Attacking cricket is good cricket; Ratings 16th December
Russell Degnan

1st TestAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1250.41082.6
Form-6.9+74.7
Expected MarginAustralia by 134 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 48 runs
Post-rating1244.51087.0

A thoroughly entertaining test that was closer than the margin might have suggested. There is something poignant about Warner and Smith scoring the bulk of the runs; two occasionally maligned players reaching their batting peak much as Hughes would have. Warner began with the ease of someone who cared for little more than bludgeoning anything he could to all parts. India's obliging first five overs were, in the end, rather crucial to the result. Fortunately for them, and the match, the re-introduction of the bouncer brought Warner, the match, and the contest back onto an even keel.

Notwithstanding the margin - and without Kohli's mistimed shot, or Saha's nonsensical heave India might have, even ought to have won - India also took just 12 wickets in the match. Australia look a batsman short - two with Clarke now injured - but they still coasted along for long periods, and Adelaide was India's most likely venue to score heavily.

Kohli was immense, Vijay very good, and the others either unlucky or poor. The tail is long, and it is hard to see how Karn Sharma brings more with the ball than is lost from Ashwin's batting. The Australian pace attack will be stronger in Brisbane, though this was Lyon's match, who was rewarded for his persistence and variety. Off-spin bowlers in Australia have a hard life. Lyon will shortly become Australia's highest ever wicket-taker of that variety; ponder that a while. He is still new to the game, still struggling on slow, low pitches, but a very good bowler. This was due reward.

3 TestsSouth AfricavWest Indies
Pre-rating1289.1870.2
Form-17.7-6.7
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 257 runs

257 runs. That's not the margin of a game that swings one way or another, that's a flogging, by an innings and some, especially when you remember it accounts for the odd unavoidable draw. The West Indies are still producing committee reports at home, while the touring side goes into a contest with the world's best absent a decent consistent pace bowler, a batsman of class, not just talent, on the right side of 40, or a spinner not banned by the ICC.

South Africa probably won't win by 257 runs, because they are rebuilding part of their batting order, and adjusting the bowling to the loss of Kallis. But a few good sessions from any of Steyn, Philander and Morkel will settle this. The gulf in talent is decent, the gulf in quality is much bigger.


Rankings at 16th December 2014
1.South Africa1289.1
2.Australia1244.5
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.India1087.0
5.England1084.7
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies870.2
11.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
10.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 17th December, 2014 00:11:07   [#] [1 comment] 

The prelude to summer; Ratings 9th December
Russell Degnan

A long month, with another to follow. So back to series summaries for a period.

2 TestsPakistanvAustralia
Pre-rating1078.21273.7
Form-21.9+61.0
Expected MarginAustralia by 98 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 221 runs
Pakistan by 356 runs
Post-rating1109.61250.4
Series rating1465.1888.1

A series that was largely won in the first session. Pakistan went to lunch at 2/50 off 29 overs, but Azhar Ali and Younis Khan halted what had briefly looked like a Johnson-led collapse that would have gifted Australia the best use of conditions and a leg-up. The pace bowlers tired though, Pakistan took full toll, and only Warner's 133, Mitch Marsh's 87 and Steve Smith;s 97 offered the slightest resistance from then on. Younis Khan was immense, and Azhar Ali and Misbah profitted in his shadow.

The bowling was decent from Pakistan but Australia were poor, showing neither improvement with the bat nor greater clarity of selection, from the disastrous tour of India that preceded the Ashes, and indicative of a team that, even more than normal, is a home-track bully.


3 TestsBangladeshvZimbabwe
Pre-rating587.3570.7
Form-20.2+27.2
Expected MarginBangladesh by 58 runs
Actual MarginBangladesh by 3 wickets
Bangladesh by 162 runs
Bangladesh by 186 runs
Post-rating594.6559.8
Series rating717.2439.8

The first test of this series will go down as a forgotten classic - forgotten already because noone much noticed when it was being played. Zimbabwe's 240 ought to have been higher when so many batsmen got starts, but Shakib tok 6/59, and Panyangara's 5/59 could not prevent a lead of 14 runs to he home side. Taijul Islam's 8/39 set a target of merely 101, made slightly harder by starting at 3/0, and eventually achieved with 3 wickets in hand.

