Risible Yet Historic Collapses; Ratings 20th August
Russell Degnan

3rd TestEnglandvAustralia
Expected MarginAustralia by 20 runs
Actual MarginEngland by an innings and 78 runs

Let`s not talk about the first innings. It has been done. Some days, everything finds the edge, and the hands of slips. It helps, no doubt, if you push at balls away from the body, searching for the ball, and only finding the edge. It also helps to be incapable of learning, match after match, series after series, for going on eight years.

But the second innings summed up the series. Australia began relatively well - albeit luckily - with fifties from the openers, and then collapsed, to an older ball on a more placid pitch (albeit still only the second day). To the same shots that caused their first innings demise. Voges dragged heir sorry carcass into the third day, but it was the sort of spineless prodding that stopped them escaping with a draw in Cardiff, and prevented them getting to a competitive total at Edgbaston.

England did as they`ve done for much of the series: hoped that Root got going, and supported him with the lower-middle order. They bowled full and outside off, moved the ball around, and waited. The bowling in this series, from both sides, has been largely good, sometimes brilliant. Australia could have done better: they remain too loose, and too short. But then, if the batsmen fail inside twenty overs, there isn`t a chance of winning regardless.

The post-mortem for this series could be brutal. Not outside the team, though cricket breached the national consciousness with this performance, which takes some doing. The reality is that there are just three players that could be guaranteed to play every match: Warner, Smith and Lyon. The quicks could, but can`t, and won`t. The rest are either retiring, being retired, or old enough to be moved on. Marsh (Mitch) might survive, but needs to perform, Marsh (Shaun) and Voges might stick around for the illusion of stability. But the retirement of Clarke points to a brutal reality for Clarke`s generation: outside him, his contemporaries never performed adequately, and that, more than anything, is why Clarke will end his career a five times Ashes loser.

1st TestSri LankavIndia
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 11 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 63 runs

Having written in the preview that India ought to have the batting to win, it ought to be noted that the collapse on day four proved that completely incorrect. In Kohli and to an extent, Rahane, India do have some quality batting. But in their muddled opening combination, the absence or lack of form of Pujara, and the five bowler strategy they have some serious weaknesses. Ashwin can, certainly, play at seven, but runs are needed at eight through eleven too, unless the bowlers are particularly good (in which case, why would you need five of them?).

Herath (7/48) remains a machine, well supported by Kaushal (5/134 and 3/47) but it was a poor effort from India who played into Sri Lanka`s hands having done all the work in the first two days. Done in by a combination of Chandimal`s counter-attack and a nervous tentative approach to a small chase that they didn`t get close to. Their lack of batting depth ought to be easily corrected, but their tendency to subside when in trouble is a problem. One that has afflicted them through English and Australia tours, and wasn`t, apparently, only due to Dhoni`s relaxed demeanour. This is still a close series, and a rather interesting one for both sides.

Rankings at 20th August 2015
1.South Africa1267.9
6.Sri Lanka1013.8
7.New Zealand1000.5
8.West Indies867.0

17.Papua New Guinea219.4
19.Hong Kong150.1

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 21st August, 2015 00:41:27   [#]