Control is not always everything, but often, ratings 10th October
Russell Degnan

A somewhat belated recap somewhat belatedly marking the start of the new season

5th TestEnglandvAustralia
Expected MarginEngland by 1 run
Actual MarginAustralia by an innings and 46 runs
Series rating1153.71162.5

It would be easy to point to the opening of this test match and say that Rogers and Warner batted as they ought to have throughout, laying a foundation foa big total, and allowing their bowlers to attack. But for the most part, Rogers and Warner tried (and largely succeeded) to make that foundation. The issue was that their inevitable failures (all failures are) resulted in cataclysms through the middle order. It isn`t clear whether Smith is a number three, as he is only making starts against the old ball. But as with the openers, he mostly did the job. A team should expect to be two down in the first hour relatively often, partcularly in England - it isn`t acceptable to turn that into all out by tea.

The lessons of the last three Ashes series in England (if not every series in England, ever) remain unheeded. At home, Australia can largely avoid collapses because the pitches are flat. In England, there are times when the play is wth the bowlers and the side that lost (the series but also individual tests) in 2005, 2009 and 2013, was the one that failed to arrest the collapse, and wait for better conditions.

Australia`s bowling showed similar flaws (as indeed they have in previous series), failing to keep control of the run-scoring when times were bad, and underestimating the value of putting the ball in the right spot consistently when times were good. Siddle, in this respect, ought to have played more matches. The allure of a 2013/14 Johnson and a 2015 World Cup Starc running rampant was too strong to exclude either; and the reputation Hazlewood has attained for being McGrath-like seems to have afflicted the judgement of his actual accuracy.

In the end, the series rating shows this to be close, when actually, England`s victory was near inevitable given the fragility of Australia`s batting. A evidenced in this match, England have their own worries in this department, but they have a young side with talent, so they can expect to improve. Australia have gone from an old side to half a side within days of the Ashes ending. That is a problem for another day though.

2nd/3rd TestsSri LankavIndia
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 15 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 278 runs
India by 117 runs
Series rating938.31159.6

If you took Angelo Mathews out of this Sri Lankan side and they`d be a rabble. Chandimal provided runs in the first test, but in the following two, India managed consistent contributions across the board - with bat and ball - while Sri Lanka had two tons from Mathews, 14 wickets from Prasad and not a whole lot else. They didnt lose by a huge amount, but a failure to pass 306 in four innings nor keep India below 274 meant that they were well behind.

The result pushes Sri Lanka beow New Zealand and lifts India above England, with a reasonable chance to move into third or better across the forthcoming series. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, need to stave off the West Indies, who they are slowly drifting towards. With so few contributions of note, and the loss now of Sangakarra and Jayawardene as well, it may be some time before they again challenge for the top few places in the rankings.

I-Cup MatchNetherlandsvScotland
Expected MarginScotland by 77 runs
Actual MarginNetherlands by 44 runs

The sort of low-scoring match that is exciting to watch unfold, and ought to be covered better. There were only three fifties in the match, and two came on the closing morning when Scotland looked briefly to have put themselves back in contention, after the top-order collapsed in both innings. The unlikely bowling of Borren capped the victory for the Dutch, after Rippon again provided the partnership breaker.

Netherlands play so few first class fixtures it wasn`t until they won that you realised just how long they`d been poor. Their rating reflects the seven year gap between wins, and their form-line shows how far they have to regain any sort of respectability. If they can keep van der Merwe in the side though, coupled with the relatively solid and committed lineup that is playing well, they will move back to where they belong. Challenging for a victory in the I-Cup is unlikely - though not impossible, as neither Ireland nor Afghanistan look strong - but this victory did seriously dent the chances of the Scottish.

2 TestsPakistanvEngland
Expected MarginPakistan by 8 runs

Nominally an incredibly close series on neutral territory, in reality, Pakistan plays in the UAE as well as, or even better than they did at home. They are also facing a side that doesn`t play well in the UAE, is young, and notwithstanding the home win, recently drew series against lesser rank sides, in more familiar conditions. Compounding that, while Yasir Shah is a loss for Pakistan, his opposite spinners are prone to loose deliveries, and in Mooen Ali`s case, will need to open on top of the bowling workload, having been shifted out of number eight for Adil Rashid.

It is questionable Wood offers a lot extra, on top of Broad and Anderson, with Stokes and two spinners. If England`s spinners can`t take the wickets required, then they`ll need to the extra batting moreso than the extra bowler. The benefit of three all-rounders being lost when the tail still starts at nine.

If Pakistan play nearly as well as they did against Australia they`ll win this comfortably. They did subsequently lose to New Zealand, but that seems to be a growing trend, and in any case, was an unusual match in thr wake of Hughes death in Australia. Assuming their ageless batsmen don`t suddenly do so, England will be in for a difficult short tour.

3 TestsSr LankavWest Indies
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 107 runs

A series that exemplifies the need for the ICC discussions on context and bilaterals. Optimally, not having bilaterals series, and absorbing this contest (and it is a close contest) into a championship would make it less of an afterthought for fans and players alike. Sri Lanka`s plan will be the same as always: try and score enugh runs for Herath to grind the opposition into dust. The West Indies bowling lineup is as good as it has been in some time (Taylor, Roach, Holder, Gabriel) but they are sporadically world class, and the batting looks shaky. If they can make this close it will count as a success.

Rankings at 10th October 2015
1.South Africa1267.9
6.New Zealand1000.5
7.Sri Lanka980.8
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 14th October, 2015 22:57:29   [#]