## Poor outfields and a bit of rain; ratings 24th August Russell Degnan

4th TestWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating824.11197.5
Form-27.6+41.2
Expected MarginIndia by 96 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn
Post-rating826.11195.4
Series rating863.31152.8

A debacle, frankly, but hopefully the West Indies get the money regardless of the overs played. India had alredy won the series, and remain number one on the ratings despite the small hit from an unfortunate draw. The West Indies have had a few of those lately, but they'll need wins to move up, and they never seemed terribly close to achieving one of those in this series. It is worth reiterating that India are an under-rated side at the moment.

1st TestSouth AfricavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1121.51028.4
Form-46.0-3.3
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 96 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn
Post-rating1107.81031.6

Also a debacle, though commentators who blame it on the off-season would do well to spend five seconds googling the climate for Durban in winter: drier, with fewer days of rain than any ground in England in July, and any but Perth or Adelaide in Australia in January. A pity too, as the first innings total of 263 from South Africa had set up a match that might have gone either way. Steyn was in rare form when the match was curtailed, so there is much to look forward to in the decider. South Africa, still suffering from their form collapse, took a rather unfair hit with the draw. Though not so bad as if they suffered further losses.

Rankings at 24th August 2016
1.India1195.4
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1107.8
6.New Zealand1031.6
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies826.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland637.1
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 Kong183.6
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 August, 2016 16:24:28   [#] [0 comments]

## Fulfilling expectations; ratings 18th May Russell Degnan

2nd TestZimbabwevNew Zealand
Pre-rating546.01028.4
Form-29.2-8.0
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 191 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 254 runs
Post-rating534.81029.7
Series rating479.31100.2

Both sides end this series with their ratings roughly as they started; their performances broadly matching what was expected; their reputations neither enhanced nor diminished. New Zealand's batsmen cashed in on the limited bowling attack, with only Nicholls failing to make 80 in the first innings. Zimbabwe only took 6 wickets for 748 across the two innings, but their greater sin was in conceding those runs in just over two days, leaving New Zealand ample time to bowl them out.

In this, the Kiwis laboured but persisted, as Zimbabwe faced 213 overs while still finding themselves 254 runs short. Ervine (146), Chibhabha (60) and Moor (71) all made good runs in the first innings, and they ultimately fell only three hours short of taking a well deserved draw out of the game. Sodhi (3/19) and Guptill (3/11), with more than a little help from the umpires, got through the middle order though, and the tail fell quickly. New Zealand remain sixth, despite Sri Lanka's rapid improvement. Zimbabwe the lowest of the Test nations, nominally twelfth, and still sliding.

3rd TestWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating835.51181.4
Form-18.9+36.3
Expected MarginIndia by 123 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 237 runs
Post-rating824.11197.5

India's return to the top of the rankings has been rather more as a claimant to a vacated throne than conqueror. Yet within a run of form that has encapsulated victories over Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies, they've managed to win in several different ways. Ashwin's spin and Kohli's batting have been the more consistent standouts, but they get contributions from all over. Here it was Shami and Kumar with the ball, and Ashwin, Saha and Rahane with the bat.

They had to work for this win, but the West Indies did themselves no favours. Gabriel and Joseph ripped through the top-order on the first morning and with better catching they'd have got into India's long tail with only 140 on the board. Instead there was a 213 run interlude between Ashwin and Saha that pushed the tourists back in front. The loss of the third day made a draw the most likely outcome, but Cummins 6/48 in the second innings wasn't sufficient to stem the flow of runs, or the declaration that left the West Indies most of a day to bat. Bravo aside, they never looked like achieving it, capitulating to a 237 run loss.

It was, in a sense, a typical West Indies performance over the past decade. A shuffle forward with some talented and pacey young players, a few steps back with a lamentable performance where they seemed outclassed. For India, number one, and a long string of home matches to cement their status, but noone wins a kingdom from the confines of a castle.

