Daily Archives: 29 September 2010

“Disputed” #1 Ranking?

I keep hearing that India is not the “undisputed” #1 ranked team in the World. Even, Mohan in his post, maintains that India has to beat Australia in Australia and South Africa in South Africa to be ranked #1.

When Australia became the #1 ranked team in the world, they had one of the best teams – they had beaten every team in their own backyard and for some reason, we now believe that to be ranked #1, you have to do the same. This is where I have an issue with.

India has earned the #1 rank based on it’s own rise and the decline of other teams. The decline of other teams (notably Australia) and the rise of other teams (India, England and Sri Lanka) have made it a more level playing field. One of the key things to remember is that the ranking takes into account the results of the last three years and the quality of the opposition (based on the points differential).

In the last three years, Australia has drawn a series with Pakistan (ranked below them), lost a series to England (ranked below them), lost a series to South Africa (who were ranked below them at that time), lost a series to India (who were again ranked below them). Clearly the Aussies have declined.

India on the other hand, ended up having either a drawn series or had won against teams that ranked higher. That is how they got their ratings up.

The rankings do not take into account whether the series win was at home or away. Should it? I used to argue that this was the case, but I am now in the other camp. Over the course of a home and away series against the same team, this evens out. Do I want to see India beat Australia or South Africa in an away series? Hell, yeah! Do I get more satisfaction then beating them at home? Undoubtedly. But, I think this should have no bearings on the test ranking calculations.

In my view:

  • India is currently the #1 ranked team in the World and whether you like it or not/agree or disagree with it -  it is a fact and they’ve earned it. Sure, the decline of other teams has helped India’s cause. But no one complains about this in any other sport (Imagine someone saying that Nadal doesn’t deserve to be #1, as Federer isn’t as good as he used to be). So, get over it Smile
  • The #1 ranking in no way means that the team is indestructible or that they’ve won playing against every team – it means that over a period of three years, they have won enough to be ranked higher than other teams. (Using the same tennis analogy, you don’t have to win all tournaments or achieve a grand slam to be the #1 ranked player)
  • The test championship idea seems interesting, but I am not sure how it would work out. If the championship was played today – Australia wouldn’t even be in it! But hey, that is OK….if only the top four teams qualify for it, so be it. I would like to wait and watch the first championship, before I pass judgement on it. I don’t think this event would take the gloss of the existing ranking system, though…it would even strengthen it.

On an interesting side note, did you know that even if India lose the series 2-0 to Australia, India would still be ranked #1?