Desert T20 review, Women's WC Qualifier Preview
Russell Degnan

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast begins its fifth year much as it ended with Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers). The Desert T20 is featured (0:20) with a full wrap of the eight teams involved, and the tri-series that followed (12:50). We touch briefly on the ICC Americas team playing in the West Indies (14:40), the ICC development meeting (15:10), the WBBL (19:05). There are several previews: of the Women's ODI world cup qualifier (20:35) and the prospects for Ireland, Scotland, PNG and Thailand; of the EAP WCL qualifer (24:50); and of the WCL and I-Cup matches between Hong Kong and the Netherlands (28:45).

Direct Download Running Time 32min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 13th February, 2017 22:44:00   [#] [0 comments] 

End of Year Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

For the now traditional end of year review, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) are joined by journalist Tim Wigmore (@timwig_cricket). We begin with various themes from the year, including the lack of associate cricket, particularly at lower levels (5:40); the gradual rise in streaming and the state of communications (10:40); and the continual leak of players away from associate cricket (15:50). We cover some "bests" of the year, including male player(s) (21:40), young male player(s) (23:45), female (25:10), team(s) (26:40) and moments (38:40). And we look forward with some optimism to next year (43:00) both for the potential changes in ICC structures, the tournaments that will conclude or be played and the ICC's strategy for promoting associate cricket (49:00). As well as that, the recent women's international T20 tournament in the UAE (0:30), along with Afghanistan's tour of the same are discussed (2:00), and there is some news from Uganda (1:00:00).

Direct Download Running Time 63min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 28th December, 2016 23:09:56   [#] [0 comments] 

WCL4 Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

World Cricket League Division four has been played and won. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss the successes and failures (0:36). Thailand hosted the women's Asia T20 Cup with a rare chance to match the best regional associates against the full members, albeit with mixed results (15:48). There are I-Cup and World Cricket League matches between PNG and Namibia and Hong Kong and Kenya (16:58), with the latter shaping up to be a close finish. Hong Kong and PNG also faced off in some bilateral matches (29:20), and there are several sub-regional tournaments: the East Asia Cup (30:05), the men's and women's South American Championship (33:40) and matches involving Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (36:40). In news, there is USACA of course, and the ICC's plans for women's European qualifiers and the test championship and the retirement of Preston Mommsen (39:15). Finally, we preview the UAE International Cup (58:35).

Direct Download Running Time 60min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men`s women`s, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Idle Summers 8th December, 2016 21:55:32   [#] [0 comments] 

England out-gunned, Pakistan out-prepared; ratings 14th September
Russell Degnan

2nd TestIndiavEngland
Pre-rating1220.61134.0
Form+12.6-8.3
Expected MarginIndia by 93 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 246 runs
Post-rating1235.71123.4

There are clear benefits to winning the toss on a pitch that will only deteriorate, but it isn't necessarily easy to force a victory. A team needs to score quickly enough to either declare or bowl the opposition out for less. Failure to capitalise in the first innings, or a collapse in the third can negate the fourth innings advantage with a routine chase. As a team India didn't play this game particularly well. Kohli scored 167 and 81, Pujara 119, and there wasn't many other batting contributions. Anderson and Broad bowled well, Rashid took wickets against the tail. But the match was won ultimately at the end of the second day when England collapsed to a run out, a poor shot, and any chance of parity was gone.

England once again batted more overs than India, which says more about their bowling than their batting. The second innings was proper trench warfare that still took in 97.3 overs, including 38 on the final day when they lost 8/71. They made India work for their win, and that bodes well for any possible come back in the series. That disparity in scoring rate makes a huge difference to their respective abilities to win matches however, with England much more likely to draw than win.

The only significant issue for England is Duckett, whose clearly lacking some combination of form and technique. The rest of the middle order have had their moments in this series, and ultimately the issue is probably not the selection but the quality of the Indian spin bowling over England's and the batting of Kohli, Pujara and Rahane. On the one hand that is an easily and often over-turned margin. On the other, they need a player to score big, or a collapse to do so. Right now, the odds are definitely favouring India for both those events.


