THE CORDON HOME

BLOGS ARCHIVES
SELECT BLOG
January 18, 2014

Ashes 2013-14 and India in SA: head-to-head analysis

Anantha Narayanan
Michael Carberry, who shouldered quite a bit of England's batting burden in the Ashes, deserves another chance  © Getty Images
Enlarge

First, some background information. The Ashes segment of this article is being written during the few days sandwiched between my two cataract surgeries. The right eye, just operated, has 20-20 vision but cannot be used to work on the computer. The left eye has high-power-cataract-damaged vision but can be used for working. So, armed with an improvised pirate-like eye-patch to cover the right eye, I have put on my old pair of spectacles and completed this article. Maybe not like facing Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Joel Garner in Kingston, without helmet and paraphernalia, but somewhat difficult. The comments are not as extensive as I normally provide. Also, there might be errors. And the organisation has gone a little awry. Hence apologies in advance. But the tables are complete. I request the readers to come out with their own reading of the Ashes confrontations.

Now that the background is out of the way, let us look at the head-to-head data for the two recent series.

The Ashes series has extensive coverage on ESPNcricinfo and S Rajesh has a concise but very well-compiled summary of the series. Here, I am going to provide my own take on the cleansweep. All the Australian players contributed. George Bailey did not do much but took some fine catches. For England, only Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes, and to a lesser extent, Michael Carberry did something of note. George Dobell, in his piece on rating of England players' performance in the Ashes, has placed Graeme Swann, capturer of seven wickets at 80.0 and one who quit before the end of the tour, at 5.5 and Carberry, who played with grit and courage for well over 17 hours, at 4.0. I disagree with the Swann rating - it seems almost as if Swann is being given a few points for what he did earlier. But that is not the purpose of rating players for the series.

The following table provides the comparisons of the key measures that led to the 5-0 win for Australia.

A random list of key measures compared
AustraliaMeasureEngland
9Hundred+ partnerships1
7250+ scores3
0Sub-200 scores6
41.40Series Avge21.57
260Avge score at fall of 6th wkt159
11Number of players used17
2697Top-7 Batsmen Runs1683
44.95Top-7 Batsmen Avge26.30
6Batsmen with 300+ aggregates0
10Hundreds1
55-wkt hauls2
17Bowled dismissals12
10Lbw dismissals2
HaddinX-FactorNone currently (Stokes???)
42Sessions won16
5And no wonder the score line was0

Ashes Session analysis details

Winners of each session in the Ashes 2013-14  © Anantha Narayanan
Enlarge

The Session Analysis is an intriguing topic. Back in 2001, I was the first one to do an objective session analysis for television presentation. This was not just a won/lost/shared concept, but enabled us to come out with the conclusion that Australia won the session 6.48-3.52 (points won out of ten), based on a number of factors, including the batsmen at crease and the length of the current partnership. However, this time I have reverted to the simple won/lost/shared approach. Fortunately, I had jotted down the scores as the Tests unfolded and it was easy for me to transfer the numbers and complete this work in the 75% condition of mine.

Australia bulldozed the sessions in the five Tests by 42-16. They won the first three Tests very comfortably. England competed better at the WACA, Perth. However the Test at the MCG was the biggest letdown for England. They won the first seven sessions 6.5-0.5 and would have won the Test if they had won the next session. However they lost the next four and lost the Test even though they were ahead in sessions 6.5-4.5. England won the first session at the SCG but lost the next seven.

Before anyone goes overboard, let me bring out one important set of numbers. If we exclude South Africa as the undisputed No. 1 team, three teams are competing for the second place. During the past three years, England, Australia and India have played each other often. Let me consider only the seven series played between these three. England is 4-1, Australia 2-3 and India 1-3. So England is still the leader of this pack. If India think that they will roll over England in England, they will be mistaken. England are very tough to beat at home, especially after this huge defeat.

Now let us look at the head-to-head confrontations.

