Last man standing, Ratings 27th March
Russell Degnan

3rd TestSouth AfricavAustralia
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 84 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 245 runs

A classic end to a classic series, albeit one without two-sided matches. Warner's innings demonstrated an ease with the conditions that Clarke's sorely lacked, but the latter fought his way to 161 not out, damaged ribs and all. Rain saw a declaration for a comparatively low score, but with two days gone, and Australia's intent to win was obvious throughout the match. South Africa faced a sustained barrage from Australia's pace attack, though they slipped away to get from 5/146 to 287, tiring the bowling enough in the process to hope for a draw after the coming declaration.

And it came quickly, behind Warner's 145 off 156 balls, and with Steyn unable to bowl more than 3 overs. 511 was, in restrospect, more than Australia needed, though in the end it didn't matter. The final day saw an attritional battle remarkable for numbers 4 through 9 all facing more than 89 balls, yet the highest score being only 51. In the end it only took two balls. But out on their feet having spent two and a half days in the field, the majority of the overs coming from three quicks with ther share of injuries, the ability to lift that final time can't be stressed enough.

It capped a brilliant summer of bowling for Australia, with the batting showing signs of strength, but plenty of weaknesses. It is the latter that prevents them taking the top spot, and they'll need to travel to the UAE, and beat Pakistan, to do so. South Africa have a habit of losing at home to Australia, but the retirement of Kallis and Smith means they start a new era. They do so from a position of great strength, but in the short term at least, we're likely to see any and all of the top five sides winning their share of matches.

Rankings at 27th March 2014
1.South Africa1299.4
6.Sri Lanka1017.5
7.New Zealand923.5
8.West Indies894.7


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 20th March, 2014 23:53:00   [#]