Daily Archives: 8 March 2007

Current Worlds’ Best ODI Team

At the outset, let me confess that I am not a great fan of retrosptective Best-Of lists. I say this although I have participated in some such lists in the past and also on this blog. As I have mentioned in some of my comments here, it is really hard — and somewhat pointless, in my view — to compare across eras and time-periods. Having said that, I applaud previous attempts at list construction on this blogsite, such as:

People say that Bradman was the best batsman ever. Sure, given what the great batsman had achieved, it would be extremely hard to argue against that. I would find it hard to agree against a hypothesis that he was probably the best batsmen ever! But how do we know whether or not Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi) would have torn Bradman’s technique apart? At best, we could say that, given the way he played against his esteemed contemporary bowlers such as Jardine and Larwood, it is likely that he would have coped well against and combatted everything that the wily Garner, Holding, et al had to offer!

Then again, he may have been much better than what he was had he played against Joel Garner (or Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshall or Richard Hadlee or Bishen Bedi)!

Therefore, my preference is to compile best-current player lists. I much rather prefer to compile “best of the current lot” — BOCL — lists. If the BOCL for a country is not its national team, then that team is in trouble! So necessarily (and by definition) BOCL is a worlds’ best sort of thing.

So what is the Worlds’ Best ODI Team at the moment — based on performances over the last year or so?

One way of constructing such a list would be to take the current best batsmen and bowlers from the ICC ODI player rankings and see what comes out of the wash!

I decided to have a look at the top-8 batsmen, the top-8 bowlers and the top-5 allrounders.

The top-8 batsmen are:

Mike Hussey
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Ricky Ponting
Kevin Pietersen
Chris Gayle
Andrew Symonds
Kumar Sangakkara
Mohammad Yousuf

The top-8 bowlers are:

Shaun Pollock
Glenn McGrath
Makhaya Ntini
Daniel Vettori
Chamindaa Vaas
Brett Lee
Shane Bond
Nathan Bracken

The top-5 allrounders are:

Shaun Pollock
Chris Gayle
Andrew Flintoff
Jacques Kallis
Sanath Jayasuriya

It is interesting to note that Pollock and Gayle are the only allrounders who are on the top-bowling-list and the top-batting-list respectively.

The union of these three sets is a list with a total of 19 players. Of these, it is somewhat interesting to see that Muthiah Muralitharan, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are absent. Just because they are proven match winners, I will add them to the list to give a total of 22 players. Given Glenn McGrath is retiring from all forms of cricket after the World Cup, it makes little sense to have him in this ODI team-compilation. So, out he goes! I know I will get into trouble with my Australian friends for this, but I just don’t rate Nathan Bracken. So, although he is 8th on the top-bowling list, he goes too!

So, the combined list of 20 players (in suggested batting order) is:

01. Chris Gayle
02. Sanath Jayasuriya / Sachin Tendulkar
03. Ricky Ponting (captain)
04. Jacques Kallis
05. Mike Hussey / Mohammad Yousuf / Kevin Pietersen / Brian Lara
06. Andrew Symonds / Andrew Flintoff
07. Mahendra Singh Dhoni / Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper)
08. Shaun Pollock
09. Brett Lee / Shane Bond
10. Makhaya Ntini / Chamindaa Vaas
11. Daniel Vettori / Muthiah Muralitharan

This seems to me to be a reasonable team that perhaps represents the best collection of current ODI players.

— Mohan

News in brief: Thursday 8 March 2007

— Mohan

Should the minnows be in the World cup?

Different captains have different opinions. Dravid thinks they should play. Ponting says they should not:

“I’ve always felt there are probably places and times for minnow nations to be playing. I’m not sure if the World Cup and the Champions Trophy is one of those times”

which is completely different to what he said four years ago, when asked if they should play in the World cup:

“They definitely have a place. The game has to be strong worldwide. The developing countries such as Holland, Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada, you play against them in other tournaments as well, not only in world cups. It’s good for cricket when you see them improving over time”

Speaking to a Bermuda newspaper, Michael Holding has even said that they diminish the World Cup. Do they really? Kenya was/is considered a minnow, but they made it to the semi-finals last time. South Africa, the current No. 1 ranked team and host didn’t. Zimbabwe is considered to be one of the minnows, but in the ’99 World Cup, they made it to the Super 6s. England didn’t.

The World cup has always had the minor nations participating and it gives them the chance to rub shoulders with the big boys and even pull a few upsets. Bangladesh have beaten Pakistan. Zimbabwe have beaten South Africa. Kenya have beaten the West Indies, and so on. One similar upset in this World cup could actually see ICC’s well orchestrated Super 8 schedule thrown into disarray. This can only be good for the game.

The argument for not having the minnows is that we may have mismatches where the minnows get beaten so badly that it has the potential to demoralize and damage the team. The other big argument is that the tournament now takes too long as we have too many teams. Both are valid reasons.

But the counter argument is that the ICC have been trying to spread the game and to do it they need the money…and publicity – which the World cup provides. And this reason far outweighs the occasional big defeat or a long competition. Read this article which talks a bit more on this subject. It says :

In order to grow the game in any country, money is required. And the easiest way to gather money in sport is to put it on television. So Ireland, Scotland, Holland and Bermuda can offer their sponsors television coverage and, consequently, command a far greater sum of cash

I believe we need to come to a middle ground somewhere. My solution is to split the World cup into a preliminary round where the minnows fight it out with all teams ranked 7 and over. If we go by the current World rankings, it means England, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would have to play Kenya, Scotland, etc in the preliminary round. The top two or three teams then get into the main round with the top ranking teams.

This means that the World cup campaign will be longer for the low ranking teams, which I think is actually good – it gives them the opportunity to play more and improve. The higher ranked teams have a shorter tournament and everyone is happy.

This debate on whether the minnows should play or not has gone on far too long. I hope the ICC changes the format of future World cups and puts an end to it.

Let me finish off with a link to a BBC Sports article on the minnow’s realistic chances in the World cup. My opinion – they don’t have a chance beyond the group matches. But hey, Good luck to them and may they cause an upset or two!