Ratings - 28th June 2011
Russell Degnan

Ireland was supposed to play Namibia starting today, but it was cancelled owing to visa problems. No doubt exacerbated by the short time period between the posting of the fixtures and the game itself.

Recent Results

3rd TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1246.581065.85
Form+47.45-17.37
Expected MarginEngland by 140 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1243.671070.23
Series Rating1241.881065.88

Another rain affected game that England was in complete control of. In the end, Sangakarra finally turned up, with support from Samaraweera to ensure the draw, but England helped by going through the motions and some minor injuries to their attack. Sri Lanka ought to first wonder why they failed to draw the series, given that Cardiff was the easiest of the late game batting tasks they needed to overcome; second they need to find a workable strategy for their attack, as it was completely out-classed by all but Strauss.

As a series, it never took off, its status as a warm-up, and the lack of meaningful context to place it in leaving some aesthetically pleasing highlights, a historic collapse and little else. Both sides will face opposition with more to prove in their next outings.


1st TestWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating915.831200.30
Form-7.73+5.75
Expected MarginIndia by 92 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 63 runs
Post-rating917.161199.11

An odd match in that it was quite close, and a few key incidents might have reversed the result, but in which India never really looked like losing. A pitch that turned from day one helped keep the game moving, and proved for certain that India's next generation is a work in progress. The key innings though, came from the veteran, Dravid, holding fort and producing a defendable target. His dropping, by Sammy, an under-rated cricketer who had an otherwise decent Afridi-esque game, could have made all the difference. Those small moments peppered the West Indies game however, from letting Raina and Harbajan escape on day one, to soft and reckless dismissals in the chase of an otherwise gettable target. It might be India's seconds, but Dhoni knows how to get them to win.

For the West Indies, Barath displayed the same range of stroke-play that made him look like a star in Australia two years ago. He also displayed the same reckless shot selection that has stalled his career to date. They have a real talent in Bishoo and a balanced if not brilliant bowling attack, but they won't win games unless their batsmen score them some runs.

I CupScotlandvNetherlands
Pre-rating448.84195.69
Form-26.65-36.21
Expected MarginScotland by 177 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating436.06202.55

A draw, across both innings with no play on the first two days and only 177 overs were bowled in the match. It was, nevertheless, an exciting finish, as both sides angled in on first innings points, Netherlands falling short by just 3 runs, Scotland by 2 wickets. Majid Haq was the star for Scotland, anchoring the innings with 120 and taking two key wickets to stall the Dutch chase. Bukhari performed similarly for the Dutch, taking 5/79 and making a run-a-ball 50 to accelerate the chase after a 91 from Kruger. An interesting game, but the winner was rain.


Rankings at 28th June 2011
1.England1243.67
2.India1199.11
3.South Africa1180.15
4.Australia1125.02
5.Sri Lanka1070.23
6.West Indies917.16
7.New Zealand885.38
8.Bangladesh618.26
9.Zimbabwe546.63

10.Ireland556.46
11.Afghanistan484.71
12.Scotland436.06
13.Namibia400.40
14.Kenya338.92
15.U.S.A.296.99
16.Uganda268.44
17.Netherlands202.55
18.Nepal196.51
19.Canada177.51
20.U.A.E.176.09
21.Hong Kong148.65
22.Cayman Is134.24
23.Malaysia123.90
24.Bermuda105.40

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 28th June, 2011 13:51:07   [#] [0 comments] 

Notes from MIAF #2
Russell Degnan

Day 4

The panorama sessions are often good value entertainment, less likely to be memorable, but generally entertaining, and a far cry from the technical abstract session that can't help but lull me into sleep. That said, a lack of memorability makes it hard to identify standout films.

The well plotted

Blown AwayAust. panorama A clever combination of mundane encounters and out-there comedy with a feel-good ending unusual in animating.

The entertainers

MillhavenPoland #2 The Nick Cave song makes the film, but the gradual movement into insanity of the character is impressive in its use of colour and movement as well.


Day 5

Animation has big sunk costs, in scripts, drawings, models and backgrounds that might only be used for a few seconds. The longer the short, the more worthwhile it is to invest in those elements. The long short session is almost always the best for that reason, fleshing out a story, and elevating the form to art.

The entertainers

Rubikale lab de'images Great idea, didn't really run with it as far as it could, or build characters.

The technically superb

Babellong shorts Merges layers of live action seemlessly to reflect on development and the different paths of men and women in urbanising China.