1st TestNew ZealandvPakistan
Pre-rating1009.21139.1
Form-18.7-10.1
Expected MarginPakistan by 15 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 8 wickets
Post-rating1017.31128.0

The scorecard probably understates the closeness of this match, and the difficulties New Zealand overcame in chasing down 108 in the last innings. Historically, scores that low are not chased very very rarely. But historically, the first three innings scoring only 500 odd runs is quite rare too. Williamson's 61 off 77 balls was not only the highest score of the match, but done at a pace that prevented any tension from arising. Raval's 55 and 37 not out in support were also impressive from a player on debut. The other debut from de Grandhomme was similarly successful with 6/41 in the first innings. With support from Boult, Southee and Wagner, and sprinklings of runs from most parties New Zealand were comfortable winners.

Nevertheless, Pakistan's ability to find the edge (if not always a safe fielder) means that they are always a good chance. Their batting was better in England, but a two-test series and little preparation makes tuning it a little difficult. It wouldn't be a surprise if the second test was closer, and New Zealand will need to improve their own batting to win again.


Rankings at 23rd November 2016
1.India1220.6
2.South Africa1151.9
3.Australia1144.9
4.Pakistan1128.0
5.England1123.4
6.New Zealand1017.3
7.Sri Lanka1000.6
8.West Indies831.6
9.Bangladesh656.4
12.Zimbabwe512.0

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0
20.Canada147.9

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.

Idle Summers 24th November, 2016 19:54:06   [#] [0 comments] 

The mysteries of consistent performance, ratings 16th November
Russell Degnan

2nd TestAustraliavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1170.41128.7
Form-49.4+17.2
Expected MarginAustralia by 71 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 80 runs
Post-rating1144.11151.9

Not much needs to be said about the details of Australia's latest capitulation. When a side gets bowled out twice in 93 overs they won't win matches. When only three of the top four batsmen are worth their place (one barely) then they aren't going to score enough runs. When their bowling consistently splutters to a halt after the first or second burst then they'll continue to leak runs against the lower order - particularly India and England's lower orders. When the continual drubbings get to a side such that the fielding falls apart and the collapse becomes a clockwork inevitability, then you get where Australia are now.

South Africa, incidentally, are playing good cricket. They like Australian pitches (particularly green Hobart pitches) and Abbott and Philander made appropriate hay. But they aren't a dominant world beating side. The problems of Australia really are the problems of Australia.

Which brings us to the autopsy. With one exception, the problems most people identify with Australian cricket have always existed. Selectors picking players on the back of a run of good form, ignoring their extended record, not accounting for their record as teenagers, getting hung-up over all-rounders because the bowling was failing, looking for upside instead of good records or X-factor over competency, or plumping for young players with almost no experience has happened throughout the past three decades. Examples abound, and except those few years when they picked no new players the selectors have always been hit and miss. The only thing you should ask of the selectors is that an argument can be made that it is the best available, and that they back their decisions. If the process is correct then the side shouldn't change, though the results depend on the quality in the side, and sometimes it just isn't there.

The Sheffield Shield has never offered either enough practice for players, nor opportunities for fringe/younger players (particularly spinners), nor enough data for selectors to make decisions from. It is an amateur structure in a professional era, but the best players never needed it. Certainly not the best bowlers, who often played less than a full season before making their Test debut. This, incidentally, is wrong. Players should play Shield cricket earlier in their career to ensure they keep progressing, they should have several seasons behind them on debut, and plenty of matches in different conditions to draw on. They haven't, they generally learn in the Test team, or float between the two until they are ready, at which point they feature in stories talking about their journey to success. But it was ever thus.

The schedule is no worse now than it was a decade ago, or two decades ago. To the extent Australia plays more tours in October now then that is their obligation to international cricket. The price of a consistent home summer. The players used to jump from ODI to Test matches in the middle of Test series. And before that they'd go to work or play grade cricket. Injuries occur roughly as often, though we tend to keep injured players in the system longer (courtesy of central contracts).

As for cultural explanations, perhaps, perhaps not. Sometimes the players coming through aren't as good. Sometimes you need to wait for the next decent lot of cricketers.