Australia bowlers - ordered on balls bowled
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
AusMG JohnsonEngJE Root226 59 2 29.5113.0 26.1
AusPM SiddleEngKP Pietersen218 72 3 24.0 72.7 33.0
AusNM LyonEngBA Stokes187 97 2 48.5 93.5 51.9
AusRJ HarrisEngMA Carberry180 54 2 27.0 90.0 30.0
AusNM LyonEngMA Carberry176 70 0 70.0176.0 39.8
AusRJ HarrisEngAN Cook156 60 3 20.0 52.0 38.5
AusPM SiddleEngMA Carberry152 76 2 38.0 76.0 50.0
AusNM LyonEngIR Bell152 71 2 35.5 76.0 46.7
AusMG JohnsonEngMA Carberry146 66 3 22.0 48.7 45.2
AusRJ HarrisEngIR Bell132 64 3 21.3 44.0 48.5
AusMG JohnsonEngAN Cook128 73 4 18.2 32.0 57.0
AusMG JohnsonEngBA Stokes122 61 3 20.3 40.7 50.0
AusRJ HarrisEngKP Pietersen114 52 3 17.3 38.0 45.6
AusPM SiddleEngAN Cook114 47 1 47.0114.0 41.2
AusNM LyonEngKP Pietersen104 79 2 39.5 52.0 76.0
AusMG JohnsonEngKP Pietersen104 55 2 27.5 52.0 52.9
AusPM SiddleEngIR Bell102 31 3 10.3 34.0 30.4
AusRJ HarrisEngBA Stokes100 45 2 22.5 50.0 45.0

Australia batsmen - Runs scored
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
EngGP SwannAusDA Warner205140 2 70.0102.5 68.3
EngSCJ BroadAusDA Warner153136 4 34.0 38.2 88.9
EngBA StokesAusCJL Rogers169124 1124.0169.0 73.4
EngJM AndersonAusBJ Haddin126108 1108.0126.0 85.7
EngJM AndersonAusDA Warner161106 2 53.0 80.5 65.8
EngJM AndersonAusCJL Rogers262 98 1 98.0262.0 37.4
EngBA StokesAusBJ Haddin107 96 2 48.0 53.5 89.7
EngSCJ BroadAusCJL Rogers149 93 2 46.5 74.5 62.4
EngGP SwannAusMJ Clarke110 79 2 39.5 55.0 71.8
EngBA StokesAusSPD Smith120 78 2 39.0 60.0 65.0
EngSCJ BroadAusBJ Haddin126 76 1 76.0126.0 60.3
EngGP SwannAusBJ Haddin109 76 0 76.0109.0 69.7
EngGP SwannAusMG Johnson119 72 1 72.0119.0 60.5
EngJM AndersonAusSR Watson130 71 4 17.8 32.5 54.6
EngJM AndersonAusMJ Clarke123 68 1 68.0123.0 55.3
EngJM AndersonAusSPD Smith156 63 1 63.0156.0 40.4
EngSCJ BroadAusMJ Clarke107 60 2 30.0 53.5 56.1
EngGP SwannAusSR Watson 59 56 0 56.0 59.0 94.9
EngTT BresnanAusSR Watson 60 54 0 54.0 60.0 90.0
EngBA StokesAusSR Watson 64 50 1 50.0 64.0 78.1

