The highest rating 20 test series
Russell Degnan

Test matches are on thing, but series are where it is at. This is a list of the best rating, accumulated quality ratings ignoring games rated below zero. Obviously it favours five test series, but then, so do our memories.

AustraliaWest Indies1951/5254107530.84
The most under-rates series and oddly the rated best. The absence of a quality pace bowler let the West Indies down, but the 4-1 scoreline between two great sides isn't representative of the tightness of the contest, decided by just 4 wickets.
AustraliaWest Indies1960/6152117433.38
The closest of series, between a weaker Australian side than the early 1950s, but a stronger West Indies one; but for a single run and 3 wickets the West Indies would have won 3-1.
A ridiculously close series, all Australia's until Botham took over at Headingley, and even then they ought to have won two of the remaining three matches.
But for Warne England would have walked this, with McGrath for longer Australia would have done the same. The swings in fortune were immense, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, meaning England's tight victories were tense but from well in front.
South AfricaEngland1956/5752206072.71
Who said the 1950s were boring. A great comeback from South Africa, having collapsed from winnable positions in the first two tests, and been denied by inaction in the third.
England walked this, but the infusion of youth meant Australia were stronger by the finish, and only 12 runs and 3 wickets from a series victory.
South AfricaEngland1909/1053205267.58
Aubrey Faulker may be the most under-rated cricketer of all time. He was majestic here, outscoring Hobbs with the bat, and taking 29 wickets with the ball.
The first two tests in this series were as tight as any before a strong Australia eased to victory. England were 2 wickets and 50 runs from victory, and 1 wicket from a white-wash.
Technically over-rated because Australia was without their WSC players, but Australia's three victories were all on a knife-edge.
A damp summer punctuated by collapses. The first two tests were wash-outs, the last two amongst the closest ever played.
EnglandSouth Africa195553204875.68
South Africa fought back in this series against a very strong English side before succumbing to Laker and Lock in the last.
As above, strong sides, close games, and a perhaps unlucky England losing by a lot less than the margin suggests.
AustraliaWest Indies1992/9351204772.15
Won by a single run, the side accustomed to winning got the better of a draw in Brisbane, and scraped home in Adelaide. The handover would wait another two years.
AustraliaSouth Africa1952/5352204630.24
Close, but not tight games, with South Africa over-coming statistical inferiority to draw.
Australia were waning as Taylor's era closed. Only Slater's blistering hundred in Sydney kept this series from being tied.
West IndiesEngland1967/6850104542.93
Bizarre series: two wickets from a loss in the first test, two wickets from winnings after following on in the second, and one wicket from victory in the fifth, the West Indies lost 1-0 after declaring twice in the fourth.
Australian collapses let England win three games, but this was a tight series between two good sides.
West IndiesPakistan1987/8831104523.44
the highest averaging series per game. The best two sides of the 80s toe to toe, paired with another drawn series in Pakistan.
West IndiesSouth Africa2000/0151204421.05
South Africa clearly superior, yet they won twice by less than a hundred runs as Walsh held the fort.
South AfricaAustralia2005/0630304339.95
Australia always had the better of this series, but, as with the whole summer, a few key moments decided every game.

The best series from the four unrepresented sides:
South AfricaNew Zealand1961/6252204006.3
A forgotten series, neither side strong, but close games throughout.
Sri LankaAustralia2003/0430303767.56
Three times Australia conceded a lead, sometimes massive, three times they clawed their way back with Warne to the fore.
So close for Zimbabwe, years later Pakistan would be the site of their greatest triumph, but the two Ws were formidable opponents.
Not terribly close, except by Bangladeshi standards. Well placed several times, they always fell short.

Cricket - Analysis 20th July, 2011 23:56:05   [#]