Tails wagging the dog; Ratings 23rd July
Russell Degnan

2nd TestEnglandvIndia
Pre-rating1054.21152.3
Form-40.1+6.2
Expected MarginEngland by 9 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 95 runs
Post-rating1039.11161.7

Until one ball before lunch on the final day this was a fluctuating match that England ought to have won. What is apparent is that they fundamentally cannot do so, regardless of what is offered. Having wasted a green pitch on the opening morning with short bowling, England still managed to have India 7/145 after tea, before Rahane's counter-attack found support from Binny and the rest of the tail. They turned 4/211 - with only Kumar finding swing to trouble the top-order - into 319 - still a lead. And in the second innings, had removed the specialist batsmen with India only 211 in front. Jadeja and Kumar's 99 run stand was, in the context, as vital as Ishant Sharma's bouncers inducing a collapse of 6/50 either side of lunch on the final day; a point when, again, England had got themselves into a position to challenge for victory.

Sharma's 7/74 and Dhoni's willingness to try a spell of short pitched bowling looks like genous only in hindsight. The spell was not near as menacing as England made it look; runs flowed at first, and the balls that took wickets were well wide of off-stump and easily left by clear-headed batsmen. England though are far from that. Prior's departure leaves only Cook, Bell, Broad and Anderson of the core that formed England's best side. The batsmen in that group are woefully out of form, and even the performances of the youth cannot hide it. The bowlers must be nearing exhaustion, having clocked nearly 200 overs each in the past 6 weeks, and Broad carrying a long-term injury.

India look a settled and confident side only by comparison. The batting has been failing, the sins hidden by the tail, whiich can't be relied on. Dhoni is struggling which they cannot afford when playing five bowlers, even if 7-9 are competent, and occasionally match-winning. If England can click, they can challenge and win this series. It would be a shock if that happens with Cook at the helm however.


1st TestSri LankavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1035.61299.4
Form+28.7-36.6
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 82 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 153 runs
Post-rating1032.71302.6

Contrary to my preview, a relative lack of impact from Imran Tahir and Duminy - the undeserved wicket of Sangakarra nowithstanding - didn't impact South Africa at all. The reason is that Dale Steyn is a genius, and Morne Morkel is very tall and awkward to face. The latter primarily contributed in taking out the tail. Steyn did as Steyn has done for going on 371 test wickets, taking 9/99 for the match. South Africa were challenged only once after Elgar (103) and du Plessis (80) got them away to a start. For a brief moment, after de Villiers was dismissed a 5/266, Sri Lanka were placed to put pressure on South Africa with the bat. Duminy's even 100 not out got them to 9/455 declared. Sri Lanka could only respond with sporadic scores from Tharanga, Mathews and Sangakarra, none going over 100, when they needed more.

South Africa having declared in both innings, the second after a race to set a target that showed admirable aggression; this was a more emphatic victory than the score suggests. Whether it will be repeated depends on Steyn. Morkel remains a useful support; the spinners added litle, and Philander went wicketless on his least friendly surface. It would surprise if the next match wasn't closer, but this was an impressive victory by the tourists in their new era.


Rankings at 23rd July 2014
1.South Africa1302.6
2.Australia1273.7
3.India1161.7
4.Pakistan1093.9
5.England1039.1
6.Sri Lanka1032.7
7.New Zealand937.8
8.West Indies870.2
9.Bangladesh600.6
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.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 July, 2014 01:54:11   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCCV, July 2014
Russell Degnan

Flinders Lane. Taken July 2014

Melbourne Town 22nd July, 2014 21:38:25   [#] [0 comments] 

ICC Conference and ACC AGM with Shahriar Khan; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

In the wake of the ICC Conference in Melbourne, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) look at the news - or lack of - from changes in the ICC. Russell speaks to media manager of the Asian Cricket Council, Shahriar Khan about the recent success of Asian sides, the leadup to the Asian Games, and some of the ICC conference outcomes, as they affect Asian cricket. There are reviews of World Cricket League Division 4, ICC Europe Division 2, and cricket in Romania and Scotland. The episode ends with some governance news from Kenya, Canada and Nepal.

Direct Download Running Time 88min. 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 21st July, 2014 00:24:48   [#] [0 comments] 

Grind until a fine paste; Ratings 16th July
Russell Degnan

1st TestEnglandvIndia
Pre-rating1067.61150.1
Form-52.9+7.3
Expected MarginEngland by 9 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1054.21152.3

England's rating slips a little further, on a pitch offering little to the bowlers, but which nevertheless offered both sides ample opportunities to press for victory. That they didn't came down to the last wicket partnerships between Kumar and Shami, that lifted India from 9/346 to 457; and between Root and Anderson, that took England from 9/298 to 496. Anderson's heroics with the bat came on the back of 38 overs in he first innings, and 59 in the match, which probably explains why England failed to Jadeja, Binny and Kumar when at 6/184 the game promised one final twist.

Bowling short and in the channel instead of full at the stumps didn't help either. On a pitch with no bounce, little pace, and sapped by the workload - there remain another four tests, lest we forget - bowling in the low-80s left the batsmen (and the bowlers masquerading as such) with far too much time. With Lord's promising to be flat, and neither captain likely to be take undue risks, we are in line for an attritional series marked by the odd inexplicable match-losing collapse. In this, England's squad bowling and batting depth probably tilt things in their favour. India's decision to play five batsmen could haunt them at some point, but if they win the toss and bat, they could have England in the field six days in nine. For a team already looking jaded, that's a worrying prospect.

The ratings now predict an English victory by a single run. Attritional cricket might lack a certain sexiness, but it still brings interesting narratives. And the longer the stays in the balance, the more interesting they become.


2 TestsSri LankavSouth Africa
Pre-rating1035.61299.4
Form+28.7-36.6
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 82 runs

South Africa enter this test as favourites, but their form, and the loss of both their captain and most solid batsman in the last year means they are probably not at quite that level. Sri Lanka's win in England showed a resilience they have often lacked while travelling. If they can couple that with the natural advantages playing on turning tracks at home gives them, then this could be a close contest.

The key for South Africa will be Imran Tahir. Leg spinners - or at least Warne - enjoyed Sri Lankan conditions, when the pitch wasn't completely dead. If he can contribute in ways he hasn't always on seaming, bouncing southern hemisphere pitches, then the South African seamers will be sufficiently strong to cover for any batting frailties. If not, South Africa's attack looks thin, and the tourists could be a middle order failure from Amla, du Plessis and AB de Villiers from an undefendable total.

Rankings at 16th July 2014
1.South Africa1299.4
2.Australia1273.7
3.India1152.3
4.Pakistan1093.9
5.England1054.2
6.Sri Lanka1035.6
7.New Zealand937.8
8.West Indies870.2
9.Bangladesh600.6
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4
18.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 16th July, 2014 22:15:14   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCCIV, July 2014
Russell Degnan

VCA. Taken June 2014

Melbourne Town 14th July, 2014 23:39:05   [#] [0 comments]