Needing to play every side, England have started opening their season with the lower ranked teams, taking advantage of their own green wickets and their opponents fragile batting. In the absence of anything better to play for, or anything better to take an interest in, the expected margin for this series is 301 runs, or an innings and some for England. Bangladesh might do well to beat even that, particularly with two of their best batsmen under an injury cloud, and no seamers worth the name.
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.
Monday Melbourne: CCV, May 2010
|Ratings at 17th May 2010||Form||Games|
|Final||Form||Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
The clear favourites to contest the final; Australia unbeaten and England having lost only their rain-affected encounter in the lead-up to the final. Interestingly, Australia's semi-final victory aside, neither side has been pressed either. Australia's miracle in the semi-final looked more impressive on the scoreboard than in practice. The chase was ragged and out of control; the batsmen - particularly White - reaching for sixes every ball, when twos and fours would have been enough.
Unlike Australia, England have regularly given up scores between 140 and 150. While their batting has been comfortable chasing targets of that magnitude, Australia are more likely than other teams to make them to chase 160 plus. Like most games amongst the test teams, the expected margin is much smaller than random deviation, but on every measure - man-to-man match-ups, ratings, form, and past matches - Australia start as favourites.
Finish with two wins and four losses for the tournament, which in some eyes makes them unworthy semi-finalists. The perennially asterisked West Indies-England game aside, Pakistan went closest to beating the two finalists in the three games they lost to them, losing the other by just a run. Were probably extremely unlucky in the semi-final, but lacked the extra bit of spark in the field, and the nerve in the final few overs to enter a third final.
Like Pakistan, Sri Lanka lost against England, Australia and New Zealand to exit. Unlike Pakistan, their batting was fragile and they were comprehensively outplayed by England in the semi-final. Were dragged through the tournament by Jayawardene and looked second rate when he failed.
|Semi-final 1||Form||Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.||Tourn. Win|
|5||Sri Lanka||1984.5||-18.9||17.2||0 runs||49.5%||19.4%|
Rated a ridiculously close game, England probably have the better form, although Sri Lanka can say they have only been defeated by a red-hot Australia, whereas England lost their rain-affected match against the West Indies. England's bowling would appear to hold a slight edge, though it is undoubtedly over-performing to date. Sri Lanka's batting likewise, but until the spectacular finish against India it had ben struggling. Ultimately it may come down to the fielding, in which case I'll lean towards England.
|Semi-final 2||Form||Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.||Tourn. Win|
The enigmatic Pakistan have scraped their way through both stages without really impressing anyone. Most observers, recalling the 1992 and 2009 World Cups will take that as a sign that they will turn it on in the games that count to win it all. Both those teams were superior to that playing here however, and if any team has been immune to Pakistan brilliance it has been Australia. Luck will naturally play a part, but to the extent that one team has been better than every other in this tournament, it is clear which team that is.
Leave the tournament with a miserable record, having beaten only New Zealand and Afghanistan. The batting, considered one of the most powerful in the tournament never flexed its muscles, while the bowling failed to contain sides capable of handling Steyn and Morkel's pace. As usual, their rating flatters to deceive.
Can be considered unlucky not to progress, given they defeated two of the semi-finalists, but the close nature of their wins counted against them. Are a young and improving side with a natural game suited to this format. Will move up the rankings.
Apparently the ratings don't lie. India aren't very good. The blame seems to have fallen on their batsmen and their inability to put away short deliveries, but that need would be lessened if their bowling (and their fielding) was leaking fewer runs. Perhaps the most important factor however is the lack of international standard cricket that India had played prior to the tournament.
The same story for the West Indies. Not playing to their potential and seemingly lacking hunger. The greater problem is an over-reliance on Gayle for runs, and a weak bowling attack. Their all-rounders are explosive match-winners, but the base of runs was never their for the explosion to occur.
Somewhat surprisingly, there were no upsets in the first round, but no team completely disgraced themselves. The associate teams still feel they are being denied enough cricket to compete at this level, and they have a point. However, I don't believe integration into the FTP is a viable option when so many test sides have the same problem getting enough cricket. The best way, by far, for associate cricketers to get exposure to top cricket is to turn pro and play first class cricket in full member countries. A path being taken by more and more European players which is starting to bear fruit (for both the associates and England).
