Ratings - December 2006
Russell Degnan

Late doesn't do this justice, but it would ill behove me to review series not given a preceeding view.

Pakistan v West Indies
Opening Ratings: Pak: 1110.27 WI: 834.82
1st Test: Pakistan by 9 wickets
2nd Test: Drawn
3rd Test: England by 199 runs
Closing Ratings: Pak: 1108.86 WI: 836.13

A series dominated by two batsmen, both record breakers. Lara's 183 runs in two innings in the first test was neither as much as, nor enough to counter Mohammed Yousuf's 192. Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir bowled Pakistn to a big victory, with only Taylor preventing a complete rout. In the second test, Taylor's five-for and Lara's 216 - supported by Gayle, Ganga and Bravo - had set up the West Inides for a rare victory after 3 days. But again, Mohhamed Yousuf countered, scoring 191 - his third score in the 190s in 2006 - and as usual, the opening the West Indies had worked for themselves was squandered. In the third test, Lara failed, falling to Umar Gul twice, though several 50s were scored in his absence, Yousuf scored twin tons, breaking Viv Richards' record for most runs in a year, and providing the runs for Kaneria to take Pakistan to victory.

Overall, Pakistan were just too strong for a poor, but improving West Indies side, with only Taylro showing something with the ball, and only Lara with the bat. Pakistan's batsmen were not poor, but Mohammaned Yousuf towered over them, his 665 runs at 133.00 for the series dwarfing all but Lara (448 at 89.60). The rating barely move, but Pakistan will take much of an improved showing without Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif after he disaster in England. The West Indies may take something from it too. Mostly, the importance of going on and getting a score once you make 50. The seven times they didn't were the difference between a 2-0 and a 1-0 loss.

Forthcoming Series:

New Zealand (1029.53) v Sri Lanka (1118.78) - 2 Tests.

Sri Lanka's continuing reluctance to engage in longer test series - even against sides that, with time, they could forge an enduring rivalry, makes what looks an interesting fixture a rather pointless exercise. The Sri Lankans have been on a roll since the English tour, with some potential to support Jayawardene and Sangakarra with the bat, even if Muralitharan continues to plow a lone furrow with the ball. New Zealand have got Shane Bond back - easily their best bowler since Richard Hadlee - though who knows for how long. Who'll score the runs for them remains a mystery however, with far too many rescue acts from Daniel Vettori down the bottom.

South Africa (1072.22) v India (1121.06) - 3 Tests.

The ratings give this marginally to the South Africans, with home advantage taken into account - moreso given India's woeful away record. Both teams are in a rebuilding phase, India early in it, as the superstars in their middle order slowly fade away; South Africa already carrying a side of younger players that have hitherto dissapointed. South Africa's batting looks terribly weak, totally dependent on an out-of-form Smith and a perennially injured Kallis. This may tip the balance against them, as while neither side looks terribly strong in the bowling - Ntini and the emerging Sreesanth aside - you can still count on a few runs from Dravid, Tendulkar and co.

Australia (1st) 1379.04
England (2nd) 1222.42
Zimbabwe (9th) 671.01
Bangladesh (10th) 599.27

Cricket - Ratings - Test 1st January, 2007 17:29:55   [#]