Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Which team should actually be number 1...??

ICC Test Rankings say India is the number one team in the world,followed by South Africa and Australia.Sri Lanka is 4th on the list and yet,India is struggling to match the lankans at home.If at all the ratings are correct,then India should be the better side.Yes,the team has had a lot of injury problems lately,but a No.1 team is expected to have a good benchstrength as well.India seems to be lacking this and they don't look even close to deserving the No.1 status.

So many have asked,"Which team should actually be number 1 then ??".Well,the best way to get a No.1 would be to let a Test Championship decide the top team in the world.Since that isn't there,as of now one could analyze performances of top teams in the past three years and also see their present form to determine the best in the world.

So here is how teams have performed in last three years:

Team - Matches - Won - Lost - Draw - W/L

Australia - 36 - 20 - 9 - 7 - 2.22

South Africa - 33 - 19 - 8 - 6 - 2.37

India - 32* - 14 - 7 - 11 - 2.00

Sri Lanka - 23* - 11 - 6 - 6 - 1.83

England - 37 - 14 - 9 - 14 - 1.55

Pakistan - 18 - 2 - 9 - 7 - 0.22

New Zealand - 27 - 6 - 14 - 7 - 0.42

West Indies - 25 - 3 - 13 - 9 - 0.23

*Excld. 2nd Test in Colombo SSC.

The win loss ratio of Pakistan and New Zealand in the past three years has been below 0.5,which shows they have been underperforming since both the countries have a lot of talent.Pakistan's Cricket has suffered a lot of problems due to problems within the PCB,infighting among the team,allegations of match-fixing and frequent change of captains.On the bright side,the new skipper Salman Butt started his career as captain with a win against Australia in the recently concluded test series in England and the bowling attack looks superb with likes of Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer doing well.So,this is a team which surely is on the way back to recovery,provided youngsters are handled carefully.New Zealand have had three awful years of test cricket to say the least.The only three series that they have won in this time have all been against Bangladesh.West Indies is also in a similar state as they have won hardly any matches in the three years.Both these countries really need to pull up their socks to match up to other teams.

England is a team which I feel is on the rise.The English team does not lack talent,but has been inconsistent over the years.In 2007 and 2008,they lost twice to India,once to Sri Lanka,South Africa and even the West Indies.However,since 2009,they have been a far better side with impressive players like Graeme Swann coming onto the scene.Winning the Ashes of 2009 has probably been the highlight of the past three years.

This leaves us with India,Sri Lanka,South Africa and Australia who have the best four W/L ratios.Some more statistics on their performances since July '07:

Team - Series Played - Won - Lost - Drawn

Australia - 9 - 5 - 3 - 1

South Africa - 12 - 8 - 1 - 3

India - 11* - 7 - 2 - 2

Sri Lanka - 9* - 5 - 2 - 2

*Excld. currently ongoing India-SL series.

India might look good in statistics,but frankly there bowling attack looks harmless against the Sri Lankans.Yes,there was a point in time,when India looked superb atleast at home.They had a steady bowling attack which was in good form,while all batsmen seemed to be on top of their game.Without Zaheer Khan,Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh in good form,India look a depleted side and far from being No.1 in the world.The batting is not India's problem as they have superb batting right from number 1 to 7.To win matches on a regular basis,a team has to pick up 20 wickets regularly.India needs to quickly get Zaheer,Ishant and Harbhajan back in form and also make sure they have a good enough bowling benchstrength to support the mainstream bowlers from time to time.The current team that is playing in Sri Lanka is not even as good as Pakistan who atleast have bowlers to pick up 20 wickets.If they don't get their bowling in order,then they could easily slip below even Pakistan.

Sri Lanka has a pool of many talented youngsters like Angelo mathews,Ajantha Mendis,Suraj Randiv,Dinesh Chandimal apart from veterans like Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardena and recently retired Muttiah Muralitharan.The islanders are giants at home as they have won almost every series at home in recent past.However,they aren't that strong away from Sri Lanka,as the only series win they have had since past three years was against Bangladesh.They are a talented side no doubt,however,they thrive on home conditions while in different foreign conditions,they aren't as competitive.This is the reason,I don't find them that dangerous,particularly now that Murali is no longer there to turn matches in their favour.There is a very strong chance that Sri Lanka will become No.1 at the end of this series,but I don't think they are the best.

