The first day of a test match is normally Napoleanic: a series of calculating tactical manouvers and skirmishes, designed to probe for weakness without over-committing. Edgbaston was the Somme, a senseless bloodbath of batsmen endlessly rising from the trenches, occasionally landing some blows, but ultimately perishing. Rogers, the grizzled veteran of past encounters kept his head down and the score something like respectable; the rest of the top-order failed, and the juniors, Voges and Nevill, merely stood shell-shocked, leaving balls they ought to have played. Bell and Root scored decisive 50s but they ought not have got out how they did, and perhaps, on another day, the totals would have been reversed. Such was the manic nature of the test.
The problems identified after the first test, hidden by a Smith double ton and some poor English batting at Lord`s, remain. The bowling is too erratic, the batting not very good, and the English tail scoring decisive runs.
You can add the return of Steven Finn, who bowled much as he did before the English management destroyed his confidence: a penetrating but erratic line, capable of taking wickets, but also leaking runs. The absence of Anderson takes out the one bowler (except perhaps Lyon, who quietly had an excellent test) who doesn`t go for runs on either side. Amongst all the 2005 tributes, it rarely gets mentioned that Australia`s one true advantage of England, was squandered by the inability of the other bowlers to stem the runs at the other end. They don`t have that advantage now, and (much as in 2009) the matches are swinging wildly around who holds off a collapse the longest. A change in personnel might arrest that - Siddle for instance, or Compton - but England have won the battles to date, and Australia will feel they can`t win through defence, so expect it to continue.
8/246 is a rather intriguing position for a match to be after day one. Four washed out days in a row is rather less so. South Africa suffer a somewhat unfair penalty for two drawn matches against weak opposition, but remain the clear number one side.
Sri Lanka hae been in something of a free fall of late, and the post-Sangakkara era is unlikely to remedy that problem. The ratings call this as ridiculously close, but India are a better side in somewhat familiar conditions, and ought to have the batting to put these matches away. The oft-weak Indian attack and the inconsistent Sri Lankan batting will be the most intriguing match-up in this series. But the chance to watch Kohli take on Herath ought to be the reason to watch. A good performance could push India back up to third in the world - Sri Lanka will be happy if they can hold on to sixth ahead of New Zealand.
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 6th August, 2015 18:01:03 [#]