Namibia and Kenya in the I-Cup; Ratings 30th September
Russell Degnan

Also catching up...

2nd TestIndiavNew Zealand
Expected MarginIndia by 135 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 5 wickets
Series rating1188.21709.57

Like New Zealand's final test against the West Indies, a close match, one they ought to have won, and yet, at the crucial moment, failed to take control of. India's final margin was tight and yet still generous, bouyed by a 96 run final stand that New Zealand nevertheless really didn't look like breaking. It was, needless to say, a vastly superior performance to the previous week, Taylor blitzed 113 off almost a run-a-ball, and his effort was followed up by van Wyk and Bracewell, to post a respectable, but not great score. Ojha, who took the first ball of the match took 5/99. From 4/80, Kohli held together India's
reply, bringing them up to 353 - one of several points where New Zealand failed to capitalise, despite Southee's 7/64.

Ashwin took five in the third innings, and although New Zealand fought their way to a respetable total, and took relatively regular wickets, they never seemed to be able to pressure India into giving up the game. They will take some comfort from a much better performance particularly in India. But they should also ask why in two of their past three tests they failed to not only win a winnable game, but failed to look like taking crucial late order wickets, while giving up runs at almost 5 an over. A little pressure goes a long way, and none was applied at the exact moment it was required.

I-Cup matchNamibiavKenya
Expected MarginNamibia by 97 runs

A hangover from the previous round where Kenya couldn't play at home. Namibia are coming off their break, while Kenya have just finished the EAPL, which may or may not be an advantage in four day cricket. Kenya's batting has been a serious problem for a while, although the intrduction of Obanda, Mishra and Allan have raised hopes that they can return to the status they enjoyed a decade ago. Namibia have been embroiled in accusations of racist selection policies in their U/19 squad, which oughtn't distract their cricketers, but needs urgent attention from their administrators. As always their batting depth - helped by playing all all-rounders - will be their strength, and they'll hope to put up a total Kenya cannot touch when they have their turn to bat.

Rankings at 30th September 2012
2.South Africa1230.53
5.Sri Lanka1042.97
7.West Indies957.33
8.New Zealand863.45


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 30th September, 2012 09:50:11   [#] [0 comments] 

T20 Ratings - WT20 Round Two Edition
Russell Degnan

Slightly delayed, and thus back-dated to the start of the second round. Adjust probabilities as appropriate.

For a group accustomed to waiting five days for a result cricket fans are unusually impatient when it comes to getting a result in global tournaments. Every sport starts their show-case slowly. Ths one actualy starts surprisingly quickly, given what rides on early games. To the extent their is a scheduling flaw (and this is almost as meaningful a format as can be created) it could easily be remedied by having the winner of the first group game play the second, and by playing two games per day.

Not that the tournament is not without problems. The scheduling construct that puts moving to the next game ahead of finishing (or playing out as far as possible) the one that had already started. The continuing problem with cricket's rain rule that makes it easy to leave the field and hard to return. The unwelcome (and unnecessary) farce of Duckworth/Lewis calculations, when a split innings, and 10 over determination would be better. It would be nice if the press focused on some of these issues, boring as they are, over rubbishng small teams and proposing unworkable formats.

The first round conformed more or less to expectations. Less so the results. For the second WT20 in a row, no upset occurred, and it increasinbly appears that contrary to widespread unempirical belief it is harder to cause an upset in a T20 match. Most likely, because as any park cricketer could eplain, scoring quickly is a lot harder than staying in. The margins, except for Zimbabwe, were broadly in line with the ratings; the winners of the group stage, except for England, as predicted.

