Ratings - May 2006
Russell Degnan

Sri Lanka v Pakistan
Opening Ratings: Sri: 1074.84 Pak: 1152.03
1st Test: Drawn
2nd Test: Pakistan by 8 wickets
Closing Ratings: Sri: 1046.93 Pak: 1183.32

One nice thing about playing cricket at these ridiculous times of year is it brings to mind the days of uncovered wickets, unplayable pitches, and amazing results. The first test was a classic example here. The first day lost to rain, the second and third, 14 and 8 wickets fall respectively. Then on the last two days, the pitch turned into a belter, Sangakkara and Shoaib Malik cracked (slow) tons, just 7 wickets fell in the last two days and the game was a tame draw. The second test barely made the half way mark. Sri Lanka (Sangakkara again) making a solid start, and Muralitharan earning them a big lead, before Mohammad Asif followed up his first innings performance, with help from Abdul Razzaq to bowl the Lankies out for 73! Insane as that was, Pakistan cruised to victory with Younis Khan and Imran Farhat doing the job. That takes the Pakistani rating to its highest level since 1997/98, albeit in third. Sri Lanka remain in 6th.

Bangladesh v Australia
Opening Ratings: Ban: 601.18 Aus: 1377.72
1st Test: Australia by 3 wickets
2nd Test: Australia by innings and 80 runs
Closing Ratings: Ban: 598.51 Aus: 1379.29

Some teams arrive at their first significant victory in a flash of unexpected glory - the birth of the Ashes for example. Others fall over the line after years of exhausting effort. Bangladesh have no excuse for not achieving the first, having wasted not one, but two golden chances, against Pakistan, and now Australia. Insane schedulign or otherwise, Australia were spanked on the first day by Shahriar Nafees and co., and can thank their rested bowlers in MacGill and Gillespie for the chance to win at all. Gilchrist's first innings ton was a welcome return to form, and Ponting's in the second was a superb captain's knock. Mohammad Rafique can count himself unlucky to be on the losing side, but the reality is, Bagladesh need to be more than spirited gamblers. Their tail contributed a grand total of 50 runs, against Australia's 250 with wickets to spare. Close, but not good enough.

In the second, the extraordinary sight of a Gillespie double century over-shadowed his continued good bowling, and that of MacGill and Warne who ground down the Bangladeshi batsmen to make it an easy win. Neither side will probably be happy with how they played in the end; Bangladesh because they should have won the first test, and dropped their bundle in the second. Australia, because it was really one tour too far. Not too much to read into the performances, although again, Bangladesh can be encouraged.

South Africa v New Zealand
Opening Ratings: SAF: 1084.75 NZ: 1050.90
1st Test: South Africa by 128 runs
2nd Test: Drawn
3rd Test: South Africa by 4 wickets
Closing Ratings: SAF: 1101.97 AUS: 1028.90

A part of me has no sympathy for these two sides. I often, if not always, have to play on damp pitches and dark conditions at the start of a season. Another part says the collection of pie-chuckers I face are a different prospect to Ntini and Steyn, even if they have a passing resemblance to the New Zealand attack. It is a wonder any of these games finished, given they were off the field for light most days, but dew ridden pitches can help. If South Africa have an assuming top order, New Zealand seem to lack one at all. Cop this for half their efforts: 6/89, 6/28, 7/82. A Fleming double hundred on a drawn road aside, only the gutsy effort in the second innings of the third test was even remotely respectable. The runs, when they came, coming from Franklin, Oram and Vettori.

Franklin and Mills bowled well, but lacked the penetration of Ntini and Steyn, leaving Smith and Kallis, along with Amla and Prince, to carry the day. These games were low scoring, so they look closer than they were. Ultimately though, South Africa are not that good, and have dropped into fifth. But New Zealand are worse, which is becoming a problem.

Forthcoming Series:

England (1213.19) v Sri Lanka (1046.93) - 3 Tests.

England have had their problems during the southern summer, but they should romp this in. Sri Lanka are a one man bowling attack, and a three man batting lineup. England, despite having some questionable batting, are very good in the bowling ranks, particularly at home, and will score the runs. A draw is always possible in early summer, but a Sri Lankan win will surprise.

India (4th) 1142.25
West Indies (8th) 812.76
Zimbabwe (9th) 672.64

Cricket - Ratings - Test 8th May, 2006 01:33:53   [#] [0 comments]