The new guard; ratings 18th May
Russell Degnan

3 TestsEnglandvSri Lanka
Expected MarginEngland by 124 runs

Two years ago, a disheveled England lost to a Sri Lankan side, failing to press home an advantage in the first test, and squandering another in the second. This time around, with England finding their groove with a young and dynamic side, and Sri Lanka continuing to drift backwards, a comprehensive loss is much more likely. Whereas in 2014 Mathews was able to feed off Sangakarra to punch an advantage, now he looks more isolated, and carries a greater burden. With Root, Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Stokes all capable of taking a game away quickly, England have a deep and powerful batting lineup to set up matches for their bowlers. Uncertainty still exists at the top, and in the spot Taylor had occupied, but the depth of all-rounders gives them flexibility to work around those positions.

Sri Lanka's World T20 performance was that of a fairly poor side, and while Herath will, for a little while longer, keep them semi-competitive at home, the yawning hole left by Jayawardene and Sangakarra will not easily be met. They face some worrying tours if the young batsmen in their side cannot improve quickly.

2 TestsNew ZealandvAustralia
Expected MarginAustralia by 31 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by an innings and 152 runs
Australia by 7 wickets
Series rating1409.1848.0

Somewhere along the way I neglected to conclude on this series, won with the right amount of superiority at the right times by Australia. McCullum's brutal century, brilliant as it was, was an epic roll of the dice for a side that felt it needed to do so to have a chance. Ultimately, Australia passed their total four-down, with three days remaining to force a result. Conversely, with better catching, some better luck with the umpiring and fewer loose drives outside off they might have ground their way to a result. Australia were flattered by the scoreline, even if the bowling was very good, the fielding excellent, and the batting effective. The collapses of previous tours didn't appear against a side (and on pitches) that ought to have produced them, though it would be brave (and wrong) to suggest they've been solved.

Australia's rating is low by modern number ones, but still significantly superior to India in second place. New Zealand, despite the hiccup here, remain close to the top-five. Had they performed better against Australia this summer they might have found themselves near the top, but they lack something the better sides have, even if it isn't always clear what that is. Perhaps the next era, sans McCullum but with many of the side at their peak, will reach the heights they've promised but missed for some time.

Rankings at 18th May 2016
4.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka969.4
8.West Indies848.1

17.Papua New Guinea217.6
18.Hong Kong183.6

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 18th May, 2016 16:04:43   [#]