4th TestEnglandvPakistan
Pre-rating1155.01131.6
Form+26.0-19.4
Expected MarginEngland by 62 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 10 wickets
Post-rating1143.31152.2
Series rating1185.71101.3

As with all the Tests played this week, a very typical performance from the two sides. England's top-order failed as Cook and Root failed, but they managed to stay competitive thanks to Moeen Ali's 108 and some support from Bairstow and Woakes. Or would have, had Younis Khan not picked an opportune moment to find form. His 218 turned a good start, but one that might have ended with a small lead and final day jitters, into an unassailable lead and easy victory. Yasir Shah (5/71) did the bulk of the heavy lifting in the second innings, and while Bairstow (81) made runs, few others did.

The series rating indicates that England, overall, had the better of the series (by an average of 40 runs), but they failed at key moments to deal with Yasir Shah or the ageless Younis and Misbah. There is an enormous amount of potential in the English side; they bat a long way down, and they bowl well with seam or swing. But the top order is shallow, and the spinner gives away too many runs. Stokes helps, but by exacerbating both their strengths and weaknesses. They verge on greatness, but are missing some key elements.

Pakistan, by contrast, seem to have finally settled on a decent opening combination and number three bat, and they bring a varied and capable attack. But how long their middle order will remain in situ is an unknown. They may reach the heights only to need a rebuild just as soon. Flawed then, like all the top teams, but more consistent from place to place.

3rd TestSri LankavAustralia
Pre-rating967.61204.6
Form+32.2-31.8
Expected MarginAustralia by 68 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 163 runs
Post-rating981.71190.6
Series rating1252.0920.0

Six horrific collapses and a 246 run partnership. Marsh and Smith's effort was utterly incongruous, towering over the other partnerships like the Eiffel Tower in central Paris's otherwise low-rise skyline. If anything, Marsh performing well in Asia, where he has had most of his success, merely muddies the water over Australia's selection policy for the Test matches at home. Across the board failures allow a fresh slate; the success of someone they weren't sure they want to play leads to headaches. Starc excepted, though his erratic offerings once the ball was old, and his pace less furious were a problem, across the board failure is what Australia got. Their most experienced players found something towards the end, Warner and Smith with the bat, Lyon taking 7 wickets at a much lower economy-rate with the ball. But the collapses, losing 9/113 and 9/60, were as bad or worse than those of the previous two Tests.

Herath, whose 13/145 while injured was merely one more tale to tell in an ever more glorious career, persistently got through the Australian defences with the ball that went straight on. His subtle changes of flight, direction, spin and trajectory keep knocking on the door, and the Australian batsmen guilelessly opened it time and time again.

Yet for Sri Lanka, the series may well go down as a triumph of youth. Dhan de Silva's 129 and 65* were glorious knocks: composed in an untenable situation (5/26) in the first innings, aggressive and confident setting a target in the second. While the more experienced Chandimal made 132, it was comparably painful, full of mistimed shots and ground out singles - over 356 balls no less. Add in Sandakan, Mendis and Perera, and the future looks considerably brighter for Sri Lanka than a few months ago.

I-CupScotlandvU.A.E.
Pre-rating408.0221.0
Form-24.3-33.7
Expected MarginScotland by 144 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn
Post-rating396.1225.9

Some rain. Then more rain. Then enough rain they called the game off without Scotland having had a chance to bat. Doubly unfortunate for the Saltires as they have had few opportunities to prove themselves in this edition of the competition. But not much to write about.

2 TestsSouth AfricavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1121.51028.4
Form-46.0-3.3
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 96 runs

South Africa enter this series down to seven on the ICC ratings, and with form so bad that a loss to New Zealand is certainly possible. Without de Villiers or Morkel, and further question marks over Philander and du Plessis's form, who South Africa play, let alone how they will perform is a good question. New Zealand are far more settled, and in Williamson, have someone they can rely on to score heavily. If South Africa cannot lift, it could be a close series. New Zealand have already had a series this year they were expected to beat their rating and compete in, and Australia defeated them handily. There are a lot of uncertainties in cricket right now, but you should still expect the home side to prevail.

