Ratings - 25th December 2010
Russell Degnan

Recently completed matches

3rd TestSri LankavWest Indies
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 135 runs
Actual MarginMatch drawn

It may be largely bad luck, rather than poor planning, but the effect on Sri Lanka's rating is the same. Another game hammered by rain, with just 103 overs in 5 days, and a 0-0 result. The West Indies will be well pleased with that, although if anything they were the better side when they got out on the park. There is not too much else you can write about a game with no play though.

2nd/3rd TestAustraliavEngland
Expected MarginAustralia by 71 runs
Actual MarginEngland by an innings and 71 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 267 runs

Having missed my last deadline while away. I can contemplate these two tests in their totality, rather than as a pendulum does a clock-face. As in 2009, these two sides are evenly matched, but prone to collapses and poor results, Perth was both for England, bowled out for a combined 310 runs on a decent pitch. Australia made a mere 28 runs more in Perth than Adelaide (577 over 549); one monumental partnership aside, they are now consistently failing to pass 300 with any conviction, and nothing in their new selections (Hughes and Smith) inspires confidence that that will change. That won't matter if their bowling stands up again, but there is no chance the same pace, carry and bounce of Perth will appear in Melbourne where rain and low temperatures have prevailed from the moment the cricket season kicked off.

For England, number one spot beckons if they can win both their remaining games, provided their bowling can continue to do the job it has been doing well enough to date, and their batting can recover its bullying confidence on the slower decks of the east coast. For Australia, now thoroughly confused as to their best side, and still needing at least a win and a draw to re-take the Ashes, the future looks good only in comparison to last week. The series is well poised, but will need some closer matches before it will count as a classic.

3 TestsSouth AfricavIndia
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 36 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 25 runs

There seems to be a strange need for people to snidely comment that this is the series between 1 and 2 in the world, to try and mark it as more relevant than the Ashes that, rightly, draws the greater coverage. Fact is, the Ashes matters because people in England and Australia care who wins, and this series doesn't because they don't. When the powers that be can produce a more compelling narrative, people will follow this series too.

They'll want to see a more compelling contest than this, however, as the glut of test match draws has made way for monumental thrashings instead. When Steyn bowls well South Africa normally win, and this game was no different. A burst after the rain to take out the best three batsmen before a session had passed, and then leave it for Morkel to do the rest. No question South Africa batted well in response, but even a Zaheer Khan-less Indian attack should have done better, leaking runs at almost 4 an over even before South Africa put the foot down in the lead-up to a declaration.

I dobut India will be as impotent again, especially with the bat, but South Africa will still be favoured for the win and top spot, should they achieve it by more than 50 runs on Boxing Day.

I-Cup FinalAfghanistanvScotland
Expected MarginScotland by 8 runs
Actual MarginAfghanistan by 7 wickets

A low scoring and tempestuous game where McCallum aside, Scotland failed to come to grips with the Afghan bowlers - particularly the brilliant Hamid Hassan who took 8/84 for the match - to lose by 7 wickets. By no means did Afghanistan have this game all their own way, especially as they were behind by 41 on the first innings, but as they've shown repeatedly in this tournament, they have both the ability and the resilience to win from behind. Little by little too, and in many ways, this is the result of Afghanistan's amazing story-book rise to the top of the second tier, the I-Cup has gathered media attention and respect; from making the front-page scores and fixture lists of cricinfo, to articles in the online press, interest in associate cricket is growing. Hopefully the entirely artificial glass ceilng currently holding it back will be broken soon too.

I-Shield FinalU.A.E.vNamibia
Expected MarginNamibia by 53 runs
Actual MarginNamibia by 6 wickets

In a rarity in these media-trained restricted days, Namibia entered this game claiming they were better than the U.A.E.. On the first day they proceeded to prove it, rolling them for 79 (Kola Burger 7/38) and getting to 267/3 in response. From there, the U.A.E. had the better of it, not only forcing a collapse, but responding with 427 (Saqib Ali, 160*) to set a challenging 187 for the win. Namibia, led by Williams 116 (102) and 113* (95), coasted home after a shaky start though to win the (now defunct) Intercontinental Shield. Their reward was no better than their runners-up reward in the last I-Cup, told to place in the top two of the ODI Division 2 to earn a place in the next I-Cup, but with a young, talented side, they ought to be able to achieve that.

Rankings at 25th December 2010
2.South Africa1201.95
5.Sri Lanka1088.00
6.West Indies931.04
7.New Zealand913.44

21.Hong Kong148.65
22.Cayman Is134.24

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

Cricket - Ratings - Test 25th December, 2010 23:17:29   [#]