Australia bowlers- Wickets captured
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
AusMG JohnsonEngAN Cook128 73 4 18.2 32.0 57.0
AusMG JohnsonEngSCJ Broad 56 25 4 6.2 14.0 44.6
AusMG JohnsonEngJM Anderson 32 12 4 3.0 8.0 37.5
AusPM SiddleEngKP Pietersen218 72 3 24.0 72.7 33.0
AusMG JohnsonEngMA Carberry146 66 3 22.0 48.7 45.2
AusRJ HarrisEngIR Bell132 64 3 21.3 44.0 48.5
AusMG JohnsonEngBA Stokes122 61 3 20.3 40.7 50.0
AusRJ HarrisEngAN Cook156 60 3 20.0 52.0 38.5
AusRJ HarrisEngKP Pietersen114 52 3 17.3 38.0 45.6
AusPM SiddleEngIR Bell102 31 3 10.3 34.0 30.4
AusSR WatsonEngMA Carberry 41 15 3 5.0 13.7 36.6
AusMG JohnsonEngGP Swann 28 15 3 5.0 9.3 53.6
AusNM LyonEngBA Stokes187 97 2 48.5 93.5 51.9
AusNM LyonEngKP Pietersen104 79 2 39.5 52.0 76.0
AusPM SiddleEngMA Carberry152 76 2 38.0 76.0 50.0
AusNM LyonEngIR Bell152 71 2 35.5 76.0 46.7
AusMG JohnsonEngJE Root226 59 2 29.5113.0 26.1
AusMG JohnsonEngKP Pietersen104 55 2 27.5 52.0 52.9
AusRJ HarrisEngMA Carberry180 54 2 27.0 90.0 30.0
AusNM LyonEngJE Root 98 51 2 25.5 49.0 52.0
AusRJ HarrisEngBA Stokes100 45 2 22.5 50.0 45.0
AusMG JohnsonEngMJ Prior 69 39 2 19.5 34.5 56.5
AusNM LyonEngAN Cook 80 33 2 16.5 40.0 41.2
AusNM LyonEngMJ Prior 54 20 2 10.0 27.0 37.0
AusPM SiddleEngMJ Prior 35 19 2 9.5 17.5 54.3
AusPM SiddleEngSCJ Broad 16 18 2 9.0 8.0112.5
AusMG JohnsonEngJM Bairstow 29 14 2 7.0 14.5 48.3
AusMG JohnsonEngIJL Trott 13 10 2 5.0 6.5 76.9
AusRJ HarrisEngCT Tremlett 24 8 2 4.0 12.0 33.3
AusMG JohnsonEngTT Bresnan 34 7 2 3.5 17.0 20.6
AusMG JohnsonEngMS Panesar 13 0 2 0.0 6.5 0.0

Johnson

1. Surprisingly Carberry is the one batsman who has played Mitchell Johnson reasonably well. I am not sure whether the English followers and management have recognised this shouldering of the team burden by the unfancied opening batsman.
2. Joe Root has also played Johnson quite well, but far more defensively.
3. Johnson has had the measure of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Stokes. However, all three batsmen scored freely.
4. Johnson has dismissed Broad almost at will.
5. Johnson has captured 22 top-order and 15 late-order batsmen. A very high proportion of late-order batsmen.
6. Johnson's 22 top-order dismissals have been effected in 906 balls, a wicket every 41 balls.
7. What is amazing is the speed with which Johnson cleaned up the English tail. He dismissed 15 batsmen in 233 balls, one every 15 balls. In terms of the series results, this was an important factor.

But a major difference was Nathan Lyon. While Ryan Harris captured 14 top-order wickets and Peter Siddle, 12, Lyon chipped in regularly, dismissing 12 top-order batsmen. There was no weak link.

Warner and Rogers

Look at the way David Warner dismantled Swann: 140 runs off 205 balls for two dismissals. Truly a match-winning effort. He also handled the two frontline England pace bowlers very effectively. He hit 136 runs off 153 balls at a near-90 strike rate against Broad and 106 runs off 161 balls against James Anderson. He might have been dismissed six times against these three bowlers but he extracted a heavy price for the dismissals.

However, the Australian batting performance has been that of Chris Rogers against Anderson - 262 balls, 98 runs and no dismissal. With Warner blazing away at the other end, the England lead bowler could make no headway against the Australian opening pair. Rogers was equally effective against Stokes. Only against Broad could he not exercise extended authority. Let us not forget that the two Australian opening batsmen exceeded 1000 runs for the series.