Rankings at 17th August 2016
1.India1197.5
2.Australia1190.6
3.Pakistan1152.2
4.England1143.3
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1029.7
7.Sri Lanka981.7
8.West Indies824.1
12.Zimbabwe534.8

9.Ireland637.1
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 Kong183.6
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 18th August, 2016 01:48:00   [#] [0 comments]

## Youth coming to the fore; ratings August 9th Russell Degnan

2nd TestWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating831.81185.3
Form-35.1+58.7
Expected MarginIndia by 127 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn
Post-rating835.51181.4

A match that for two days looked like the easiest of Indian victories turned, first on rain with only 62 overs across days 3 and 4, and then on the bats of four twenty-four year-olds. Jermaine Blackwood (63 off 54), Roston Chase (137* off 269), Shane Dowrich (74 off 114) and Jason Holder (64* off 99) batted the length of day five, regained the lead, and achieved an unlikely draw. The top-order failed, as did the bowling - notwithstanding Chase's 5/121 - and Blackwood's 64 in the first innings (also faster than a run-a-ball) was the only score of note in another collapse to Ashwin. But a draw is a draw, and if the middle to lower order has something about it, then that means they only need a top-order and some front-line seamers to be something like a competitive side.

India will probably not worry too much. Rahul (158) and Rahane (108) scored runs, and on most other days they'd have won with some time to spare. They lose a handful of ratings points, but not enough to drop into third, and in any case, they still gained points on Australia. West Indies slightly arrest their drop, though as ever, they remain marooned between seventh and ninth.

3rd TestEnglandvPakistan
Pre-rating1145.11140.4
Form+24.7-7.6
Expected MarginEngland by 52 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 141 runs
Post-rating1155.01131.6

In the post-mortem on Pakistan's failure to firstly win, and then at least draw this match, the scale of England's comeback has been largely obscured. On the first two days minus one ball, they lost 10/297 and conceded 2/257. In the remainder of the match they took 18/354 and scored 6/400. Yet, despite the score differential, it wasn't a storming comeback. Rather, a series of rearguards that eventually allowed them the opportunity to win.

Ballance (70) and Moeen Ali (63) getting the total to something reasonable from 5/158; Woakes (3/79) and to a lesser extent, Broad keeping the Pakistan lead to 103, and more importantly, forcing them to grind at less than three runs per over, when tiredness ought to have set in; Cook and Hales overturning the deficit without loss; Root and Vince building a lead when early wickets might have derailed the comeback. Then from a front-running position, Bairstow and Moeen Ali accelerating, and Finn and Anderson breaching the top-order when there was little happening.

Pakistan, by contrast, got 152 runs from Sami Aslam and 177 from Azhar Ali (more than half their total), and 7 wickets from Sohail Khan (almost half). The other players have produced in this series, but it is England's ability to find something from someone that is making them a difficult opponent. They push back to third place with the win, and have the momentum to find themselves higher by series end.

2nd TestSri LankavAustralia
Pre-rating941.51230.4
Form-22.5+22.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 94 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 106 runs
Post-rating952.01220.0

As with any cricket contest, there are really two matches being played: that between Sri Lanka's batsmen and Australia's bowlers, and that between Australia's batsmen and Sri Lanka's bowlers. The first, Australia won, Starc took 11/94, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 518 across two innings - substantially less than a team ought to have if they want to win - with only Mendis (86), Mathews (54 and 47) and Perera (49 and 64) contributing. The weaknesses they displayed in England are still evident, but the emergence of Mendis and the promise of de Silva (37 and 34) are good signs in a rebuilding team.

Nevertheless, if you'd offered that chase to Australia before the Test match they'd have taken it, and at home, it would likely have resulted in an innings victory, not a demoralising 229 run loss.

Because Australia's batsmen, in Asia, are incredibly, historically, poor. It is worth dwelling on some ratings numbers to indicate how bad they've been in their eight consecutive losses in Asia. Firstly, this is the worst Australian side in Asia of any era, with an opposition adjusted game rating of 594.1, well below the performance of the 1980-83 era (813.1) or the WSC team that proceeded it (895.0).

Yet, at home, this is one of the best Australian sides, also ever, below only the post-war sides of the 1920s and 1940/50s and the great side of recent memory:

This disparity, traditionally 200 points or 100 runs, is currently 754 points or 377 runs. A staggering number. Australia, in Asian conditions, is the worst Test side in world cricket bar Zimbabwe, and it is arguable that Afghanistan's triple-headed spin attack would produce an intriguingly close contest.

