Low scoring games can be dangerous for superior teams - see below for example - and this was a particularly low scoring game. Berrington (62) and MacLeod (67) anchored either end of the first innings, and Nehemiah Ohiambo 3/29 and Ngoche 4/58 took wickets did the same to restrict them to 212. The response was underwhelming though as Kenya struggled in the conditions - as they did all tour. Evans taking 6/30. Only Chalmers got going the second time around, making 106, Varaiya taking 5/44; but it was enough to set an improbable target of 342. Collins Obuya (91*) made runs, but was fortunate in doing so, and it ended a fairly miserable tour for the Kenyans, now out of contention in both the WCL and I-Cup. Scotland will need to beat Ireland in the next round to make the final, and hope for results elsewhere. A possibility, given their opposition has qualified, but the winner of Afghanistan and Namibia has much the easier run.
Most tests produce straight-forward narratives, a few key moments lead to an inevitable victory. Close tests offer no straight-forward narratives; it is easy to find 15 runs in five days of cricket. In a match marred by numerous poor decisions, - and (naturally) by many uncertain ones un-resolvable regardless of time and replays - those abound. What matters is that having been in a position of considerable weakness, Bell, with style, and Broad, in a manner that always gives the impression that bowlers are bowling to his plan, put on 138 runs, turning a gettable target into an unlikely one.
Australia's batting was as bad as advertised, falling to poor shots and inadequate techniques. England know they need only keep the ball in the right place and wait. The only time they didn't, two tenth wicket partnerships almost took the game from them. The first, led by Agar's classy 98, beggared belief. He has the necessary tools to be a useful, even very good batsman. His bowling needs work, being prone to putting the ball on the pitch, instead of rising through the crease to take advantage of his height and loop. Agar kept England contained though, which is what he should be judged on. Australia's other bowlers were poor but lucky in the first innings, and better but not in the second. Siddle proved his worth but Australia can't reasonably carry two bowlers with loose lines on slow pitches against quality batting. In the end, wides and no-balls by themselves lost Australia the test, and Harris, and more particularly, Bird (and Faulkner), are better suited to the conditions.
England's bowling burden rested heavily on Anderson, particularly when things got tight. Finn took two wickets but was expensive, and Broad - albeit injured - was worse in the first innings. They won't struggle to bowl Australia out though, assuming they get enough movement at times, but might reconsider tailoring pitches for Swann. England's best chance of winning easily is to make heavy runs and count on being able to prevent Australia doing likewise. Pitches that favour the bowling open them to collapse, and mean a rash of poor shots - as in the first innings - will cede advantage.
Lord's has a recent reputation as being flat, which should suit an English side which, when all is said and done, won a match in which they played badly, had a slight advantage in the umpiring, but the misfortune to face two tenth wicket partnerships of unusual size. This isn't as good an English side as two years ago, and Australia have potential - being young, we may one day look back and wonder how a side with so many good players didn't win - but earlier predictions look more accurate, not less, after the first test.
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 18th July, 2013 20:34:50 [#]