Group 1FormGamesQual. Prob.
4.Sri Lanka2512.0+17.416.758.1%
7.West Indies2476.8+11.416.943.3%
8.New Zealand2407.2+6.321.827.2%
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 Sri LankavsNew Zealand16 runs65.1%
 EnglandvsWest Indies14 runs63.7%
 EnglandvsNew Zealand23 runs71.5%
 Sri LankavsWest Indies7 runs56.8%
 New ZealandvsWest Indies9 runs41.4%
 Sri LankavsEngland-7 runs42.9%

The weaker of the two groups by far. England's ating needs to be adjusted downwards to account for them leaving out three of their better batsmen/T20 players in Pietersen, Bell and Owais Shah. That, and the India game demonstrated a complete inability to play spin. Their loss to the West Indies means they must beat Sri Lanka and hope the West Indies don't thrash New Zealand. That is a strong possibility as, notwithstanding their unrecognized tie with Sri Lanka, New Zealand aren't very good. They aren't, however, out of the tournament yet, needing a win over the West Indies and Sri Lanka to beat England. The West Indies are something of an enigma, lacking depth in their squad, when the best players fire they can win anything. Whether they can do that three times in succession is doubtful.

Group 2FormGamesQual. Prob.
5.South Africa2507.024.648.3%
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 PakistanvsSouth Africa-4 runs%
 AustraliavsIndia6 runs%
 AustraliavsSouth Africa7 runs%
 IndiavsPakistan4 runs%
 AustraliavsPakistan10 runs%
 IndiavsSouth Africa1 run%

Australia have suddenly gone from officially tenth to potential winners, but my ratings always had them higher, and they'll shortly take the top spot. Like the West Indies, their depth is a worry, as is their tendency to concede huge scores for Watson and Warner to chase. South Africa have improved markedly on where they were, but fell to pieces against Pakistan and, like India, have their work ahead of them. This is an extremely close group though, and any of the four could still make it to the semi-finals.


None of the departees wil be especially pleased with their performance here. Afghanistan ought to have beaten India, but failed due to dropped catches. Against England they lost the ability to construct and innings as well, and fell to a huge loss. Ireland were once again stymied by rain, but undone by a huge first game loss. Bangladesh played reasonably well, and might have sent Pakistan home if their bowlers could do a job. they never really looked like doing so though even with Shakib once again demonstrating his considerable lonely talents. And Zimbabwe? Who knows where they are at. They played at the level of Scotland or Canada here, but two games don't tell you much of anything. That goes for all the teams.

The sixteen team tournament planned for 2014 is in many ways identical to the twelve team one: either way, a weaker team needs to win one of two games against someone in the top-8. But there will be four more, mostly weaker teams, taking their shots, so one is likely to land. Numerous commentators have complained about the predictability of the eight teams making the second round in tournaments constructed to let eight teams go through. There is, of course, a relatively simple solution: don't have an eight team second round. Not exactly rocket science.

Idle Summers 30th September, 2012 09:18:53   [#] [0 comments] 

T20 Ratings - WT20 Round One Edition
Russell Degnan

A show-piece tournament but crammed between the end of the English season and the start of an unloved domestic tournament, scheduled when the local climate might conceivably reduce every game into farce, and following so closely on from the previous edition that the champagne is barely dry on the trophy, so close to the next, that the qualifiers are already half completed. But still, by far, the most enjoyable of the ICC's many blundering tournaments, with a tight format and largely important games.

The rankings have been brought up to date and tweaked to provide a little more dynamism, making up for a lack of data points. I'll focus here on the probability of upsets in each group, because with the super-8 seeding, unless one of the unfancied teams wins, the early phase is at best a form guide. That said, the rankign difference from England to South Africa equates to 15 runs, in a format decided, on average, by 40 runs even when teams are evenly ranked. Any of the top teams can win through, not because the game is lucky, but because there is little to distinguish any of the teams.

Group AFormGamesQual. Prob.
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 AfghanistanvsIndia-53 runs9.1%
 AfghanistanvsEngland-61 runs6.3%
 EnglandvsIndia-8 runs57.8%

Afghanistan are a better side than they were two years ago, but they still have the weakets team at the competition and the hardest of groups. Despite all and sundry pronouncing otherwise there is little evidence that T20 games are more prone to upsets - unlike the 2011 ODI world cup, the 2010 WT20 had no upsets. The skill required to score quickly against top attacks is more difficult than surviving long periods against the same attack. But that doesn't mean that Afghanistan can't provide an upset. They are a good side, on Sri Lankan wickets where they are less likely to be undone by pace and bounce, as in the West Indies. England would seem to be their best chance, given their struggles against spin and unsettled side. India have quietly put themselves at third in the rankings, and really ought to be favourites to win it all.