England bowlers - ordered on balls bowled
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
EngJM AndersonAusCJL Rogers262 98 1 98.0262.0 37.4
EngGP SwannAusDA Warner205140 2 70.0102.5 68.3
EngBA StokesAusCJL Rogers169124 1124.0169.0 73.4
EngJM AndersonAusDA Warner161106 2 53.0 80.5 65.8
EngJM AndersonAusSPD Smith156 63 1 63.0156.0 40.4
EngSCJ BroadAusDA Warner153136 4 34.0 38.2 88.9
EngSCJ BroadAusCJL Rogers149 93 2 46.5 74.5 62.4
EngJM AndersonAusSR Watson130 71 4 17.8 32.5 54.6
EngJM AndersonAusBJ Haddin126108 1108.0126.0 85.7
EngSCJ BroadAusBJ Haddin126 76 1 76.0126.0 60.3
EngJM AndersonAusMJ Clarke123 68 1 68.0123.0 55.3
EngBA StokesAusSPD Smith120 78 2 39.0 60.0 65.0
EngGP SwannAusMG Johnson119 72 1 72.0119.0 60.5
EngGP SwannAusMJ Clarke110 79 2 39.5 55.0 71.8
EngGP SwannAusBJ Haddin109 76 0 76.0109.0 69.7
EngSCJ BroadAusMJ Clarke107 60 2 30.0 53.5 56.1
EngGP SwannAusCJL Rogers107 27 1 27.0107.0 25.2
EngBA StokesAusBJ Haddin107 96 2 48.0 53.5 89.7
EngSCJ BroadAusSPD Smith104 42 1 42.0104.0 40.4
EngSCJ BroadAusSR Watson100 49 2 24.5 50.0 49.0

England batsmen - ordered on runs scored
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
AusNM LyonEngBA Stokes187 97 2 48.5 93.5 51.9
AusNM LyonEngKP Pietersen104 79 2 39.5 52.0 76.0
AusPM SiddleEngMA Carberry152 76 2 38.0 76.0 50.0
AusMG JohnsonEngAN Cook128 73 4 18.2 32.0 57.0
AusPM SiddleEngKP Pietersen218 72 3 24.0 72.7 33.0
AusNM LyonEngSCJ Broad 63 72 1 72.0 63.0114.3
AusNM LyonEngIR Bell152 71 2 35.5 76.0 46.7
AusNM LyonEngMA Carberry176 70 0 70.0176.0 39.8
AusMG JohnsonEngMA Carberry146 66 3 22.0 48.7 45.2
AusRJ HarrisEngIR Bell132 64 3 21.3 44.0 48.5
AusMG JohnsonEngBA Stokes122 61 3 20.3 40.7 50.0
AusRJ HarrisEngAN Cook156 60 3 20.0 52.0 38.5
AusMG JohnsonEngJE Root226 59 2 29.5113.0 26.1
AusMG JohnsonEngKP Pietersen104 55 2 27.5 52.0 52.9
AusRJ HarrisEngMA Carberry180 54 2 27.0 90.0 30.0
AusRJ HarrisEngKP Pietersen114 52 3 17.3 38.0 45.6
AusNM LyonEngJE Root 98 51 2 25.5 49.0 52.0

England bowlers - Wickets captured
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWicketsAvgeBpWS/R
EngSCJ BroadAusDA Warner153136 4 34.0 38.2 88.9
EngJM AndersonAusSR Watson130 71 4 17.8 32.5 54.6
EngSCJ BroadAusGJ Bailey 73 36 4 9.0 18.2 49.3
EngBA StokesAusMJ Clarke 98 46 3 15.3 32.7 46.9
EngGP SwannAusDA Warner205140 2 70.0102.5 68.3
EngJM AndersonAusDA Warner161106 2 53.0 80.5 65.8
EngBA StokesAusBJ Haddin107 96 2 48.0 53.5 89.7
EngSCJ BroadAusCJL Rogers149 93 2 46.5 74.5 62.4
EngGP SwannAusMJ Clarke110 79 2 39.5 55.0 71.8
EngBA StokesAusSPD Smith120 78 2 39.0 60.0 65.0
EngSCJ BroadAusMJ Clarke107 60 2 30.0 53.5 56.1
EngSCJ BroadAusSR Watson100 49 2 24.5 50.0 49.0
EngTT BresnanAusCJL Rogers 78 43 2 21.5 39.0 55.1
EngJM AndersonAusGJ Bailey 72 40 2 20.0 36.0 55.6
EngSCJ BroadAusMG Johnson 53 30 2 15.0 26.5 56.6
EngSCJ BroadAusRJ Harris 50 23 2 11.5 25.0 46.0
EngCT TremlettAusSPD Smith 33 19 2 9.5 16.5 57.6
EngBA StokesAusPM Siddle 12 2 2 1.0 6.0 16.7