The decision to schedule two games per day at the same stadium came back to haunt the organisers (as indeed it did last year). Provision needs to be made for both longer windows of play to allow games to be completed over the full 20 overs, and for the second game to be reduced to 15 overs per side, to allow an earlier game to conclude. As discussed previously, Duckworth-Lewis is not flawless, though in this year's England vs West Indies debacle, the problem is both well known and ignored. Basically, D/L believe it is unfair for a target to be higher if a side has scored more runs (than the par score) prior to a break in play. I am not sure I agree. The impact of early wickets or runs is magnified by application of the D/L method, and there is a substantial difference between a side being 11 runs in front with 17.4 overs to play (11.7% of the game played), and 11 runs in front with 3.4 overs to play (38.9% of the game played).
|Group E||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
|South Africa||vs||New Zealand||10 runs||59.7%|
|New Zealand||vs||Pakistan||-2 runs||41.6%|
|England||vs||South Africa||-8 runs||42.1%|
|Pakistan||vs||South Africa||-1 runs||48.6%|
|England||vs||New Zealand||2 runs||51.9%|
Eased into the tournament, but struggling a little with the bat. Were seemingly not paying attention to the required run-rate against India, and got completely bogged down by Afghanistan after a flying start. On fast pitches their bowling is impressive, but may come unstuck on slower pitches.
Finalist: 31.8% Winner 17.0%
Over-rated. Their form is ordinary, their batting flaky and their fielding shoddy. Being Pakistan there is always the sense that they could win four on the trot to take out the title again, but it seems unlikely with this side.
Finalist: 29.7% Winner 15.5%
Under-rated, but possibly lucky to be here. Morgan aside, the batting was horrid against a limited Irish attack, but pummeled the marginally stronger West Indians around the park. Will be greatly concerned about the lack of match play for their bowlers, but happy that their tight schedule is a little more relaxed. Need to beat New Zealand.
Finalist: 20.4% Winner 9.3%
Won a thriller over Sri Lanka and an odd one against the unlucky Zimbabweans. Are dangerous on slow pitches, but look like their batting is too fragile to go further than the semis.
Finalist: 18.1% Winner 8.0%
|Group F||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
|West Indies||vs||Sri Lanka||-9 runs||41.6%|
|West Indies||vs||India||-6 runs||44.0%|
|Australia||vs||Sri Lanka||8 runs||58.60%|
|West Indies||vs||Australia||-17 runs||33.9%|
|India||vs||Sri Lanka||-2 runs||47.5%|
Have somehow firmed as favourites without doing much. Defeated a lacklustre Pakistan easily but looked poor against Bangladesh. Bat deep but like South Africa, reliant on a pace attack that might struggle on slow pitches.
Finalist: 37.6% Winner 21.3%
Jayawardene aside, the batting looks awful, but still managed to take New Zealand to the wire. Will miss Murali, but still an outside chance. Must beat the loser of India v Australia to progress.
Finalist: 25.4% Winner 12.4%
Under-rated (though not by their fans). Are in a tough group, but are almost certainties to go through if they can beat Australia. That match, more than any other, will give a sense of how far India will go.
Finalist: 22.0% Winner 10.2%
Probably still under-rated on account of losing to Zimbabwe a few months ago. Have the batting to chase any total however, and home ground advantage. Will build momentum if they can stay in contention, but must beat Sri Lanka.
Finalist: 14.8% Winner 6.0%
Travelled a long way to play less than 50 overs in the rain over two days. Unlike others, they weren't terribly unlucky, already falling behind a mammoth total against Sri Lanka and rolled for just 84 against New Zealand. Were impressive in the warm-ups though, which bodes well for the next couple of years.
Expected to do better. The batting, as usual, failed to fire when it needed to, leaving them short of two difficult targets. Will be pleased that they competed well, but should be upset that they couldn't turn either game into a win.
Flogged, horribly, in the first game. Their batting (obviously sans Morgan and Joyce) cannot do the job at this level, even if their bowling and fielding gives them a sniff. Were in a position to dislodge England when rain intervened, but can't have any complaints about being knocked out on NR-R.
Undoubtedly the best non-test bowling lineup ever, boasting both balance and natural skill. Most of their attack could push for a place in any test side, with Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran and Samiullah Shenwari looking particularly impressive. But as evidenced by recent collapses against light-weight associate nations, their batting is poor, and both South Africa and India were too good for them.
GPO. Taken April 2010
The warm-up games have caused some minor changes in the values, but not the rankings as the World Cup gets underway tonight. This edition, like the last, has a vastly superior format to the interminable ODI World Cup of 2007. The entire tournament is completed in just 17 days, with each of the first two rounds taking just 6 days, yet in neither round are all teams not given reasonable opportunity to qualify.
What hasn't changed though, is the farcical seeding process. The ICC forced their own hand by seeding according to the previous tournament, rather than a weighted average of previous tournaments and other results. Faced with another (almost inevitable) "group of death" because of an upset they turned it into a joke by: relegating Ireland to unseeded on the basis that they weren't a test nation; removing Zimbabwe's seeding because they missed the previous tournament; and finally, rigging the draw to include Australia (10) with Bangladesh (9) to try and ensure the Big-8 qualify.
Or so they hope, I, like most cricket fans I suspect, will be hoping one of the smaller nations follows in the path of Zimbabwe (1999 and 2003), Kenya (2003), Bangladesh (2007 x 2) and Ireland (2007 and 2009) by qualifying for the latter rounds. Nine seeds is overkill in a 12 team tournament. Four is a better number, reflecting half the number of teams in the second round, and by corollary, the number of teams who deserve an easier passage/ shouldn't be meeting each other in the first round.