Group BFormGamesQual. Prob.
6.West Indies2482.6+35.714.981.6%
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 AustraliavsIreland34 runs80.4%
 AustraliavsWest Indies6 runs56.3%
 IrelandvsWest Indies-28 runs24.2%

At first glance Ireland's ranking (and match probabilities seem a little generous. Certainly the bookies will give you better odds. But their team is well-rounded, professional and potentially explosive. Stirling is as good a young batsman as any in world cricket and can destroy any attack; in Dockrell they have a class spinner; in Rankin and Johnston he is well supported by pace; and finally, there are fast runs in the lower order, if a start is made. If spin comes to the fore, Australia may suffer badly, as they did in 2011. Their batting is powerful, but perhaps flaky, especially from 3 to 5; much mirth was made of the farce that is the ICC rankings, I have them much higher, mostly because their wins, when they occured, were huge. It oughtn't be forgotten that they were finalists in 2010, and much of that side remains. The West Indies are likewise, a little uneven; their star players are more dangerous than anyone's, but their scrubs might be a liability. Any team that gets through Gayle, Samuels and Pollard and deals with Narine is more than halfway to winning, though that can be easier said than done.

Group CFormGamesQual. Prob.
4.Sri Lanka2494.3-4.614.786.0%
7.South Africa2456.0-11.222.677.0%
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 Sri LankavsZimbabwe28 runs75.9%
 Sri LankavsSouth Africa7 runs57.2%
 South AfricavsZimbabwe21 runs69.8%

Zimbabwe will hope the second innings of this edition's games last longer than 13.1 overs, rather than being pitted against the obscurities of Duckworth-Lewis. They are a much improved team in the last couple of years, having rolled South Africa in unofficial T20 matches earlier in the year. Price will hope to lead the attack, although the 4-over limit will stymie them and may require some big chases; Taylor has repeatedly demonstrated a sound head and explosive batting style. While their recent form is weak, they are capable. Sri Lanka, at home, ought to be considered one of the favourites; Malinga remains one of the short formats best bowlers, and their batting is deep. South Africa are, on paper, the best side in the tournament, but their ranking isn't so strong, and their most recent series have been split, except against a weak New Zealand side.

Group DFormGamesQual. Prob.
8.New Zealand2385.9-43.419.872.0%
GamesExp. MarginWin Prob.
 BangladeshvsNew Zealand-15 runs64.8%
 New ZealandvsPakistan-13 runs37.3%
 BangladeshvsPakistan-28 runs24.0%

The closest group, with the weakest team of the seeds in New Zealand, and the strongest of the underdogs in Bangladesh. New Zealand's record in tournaments and against small nations are in their favour, but Bangladesh have beaten them not so long ago, and have improved since. Shakib remains their only genuinely classy player, but he has potential support from enigmatic match-winners in Ashraful or Tamin Iqbal. As ever, it only takes one good day, and both their competitors are vulnerable. New Zealand's batting talent hasn't translated into decent scores, and their bowling is not suited to Sri Lankan pitches. They were verging on a rabble in the games in the United States and will need to improve if they are to escape the group. Pakistan are, as ever, the dark horses. They effectively split a series against Australia, demonstrating a capacity for fast scoring and hopeless collapses that we've come to expect. Their trump cards of Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir and Shahid Afridi should take them deep into a tournament where they have always done well.

Idle Summers 18th September, 2012 18:39:31   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCLXVII, September 2012
Russell Degnan

The Yarra on a spring evening . Taken September 2012

Melbourne Town 11th September, 2012 01:12:40   [#] [0 comments]