Ruined by rain. I seem to write that more frequently these days as test matches push into the edges of the seasons. That said, this one was quite a way from the edge of the season, and the areas of England known for poor weather. Poor luck, in other words, counter-balanced by an extraordinary run of luck from Tino Best and Dinesh Ramdin who produced the only real highlights in the match. The West Indies may look back on this test as a lost oportunity given their final game position, but with so much cricket to play, and the suspicion that England's lacklustre approach on the fourth morning was largely a reflection of the hopeless situation, it is perhaps best to ignore what happened.
Series wise, the West Indies beat the margin in all three tests, reflecting a gradual improvement that, a single anomaly against Bangladesh aside, dates back several years. The top three was out of their depth in England, but Marlon Samuels showed the class he'd only hinted at before in compiling 386 runs at 97. The team rating was some 200 points better than on their last tour, against a superior English squad. With Sri Lanka and India slipping backwards, the West Indies are now in touch with some of the major teams for the first time in a while.
England will look to the South Africa series, billed as their real test with reasonable confidence. They didn't play as well as they could, or perhaps ought, but they won without needing to. Their key figures had both runs and wickets - Broad and Strauss in particular - which is all they can ask.
What ought to be billed as a closely fought and interesting series, somewhat slipping under the radar, without the blanket coverage that the major nations can produce. Sri Lanka have struggled of late, Pakistan dominated England. The ratings prediction of a 2 run victory probably favoured the home side, given the recent form, but Sri Lanka have always been a more dominant home team than most.
The first test only partially ignored that form book. Two dominant innings, first from Dilshan, then Sangakarra, set up a mammoth first innings total, although the tail collapsed notably. Pakistan's batting frailties, evident against England, but hidden by the bowling, surfaced again. Their second innings as better, led by Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq, but consistently making 100 or less in the first innings will not win them many games. Sr Lanka's second innings was itself quite weak, and a little ill-directed, given they gave Pakistan time to chase 500, if they had the skill. Kulasakera, Randiv and Herath split the wickets, although it was the former removed who removed the key batsmen, and who should get the credit. Pakistan are almost as dependent on Saeed Ajmal right now, as Sri Lanka were on Murali, but in Sri Lanka, that may not be the weakness it will become when they next leave the sub-continent.
In many ways a intriguing fixture. Canada has struggled in the long form - if not all forms - recently, and desperately needs a win. Their youthful top order is loaded with potential, but not scoring heavily enough to win games. Scotland, with ther own battery of promising youth, many playing for counties, if irregularly, close to full strength for the fixture, and playing at home ought to win easily. The weather may have other ideas, as few fixtures have been unaffected in the British Isles recently. If Canada can put their heads down and bat a draw is there for the taking. A two day game result is also distinct possibility.
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 July, 2012 15:23:37 [#]