Broad and Stokes did well. For all the criticism and the often unjustified booing, Broad can hold his head high: 21 wickets and 150 runs. He will be a handful player with bat and ball back in England. Stokes was probably the single silver lining on the dark northern clouds. He captured 13 wickets and scored nearly 300 runs. He showed a lot of courage and good technique. He outdid Shane Watson in the series. An excellent future No. 6 for England. He dismissed Michael Clarke three times quite cheaply. Carberry may not be the future opener for England but he deserves further chances, at least against Sri Lanka. It would be a folly to expose him for 17 hours against a hostile pace attack and bring in Root or Nick Compton for the more benign attacks at home. It is silly to talk about Pietersen's retirement or axing, forgetting that he was the leading scorer for England. He has to be given the home Tests to get his form back, similar to Ian Bell and Cook.

It would indeed be tragedy of epic proportions if the conservative views of Andy Flower and Cook are used to keep Pietersen out of the team, maybe forever. To defeat India and later have a chance to regain the Ashes, England needs Pietersen to come to the party. Root, Bopara or Trott are not going to do that.

Summary of South Africa - India two-Test series (100+Balls or 50+Runs or 2+ wickets)
BowTeamBowlerBatTeamBatsmanBallsRunsWktsAvgeBpWS/R
SafDW SteynIndCA Pujara15771235.578.545.2
IndRA JadejaSafJH Kallis15042142.0150.028.0
SafDW SteynIndAM Rahane13764064.0137.046.7
SafVD PhilanderIndCA Pujara12435035.0124.028.2
IndZ KhanSafF du Plessis11061161.0110.055.5
IndR AshwinSafF du Plessis10935035.0109.032.1
SafDW SteynIndM Vijay10741141.0107.038.3
SafDW SteynIndV Kohli10448148.0104.046.2
SafVD PhilanderIndV Kohli10251051.0102.050.0
...
SafDW SteynIndCA Pujara15771235.578.545.2
IndI SharmaSafGC Smith9865065.098.066.3
SafDW SteynIndAM Rahane13764064.0137.046.7
IndZ KhanSafF du Plessis11061161.0110.055.5
IndZ KhanSafAB de Villiers8955055.089.061.8
SafImran TahirIndV Kohli5855055.058.094.8
IndZ KhanSafGC Smith8051151.080.063.8
SafJH KallisIndCA Pujara6851151.068.075.0
SafVD PhilanderIndV Kohli10251051.0102.050.0
SafJP DuminyIndV Kohli7750150.077.064.9
...
SafDW SteynIndCA Pujara15771235.578.545.2
SafVD PhilanderIndAM Rahane7834217.039.043.6
IndMohammed ShamiSafHM Amla461527.523.032.6
SafDW SteynIndI Sharma8824.04.0100.0
SafVD PhilanderIndRG Sharma12723.56.058.3
IndMohammed ShamiSafJP Duminy20422.010.020.0
SafM MorkelIndMohammed Shami6020.03.00.0

Without going to details, I will summarise the salient points of the South Africa-India Test series here.