Sri Lanka have bowled well, but they've bowled as a side that knows that they can take wickets as long as they bowl tight lines and work the batsmen over. Warner and Marsh have scored some runs, but given the impression they need to hit ever half offering for four, as the end is nigh, Smith looks comfortable but finds ways to get out, Voges regressed into reverse sweeps where previously he looked safe if shot-less, while Burns and Khawaja haven't got in for long enough to judge. Lehmann was a find player of spin bowling, but whatever he is advising his charges isn't translating onto the pitch. As with previous tours to Asia, their confidence is shot, and the chance of a redemptive result is negligible. Unfortunately, there is another tour to India looming, and nothing we see over the Australian summer will prepare them to face it.

Rankings at 9th August 2016
1.Australia1204.6
2.India1181.4
3.England1155.0
4.Pakistan1131.6
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1028.4
7.Sri Lanka967.6
8.West Indies835.5
12.Zimbabwe546.0

9.Ireland637.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Hong Kong183.6
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 10th August, 2016 11:44:15   [#] [0 comments]

## Many low scores but not all bad, ratings 3rd August Russell Degnan

1st TestSri LankavAustralia
Pre-rating941.51230.4
Form-22.5+22.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 94 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 106 runs
Post-rating952.01220.0

We could dwell on Australia's failures in this match: their hard hands and poor footwork; the shot-selection of Smith and Nevill that turned a sizable first innings lead into an opportunity to taste defeat; the marked sameness of Lyon's bowling striving too much for bounce or his inability to prevent runs on the on-side; or the scattershot of Mitchell Starc whose average is fine but needs a plan for his second and third spells. They are largely reprisals of the same failures that occurred in previous matches, particularly Asia. Sri Lanka aren't a good side, but Australia outside their comfort zone aren't either.

Instead let's focus on Herath and Sandakan. Sandakan (4/58 and 3/49) is the more obviously exciting player, and certainly the easier to commentate on, turning the ball sharply in to right-handers with a wrong-un that left Mitch Marsh bemused.

But Herath (4/49 and 5/54) has a subtler skillset that creates openings where none seem apparent. Every ball could loosely be described as left-arm orthodox, there is no doosra, but his arm follows a variety of paths, from high to low, the ball comes out flat to looped, the pace sharp to held up, the spin skidding or cutting, the bounce at the ankle or riding the bat. The batsman who uses his feet will often fail to make it to the bounce, the one who plays for spin will see it thud into his pads, the one prodding at something innocuous feeling it rise off the edge. Its the work of a master, and it needs to be better appreciated, not least in how we can describe and analyse the way he goes about it.

Mendis needs acknowledging too: 176 off 254 balls when the next best score is 55, on track for the Bannerman record for much of his innings. He showed, again, that the Australian bowling can be attacked and defeated.

Conversely, Nevill and O'Keefe (and to an extent Voges) showed that you can face out a relatively large number of overs against Herath without being dismissed. But they need to be able to score too, and it isn't clear that, Smith's nudges and Marsh's wallops aside, that they know how that will happen.

1st TestZimbabwevNew Zealand
Pre-rating559.81024.9
Form-6.4-19.9
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 183 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by an innings and 117 runs
Post-rating546.01028.4

Interestingly, and disturbingly for the quality of the ratings, Zimbabwe missed their expected margin by the least of the four losers last week: 184 runs. It also wasn't a substantially worse loss than West Indies versus India, nor Pakistan versus England, though it was to a (marginally) inferior side. That's the positives. The negatives are that they were 8/72 and 5/86 in their two innings, compared to 6/576 when New Zealand pulled the plug on their innings.

Their shortcomings are also difficult to fix. Five batsmen were shot out to short balls from Wagner, others to Boult's swing. Neither of which they can easily practice against. They fed Taylor and Watling's cut and pull shots, implying poor lengths, but they lacked penetration, with Watling in control for 97% of his deliveries. The comparable figure for Sean Williams 119 was just 85%, and more often than not, innings of that type are short. If the two tier championship gets up they'll benefit from playing against Afghanistan and be competitive with their peers, but they'd be at risk of further relegation too. With an impoverished board and better opportunities elsewhere, maintaining interest in becoming a good Test cricketer is going to be very difficult regardless of what happens.

