No need to worry about rain. With Philander playing so well, South Africa have both a remarkable and balanced attack. They'd probably like more output from Morkel, who drifts in and out of games, but with Steyn and Philander doing the heavy lifting, being is difficult to get away and occasionally devastating is sufficient. Their batting looks slightly more troubled; not so much in this game, but only de Villiers really scored runs, with his 83.
New Zealand have played well at times in this series, but let the odd series drift with the ball - letting South Africa recover from 6/88 was the most significant period of the match - and with their periodic batting collapses. Their bowling is merely solid. Vettori was never a match-winner, and is now more batsman than bowler, albeit one that means they have a long tail. Martin seems to be in the prime of his career, but is not young, and the support is inconsistent. Thy are definitely playing better than they were a few years ago, but they are a long way from being even an average test side, ratings wise.
An odd little tour, reminiscent of the early 1980s, without the tour of India to accompany it. England ought to win easily; they are a superior team, Sri Lanka have little to offer with the ball, their form is woeful in test cricket, and their players are past their best with the bat. Australia came to Sri Lanka last year and won, relatively easily; they did so, as teams need to, with their spinner, and with tight bowling. England have both. The caveat is their defeat by Pakistan where their middle order was inept against Saeed Ajmal and company. I don't see a repeat, mostly because Sri Lanka have no spinners as capable, and because that series was close, even if England consistently ended up on the losing side.
You can never rule out an absolute road in Sri Lanka, and after being rolled by Australia on a turning deck, it is more likely Sri Lanka will aim for high scoring draws, than run the risk of Swann finding form. For England, they need to prove they can play in these conditions, and not just the bouncy true tracks of Australia, or the seaming decks of home. Unfortunately, such a short series may merely lead to more questions anyway.
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 24th March, 2012 14:37:36 [#]