1. Only two combinations had 150-plus balls. Dale Steyn to Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja to Jacques Kallis (in a single Test). Most Indian batsmen faced 100-plus balls from Steyn.
2. Pujara scored most runs in the series off a single bowler: 71 off Steyn. Graeme Smith was close behind, scoring 65 runs off Ishant Sharma, but off fewer balls.
3. If we take Steyn as the bowler of the series, Ajinkya Rahane played him the best: no dismissals in 137 balls. Similarly Virat Kohli played Vernon Philander very well: 102 balls for no dismissals. On the South African side, Faf du Plessis mastered Zaheer Khan and Smith handled Ishant Sharma very well. For all the hype, it must be said that Smith got the better of Zaheer.
4. No bowler effected three dismissals of a single batsman: understandable because it was a two-Test series. Six bowlers effected two dismissals each. Steyn dismissed Pujara twice, but at a reasonably high average. However, look at Philander v Rahane, Mohammed Shami v Hashim Amla, Philander v Rohit Sharma and Shami v JP Duminy. All with very low averages. Philander needed only 12 balls to dismiss Rohit.
5. When it comes to strike rates, with 50 runs as a minimum, it is quite surprising to see that six of the ten qualifying entries were by the Indian batsmen against South African bowlers. This indicates that South Africa batted more sedately, maybe paving the way for the series win. Kohli leads with a near-100 strike rate against Imran Tahir. Pujara really mastered Kallis. Zaheer Khan was the weak link for India, three South African batsmen exceeding strike rate of 50.

The difference between the two teams was not just Steyn. The South African top seven batsmen, barring Amla, clicked. Three Indian batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit and MS Dhoni did virtually nothing. The concluding statements of the series: du Plessis to partly take over Kallis' middle-order batting role and Rahane either to open or make the No. 6 spot his own.

To download/view the documents containing the 7 complete tables, please CLICK HERE. My take is that many of the questions can be answered if you download this file and view the contents. Instead of asking me obvious questions for which the answers are already there in the tables, you could download the file and view the tables.

RELATED LINKS

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

RSS Feeds: Anantha Narayanan

Keywords: Stats

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mishmanin on (January 20, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

Thanks Anant for sharing the link, I missed it. The list seems to be quite acceptable even today, though Prior may make an entry and McCullum may exit the list. But I feel that batting has assumed too much of importance....imagine a keeper doing a More to Gooch today or Parthiv Patel in Sydney 2004.

Coming to your predictions, I believe even if Faf fills in No. 4, in the long run SA are going to miss Kallis the bowler and in general the balance he provided. One on one, SA just seems to be better than Australia and should be considered 60:40 favorites. The Jhonson factor may just not work against SA as it did against the English.

And I agree, England are no team without KP...he has been their game changer for last 8 years. Better to loose Flower than KP.

Thanks a lot....

Posted by mishmanin on (January 20, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

Dear Anant, My salutations for this excellent analysis. Have followed ur columns for last 3 years. This is my 1st comment. While Ashes was surprisingly one-sided, as one expected England to put up a better show, India-SA was much closer. Point taken that the difference lies in 3 Indian batsmen not contributing (MSD included), whereas 6 SA batsmen did well (also an indication of relative bowling strengths). However, it has always intrigued me as to how we judge a wicket-keeper. MSD is a case in point, a competent keeper and an OK batsmen (Very good in ODIs), but criticized in test matches. Prior also has been blamed for English failure, whereas Haddin appreciated immensely for his contributions. What should be the expectations from a keeper? should he keep wickets immaculately or also perform like a top order batsmen? Perhaps we are spoilt by AB, Sanga and Gilchrist. It would be fantastic to have an analysis of keepers value to the teams. Look forward to ur thoughts.
[[
I have already done an exhaustive analysis on wicket-keepers. The link is given below.
http://www.espncricinfo.com/blogs/content/story/621923.html
Gone are thedays when one selected the best keeper. Today batting is probably as important component of a keeper's game.
Ananth
]]

Posted by Rahul_Inspired on (January 20, 2014, 5:21 GMT)

Good to see you again Mr. Anantha Narayanan and I believe this is my first comment on this section. It was an interesting and comprehensive analysis( it was interesting to see the scanned hand note, shows the dedication of yours). As far as Ashes goes, it was the obvious realization of how far ahead were the Aussies. I agree with you, Stokes can be good no. 6, if groomed well. Actually I am generally happy with the Indian batting in India - SA series. The competition was neck to neck until one bad session for India. And yes, India will get a tough test vs England at England, but I hope they will be prepared. Waiting for another article from you.