Similarly, pre-seeding the second round serves no purpose, except to make it more predictable, and therefore less interesting. A team (and its supporters) are entitled to a little luck, and seeding most teams and both rounds removes that element for no great benefit. As can be seen from the list above, every world cup has had upsets, so seeding is unable to ensure the most telegenic/competitive team make the later rounds in any case. Better to seed just four teams, and increase the probability of interesting games early on through groups of death.
In any case, onto the cup...
|Group A||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
The second least predictable group. Despite the touting of Bangladesh's T20 credentials by many - mostly on the basis that they are talented sloggers - their T20 record is poor, and is reflected in their rating.
Semi-finalist: 3.1% Finalist: 0.6% Winner 0.2%
Lucky not to be in a group of death for the second consecutive tournament, and either still struggling to come to terms with the format, or merely unable to overcome the high levels of luck involved. Slow, spinning wickets won't suit their bowling attack, which means, despite leading the ratings, they shouldn't necessarily be favourites.
Semi-finalist: 60.8% Finalist: 34.9% Winner 19.6%
Could repeat 2007 in being the first team dismissed from the tournament on Sunday, but will be hoping to repeat the heroics of 2009. Are not as good as that side, missing Umar Gul and Younis Khan, as well as Mohammed Yousuf. Might fire if Afridi does well, but will probably struggle to score big runs.
Semi-finalist: 53.8% Finalist: 30.5% Winner 16.9%
|Group B||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
|New Zealand||vs||Sri Lanka||-6 runs||44.1%|
|Sri Lanka||vs||Zimbabwe||23 runs||71.4%|
|New Zealand||vs||Zimbabwe||17 runs||66.2%|
Will be hoping for more than their normal semi-final berth, and may be capable, with their usual mix of medium pace bowlers, Bond and Vettori suited to slow wickets, and some capable hitters. Hard to see them maintaining enough consistency with the bat to win, but a better bet than their rating suggests.
Semi-finalist: 30.8% Finalist: 14.2% Winner 6.4%
Have form in the Caribbean, and this competition. Are probably due for disappointment, and much, as always, depends on Muralitharan. Well captained but will have to get out of a very difficult group in the second round.
Semi-finalist: 46.1% Finalist: 23.4% Winner 11.7%
Under-rated, not least because noone has seen them in years. Will depend a lot on Utseya and Price to keep the opposition total manageable for their flaky batting line-up, but do have players capable of slogging. Have claimed some decent scalps recently, which will raise their confidence.
Semi-finalist: 9.1% Finalist: 2.6% Winner 0.7%
|Group C||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
|India||vs||South Africa||-8 runs||41.9%|
|Afghanistan||vs||South Africa||-66 runs||5.0%|
Hard to say how good this side is. Have an excellent recent record against the non-test teams, but have never been up against the test side to compare. Have the advantage over all teams with the most recent internationals, which should hold them in good stead if things get tight. Depend a lot on Hamid Hassan, Noor Ali, Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Shazhad, and will struggle if they are injured or out of form.
Semi-finalist: 0.2% Finalist: 0.0% Winner 0.0%
While India always has to handle the expectations of their irrational public, they are probably tripled this time, given the size (but not necessarily the quality) of the IPL, and the memory of their victory in 2007. Have the batting to win, but not the bowling to win, but could surprise.
Semi-finalist: 47.2% Finalist: 22.5% Winner 10.5%
As usual, rated highly, and hopeful at the outset of the tournament. Have the best batting lineup of any side, but may struggle if the pitches are as slow as expected. Like Australia, their chances are probably over-rated.
Semi-finalist: 60.2% Finalist: 34.6% Winner 19.4%
|Group D||Form||Games||Qual. Prob.|
|Games||Exp. Margin||Win Prob.|
|West Indies||vs||Ireland||41 runs||84.8%|
|West Indies||vs||England||-7 runs||43.0%|
Home side, and primed for either a brilliant tournament, or a dismal failure. The opening game may give a guide to how committed they are, but they definitely have the players to win, and plenty of experience in the format at a domestic level. Massively under-rated.
Semi-finalist: 31.9% Finalist: 12.8% Winner 5.0%
Will face their own best player in an English side for the second time in a World Cup. It will hurt doubly if Morgan continues to win games with composed aggressive innings. Still have players capable of doing damage to superior sides, and will fancy themselves in what is rated a weak group.
Semi-finalist: 0.9% Finalist: 0.1% Winner 0.0%
Start after some teams might have finished, and will have to play 5 games in 8 days before the semi-finals. Nevertheless, if their opening partnership can fire, they are a capable and under-rated side who should make the semi-finals.
Semi-finalist: 42.4% Finalist: 20.6% Winner 9.7%