Ratings - April 2006
Russell Degnan

Bangladesh v Sri Lanka
Opening Ratings: Ban: 610.86 Sri: 1067.61
1st Test: Sri Lanka by 8 wickets
2nd Test: Sri Lanka by 10 wickets
Closing Ratings: Ban: 601.18 Sri: 1074.84

Bangladesh are clearly improving, but without the results to prove it. Inconsistency and a weak bottom order is their current problem. A brilliant 136 by Mohammad Ashraful in the first test allowed them to hold Sri Lanka to a 19 run lead, but Muralitharan took over from there. The second test played out on similar lines for a similar result. The batting of Habibul Bashar, Mohammad Rafique and Ashraful is reasonable, but depending on those three to do the job is unrealistic. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, they are heading in the same direction. Muralitharan continues to dominate their bowling, although he had reasonable support against weak Bangladeshi batsmen. Similarly, if you take out Tharanga's performances at the top the batting is suspect, although some good players were missing, there is not much depth. Sri Lanka are on the wane, Bangladesh on the up, but the ratings stay the same for now.


India v England
Opening Ratings: Ind: 1152.41 Eng: 1204.38
1st Test: Drawn
2nd Test: India by 9 wickets
3rd Test: England by 212 runs
Closing Ratings: Ind: 1142.25 Eng: 1213.19

A potential classic cut short. All three tests fluctuated, each a contest between bat and ball, but in the final balance England probably had the best of the series. India's win came on the back of a brilliant performance by Kumble, as the batsmen struggled with just one century and a heavy reliance on runs down the order. Their pitiful performance trying to save the series win in the final test showed the dangers of that, all out 100 in 48 overs. For England, Monty Panesar bowled well without wickets, but Hoggard defied the conditions to lead the wicket-takers. The batting was even and solid, except Bell, who continues to struggle against spin. The ratings remain unchanged, but India have some question marks over them.


New Zealand v West Indies
Opening Ratings: NZ: 1051.26 WI: 812.23
1st Test: New Zealand by 27 runs
2nd Test: New Zealand by 10 wickets
3rd Test: Drawn
Closing Ratings: NZ: 1050.90 WI: 812.76

The West Indies remain an enigma. After throwing away the first test after a 148 run opening stand chasing 263, Bond and Vettori's efforts aside, the second test went more to form, and recent history. The third went to the weather, but games in New Zealand are like that. With the possible exception of Gayle, noone on either side preformed particularly well, although two players performed particularly badly which cost their side the series: Lara and Chanderpaul. New Zealand were particularly uninspiring in winning these games, which might mean that the West Indies are slowly turning around, or it might mean that New Zealand are waning again. Either way, an uninspiring couple of games after a long summer.


South Africa v Australia
Opening Ratings: SAF: 1122.41 AUS: 1349.53
1st Test: Australia by 7 wickets
2nd Test: Australia by 112 runs
3rd Test: Australia by 2 wickets
Closing Ratings: SAF: 1084.75 AUS: 1377.72

A more convincing performance by Australia than in the home leg, winning all three matches, and only struggling in the last. The reasons for the victory were similar though: Australia's best four batsmen -- particularly Ponting and Hussey -- collectively scored almost more runs than South Africa's entire top order. South Africa's bowling was dependent on Ntini, and their batting on an average Kallis, while Australia had a firing Lee, Warne and the outstanding debut of Clark. There is a lot of mediocrity in the South African batting, and it is not clear any of the current side can play better than they are -- except Smith, who had a shocker, and Gibbs, who, like Sehwag, is finally being found out for their shoddy footwork. South African cricket needs to rebuild, because at the moment it is flailing and declining.

But what of Australia? I said the home series raised a lot of questions, and they haven't been answered satisfactorily. Symonds remains a mystery. It is worthwhile having one batsman who can change the game with blazing strokes and fast scoring, but with Gilchrist filling that role, and continuing to struggle, Symonds selection is an indulgence that puts pressure on Lee and Warne to score runs when they fail. Especially when his bowling, while useful for holding up an end, lacks any penetration. Martyn played alright, got out when he had starts in the first two tests, then scored a hundred without finishing the job in the last. He was probably the scapegoat for four players' failure in the Ashes, but questions remain over his temperament when the going is hard.

It is the bowling though with the most question-marks. It is not inconceivable that all four bowlers in this series won't be playing in two years, for form or age. That is a problem, but I'll expound on that in another post. In short, based on current news: no Bracken, bad; Gillespie, good; no Kasprowicz, good; Cullen, good.


Forthcoming Series:

Sri Lanka (1074.84) v Pakistan (1152.03) - 2 Tests.

A bit odd to comment on a series that will be over in about 5 hours. The rating say this will be close, although Sri Lanka appear to be declining, even as Pakistan improve again after a little lull. The actuality is a series full of drama, dominated by bowlers, rain, and the odd sparkling innings. It is still in the balance too. A pity it is so short.

Bangladesh (601.18) v Australia (1377.72) - 2 Tests.

Australia to win. Bangladesh have a history of over-performing against Australia. But barring rain, their lack of batting depth makes it hard to see how they'll even manage a draw.

South Africa (1084.75) v New Zealand (1050.90) - 3 Tests.

Unusually close in the ratings for the first time in a long time, South Africa need to win to arrest their relative slide down the rankings. New Zealand aren't going anywhere, haven't for some time, and lack any genuine match-winners, so it would be a suprise if South Africa didn't win. But on recent form this will be a mediocre series.


Zimbabwe (9th) 672.64

Cricket - Ratings - Test 5th April, 2006 16:55:22   [#] 

Comments

Ratings - April 2006
What do South Africa think they are doing hosting a home Test series in April? I mean, really. And against New Zealand. Even the players will be more interested in Super 14 then the Tests. Yet more ICC nonsense.
Scott  6th April, 2006 04:21:58  

Ratings - April 2006
Spot on about Gibbs, Russ. The way he walks into his shots screams park-tonker. His success in ODIs compered with his lack of it in tests is a strong indictment on one day cricket.

I'd be bringing in Clarke for Symonds. He's a better bat, which is good for a slightly dodgy middle order, and hopefully he will learn to hang around.

Regarding the bowling, I'm hoping against hope Warne never retires. He's still the difference.
Tony.T  6th April, 2006 15:15:54  

Ratings - April 2006
Scott, I think the problem is New Zealand. The Kiwis have to schedule all their pointless ICC sanctioned home series in the couple of months over summer when it (mostly) doesn't rain. Which means touring Australia and South Africa at unusual times of year.

Tony, I agree. The thing with Clarke is he is too good for first-class cricket so he scores a mountain of runs every time he plays down. He needs what Ponting got: a lot of bad press every time he does something irresponsible.
Russ  6th April, 2006 16:45:40  

Ratings - April 2006
I reckon I could fit an off-cutter through the canyon Gibbs leaves open.

I think I will be only taking a passing interest in cricket now until the day after the Grand Final. These 2 series are just junk time to fulfill ICC obligations.
Bruce  6th April, 2006 22:25:06