I-CupNetherlandsvAfghanistan
Pre-rating189.0606.0
Form+18.2+32.6
Expected MarginAfghanistan by 158 runs
Actual MarginAfghanistan by an innings and 36 runs
Post-rating179.0622.9

The Netherlands had seemingly turned around their dire four-day record in this tournament with tight victories over Scotland and the UAE. But with only one score above 230 in their three matches to date, the seeds of their failure against Afghanistan were already planted. Dawlat Zadran (4/32) and Yamin Ahmadzai (5/29) blew through the Dutch on the opening morning, and the visitors were in front, 4 wickets down by stumps. As with the previous match, the batting of the youthful Shahidi (83) and Rahmat Shah (51) bodes well for a team in need of renewal. The team as a whole failed to string together partnerships, but all but the tail got into double figures and built a 195 run lead.

Rippon followed his 5/79 with 80 in the second innings, scored at good pace, but supported by noone, as the match finished inside two days. Another young player, Zahir Khan, taking 4/29. Afghanistan briefly top the table on the back of the win, but they need to defeat Ireland or hope they drop points - which is likely, with the hardest draw and two home matches to play - if they are to stay ahead. The cup is not yet a two horse race, but it is becoming increasingly likely that it will be. It needs Hong Kong, who play all three teams ahead of them, and Scotland, who have three winnable matches and the Irish to challenge.

Rankings at 3rd August 2016
1.Australia1220.0
2.India1185.3
3.England1145.1
4.Pakistan1140.4
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1028.4
7.Sri Lanka952.0
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe546.0

9.Ireland637.1
10.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Hong Kong183.6
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 3rd August, 2016 10:23:13   [#] [0 comments]

## The big-3 flex their muscles; ratings 27th July Russell Degnan

1st TestWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating848.11160.9
Form-10.0+39.8
Expected MarginIndia by 106 runs
Actual MarginIndia by an innings and 92 runs
Post-rating831.81185.3

Australia's miserable second day collapse leaves the extent of the big-3 flexing a matter of conjecture for now, but India made up for any shortfalls with a dominant display in Antigua. West Indies were in it at 4/236 with Kohli and Ashwin at the crease, and not much below, but they were effectively gone when the former was dismissed for an even double ton 164 runs later. Ashwin faced almost as many balls as his captain making 87 fewer runs, but he ground down the home team, effectively asking them to bat for three days to save the Test.

They lasted less than two, firstly falling to Shami and Yadav's probing line outside off stump with a series of frankly abject prods to balls they ought to be either getting behind or leaving. Following on was little better. Ashwin's 7/83 the highlight as they fell to a series of classical off-spinning dismissals. With Holder and Braithwaite at 8 and 9, the West Indies have plenty of batting width but no depth to speak of. It is telling that only Bravo and the Braithwaites have (marginally) higher averages than Ashwin with the bat, and you'd not be surprised if that group is only Bravo by series end. Three more Tests like this could be a couple too long.

2nd TestEnglandvPakistan
Pre-rating1133.11161.8
Form+3.0+46.8
Expected MarginEngland by 36 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 330 runs
Post-rating1145.11140.4

Pakistan began this Test in second place on the rankings and in the series lead. They end it in fourth place, the series tied, and their confidence dented after suffering a significant defeat. It would be easy to point to Cook and Root's 500 odd runs for two dismissals and say that was the difference, but the larger problem for Pakistan was their collapse to Woakes (4/67) in the first innings and to Anderson (3/41) in the second. They'll not beat England with 432 runs for the match, and they are effectively playing with two batsmen (Misbah and Shafiq) given the limited contributions of Younis Khan and Hafeez.

Pakistan's bowling was significantly worse than at Lord's, especially as Yasir Shah failed to provide either control or danger. But that aspect of their game has the ability to challenge England, and Root won't score a double ton in every innings. Their batting doesn't look capable of doing the same, and even at Lord's it limped to a defendable total rather than doing so with any confidence.

