ICC Test Team Rankings Maths

With only ten points between the top four Test countries, the three ongoing major Test series – England v Pakistan, West Indies v India and Sri Lanka v Australia – have the potential to shake up the official ICC Test rankings. As such, this is a simple guide to the scenarios that we will lead to different countries topping the rankings.

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ODI Specialists XI

[Minimum qualification: 30 Tests or less in a career or (if currently playing) little chance of exceeding 30 Tests]

  1. Nick Knight (England) – The stylish opener with a certain flair deserves to be remembered as one of England’s best one-day players, playing at a time when the English were struggling to make an impact. However, his reputation seems destined to be marred by his stuttering Test career.
  2. Upul Tharanga (Sri Lanka) – Tharanga, an aggressive opener, has formed successful partnerships with both Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan. At the age of 31, he has managed to already play nearly 200 ODI’s but has flitted in and out of the Test side for a career of just 23 Tests.
  3. Darren Lehmann (Australia) – Given his marked impact as the coach-saviour of the Australian national side, people might forget one day that he was an excellent strokemaker in the one-day format. Blocked from the Test side during Australia’s dominant reign in the 1990s, Lehmann could only establish himself in the side after the age of 33.
  4. Andrew Symonds (Australia) – After being barred from the national set-up after a series of off-field issues and falling out of love with cricket, Symonds’ international cricket career ended in 2009 at a time when he was producing peak performances in all formats. However, he left the one-day arena with a formidable record as a belligerent batsman, electric fielder and handy bowler.
  5. Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe) (wicketkeeper) – Putting his county duties above his international duties for Zimbabwe due to financial reasons, Taylor looks unlikely to add to his tally of 23 Tests, which would have been more if Zimbabwe had been available for Test cricket. However, he is likely his country’s best batsman since the Flower brothers.
  6. Michael Bevan (Australia) – Regarded as the best finisher in the history of one-day cricket, Bevan had the ability to both save an innings after an initial collapse and force the issue at the end of an innings with a boundary blitz. While you might point towards MS Dhoni and Michael Hussey as possible betters, it should be noted that Bevan was the one who invented the style these two would later adopt.
  7. Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) (captain) – The ballistic batsman in Shahid Afridi – in his first ODI innings, he swung his way to a hundred off thirty-seven balls – often overshadows the cunning legspinner in him. With nearly 400 wickets in 398 matches, his cricketing brains were much more evident in his bowling than his batting.
  8. Ajit Agarkar (India) – A Indian bowling all-rounder with serious batting talent – in his brief Test career, he hit a Lord’s Test century – will always draw comparisons to the great Kapil Dev. While he didn’t quite live up to these standards, he enjoyed an extensive one-day career with nearly 300 wickets in less than 200 matches.
  9. Brad Hogg (Australia) – The wily left-arm unorthodox spinner had big shoes to fill after the unexpected omission of Warne for the 2003 World Cup. With his tongue sticking out and a ball thrust into his hyper-active hands, Hogg ended up starring in two unbeaten World Cup campaigns for the green and gold.
  10. Nathan Bracken (Australia) – It was unfortunate that the left-arm swing bowler’s career ended right when the modern Twenty20 phenomenon was taking off with the IPL: his control over his variations would have outfoxed many a heaving batsman, providing him with T20 riches and fame.
  11. Shane Bond (New Zealand) – In an injury-stunted career, Bond’s fragile body could only really withstand the strains of one-day internationals. When he could get on the park, his bowling was destructive: against the top-ranked Australians, he took 44 wickets in 17 matches at an average of just 16.

Can the West Indies’ T20 stars resurrect their Test side?

After the dust has settled from Carlos Brathwaite’s World T20-winning quartet of sixes, I am sure that the following question has flashed across the minds of fans of this charismatic West Indies side: if they can dominate Twenty20 cricket, why can’t they perform in Test cricket? Although success in one format does not necessarily translate into success in the other, some of this talent should be transferable. In the wake of another innings defeat today, the question has to be asked: in the event that everyone was available, how much better could the West Indian Test side be?

