By far the West Indies best opportunity to take something from this series. A pitch tailored to Benn's game allowed them to stay in sight until the second innings. The South African batsmen's willingness to grind out a reasonable total contrasted strongly with the West Indian batsmen's poor shot selection. Chanderpaul aside their batsmen lack the weight of run-making required to beat good sides. For South Africa, seven contributing players was enough to almost completely dominate. The lack of runs from Petersen and lack of wickets from Harris and Tsotsobe will be a concern. Ultimately though, like so many others, this was a short mismatched series of no obvious importance in the absence of a test championship.
A minor competition perhaps, but at least a competition. The U.A.E. entered this game needing a win and first innings points to ensure their place in the final. While the ratings indicated Bermuda was the favourite at home, their recent results and shocking form indicate a side that has seriously declined since making the World Cup four years ago. The U.A.E. more or less achieved their aim after a session as Bermuda collapsed for 56. Having then declared 300 in front, they made heavier work of the second innings with Hemp leading the way as usual. Nevertheless, the U.A.E.'s place in the final was confirmed with more than a day to spare. Namibia and Uganda will meet to decide their opponent in an intriguingly poised contest in September.
A series to answer some questions: do neutral series in England have a future (not least the proposed test championship); are Pakistan rejuvenating and able to provide a decent contest in the longer form of the game; and the thought foremost in both the hosts and Pakistan's opponents minds: how will this affect Ashes selection? With only two tests though, failures by the incumbents, particularly those under pressure such as Hussey or North, will raise more questions, not less amongst the selectors. A repeat of Sydney, or last year's Ashes where the entire top-order collapses badly will either induce panic in November's first test lineup or a circling of the wagons, and collective eye-closing to any problem.
For Pakistan, more accustomed to selectorial change and uncertain performance, these two tests provide a chance to get their own back after a difficult tour to Australia in the summer, and for Afridi to prove his worth as captain. Certainly, they have the bowling to hurt Australia, but Umar Akmal aside, their batting is unlikely to score enough runs to win. Results are likely in both tests however, so it ought to be an interesting contest.
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 11th July, 2010 02:18:28 [#]