Officially the first game of the new season, but counted for today's purposes in the last. Kenya are in an interesting place right now; a young side not without potential, but needing to improve their results if they are to stay in the WCL championship and intercontinental cup after next year's ODI qualifiers. Results like this are certainly worrying. Namibia were held up on the first day by a Mishra century (108), but after a careful start, Williams (140) and Burger (85) put Namibia in a dominant position, and one from which Snymam could attack, making 201 not out from 192 balls. Viljoen and Klazinga once again worked their way through the Kenyan batting, and although Kenya made a reasonable attempt at forcing the draw, they were bowled out after tea on the last day. Namibia maintain ther strong position in the table, and having played both Scotland and Ireland should continue to pick up points in their remaining fixtures.
End of Year Review
Traditionally the majors look at best performances at the end of the calendar year, but, lying in the middle of variou stest series, it is a poor choice. The two month break for various T20 tournaments provides a much more natural point to examine the past 12 months of results, presented below, with commentary.
South Africa were the best team in an even year where all of the top-8 saw some success. Victory over England pushed them to the top of the official ratings and a competent series against Australia from the top here. The downside of their game is a continuing inconsistency, marked by a draw with Australia at home, when they ought to have won 2-0. That team, Australia, never seemed to play very well, struggling against the West Indies and losing to New Zealand for the first time in almost 20 years. But those weaker efforts were matched by a creditable drawn series with South Africa and a flogging of India. Seemingly more settled, but still carrying plenty of older players, Clarke's team remains an enigma.
England might feel fortunate to be third, and Pakistan unlucky to be fourth, but while their series was not close on the scoreboard, it was very tightly contested, and England's rating reflects a year of close losses. It is still a huge come down for a side that put up record high game ratings last year. Pakistan were quiet on the field the past few years, but have rebuilt under sound leadership and produced some find performances. Sri Lanka, by contrast, slipped again, and need to find a bowling strategy to back up their still fine batsmen. India somhow managed four wins, but all were against the weakest of opposition, and the marked result of the past 12 months were abject efforts against Australia. Now in a rebuilding phase with the batting, they will either emerge as a dogged team that can play for draws, or a rabble. Either way they need better bowling to compete.
New Zealand and the West Indies will both be pleased with their years, although the former slipped again, their victory over Australia and the emergence of some useful bowlers bodes well. The West Indies played some decent test cricket at times, having the better of England in one test and beating New Zealand. Their gradual improvement, dating back to 2008 is quite evident under Sammy. By contrast, both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe seem to be dropping off the test radar, playing no more tests than the associate nations, and at no better level. They could engage in a very interesting competition with those teams, but for obvious reasons - both cash and pride - they don't want to.
The top four associates are all quite close, with a fairly small sample size to go on. It is those four who will likely fight out the finals of the I-Cup, although the UAE, who have improved markedly, will try and force an upset. The others have had better years, and all three look vulnerable to upsets in the world cup qualifiers next year.
Idle Summers 5th November, 2012 15:05:56 [#]