Ratings - 1st February 2012
Russell Degnan

2nd TestPakistanvEngland
Expected MarginEngland by 116 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 72 runs

England played much better in this match, and ooked the certain winners with only 145 to chase in the last innings. Panesar came into the side, taking 6 second innings wickets. Both he and Swann were well supported by Anderson and Broad, bowling with economy, and keeping Pakistan to gettable totals despite the advantage they'd gained through the toss. They were held up only twice, by Misbah (84) and Asad Shafiq (58) in the first innings, and Azhar Ali (68) and Asad Shafiq (43) again in the second. Both partnerships proved vital in providing enough runs for Pakistan to defend on the fourth day.

They oughtn't have been sufficient however. Cook (94) and Trott (74) put England in a commanding position, yet the middle order collapse was severe enough that it needed some lusty hitting from Broad (58), Swann and Anderson to earn them a decent lead. In the second innings, and faced by three quality spinners, England needed similar luck and didn't get it. Instead they played as if mired in quick sand. Strauss and Cook survived merely by standing still. The rest, unwilling to get to the pitch of the ball, vulnerable playing back to the speed of Rehman and Ajmal, and forward to the generosity of the DRS sunk quickly. The last 5 wickets in a mere 11 balls.

It wasn't mere English incompetence and impotence however. Abdur Rehman's 6/25 (10.1) and Saeed Ajmal's 3/22 (15) were a testament to their accuracy and threat. Misbah ul-Haq, often criticised for being boring, showed brilliant attacking instincts when he had to, with the field, and with the bat when mired with the tail. Pakistan probably still lack a genuine quick to compete in all conditions, but their form since ditching the clique uninterested in winning games is putting them back near the top three on the ratings.

Only TestNew ZealandvZimbabwe
Expected MarginNew Zealand by 211 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by an innings and 301 runs

A short game that needs little description. Inaccurate bowling and poor fielding let New Zealand score at a healthy rate, with tons from Taylor and Watling. By contrast, on a pitch offering plenty of swing, New Zealand exploited the conditions well, and Zimbabwe collapsed pretty ignomiously - at one stage having lost 15/63. If not for Waller's 23 they'd have probably beaten New Zealand's lowest test score, and although a 63 from Chakabva took them to 143 at the second attempt, it wasn't the greatest effort. Martin, rightly winning the man of the match for his 2/5 off 6 and 6/26 off 8.3. Ratings wise, it was the second worst performance ever, but coupled with their reasonable showings at home, it indicates a lack of experience against a moving ball more than anything, and they were not even the only side to lose 10 for 51 that day, let alone this season.

3rd TestAustraliavIndia
Expected MarginAustralia by 109 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 298 runs
Series rating1360.36847.86

Like the series, this game was decided before it begun. Despite making some early break-throughs, there was an inevitability about Clarke and Ponting's partnership, and India's inability to match it themselves. That partnership earnt the pair the second highest consecutive partnership runs record (the highest, between Ponsford and Bradman is nearly unassailable). But otherwise, except for Kohli's century there was little of note in the match.

India's slump down the ratings continues. While Sehwag was happy to point to a 2-0 victory at home against the West Indies, the fact is in the past 14 games they have beaten their expected margin only once. In this series their performance was on par with the West Indies they managed to squeek past in their only recent wins. Every batsman who struggled here can point to recent runs, but also extended slumps - a sure sign of age - and although the bowling had their moments, they also had whole days of nothing. Fitness is surely an issue here; a bowler can't maintain accuracy if they are fatigued, and while Ishant and Zaheer were both coming off injuries, India need to improve in that area if their pace bowling is to live up to its potential (which is quite high, given their pace and control of the seam).

For Australia, another confusing series. Their batting has struggled at times, but Clarke and Ponting hid that by scoring extremely heavily. Marsh's form is dire, but Watson could theoretically slot back into three, should he ever return. The bowling is vastly improved, but it helps playing batsmen willing to gift their wickets. Lyon has been unfairly criticised, given his lack of penetration, but he'll get more helpful places to bowl, and less adept players of spin, and be a match winner. An economy rate of 3.11 is the key figure.

Rankings at 1st February 2012
2.South Africa1181.00
5.Sri Lanka1036.56
7.West Indies923.80
8.New Zealand885.37

22.Hong Kong148.65
23.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 1st February, 2012 08:22:35   [#]