A rain draw: just 212.5 overs in 5 days says it all. Sri Lanka had the better of it. Sangakarra's even 150 and superior bowling meant they were only 6 runs from enforcing the follow-on, and might have held hope of a victory on the fifth day had rain and solid resistance from Baugh not concluded any chance of a result. Good performances by Kemar Roach and Darren Bravo aside, little else can be said about this match. Sri Lanka go into the last match needing to demonstrate that they are still a force in the post-Murali era. They'll need clear weather and a decent pitch to do so however.
The seventh draw in the past eight tests, but that is no doubt a statistical quirk given you need to track back 40 games for the previous seven draws. Brisbane is traditionally a pitch with pace and bounce, offering something for everyone. A wet spring meant this pitch offered the latter but not the former; after the first two days when overcast conditions and what remained of the green grass offered a little to the bowlers - of whom, only Siddle took full advantage - the batsmen completely dominated. Australia's bowling was woeful, but such was their first innings advantage that England weren't completely safe until after lunch on day 5, and failed to push harder for the time they might have needed to bowl Ausralia out.
English triumphalism and Australian wailing are both out of kilter with events. Though Australia could easily have been bowled out for less than England had Hussey's luck not held on day 2 and 3, a declaration target on that pitch might have produced any result. Neither side has demonstrated a capacity for consistent performance in the past two years, and Adelaide, at least since the 1980s has generally produced a result, as the pitch slows and becomes harder to score off. Disciplined bowling and a full length eventually rewards a bowler in Adelaide; in that respect, England ought to have the edge over an opponent that displayed little capacity for either in Brisbane.
Contrasting fortunes on the way to the final. Afghanistan has swept all before them at four-day cricket, where the pace and skill of their bowlers comes to the fore. Scotland, meanwhile, scraped into the final on the back of a Zimbabwe forfeit, but will be close to full-strength with the inclusion of county players, and stand a reasonable chance of reversing their comprehensive defeat to Afghanistan at home in August. Afghanistan ought to be favourites though, playing in their second home, and as the form team of the competition. The final, over five days, is as close to a test match as either side is likely to get in the forseeable future, and (in what will hopefully be a regular event in years to come) will be streamed live across the web.
The ratings indicate a Namibian win, but while they dominated in their last two games, they still managed to lose their last encounter, at home, to the Emirates nation, in a tight encounter. This match, too, ought to be close; the U.A.E. seem more vulnerable to the sort of crippling batting collapse that tends to decide these games. If some of their batsmen can step up though, the home advantage ought to give them the edge.
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 1st December, 2010 10:08:00 [#]