Ratings - 16th April 2012
Russell Degnan

2nd TestSri LankavEngland
Expected MarginEngland by 79 runs
Actual MarginEngland by 8 wickets

It stood to reason that England would eventually win a game from a decent position, and that their batting would eventually produce enough runs to support their bowling. They did so here largely through the efforts of Pietersen, who played with an elan he'd not shown in some time. Jayawardene and Herath's good form continued, taking 7 wickets and producing 169 runs respectively for the match, but they were poorly supported, with no other batsman scoring over 60 and the expensive Dilshan the only bowler taking more than one wicket.

For England, Swann took 10, and Anderson continued his brilliant support bowling. At the top of the order, Strauss scored some runs, but not a lot of runs, prelonging questions over his form and future in the side. The advantage of short series for batsmen is that they are never long enough to give a convincing case for being dropped.

There has been much discussion of the short "series", but to be honest I can't say I mind a two-test event. Cricket has too many trophies, and the mutual bilateral series is a primitive way to schedule a sport. Put in a proper context a two test, three week series is probably preferable to a five week, three test one. This was an interesting enough series albeit one without any memorable games. Another game like the ones just had wouldn't do much to improve that state of affairs.

I-Cup MatchAfghanistanvNetherlands
Expected MarginAfghanistan by 156 runs
Actual MarginAfghanistan by 3 wickets

Another low scoring and tense I-Cup game, won at the death by Afghanistan's 18-year-old wicket-keeper on debut, Afsar Zazai, whose 84 not out was the highest score of the match (he also took 6 catches). The Netherlands didn't come away empty handed, somehow converting the 133 they made on day one into a 4 run first innings lead on the back of Bukhari's 6/43. Nawroz Mangal the last batsman to fall for 67, supported, for lack of a better word, by 9 single figure scores.

From 6/111 chasing 233 Afghanistan really ought to have lost; their lack of form in I-up games ought to be worrying. They are a team that knows how to win though, and the retain second on the table, almost half-way through the competition. The Netherlands first innings points mean they are tied for fourth, with a home game against the UAE and games against Namibia and Canada, they are well placed to make a run at the final.

I-Cup MatchNamibiavCanada
Expected MarginNamibia by 176 runs
Actual MarginNamibia by 8 wickets

A thoroughly professional performance from Namibia, defeating a Canadian side still without a point after three games. Canada's biggest problem is a top-3 that, while talented, has an average age of 19, nd a propensity for daft strokes. They did well to make 274 in the first innings, but couldn't wear down Namibia's impossily deep batting lineup and were passed with 4 wickets in hand. Burger making 135 and van Schoor continuing his WT20Q form with 71. Viljoen dominated the second innings, taking 7/61, with only Siddiqi providing resistance (his 71 following his 87 in the first innings). The 119 run chase was dispensed with in short order with Steenkamp making 60 at a run a ball. Namibia join the glut of teams on 23 points. Canada, probably just need patience; provided they don't drop out of the top 8 associate sides their youth will flower, eventually.

1st TestWest IndiesvAustralia
Expected MarginAustralia by 77 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 3 wickets

A game that looked more exciting than it was, mostly because Sammy, and perhaps the West Indies generally, are so accustomed to losing they fail to see when an alternative is on offer. They fought well until the last day, led by Chanderpaul's 103 and 11 scores in double figures on the first two days, they entered the fourth day in a position to press the advantage. Australia, still one run short of the follow-on with Hussey, Wade on debut and a questionable tail to follow. By day's end they'd thrown it away, the questionable tail adding 121 undefeated runs for the last two wickets, then ripping out 4/17 - mostly to Hilfenhaus.

The game now Australia's to win, they needless to say, kept the pressure on. A chase of 192 was never going to be straight-forward; the light threatened to reduce the chase to 40-50 overs, the pitch was turning, an in Bishoo and Deonarine, the West Indies had enough bowling to exploit it. Unfortunately they seemed more content to waste time, plug singles and let the score meander along. After a slow start, a cameo 57 (57) from Watson set up a straight-forward final hour. Australia did their best to fail, losing a bereft Cowan, Ponting and Clarke in short order. Hussey is a master of this type of chase though, and interspersed aggressive running with sixes launched onto the roof of the grand-stand to ensure the win.

Hussey's wicketdid turn out to be significant in one way though. It tipped Australia from beating the margin to losing, preventing them from over-taking South Africa into second spot. They probably oughtn't be second, given how many points they gained beating up a poor India. Hopefully the West Indies have gained the confidence from their efforts to actually push for a victory in the remaining games.

Rankings at 1st April 2012
2.South Africa1181.34
5.Sri Lanka1033.23
7.West Indies924.21
8.New Zealand887.90

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 16th April, 2012 00:52:45   [#]