The other tests were also close. But Zimbabwe never quite looked like winning. In the second, Shakib combined 137 with 10/124 for the match, taking the key wicket of Masakadza (158 and 61) in both innings. At tea on day 5 Zimbabwe were 5/117 and a draw looked possible. 11.1 overs later they were all out. The third was a virtual replay, right up to the dramatic collapse on day 5, losing 5/34. A three-nil result was perhaps an unfair reflection of the tightness of the two sides. On the other hand, a Bangladesh side that can take advantage of superior positions is an interesting prospect.


3 TestsPakistanvNew Zealand
Pre-rating1109.6937.8
Form+38.8+16.3
Expected MarginPakistan by 86 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 248 runs
Match Drawn
New Zealad by
Post-rating1106.1951.0
Series rating966.41087.7

Pakistan started this series as they left the previous, losing only 5 wickets in one of the more comprehensive victories you'll ever see. It was somewhat unexpected then, to see such a close second test, with Pakistan 65 runs from victory and 5 wickets from defeat when stumps were drawn. Latham and Taylor scored tons, matched by Sarfraz Ahmed, while Zulfiqar Babar took 8/233 in 72 overs.

It isn't clear what difference the improvement in the second test meant for the third though. The death of Phillip Hughes in Australia, interrupted Pakistan at 3/281 after day one, and the match turned in ways that seemed largely not to matter. Hafeez was stopped at 197, as Craig took 7/94 in the morning. McCullum (202) and Williamson (192) played the sort of innings that is only possible when you don't care if you are dismissed, and only Asad Shafiq slowed New Zealand on their way to victory. In many ways it was an exhibition match, completed to fulfill commitments, and because cricket was as good a way to mark events as any.

4 TestsAustraliavIndia
Pre-rating1250.41082.6
Form-6.9+74.7
Expected MarginAustralia by 134 runs

As with the test between Pakistan and New Zealand, the team more mentally attuned will have a significant advantage. Don't assume that will be India though, who have posted their own tributes to Hughes, had their preparation disrupted, and are missing their captain. Australia could be focused, could be distraght and distracted; might be aggressive (though the sledging is likely to be toned down), or could go through the motions. My gut says they'll be the former, mixing bouncers with hook shots and playing hard.

India, whose recent touring record in Australia is poor, and looked hapless towards the end of the English tour, would have looked at Adelaide as their best chance of a win (after, perhaps, Sydney). If they bat well, and preferably second they will have a strong chance of a draw, and perhaps more. But it would be a shock if Australia didn't win.


Rankings at 9th December 2014
1.South Africa1289.1
2.Australia1250.4
3.Pakistan1106.1
4.England1084.7
5.India1082.6
6.Sri Lanka1050.1
7.New Zealand951.0
8.West Indies870.2
11.Bangladesh594.6
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland594.8
10.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 9th December, 2014 00:24:58   [#] [0 comments] 

EAP Trophy, Americas Division 2 T20; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

A silent moment to mark the sad passing of Phillip Hughes and Hillel Awaskar, but cricket moves on. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to review Americas division 2 (3:58) which saw Suriname assert themselves as the best team in South America. Papua New Guinea's win in the EAP Trophy is then discussed, along with Fiji's victories to take them back to the WCL. (10:40). Afghanistan dominated the ACC U/19 tournament in Kuwait, but the UAE has improved (19:20). And there have been various matches involving the leading associates, with some good and bad results (21:30). There is news from the ICC: the 10-team world cup has been confirmed, the ICC awards were announced, and there is some disturbing news about the umpiring panel (39:32). And there is news from Afghanistan, and Kenya as we lead up to WCL2 (48:03).

Direct Download Running Time 54min. 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 5th December, 2014 10:34:40   [#] [0 comments] 

World Cricket League Division 3; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

With the completion of World Cricket League division 3, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to give a complete wrap of Nepal's victory, and the fall-out from the relegated Americas sides. There is also a review of the PNG v Hong Kong ODIs, ACC U-16 Elite, UAE vs Pakistan and Afghanistan v Pakistan U-19 matches. There is news from Nigeria, Nepal, Guernsey, France and our other old friends. And previews of the East-Asia Pacific T20 qualifiers and some junior events.

Direct Download Running Time 52min. 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 14th November, 2014 21:29:10   [#] [3 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCCX, November 2014
Russell Degnan

High Spring. Taken November 2014

Melbourne Town 4th November, 2014 22:38:29   [#] [0 comments]