The well plotted

Zbigniev's Cupboardlong shorts Eastern european amimations do't often deal with communism. This is a touching and sad reflection.

The bizarre but brilliant

Muzoramale lab de'images Completely odd, but amusing with a unique animating style.

The External Worldlong shorts So random it is almost abstract, but with moments of sharp humour, only ruined when it broke the 4th wall.

Love Patatelong shorts I love the subtle mix of styles in this film, from 2D to live action. The premise is a little odd.


Day 6

Seeing the Supinfocom logo tends to be somewhere between excitement and a relief. They aren't necessarily incredible, but they usually bring colour, fun and music into programs that can otherwise drift into artistic corners. As 3D animation has developed, their style has become more complex and diverse, which has limited their pure entertainment value this year, but strengthened the films. Having them all in one session ruins their value as fun interludes, but is an interesting experience given their general style.


The entertainers

8 Bitssupinfocom Questionable plot, but love the use of gaming techniques and variable graphics quality of old platforms.

Hezarfansupinfocom Typical Supinfocom, lots of movement, colour and fast paced, comedic action.

The technically superb

D'Une Rare Cruditesupinfocom Simple idea: plants with heads, and therefore personalities. But wonderfully put together through the seasons.


Day 7

A day now traditionally book-ended by kids and late-night bizarre, with the bulk of international programs in between. The latter can be trying when it is something other than uncensored amusement, though the uncensored, technically awful and not funny are the ones I'd really like to see cut. Still a better program than last year though.


The entertainers

Mobilekids Charming, funny. Variable physics is the great friend of animators.

Memeeint #4 Whimsical take on a nursing home resident and her neighbour that, without being special, worked.

Mr Choco In Lovebizarre So many chickens had their head cut off this week.

The technically superb

Pixelsint #2 Plotless, but another making great use of live footage, computer graphics, and old school computer games.

Love & Theftint #4 These type of morphing musical films are brilliant when they work, and this one does - or I was going crazy by this point of the day.

The well plotted

Bike Raceint #2 Not as funny as the very similar bicycle from a decade ago, but the ebb and flow of narrative is mesmeric.

The bizarre but brilliant

Wisdom Teethint #2 Don Hertzfeldt, an awful lot of blood, what more needs to be said?


Day 8

The more animation I watch, the more I start to agree with the judges over the popular choice. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. Nevertheless, I still see some films way more than I want to, and some never enough. This year's winner, Love and Theft was good, not the best, but it was a year with no standout film. I won't choose, because I don't have to. The list of worthwhile films serves its purpose for jogging my memory.

The technically superb

Big Bang Big Boomint #3 In typical outdoor style for Blu, but more ambitious in use of external objects and the scope of its reach.

The bizarre but brilliant

Polo's RobotAust. Still not entirely sure what to make of this film, but it looks brilliant.

Finer Things 28th June, 2011 13:47:47   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXXXII, June 2011
Russell Degnan

Melbourne mist. Taken June 2011

Melbourne Town 28th June, 2011 13:47:27   [#] [2 comments] 

Notes from MIAF #1
Russell Degnan

Day 1

The problem with student films is they have to be made. In the absence of a better idea they tend to fit three categories: animation that displays technical mastery but has no plot/point; a basic and unsatisfying cliched plot with no character development to speak of; more ambitious storylines that with rare exceptions distract from the film through sheer awkwardness.

Advice for student animators: writers write these things called short stories.

On the plus side, the preponderance of quick and dirty 3D animation seems to be a thing of the past, with a great mix of animation styles coming through the programs - some far too derivative for my liking, but you have to start somewhere. Partly this is a programming decision, but it is undoubtedly a positive development. Now if only tv productions would change.

The entertainers

Mad Dogs And EnglishmenRCA grad Clever, but went nowhere.

A Tire D'Ailegrad #2 The better of two films with the same plot: second bird escapes death to wreck revenge.

Zhengrad #2 Very pretty. Travel orientated

The technically superb

Lose This Childgrad #2 Gorgeous 3D sand animation about turtles that got very depressing for unknown reasons.

The well plotted

Correspondencegrad #3 Timing a joke like this is everything. This was perfecy and it looks great too.

The bizarre but brilliant

LovermanAust. grad By Sacha Bryning. A touch of Bill Plympton; but in a fast-paced technically brilliant way. Far and away the best film in the program.


Day 2

I love walking home from the animation festival late at night.