2 TestsZimbabwevNew Zealand
Pre-rating559.81024.9
Form-6.4-19.9
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 183 runs

It seems hard to believe that it has been four years since the last New Zealand tour to Zimbabwe, as the hosts have played so few matches in between times. That will go down as a forgotten classic, as Brandan Taylor and Taibu got Zimbabwe to within striking distance, only to collapse to Bracewell's new-ball spell and a 34 run defeat. Since then Zimbabwe have lost both those players and many more besides, putting out progressively weaker sides, though their ranking is yet to reflect it, for lack of data. New Zealand, by contrast, are 200 ranking points improved, and roaring favourites. Their bowling is stronger, their batting more mature - especially Williamson - though the recent loss of McCullum is yet to be felt. They should win this series comfortably, though the disparity in matches played means that it will be Zimbabwe's rating that moves (or doesn't). Nominally, they are trying to move ahead of Afghanistan and Ireland.

Rankings at 27th July 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1185.3
3.England1145.1
4.Pakistan1140.4
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka941.5
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6

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 28th July, 2016 00:23:42   [#] [0 comments]

## Something to prove; ratings 20th July Russell Degnan

1st TestEnglandvPakistan
Pre-rating1138.01142.9
Form+17.0+36.2
Expected MarginEngland by 48 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 75 runs
Post-rating1133.11161.8

Chris Woakes might console himself that the only player in test history to end up on the losing side with more wickets and more runs to his name was Hugh Trumble. But whereas Trumble was undone by the blistering hitting of Jessop, Woakes fate has more similarities with the last Englishman to take 11 wickets with fewer concessions than Woakes: Nick Cook. Also against Pakistan, and also undone by a leg-spinner, then Abdul Qadir, now Yasir Shah. Yasir Shah's 6/72 in England's first innings undid the work of the bowling on the opening day, and meant England were always unlikely to stage a comeback.

Pakistan were hardly dominant, with only Misbah and Shafiq passing fifty, and leaving a chaseable target in the fourth innings, but the combination of tight bowling and poor shots from England meant that the total was never challenged. England's batting depth was a major boon in South Africa, and it certainly wasn't detrimental here - if anything, it prevented a massive loss - but the selectors face a conundrum over whether a potential replacement bowler for Moeen Ali would add more than they lose in the batting. Likewise, with Anderson and Stokes to return, will they be better to replace Finn and Ball - further strengthening their weak batting - or Vince or Ballance. The former seems wiser, given they lose very little with the ball and none of the potential replacement batsmen seem capable of the type of innings they need. The feeling that a side is stronger with specialists has heavy sway though, even if those specialists aren't as good at their specialty as those they replace.

Pakistan have fewer selection questions, even if their performance could be much improved upon. They inch past India in the rankings, with the possibility of catching Australia (or dropping down to sixth) by series end as most of the full members are out on the field in the next month.

4 TestsWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating848.11160.9
Form-10.0+39.8
Expected MarginIndia by 106 runs

The least interesting of the trio of series being played this week, and the longest, which doesn't bode well if the West Indies play to recent form, and India decide to flex their muscles. India won their last away series in Sri Lanka, and their last tour to the West Indies in 2011, but their record of one win and fifteen losses in between times is reminiscent of the bad old days of Indian tours. The West Indies drawn series with England last year and the proliferation of draws in the last two tours by India indicate that they are capable of grinding out a result. Perhaps therefore, the most interesting element to watch of this match-up is the level of assertiveness by Kohli and his compatriots. As favourites, they ought to show the same aggression they do at home, but switching tacks outside your comfort zone is harder, and not always successful.

3 TestsSri LankavAustralia
Pre-rating941.51230.4
Form-22.5+22.6
Expected MarginAustralia by 94 runs

Australia's tours to Sri Lanka often seem to arrive at the beginning of a captaincy, or in a moment when the side is about to swing into change. Warne's arrival in 1992 and the end of the team that won back the Ashes, the last pre-Gilchrist tour that presaged the aggression of the Waugh years, the start of the golden run of Ponting in 2004, and the first series for Clarke in 2011. Here too, changes might be in the mix. Although Australia have found their way to the top of the rankings, it is a placeholder for a better team. The team that toured England last year is largely gone, with Harris, Watson, Johnson, Haddin and Clarke all making way. The next wave of batsmen are dominating the Shield scoring, and the bodies of the young pacemen are reaching maturity.

