30th January 2016
Patrolling the Boundary – a view from the outfield
So India are the Test World Champions. You’re kidding me, right? Really?
The morning after England had secured a Test series win in South Africa (who until that point had topped the ICC’s Test rankings table), the news emerged that India were now reckoned as the new ‘no. 1’ after South Africa’s defeat and dethroning.
This couldn’t be correct, surely? Is that the reward for loading home pitches and preparing raging bunsens to stuff South Africa in November/December?
I wondered if I’d woken up in some ridiculous alternate universe where the system to evaluate the world’s best Test cricket team was determined by weird, unfathomable algebraic equations that were both illogical and counter-intuitive. And perhaps even worse, completely lacking in accountability or transparency.
Nope. This, sadly, unbelievably, is Test cricket’s REALITY.
This is the ICC’s Test Rankings System, described recently by the Yorkshire Post’s Chris Waters as “an unfathomable waste of time”; and as “pointless” and “completely irrelevant” by Two Men Out’s Jarrod Kimber and Andy Zaltzman on ESPN Cricinfo.
Admittedly, it is pretty close points-wise in the rankings’ top half-dozen, with a DRS tracking-system perhaps being needed to determine between the placings; while at the bottom there is a huge modern bat-width between the teams on the lower rungs of the ladder.
But however close, I really don’t think many pundits, fans, or analysts seriously consider India to be Test cricket’s best team.
What I am going to suggest in this article is not only that they aren’t – but that they are identified as such because the system used is just plain wrong.
And I am going to offer two alternative, workable systems – and suggest that one of them ought to replace the current one.
In fact, in both versions of those alternative systems PAKISTAN come out on top. Indeed, perhaps oddly and coincidentally (or perhaps because they are similarly practical and reliable methods) those two systems actually provide identical placings for all ten Test playing countries: Continue reading