Very few people have the time or energy to immerse themselves in a film festival but it has its own rewards, particularly animation, which draws you into its own world.

Objects in an animation have stunted lives; unlike film, until the animators moves them, they don't move, until the animator colours them, they remain grey, until the animator inserts a sound, the film remains silent.

That dearth of extraneous life has its good and bad points. Animation tends towards dystopian realities, because they are easier: robots, faceless creatures, empty landscapes, particularly deserts, space or dark streets. Lifeless environments and lifeless objects haunt the industry but they also make the truly exquisite scenes that much better.

It also heightens the senses. If an animator provides life in such limited quantities, then the viewer must be alert to every movement, action, colour or change. That is animation's strength. It can emphasise the miniscule detail by making it the only detail.

Merging back into the real world, late at night, when the streets really are quiet, every detail of the mundane becomes something: the single light in a hotel window, the lonely cab, the play of shadows from the trees or the shaking of a street sign.

I need a particular mindset to see the charm of mundane life, but the festival is a fail-safe method of achieving it.


Day 3

Polish animation is technically brilliant, but obsessed with death and destruction. Perhaps that is not limited to Poland. If animators want to write a tragedy, write a tragedy. But anarchic distopia for the sake of funky technical effects displays a certain misanthropy. That said: the technical quality makes up for the disconnected space the plots leave the audience in much of the program; and the less horrific films have great charm.

The technically superb

Paths Of HatePoland #1 Utterly mesmerising plane battle that goes mental at the end. A studio in need of a writer: Cathedral was the same.

Gallery / GaleriaPoland #1 A poster-child for making art from simple lines.

The bizarre but brilliant

Danny BoyPoland #1 Quirky, very funny, and charming (for once). Worth watching for the suppressed mirth of half-offended audience members at the finish alone.

Missed the New York session to play basketball... shot well, won by 1.

Finer Things 22nd June, 2011 02:39:26   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXXXI, June 2011
Russell Degnan

Colour by the Yarra. Taken June 2011

Melbourne Town 22nd June, 2011 01:29:12   [#] [0 comments] 

Associate Cricket: European WT20 Div2 Preview
Russell Degnan

Has started already, but that is helpful in its own way, since it is near impossible to find useful information about the sport's actual minnows otherwise. Two teams form here will progress to division one, which means almost the entire tournament rests on the two semi-final matches. On the other hand, this will even out the apparent disparity between groups.

Group A has but 5 teams. Switzerland was relegated to division three in somewhat mysterious circumstances, but seemingly a result of in-fighting as is the wont of cricket boards everywhere. The ICC ought to have fille dthe gap with Estonia, 2nd in division 3, but have left a short group instead. But not just a short group, also considerably weaker, even with Switzerland, and one the Isle of Man should walk. Their test will come later, but the battle for second will be tense.

Group B is much closer, and the prize for coming first and meeting the weaker qualifier is high. Spain and Greece would appear to be favourites, with Belgium a definite challenger in home conditions. Sweden, who dominated division 3 may be strong too and they have received an unexpected boost from the rain in their match against Greece.

A final word on websites. The ICC (or the regional organisations) have been outsourcing their web content to external providers. When Crcket Europe are the beneficiary it is a very good thing with live commentary across all matches. But they need to sort it out for other regions, because they are well below par. That said, barely 3 years ago you couldn't find associate coverage at this level at all. That is a big step.

Idle Summers 22nd June, 2011 00:32:58   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXXX, June 2011
Russell Degnan

Moonee Ponds Creek. Taken April 2011

Melbourne Town 15th June, 2011 01:46:58   [#] [0 comments] 

Ratings - 13th June 2011
Russell Degnan

Recent Results

2nd TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1249.511061.29
Form+71.07-35.32
Expected MarginEngland by 144 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating1246.581065.85

Another rain affected game, this time meandering to a draw before being killed, perhaps prematurely with an hour to play. Once again, England reacted slowly to the circumstances. Oddly enough they ended day 4 with enough momentum to push the game forward. It was the period immediately before lunch when a declaration could have been pursued, and only 50 runs were scored in almost 13 overs. As is often the case, the lack of incentive (particularly in the official ratings) for a win over a draw means England will go to the Rose Bowl unable to lose the series; but at the expense of an interesting end to this game.