We won't learn if Australia is about to embark on a golden age against a weakened Sri Lanka, but we will get hints to who might be involved, and whose careers are imperilled by the talent at home. Herath awaits to test the skills of a team that has been more catastrophically bad than troubled by spin in recent years. Lyon has not always taken the lead in conditions that ought to be to his liking, but must do so here, or likewise, face threats from Zampa and others. It is a series Australia ought to win, and comfortably, but like those tours of the past, one that they won't have all their own way, and will be fascinating for it.

Rankings at 20th July 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.Pakistan1161.8
3.India1160.9
4.England1133.1
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka941.5
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6

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 July, 2016 14:29:56   [#] [0 comments]

## Misbah's Pakistan finally return to England; ratings 18th May Russell Degnan

3rd TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1139.7939.2
Form+27.1-36.0
Expected MarginEngland by 150 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn
Post-rating1138.0941.5
Series rating1222.1860.4

Somewhat fittingly, a series that never really inspired as a contest ended with a match pretty well set up for the final day, and one England would probably have won by close to the expected margin, ruined by fifth day rain. Bairstow continued his prolific form (with the bat at any rate) and England reaped the benefits of their long tail again with 189 runs coming in the last four wickets. The lead was extensive, but the second innings collapse meant the declaration was hopeful rather than aggressive. Not that it mattered.

Sri Lanka end the series with plenty of questions over their batting, and no clear answers before Australia tour in late July. England's own batting is deep but a bit fragile, though Hales is finding his feet at the top, and might finally settle as a partner for Cook if they keep faith in him. The ratings put the English fourth, but as has been the recent norm, their is little to choose between the top five.

4 TestsEnglandvPakistan
Pre-rating1138.01142.9
Form+17.0+36.2
Expected MarginEngland by 48 runs

Unlike the previous tourists, Pakistan represent a real threat to England winning, with both an upward trajectory in the ratings, and the tools to cause problems. They return to England a very different team to the mess of Salman Butt; unpretentious and tenacious but capable of sailing with favourable winds. Mohammad Amir might be lucky to be on the park, but if he is anything like the precociously talented bowler of swing at pace that he was five years ago he will precipitate at least one collapse. Pakistan have an old team that nevertheless seems to be getting better. Yasir Shah could cause problems on dry wickets, while unlike most tourists, we ought to expect Misbah and Younis to handle adverse conditions.

The absence of Anderson on the other side puts a lot of pressure on Broad to carry an otherwise potted attack. Finn is capable but the others are raw, and that holds true of much of the batting as well. The absence of Stokes (those 17 Tests last year are looking increasingly unwise) marginally reduces both the batting and bowling.

That said, England have plenty of talent in their youthful ranks, and at home they should always be strongly favoured. Expect Pakistan to challenge in at least a couple of Tests, without prevailing overall.

Rankings at 14th July 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.England1138.0
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka941.5
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6

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 14th July, 2016 01:37:26   [#] [0 comments]

## England try, but fail to make a test interesting, ratings 9th June Russell Degnan

2nd TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1129.7952.6
Form+28.5-37.3
Expected MarginEngland by 139 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 9 wickets
Post-rating1139.7939.2

A match that, for three days, threatened to repeat the previous one; albeit on a friendlier batting pitch, though you'd struggle to believe it aft Sri Lanka collapsed for 101 in their first innings. Woakes, Broad and Anderson shared the wickets, following on from Moeen Ali's 155, helped immensely by Sri Lanka seemingly batting for a declaration for much of day two. That they recovered from 3/100 to post 475, with both Mathews (80) and Chandimal (126) finally scoring some runs was something. It showed the fight we expect from them, though the speed of scoring hinted at a hit-out-or-get-out approach that will fail more often than succeed.

