their effect on the top place, and to measure where each side has found itself after an up-and-down year. New Zealand's main concern will be the openers and the long tail, with no easy fixes for either. South Africa remain in transition, and runs from Duminy will mean a stay on being dropped despite his average. As long as they have Steyn and Philander they can challenge sides though, even if their best is behind them.

I-CupIrelandvHong Kong
Pre-rating637.1183.6
Form+45.6+68.1
Expected MarginIreland by 277 runs
Actual MarginIreland by 70 runs
Post-rating628.1217.0

In many ways both sides got what they wanted out of this match. Ireland, the 20 points, a win and a successful finish to an otherwise bleak summer; Hong Kong, a strong performance that points to better days ahead and ways to improve.

At various points Hong Kong looked capable of winning the match, despite the absence of Chapman and Atkinson, who would almost certainly have closed the gap closer. Nadeem Ahmed wasn't do much with the ball, but it was sufficient to bring about the dismissals of the Irish batsmen in the first innings, and only Wilson's 95 rescued them from a really poor total. The downside for Hong Kong was the opportunities offered for easy runs, as in both innings Ireland moved along above 3.5 runs per over. With the bat, Nizakat Khan scored heavily in both innings (69 and 123), but except for Rath and Babar Hayat the remaining batting is thin on the ground.

The upshot is that Hong Kong beat their expected margin and move closer to the teams above them; their form indicating that they could be as high as Namibia. Ireland meanwhile, hover just above Afghanistan and Bangladesh, with perhaps the sense that their ability to win is on show more than their ability to play better cricket.

Rankings at 14th September 2016
1.India1195.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1113.1
6.New Zealand1027.1
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies826.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland628.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.Papua New Guinea228.1
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 15th September, 2016 00:55:47   [#] [0 comments]