Posted by MilPand on (January 20, 2014, 4:31 GMT)

Rob Eastaway who worked with Ted Dexter to devise Individual Player Rankings, wrote this recently : http://www.robeastaway.com/blog/england-win-5-0
[[
Interesting article, Milind. Thanks for the link. A butterfly was flopping its wings near the toss zone at Brisbane and history was made. Maybe such explanations are possible for all series. I agree with Rob on the importance of that first Test toss. I feel it would have been 3-1 for Australia if England had won the toss.
Ananth
]]

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (January 20, 2014, 3:23 GMT)

I also followed the Indian tests in South Africa fairly closely (some very long days of cricket starting boxing day :D). We all knew Kohli and Pujara are special talents. I thought South Africa, except for Kallis, bowled badly (not just not well) in Johannesburg. India need Ishant Sharma, because he hits the deck hard unlike all the other bowlers they might use. I am extremely impressed with Rahane and thought Vijay did a very good job for his side. ( I remember Vijay on debut vs us getting two run outs......... great ground fielding is SOOOOOOO important). We of course are about to go to South Africa and I expect we'll win. Playing in South Africa doesn't present the same challenge as any other tour conditions wise, it may as well be at home. I expect we'll win because South Africa will be in balance disarray. Who, now Kallis is gone, will hide Steyn from bowling till a breakthrough is made ? Our big test of progress this year, IMPO ,will come in UAE V Pakistan.
[[
Saf will be a very even battle. I would give it as 52.5-47.5 for South Africa for the simple home advantage, and because I also think Johnson may not click as well for the second series running. And Harris to play well for another three Tests.
Ananth
]]

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (January 20, 2014, 2:51 GMT)

cont'd. Yes I know Johnson got most of the wickets, but I think Ryan Harris may be one of the best bowlers I've ever seen. The 4 seamers Australia used were as a unit in this series simply phenomenal. Don't forget Watson's bowling role, it makes a huge difference to the overall. Nathan Lyon also bowls better each outing. I was very glad to see him win us Melbourne, because have always worried he seems to me a better 1st and 2nd innings bowler than 3rd and 4th inns. Our bowling won this series and won it easily. Our batting still has serious problems. Bailey wasn't good enough and can join an illustrious list of those with 5 test and 5 wins. For mine, Haddin was our best batsman in the series. I also think Smith was outstanding (2 first innings centuries in tough conditions with team in trouble). The difference between the sides in intensity while in the field was the largest gap I've seen in a test series. We literally swarmed all over Englan nearly constantly. England looked lost.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (January 20, 2014, 2:36 GMT)

Thanks Ananth and may you painlessly restored to good vision shortly. Great effort! I'm a pretty avid Australian test cricket fan, and I've never seen us ( in 40+ years watching) so comprehensively dismantle a touring team. We turned a very good cricket side into a rabble in record time. England will be back and probably quite soon (expect green seamers rather than last summer's dry turners in England 2014). England are a very good side, yet losing Trott will hurt them for some time. Swann is irreplaceable and will of course also be missed. In defense of Swann's "shock" retirement :- Even in Brisbane, Lyon was imparting more revolutions. In Adelaide, I noticed Swann several times wring his right hand like one will, when they have "pins and needles"in their fingers. His elbow is not right and because of that he can't bowl properly and also risks serious further problems if he tried to. I'm certain Cook, Pietersen and Bell will score heavily again as soon as not strangled by Ryan Harris.
[[
England at home is a different proposition provided they sort out the personality clashes. They should realize immediately that Pietersen is more important than Flower.
Ananth
]]

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

All articles by this writer