Naturally, having written that the chance of a turn-around was low, Australia proceeded to bat as they haven't in years to compile a big score and declare. Rogers and Clarke were the key, the former showing why he has compiled suhc a formidable first-class record with crisp drives through the off-side, and the latter finally getting the start he needs to go on and compile a big score. Smith did well in support, before Haddin and Starc iced the innings.
Much debate was had about the declaration. Australia could not do much more. They scored quickly before both declarations, though perhaps an extra 10-15 overs might have helped before the first, allowing a more aggressive third innings (or even the follow-on). It was the be expected that England would score around 350. They are remarkably consistent on that front, partly because they have so many batsmen capable of making tons. Pietersen was brilliant, as he always is when scoring runs, but there is little else to add that hasn't been said elsewhere.
The end of Australia's innings ought to worry England. Anderson bowled the most overs by an Englsh pace-man ever in 2012. He is on course to almost equal that in 2013, ending the year on the unforgiving Australian turf. At his age - and Swann's age, the other bowler they are leaning on heavily - injuries are both more likely and troublesome. England has depth, but a few more decent Australian totals could cause problems. He has been their best bowler recently by some distance.
Australia have entered this test match with Bird instead of Starc - easily the most accurate Australian attack in years, if not the late-90s. Resting Harris must have been an option, as he is fragile, but they obviously prefer to get something from this series, and hope for the best over the longer term.
That Australia doesn't have something from this series is a combination of bad luck and an inability to win the moments they need to. This has been a problem for some time - Cardiff '09, multiple losses and draws against South Africa at home, and close losses to India and New Zealand. It may be meaningless; a sign the team fights hard but isn't good enough; a sign they lack experience in certain situations. Whatever it is, it will ultimately mean this series ends up looking lopsided rather than relatively close, especially if England are able to assert their superiority in the final matches.
Canada will be rightly upset that the damaged drainage at their King City facility prevented so much play that this match was drawn. But for Swapnil Patil who scored a Bannerman-esque 65% of his team's first innings runs (76 not out) of 116, everything went Canada's way. Josh Gordon too 6/43, and Nitish Kumar (103) and Daesrath (111) helped them to 369. The remarkable Khurram Khan stayed in for 86 unbeaten overs on the final day, scoring 121 and meaning Canada finished still 6 wickets short. A superb fighting comeback from one of the surprise teams of this competition which left Canada rooted to the bottom of the table. The result in the other game meant both teams are now unable to make the final, but their final matches will provide a useful chance to prepare for the WT20 qualifiers.
The key fixture of the round, and barring a very unlikely sequence of results, the final placings in the league stage. Afghanistan produced a thoroughly professional performance from Mohammad Nabi's 6/33 on the opening day, to Dawlatzai's hat-trick (5/23) to close the Namibian second innings. In between the batting, led by Stanikzai's 127, had enough contributions to build a sizable lead, bank the 20 points, and leave themselves needing only first-innings points, a draw, or anything less than 20 points from Scotland to make the final. Their rating shoots up again, now above Ireland, though not too much should be read into it, the final ought to be a very tight and interesting match.
I have no ratings for women's tests - not least because the last was two years ago - and while I'll put together some cross-format ratings at some point, for now, suffice that there is a place-holder. With the men's Ashes retained, this match might be the most interesting this week. The are two evenly matched sides. Australia's bowling slightly superior, with the pace of Ferling and Perry, and the movement of Schutt it is as good a lineup as any to have played women's cricket. They'll miss Sthalaker, but to the extent spin dominates it will help their batting.
In Lanning and Cameron Australia have the potential to put up imposing totals at a fast clip. But both are products of the T20/ODI era, and neither seems to settle in for the long haul. Perhaps that won't matter, but you suspect England's more experienced squad will grind out some decent totals, and they'll need to do the same. The world cup match was a low-scoring affair as both sides struggled with the movement of the opposition. A similarly lively pitch in the test could create a lottery. If Australia's bowlers settle and bowl well, they would have a slight advantage in the matchup, but England, at home, should be the slight favourite.
In good news, the ECB is streaming all the matches. It is poor form to wait until four days before the series starts to announce as much though. Women's cricket deserves better promotion than that. Interested fans deserve better than to not have any information on how they can follow the matches until it has become exceedingly difficult to find out how. This sort of thing shouldn't be that hard to get right.
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 10th August, 2013 01:09:41 [#]