Australia who have been champions for a very long time find themselves at No.3 in ICC rankings.Australia have been troubled due to the injuries to key bowlers like Brett Lee and Mitchelle Johnson.They even went on to lose the Ashes of 2009,but otherwise have been fairly consistent.They lost a series in India,when the Indians seemed to be on top of their game.Ricky Ponting's Australia has always shown amazing fighting spirit and determination to keep going.Inspite of having injury-problems,Pointing has handled his bowlers really well and kept fighting.Even though they lost to South Africa at home,they later took revenge by winning in South Africa.I strongly believe that it is the only side which can beat the Proteas.

Graeme Smith's South Africa is most definitely a superb team with good batsmen,quality bowlers and some useful all-rounders.Overall they look very balanced.Statiscally also,they are the most impressive side.Players like Hashim Amla,Dale Steyn and AB De Villiers are going to the glorious patches of their careers helping them win.Jacques Kallis is probably the most useful all-rounder in Test Cricket presently.This team won down under against the Aussies.However,they haven't played any cricket against Sri Lanka in the recent times,which would have been a real test.Apart from that,they have beaten West Indies,Australia as well as Pakistan.

So,here is what I think should be the Test Ranking:
1.South Africa
3.Sri Lanka
7.New Zealand
8.West Indies


  1. Very well written.You have made some really valid points and seems you did a lot of research for this article.:)

  2. Yes Shantanu,I did some research.Also,before I gave the rating,I thought about each team and their ability to take 20 wickets and make runs in different conditions.I think,South Africa is only team which can beat almost any country,though they haven't played in SL recently.

  3. mayank... are you, by any chance, trying to implicate that india or for that matter any team can become no.1 without taking 20 wickets?!

  4. I did not even remotely mean to say that.No team can hope to win a test match without the capability to take twenty wickets.
    What I wish to say is,combining the performances in last three years and current form,this is what the rating should be, according to me.Yes,no team can be a clear number one,but I think I have done my best to get as close as possible to the solution.
    If India's bowling doesn't improve soon,they will fall below England and Pakistan who are atleast good bowling sides with a few bowlers in good form.

  5. I don't agree with that.

    Rankings are not biased and are based on some criteria. Same criteria is applied for all team.

    It's not that India cannot take 20 wickets, its like no one can take 20 wickets on pathetic pitches of sri lanka.

    If India is no. they are because of their consistent performance (although half of their test are against sri lankans)

    earlier Australians use to be no. 1 but where we engaged in debate ? We always have excuse in good things.

    Hy, but good analysis brother.

  6. any side having good batsmen, fielders and very good bowlers is good test side.
    For me currently England is number one side if they play outside subcontinent...
    Otherwise if we want to compare universally, the australia is the side for tests...(although some players are struggling now)
    they are not the side for ODI's or tests now. hit badly by retirement of adam, and fall in form of ricky, clarke, hussey, and especially symonds discipline issue.
    For me watson, symonds, tait have to rise to take the mantle...

  7. Hey HK Jain
    Firstly thanks for the complement.To the Australia point that you were talking about,I have to say,there was no debate because they were dominating in against every team and they had ability to win matches in every country.So,they were deserving number 1,and hence no debate.

  8. Hi FH,

    What fear me is that two same teams should compete again and again a like IND vs SL. This should be banned some or another way.

    As of ranking is concern, Australi did lost against India in 2001 at home. So thats doesn't wind up anything.

    I believe India deserve the position but to prove that they should tour Australia and England for a long tour.

  9. Well,I think winning in South Africa is also very tough,so include that in with tours of Australia and England,though I don't believe they are deserving number 1.
    But,I guess having different views is the best part of discussing cricket.Cheers,and keep commenting on my future blog posts.

  10. As a Saffa supporter, I have to thank you first for placing them on number one. ;)
    Secondly, seems like a good analysis there. I don't agree with the current ranking system either but your points are reasonable. However to call a side the best over all forms might remain an uncertainty for some time.

  11. Hey sunny,
    Glad somebody agrees with me.:p
    Thanks and yes,best in all formats is very tough to predict,but now that you have brought it up,I guess I will give it a thought and do some research over it.
    Cheers !!


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