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Ashwin, the greatest spinning all-rounder of all-time?

When you think about the great fast-bowling all-rounders of Test cricket, a litany of charismatic players spring to mind such as Ian Botham and Kapil Dev. However, if you were to turn your mind to the great slow-bowling all-rounders, you would struggle to come up with a comparable list of names. Apart from perhaps Wilfred Rhodes, a dominant figure in early 20th century English cricket, there is not one who has been able to rise to the level of greatness.

Indeed, among the players with 1000 runs, 100 wickets and a positive average differential – the mark of a strong all-round cricketer is one with a higher batting average than bowling – just three are spin bowlers. Given that being a fast-bowling all-rounder places such a tremendous strain on the body, it is surprising that this number is not higher. But, even more surprisingly, the one with the best average differential is Ravichandran Ashwin of India with a batting average of 34 and a bowling average of 25.

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Picking Steve O’Keefe: a key step towards solving Australia’s woes in the subcontinent

During Darren Lehmann’s tenure as Australian coach, much praise has been directed at his laidback approach to managing the Australian side. Prior to the 2013 Ashes, Super-Lehmann donned a BUPA-emblazoned tracksuit and set about repairing a team, whose fractures had come to the forefront in the infamous ‘Homework-gate’ tour of India. He focused on providing a healthy, supportive environment for the players so that they could play their natural games.

As such, for better or worse, the aggression of many an Australian player has shone through. It has produced results and has, perhaps, been the primary factor in the ascent of Steve Smith’s side to the number one position in Tests. But such are the vagaries of the ICC Test Rankings system that Australia has done so without winning a single Test in Asia for almost the past five years, while losing six of the past six Tests there. What is the answer to Australia’s problems in the subcontinent? Unfortunately, the Australian Test side has a whole host of issues to deal with in regards to this. But a key step forward lies with a step away from aggression in the form of a steady left-arm orthodox bowler by the name of Stephen O’Keefe.

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Things to note so far from CPL 2016 (Part 2)

Match 11: Guyana Amazon Warriors v Trinbago Knight Riders at Providence, 10 July  – Match 19: Jamaica Tallawahs v Trinbago Knight Riders at Kingston, 18 July

At the near two-thirds point of the tournament, the Jamaica Tallawahs are at the top of the leaderboard, having lost just one match in seven games. At this point, all six teams are mathematically capable of making the play-offs, although St Kitts and Nevis will probably have to win all three of their last matches and need results to go their way. Upcoming in the last third of the group stage are the inaugural Caribbean Premier League matches in the US, which will be played in Lauderhill, Florida.   Continue reading

The Remarkable Tale of Misbah-ul-Haq (Lord’s edition)

As Misbah-ul-Haq reeled off a Lord’s hundred at the scarcely believable age of forty-two, I had a quick glance at the records for “Oldest player to score a Test hundred“. Not surprisingly, he was reasonably high on the list – sixth oldest – but he was leapfrogged by players from the 1920s/1930s era; their careers were often extended by years of inactivity during the First World War and the absence of the cut-throat professionalism of modern times. The noteworthy thing, however, is not his position on the list, but it is the fact that he is on the list at all, given the circumstances of his career.

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Things to note so far from CPL2016

Match 1: Trinbago Knight Riders v St Lucia Zouks at Port of Spain, 29 June – Match 10: Guyana Amazon Warriors v St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at Providence, 9 July

As I’ve explained before, the rapid pace of the domestic Twenty20 schedule means that it is pretty difficult to keep up with the noteworthy features of the games. Hence, I’ve written on a few of the features of CPL2016 that have emerged in the first ten matches so far. (Although the Natwest T20 Blast is going on at the same time, I probably won’t write about it until finals time since it has progressed further than the CPL.)

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