Ratings - 16th October 2010
Russell Degnan

Recently completed matches

2nd TestIndiavAustralia
Expected MarginIndia by 41 runs
Actual MarginIndia by 7 wickets
Series rating1303.461121.64

For such a short series, India-Australia has generated a remarkable number of articles on the ascent of India and the demise of Australian cricket. Remarkable too, because the latter has been clear since the last Australian tour of India, and the subsequent loss to South Africa, while the former seems to be confusing a mathematical quirk of the flawed ICC ratings with prolonged dominance.

India won easily, but did so without playing particularly well. They don't help themselves, with some woeful captaincy and poor fielding, but even the core of their game indicated some significant weaknesses. There were three major collapses in the series: 6/51, 8/124 and 8/149 (which concluded with 5/9); and their bowling, occasionally decent but often wretched conceded 400+ in both first innings. Take out Tendulkar (and eventually they'll have to) and the result could easily have been reversed; though the performances of Pujara, Vijay and Raina were indicative of a certain strength in depth. Good sides win even when they play poorly, and India have shown that quality a number of times recently; but good teams also win by consistently outplaying their opposition too, and India aren't doing that.

For Australia this may well be the worst possible result. The loss was no more than expected, and it was a largely creditable one, led by a dogged Ponting. But there is a regularity to their weaknesses that needs to be rectified: the collapsing (in both second innings), the failure to keep the scoring rate down (particular Hauritz and Johnson), and the number of batsmen getting starts and not going on. Unfortunately, the clamour for change, so prevalent after the first test has quietened, as the players under pressure probably enough to save their spots even as they (and the team) failed to perform at key moments.

For the moment, Australia retain their place at the top of the ratings, but India will almost certainly pass them during their series against a struggling New Zealand, or when Australia turn out against a surging England. It is entriely possible Australia could slip to fifth by the end of the summer, but the results and ratings over the past 2 years suggest something else: Australia are still as good as anyone, and, at home, should always go in as favourites.

Rankings at 16th October 2010
3.South Africa1193.34
5.Sri Lanka1109.33
6.West Indies919.14
7.New Zealand917.91

21.Hong Kong148.65
22.Cayman Is134.24

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Idle Summers 16th October, 2010 21:17:06   [#] 


Ratings - 16th October 2010
It's not easy to win by a big margin when you're missing key players and lose the toss on a flat wicket. India have lost the toss in 10 consecutive tests and won 7 of them. Two of those wins were by an innings, three more were by 6 wickets or more.

There's also been a lot of talk about the uncertainty of the Indian side once the greats retire. Two of them have already retired, Dravid is in the worst form of his life and Harbhajan is not as good as he used to be. Yet, the team continues to win and hasn't lost a series in over two years. The writing is on the wall, only it's in Hindi and most people in the cricketing world can't read it :)
Mahek  17th October, 2010 08:46:22  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
Mahek, there is nothing wrong with India's results. But note this: Australia had a 6 win, 1 loss record in the 10 games after Warne, McGrath, Langer and Martyn retired but the cracks were plainly visible in that period, and in the years before that when they won 16 straight, often without playing terribly well.

Missing players is typical of old sides, they get injured (again, look at Australia). India's recent record ought to have them surging on my ratings (which are based on winning margins). But they aren't, they've stagnated in the past year.

If they can unearth some better pace bowlers India will improve, but I suspect this is as good as it gets (not that they are likely to drop off). Don't be surprised either, if my ratings read: England, South Africa, India, Australia when the World Cup rolls around.
Russ  17th October, 2010 09:59:14  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
Half those games were against Sri Lanka and the West Indies. And right after that 10-game stretch came a period of 11 months in which Australia lost 3 series. I'm not saying India won't go through something similar, just saying after the retirement of Kumble and Ganguly the side has gone two years without losing a series. It's a much longer stretch and comprises matches against almost all test playing nations although all but one series have been in the subcontinent.

I kind of figured out your ratings take into account the margin of victory when I saw India's rating had slipped inspite winning at Mohali. They probably factor in home & away games as well because the expected result according to you was an Indian win despite them being ranked lower than Australia. Is the toss considered as well? Because sometimes it can be a huge factor. Sri Lanka hadn't lost a home test after winning the toss for a decade before India beat them at the P Sara Oval in August.
Mahek  18th October, 2010 01:47:55  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
My point is not really that the results were good (though half India's last 10 games were against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), it is that if you track Australia's rating over that period (which you can't because I introduced the latest system after that series), even while they were winning they missed 7 consecutive margins and shed massive numbers of points (while on the field they began collapsing regularly and failed to bowl out sides). The margins in this series (and over the past two years) don't indicate that India is any better than Australia and South Africa. Obviously, this summer will either show whether that remains true, or my rankings will shift.

On the calculations, I detailed them a few months back. You are correct on both, there is a 100 point (50 run) bonus for playing at home, and a ranking goes up only if it beats the expected margin (which makes games against Bangladesh a lot more interesting). I don't adjust for winning the toss, but if I get time I'll try and work out how big a difference it makes. (Along with the other things I mean to do: player rankings, an searchable DB of rankings)
Russ  18th October, 2010 14:02:29  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
Ratings are also interesting in that they don't take into account the playing XIs. A team has a certain rating irrespective of the changes that might have occurred either by design or by compulsion. For example, the Windies side that was swept by Bangladesh would probably rank below Ireland. But that side only played 2 tests because most of the first choice players were back by the time they toured Australia. Could there be a way of factoring this into sides?

It's hard for me to split India and South Africa right now. If it was just these two teams in world cricket I'd say South Africa are ahead because they have the edge in head to head matches. But then they drew at home to England and lost to Australia, and with bigger margins than their wins Down Under. I don't think Australia are at that level and would put them slightly below these two. I can't really peg England anywhere because they are even more inconsistent than India. Sri Lanka might be on the decline with Murali's retirement.

But all this is subjective so I can't really back it up with anything. I saw the Wikipedia page on cricket ratings and there are 7 or 8 different ratings listed on it. Someone needs to add yours to it!
Mahek  18th October, 2010 15:40:13  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
I'm not sure how easy it would be, I have a fair bit of difficulty rating a team that plays irregularly (Pakistan) or groups of teams that only play each other (the test/associate gap), so while factoring in the players is feasible on one level (if I can rate players I can get an average rating for the side), is is also very complex (how accurate is an average), and still leaves the problem of what to do about replacement players (how would I rate Peter George for instance?). I could rate all first class games, possibly, which would have an interesting side-effect of knowing how strong comparative competitions are, but it is a shed-load of work.
Russ  20th October, 2010 17:03:59  

Why aren't Pakistan anywhere in your ratings? They did play this season.
Chinmay Dhopate  23rd October, 2010 23:34:54  

Ratings - 16th October 2010
Chinmay, Pakistan are provisionally suspended, pending the ICC inquiry into match fixing. They'll probably be reinstated before the season starting 2011-12.
Russ  25th October, 2010 22:37:09