They move to Lord's with the series lost, their ranking tanking, but the barest glimmer of hope that their batting will make enough runs to push England deep into a match. A better first innings here and they might have set an intriguing target. Probabilistically though, the batting side we saw through the first three innings of the tour is closer to reality than the one that made 475. A dead pitch or rain aside, England ought to complete the sweep easily.

Rankings at 9th June 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.England1139.7
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka939.2
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6

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 9th June, 2016 20:25:04   [#] [0 comments]

## Sri Lanka are better than this, but not much better; ratings 26th May Russell Degnan

1st TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1117.1969.4
Form+13.8-14.7
Expected MarginEngland by 124 runs
Actual MarginEngland by an innings and 88 runs
Post-rating1129.7952.6

Even after a first day where England tottered to 5/171 this was never an even contest. Sri Lanka, as expected, are poorly equipped for these conditions, and the help their bowlers - particularly Shanaka - received was far more-so for Anderson (10/45 for the match). Hales ground out 86 in the sort of determined innings he needs to prove he is more than a limited overs players, but it was Bairstow - 140, carrying on from his county form - who proved again the depth in this lineup. It was further underlined by the abject batting that followed as Bairstow added nine catches to his match tally and Sri Lanka folded twice for 210. Only 164 overs were played in the match - only rain preventing the mismatched being underscored by a two-day outcome.

England's victory didn't greatly improve their rating, but it was enough to slip above South Africa, and they could easily move into second place with a few good results. Sri Lanka's form (-37) indicates that they have a way to fall yet.

Rankings at 26th May 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.England1129.7
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka952.6
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6

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 28th May, 2016 14:36:54   [#] [0 comments]

## The new guard; ratings 18th May Russell Degnan

3 TestsEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1117.1969.4
Form+13.8-14.7
Expected MarginEngland by 124 runs

Two years ago, a disheveled England lost to a Sri Lankan side, failing to press home an advantage in the first test, and squandering another in the second. This time around, with England finding their groove with a young and dynamic side, and Sri Lanka continuing to drift backwards, a comprehensive loss is much more likely. Whereas in 2014 Mathews was able to feed off Sangakarra to punch an advantage, now he looks more isolated, and carries a greater burden. With Root, Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Stokes all capable of taking a game away quickly, England have a deep and powerful batting lineup to set up matches for their bowlers. Uncertainty still exists at the top, and in the spot Taylor had occupied, but the depth of all-rounders gives them flexibility to work around those positions.

Sri Lanka's World T20 performance was that of a fairly poor side, and while Herath will, for a little while longer, keep them semi-competitive at home, the yawning hole left by Jayawardene and Sangakarra will not easily be met. They face some worrying tours if the young batsmen in their side cannot improve quickly.

2 TestsNew ZealandvAustralia
Pre-rating1048.51210.7
Form+24.9-3.3
Expected MarginAustralia by 31 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by an innings and 152 runs
Australia by 7 wickets
Post-rating1230.41024.9
Series rating1409.1848.0

Somewhere along the way I neglected to conclude on this series, won with the right amount of superiority at the right times by Australia. McCullum's brutal century, brilliant as it was, was an epic roll of the dice for a side that felt it needed to do so to have a chance. Ultimately, Australia passed their total four-down, with three days remaining to force a result. Conversely, with better catching, some better luck with the umpiring and fewer loose drives outside off they might have ground their way to a result. Australia were flattered by the scoreline, even if the bowling was very good, the fielding excellent, and the batting effective. The collapses of previous tours didn't appear against a side (and on pitches) that ought to have produced them, though it would be brave (and wrong) to suggest they've been solved.

Australia's rating is low by modern number ones, but still significantly superior to India in second place. New Zealand, despite the hiccup here, remain close to the top-five. Had they performed better against Australia this summer they might have found themselves near the top, but they lack something the better sides have, even if it isn't always clear what that is. Perhaps the next era, sans McCullum but with many of the side at their peak, will reach the heights they've promised but missed for some time.

Rankings at 18th May 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.South Africa1121.5
5.England1117.1
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka969.4
8.West Indies848.1
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland640.3
11.Afghanistan591.5
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia337.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.235.9
17.Papua New Guinea217.6
18.Hong Kong183.6
19.Netherlands174.8