Not that it was completely without interest. Cook was within a boundary of twin centuries, Dilshan within two of a double century, and a result was never out of the question. England must wonder what possessed them to pick three tall players; the argument that they are the best three bowlers being nonsense, when "best" is conditional on prevalent conditions. And regardless of selection, the lack of control, so evident throughout the Ashes was a telling factor as both sides rattled along to decent totals.

Sri Lanka were better than Cardiff, but still look incapable of getting through the English batting without some help from the opposition. They'll be much more effective when they return home and their spinners can dominate, but the first few overs at Lord's aside they've struggled to penetrate. Another flat deck however, and the real story might be the inability of England to do the same with any consistency. The performance of Broad in particular will bear watching.


3 TestsWest IndiesvIndia
Pre-rating915.831200.30
Form-7.73+5.75
Expected MarginIndia by 92 runs

Why are we bothering? Apart from the money that is. The WICB will bank a lazy $30m in TV rights or so from having India tour, with another $10m or more in sponsorship. Whether those same bodies will be pleased with their investment when it has turned into a virtual A tour remains to be seen. In a battle of the benches India is even more likely to dominate, and perhaps the only real interest will be seeing who can press their case for selection when the stars return. As a test match spectacle though, it is further proof that cricket has serious issues with its structure that need addressing.


I CupScotlandvNetherlands
Pre-rating448.84195.69
Form-26.65-36.21
Expected MarginScotland by 177 runs

Scotland, reigning finalists, versus Netherlands, one of the few associates to improve their reputation at the World Cup ought to be a tight battle. But, as with the abve series, the absence of county players in the sides makes a mockery of the form book. Likely to be low scoring, probably rain affected given the early summer start, but very important in a competition spanning so few games. Scotland's development last season was impressive, but it is the Dutch who've had the better form in the ODI competition, and a close game is likely. The game appear unlikely to be streamed live, despite indications it might be earlier, but keep an eye out in case that changes.


Rankings at 31st May 2011
1.England1246.58
2.India1200.30
3.South Africa1180.15
4.Australia1125.02
5.Sri Lanka1065.85
6.West Indies913.86
7.New Zealand885.38
8.Bangladesh618.26
9.Zimbabwe546.63

10.Ireland556.46
11.Afghanistan484.71
12.Scotland448.84
13.Namibia400.40
14.Kenya338.92
15.U.S.A.296.99
16.Uganda268.44
17.Nepal196.51
18.Netherlands195.69
19.Canada177.51
20.U.A.E.176.09
21.Hong Kong148.65
22.Cayman Is134.24
23.Malaysia123.90
24.Bermuda105.40

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 13th June, 2011 20:27:35   [#] [2 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXXIX, June 2011
Russell Degnan

NGV at 150. Taken May 2011

Melbourne Town 7th June, 2011 02:53:32   [#] [0 comments] 

Will PCB pettiness lead to a rupture?
Russell Degnan

For some time now I've been arguing that the ICC - or more particularly, their member boards - have been sleepwalking into an industrial dispute. Their refusal to organise their T20 leagues so as not to conflict with international cricket is guaranteed to encourage players on the fringe of national selection in India, England and Australia, or any player from the poorer members into premature retirement or conflict.

The solution, to require a NOC from the home board, is an odd one. In every major sport, administrators and owners have attempted to coerce players in order to pay them less, and in most cases, the administrators and owners have - over the course of many many years - lost those battles in courts of law.

But to date, it hasn't mattered to cricket. The boards' monopoly control of international representation, and the benefits, financial, professional and psychological that those bring, has kept players in check. And where it hasn't, such as with the WICB, the benefits accruing to the board from generous granting of NOCs have provided an amicable solution.

The Afridi situation is a whole different scenario however, and it is a potential nightmare for the ICC if it goes to court. Afridi, now contract-less, and therefore not bound to the board, has a contract with Hampshire, now on hold because of the PCB's petty decision. If any circumstance demonstrated Restraint of Trade and Collusion on the part of international cricket boards it is this.

Add that it is happening in England (and the EU), where employment legislation is well established; and happenign to a player with very little to lose when pursuing a court case (something he has already indicated he might do), and the ground is laid for a defining conflict.

Obviously the ECB will have taken leal opinion that the NOC system is legal, but so would have dozens of owners and administrators in times past. If Afridi takes it to court, and at this stage, that remains only a possibility, international control of cricket could shatter.

Given who is in charge of international cricket, maybe that is a good thing.

Idle Summers 3rd June, 2011 09:49:55   [#] [0 comments]