Cricket hits the brakes, Ratings 26 December
Russell Degnan

4th TestIndiavEngland
Expected MarginEngland by 58 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Series rating1086.71177.6

An old-fashioned Indian draw. England, batting first, were made to work hard to win the series, on a pitch not suited for fast scoring, they crawled to 330 - Root and Pietersen both making 73 - in a day and a half. India were equally slow, and while they stayed in contention for a win until into the fifth day the game ebbed away with only 23 wickets falling. Kohli's century in partnership wth Dhoni were their only real contributions, and they were over-shadowed by Trott (143) and Bell (116*) who ensured England won the series.

This was one where the ratings turned out to know best; both teams played exactly to their level, given hoem conditions, and England came away with a deserved victory. It was a surprising victory for those who'd watched their troubles in the previous twelve months, or the first test of the series. But once Panesrar (17 wickets @ 26.8) joined Swann (20 wickets @ 24.8) England had the superior spin attack, and with Cook, Pietersen Trott and Prior, much the superior batting lineup. Inda will be pleased by Pujara, who has looked the part every time he has played, but their next best batsman was probably Ashwin - a very good batsman, in my opinion, but not where the runs must stem, if he remains at number 8.

1st TestAustraliavSri Lanka
Expected MarginAustralia by 114 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 137 runs

An exciting match, but not because Sri Lanka ever looked competitive. Australia finally got off to a decent start, with Hughes and Warner looking dominant once the new ball aged, and Clarke, Hussey and Wade cashing in before an unusually early declaration. Welegadara took 3 wickets and Kulasakera got some movement, but Sri Lanka remain a pop-gun attack in Australian conditions. They made the Australian bowlers work hard, and Siddle showed he is willing to take up that role, taking 5/54 off 25.3 overs. Starc was expensive, much more Mitch 1.2 than Mitch 2.0 and they let Dilshan and Mathews put on a big partnership that threatened to leave Australia without time to win.

For a while in the third innings, it seemed Australia might have given themselves time to lose, Some ugly dismissals, Clarke's injury and a late collapse left them only 392 runs in front. Herath the main wicket-taker, which might be significant if he can carry that form forward, as he is Sri Lanka's only real threat. Sangakkara gave hints of his last trip to Hobart, but the Sri Lankan run-rate was never high enough, and that allowed Clarke to slowly turn the screws. It took time, almost 120 overs, a lot more hard work from Siddle and some late Starc yorkers, but Australia recorded their first victory of the summer.

That difficulty is what underpins the push for rotation, as all the bowlers have worked hard, and except for Siddle, are either young, vulnerable to injury, or expendable anyway. It is deeply disappointing to read so many attacks on "scence" that show no sign of having read any of what they are actually panning. It is an emerging field, complex, and probabilistic, not certain. It is also constrained by the schedule and match situation, in the absence of free substitutes. I happen to think rotation has only marginal benefits for test matches, to the point that it is not worth using except in extremis. But I have at least read something that supports that view, not just made unwarranted and misinformed attacks based on the incorrect notion that players are being injured more. And while I'd have liked to see Starc playing in Melbourne, neither he nor Hilfenhaus were that impressive in Hobart, and the deserving Jackson Bird has been for some time.

Rankings at 26th December 2012
1.South Africa1272.3
5.Sri Lanka1033.7
7.West Indies961.4
8.New Zealand866.9


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 26th December, 2012 05:12:04   [#]