Could almost cut and paste last week's note on Ponting in here, but instead I'll focus on the batting order. It is hard to fathom ho the selectors have persisted with this lineup for so long, given the results. In just 27 tests, Australia has been bowled out for 215 or less no less than 11 times. 6 times in 13 tests over the past 12 months. A general ineptitude against the swinging ball, a lot of ordinary form (Ponting, North, Hussey, Hughes and Haddin all average no better than 40) and a tendency to play completely inappropriate shots, has produced a team capable of scoring big on occasion, but all too frequently fail completely. The team needs players capable of mature controlled innings - Klinger being the obvious candidate - that can hold the innings together, and build a total that will keep them in the game long enough for the mercurial batsmen and bowlers to find form.
What went wrong for Pakistan? No team should lose from that position. Credit to Mohammed Yousuf for taking the blame for his injudicious shot, but he was part of a large club, and his captaincy was severely lacking in several areas: notably defensiveness in the field to Hussey and Siddle, and an inability to get his players to keep their heads down and work for the win. To toss this game away - almost from the moment one of the most controlled and sensible opening stands I have seen in a long time ended - was unforgivable.
As with Australia, you could cut and paste last week's comment. An English team with fight is a dangerous thing, and in Collingwood and Strauss they have players capable of grinding out draws when required. Bell remains an enigma, playing here the game of his career, but in both innings, throwing it away at crucial times. The bowling continues to flounder on unhelpful pitches, but, like the batting, they grind away and stay in the game for just long enough. Close again, but still no win for South Africa. Now facing the prospect of losing their second consecutive home series. They didn't do much wrong, but they lack the killer instinct at key times (notably at 2/261 when a rapid acceleration was called for). Until they learn that they will remain short of the best side.
Two teams on the improve. India will be fortunate if they can maintain their rating against a Bangladeshi side that, under Shakib has come along well recently. Even so, a typically one-sided encounter is on the cards.
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 January, 2010 12:31:49 [#]