The only significant change over the past two decades, and it has likely been damaging, has been the influx of pathways and coaching, and the push for younger and more professional setups in Shield and grade cricket (and especially second XI sides). The downside to this is that Australia is not England. They've never had a large base of coaches because players always learnt from senior cricketers. The absence of senior cricketers (particularly in representative sides) means they don't learn the hard way, and the weakness in coaching (and to a degree playing opportunity) means some may not have learnt as quickly or at all. But this is still likely to be marginal. They are professional players with all the resources a very rich organisation can throw at them, and has thrown at them for a decade. Yet they play defensive shots like school-kids who've never seen a swinging or seaming ball.

Conditions weren't easy in Hobart, and a few players got decent balls, or played terrible shots. But ultimately the point of being a top-flight batsman is the ability to survive the former and excise the latter. They all have records that show an ability to do that (at least in Australia, against domestic bowling). For a side that was number one only a few months ago to produce several of the worst performances in Australian cricket history is actually quite baffling. Whatever is rotten, it is well hidden in the back of the fridge.


1st TestIndiavEngland
Pre-rating1224.41131.4
Form+26.9-18.1
Expected MarginIndia by 97 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1220.61134.0

There are two perspectives one might take on the English performance in the first Test, a performance that far out-stripped expectations. If it is a performance on the outside of variability, then they will surely regress to the mean, the four hundreds scored will become one, or none; their inability to bowl India out in 210 overs (only slightly less than half of those available) will mean they find themselves on the losing side. If so, then their inability to force a victory - largely, it should be noted, because India batted well, and kept them at bay, rather than because England lack for something - will be seen as an opportunity missed.

The alternative option is that this performance typifies what we can expect from England in this series: a dogged Cook supported by a fluent Hameed, runs through the middle order, and a consistent attacking threat (if not an economical one) from Rashid, Ansari and Moeen Ali, with incisive support from Broad, Stokes and presumably Anderson. In this case, England will likely win the series, on the basis that they will out-score India, and that even here, only Kohli stood between them and a chance at the tail. Given how close they got, the 30 overs the last two first innings wickets faced for 72 runs, and the unused resources in the second innings probably cost them 10 overs. The declaration was well timed, but given they were always likely to need a declaration, England might have began hurrying earlier.

By comparative ratings, by recent efforts in Bangladesh, by the sub-par performance of Ashwin and Jadeja, and the likely pitches to come, the first of these perspectives is more likely. Despite having the worse of the pitch, playing poorly over much of the last two days, and being behind the entire match, India still took a credible draw. Perhaps the pitch made a draw all but inevitable. It seems unlikely however, that England will find pitches that better suit them as the series progresses.


2nd TestZimbabwevSri Lanka
Pre-rating523.9991.7
Form-29.1+29.2
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 184 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 257 runs
Post-rating512.01000.6
Series rating517.0999.0

Despite suffering two significant losses there were plenty of moments to suggest that Zimbabwe is not hopelessly behind the Sri Lankan side. In the first test they were within a couple of hours of a draw. In the second, they too easily slipped from positions where other sides, better sides, would have pressed the advantage. In this test, Sri Lanka were 4/112 in the first innings, but Tharanga (79), de Silva (127) and Gunaratne (116) pulled them to 504. In response, Zimbabwe was 3/173 when Chari (80) was dismissed, but stuttered then collapsed, losing 5/19 to end up at 252. There is no shame in keeping Sri Lanka to 8/258 while they set up the declaration, nor being bowled out by Herath (8/63) for 233. It was inevitable when the earlier chances had been squandered.

Sri Lanka gain little from big wins against a side with barely any weight in their ranking, but they did climb back over 1000. With their young batsmen finding their feet, the future looks substantially brighter than six months ago. Though how they'll replace Herath when the time comes remains to be seen.

Rankings at 16th November 2016
1.India1220.6
2.South Africa1151.9
3.Australia1144.9
4.Pakistan1139.1
5.England1134.0
6.New Zealand1009.2
7.Sri Lanka1000.6
8.West Indies831.6
9.Bangladesh656.4
12.Zimbabwe512.0

10.Ireland628.1
11.Afghanistan622.9
13.Scotland396.1
14.Kenya276.4
15.Namibia273.9
16.Papua New Guinea249.9
17.U.A.E.225.9
18.Hong Kong217.0
19.Netherlands179.0
20.Canada147.9

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.

Idle Summers 17th November, 2016 00:23:36   [#] [0 comments]