There isn't that much to say about a below strength Ireland handily defeated an even weaker Dutch side. Anderson scored a century with support from Kevin O'Brien and Mooney, before teenage spinner Doram took over, finishing with 5/82. 332 was well above par though, as Netherland spluttered to 148 with only Cooper (51) making any runs. Ireland's third innings wasn't a whole lot better although White made 62 and the target was a weighty 407 by the time they were out for 222. They could have enforced the follow-on though, in retrospect, as Dockrell took 6/39, with 3/32 in support by Sorensen, who ripped out the top-order. Ireland's victory lifts their rating a little higher, and puts them through to the I-Cup final in December. The Netherlands become officially out of contention, although the second spot remains open, at least for now.
Australians living in hope, have had to look back to 1989 for a side seemingly so abject coming to England. But I'd argue 1993 is more apt. Coming off a summer of Ambrose-led maulings and a tame one-all draw in New Zealand, only Boon of Australia's top six of the time, had any great claim to form or a place, and in any case he wanted to move down the order; add in a paper-thin and bowling lineup with an inexperienced spinner and the English press was not-so-quietly confident. That side succeeded, and more, but they did so because the English side they were playing was rubbish. And even then, by the first test only two places in the order were truly up for grabs.
The current bowling line-up is far from paper-thin, albeit inexperienced. But no place in the batting lineup is set, except for Rogers and Watson, and that is an entirely new combination. It is, though, relatively easily to assess the Australian batting, because all the candidates have their flaws and will likely make no more or no less than any alternative (that was also true in 1993 if not almost always). The batting is dire. The only genuinely unlucky candidate missing out is Cosgrove and his record, if better in England than Australia, isn't great. Their flaws are well documented, and legion. Regardless of whether Australia's attack can match England's they still have to bowl to England's batting, so they won't perform nearly as well. If, if Clarke, Rogers and anyone can make some runs, and if conditions break well, Australia can win a test or more. But a series win is very unlikely.
How unlikely I have already posted. Arguably Australia are not as bad as the Indian tour made them out to be, but England can improve on recent performances too. Swann and Pietersen are returning, Root is finding his feet, and the Australians seem likely to pick bowlers with X-factor but poor records (Starc) over better alternatives (Faulkner, Bird) which suits cautious players who prey on mistakes like Trott and Cook.
Australia can still make something of this series, and if they selected the perfect side - which they might yet, so uncertain is the team - then they could challenge an English side that hasn't impressed overly in the previous 12 months. But if you are looking to bet, 3-1 or 2-1, the scorelines from most recent series are the ones to choose.
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 7th July, 2013 23:49:38 [#]