Sunday, January 17, 2016

How Can India be the Number One Ranked Test Team? How?

England bowling South Africa out for 83 and going on to win the third test, and with that the series, was the final nail in South Africa’s coffin that had been building throughout 2015. South Africa’s capitulation comes as no surprise considering that the last time they won a test match was over a year ago during the first week of January 2015, when they beat West Indies. That was also the last time they won a test series.

South Africa played 8 tests matches in 2015, winning only that one. They could not register a win in Bangladesh where they drew both tests. They could not beat India despite significant verbal volleys before the start of the series. India beat them 3-0. And then England happened.

This England vs South Africa series was supposed to be closely fought. It was anything but. England’s wins have been easy – one by 241 runs and the other by 7 wickets, which could have very easily been by 10 wickets had some of the batsmen not tried to finish the game with big hits. England have dominated.

South Africa’s fall from number one also comes as no surprise as that is what usually happens when the number of world class batsmen in your line up reduces by half. There once used to be Smith, Amla, Kallis, and ABD – a lineup that used to send jitters to attacks all around the world. Only Amla and ABD are not enough. And they have not been enough. Not even for Bangladesh.

The same happened to Australia when Hayden, Lander, Hussey, Gilchrist left Ponting and Clarke alone in the middle. The Aussies however, thanks to their highly competitive club and state cricket are now finding their feet back towards dominance with Warner, Khwajah, Smith, and Voges right up there among the best batsmen in the business.

Anyhow, moving back to South Africa.

They are no longer number one in the test rankings. If they win the last test against England, they will be second; if they draw they will be third; if they lose they will be fourth. Surprisingly it will not be England, nor Australia, who take over as the newly ranked number one test team when the rankings are updated at the end of the England vs South Africa series.

It will be India!

Yes, India!

Sure they beat South Africa 3-0 and also registered series win in Sri Lanka (2-1), but the 5 series before those included a draw against Bangladesh and losses to Australia, New Zealand, England, and South Africa!

So 4 losses, 1 draw, and 2 wins in their last 7 test series and they are ranked number one!

How does that work?

Cricinfo have an “Understandingthe ICC Ranking System” article up on their home page. It is an article from May last year, which has probably been put up now again to explain the same question everyone has been asking since last night – How is India the number 1 test team?

Only 6 points separate India (110) at the top and England (104) at number 5. Australia (109) is a very close second and Pakistan (106) is also only a series win away from being number 1. South Africa will fit in between 109 and 106 points depending on the result of their last test against England.

There is no doubt that there is little gap between these five test teams; however it still does not explain how India is above them all, when it fact it should be below the rest.

Take a look at the series results for the past 3 years, i.e. results of all test series played since January 2013. I’m analyzing this period because Cricinfo explains that results of the past 36 months are the ones that matter.

So how can a team that has won the least number of test series and lost the highest number of test series during the past 36 months be ranked number one?

Any ranking system that provides that result has to be flawed.

Delving deeper into India’s results during this period and one can see that they do not really have impressive results. While they have won series against South Africa and Australia during this period, they have also lost to both them. They have also lost to England and New Zealand, whom they have not beaten at all. They have drawn against lowly ranked Bangladesh. So the only teams they have beaten, whom they have not lost against are Sri Lanka and West Indies.

And that makes them number 1?

What a joke!

On the other hand, a team like South Africa has lost to only India, Australia, and England during this period and suddenly they are no longer number 1 despite series wins against New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Zimbabwe, and West Indies during this period.

Even Pakistan for that matter have done better than India has. They have lost only to South Africa and Sri Lanka during this period. They have lost the least number of series during the past 3 years and have beaten Australia, England, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh during this period.

Surely the ranking system needs some sort of reorganization. Not only because of the way it calculates rankings but also because of another factor. The fact that it does not take into account home and away wins!

According to the Cricinfo article, whether a team wins at home or in foreign conditions has no bearing on the number of points earned. That has to change. Surely India winning at home is not the same as India winning in England or Australia. The latter definitely deserves more points.

There is absolutely no reasoning that can convince me that India is the current number one ranked test team!

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. aditya said...

    No I don't think India can be on top in test cricket unless it removes the focus from excessive short formats being played throughout the years. These formats don't give the option of quality players for test cricket. For more info read this:!&id=9262951

  2. KR Sriram said...

    The ICC rankings do not distinguish between home and away series. It could be done, but the question is - what kind of weightage do you assign in an objective manner to away series vis-a-vis home series.The other aspect of the ranking is that points earned during the last months (I think 24 months onwards) get only half the weightage that "current"points get.

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