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The International Cricket Council has, in the recent past, been majorly at loggerheads with the world's cricket media and cricketers (past and present) who criticize it on any issue, be it chucking or the packed schedule or Bangladesh's test status or the Test/ODI rankings. The latest missive from the ICC concerns the criticism in the last week or so (primarily from India) about India being placed at the lowly 8th position in the ICC one-day international rankings.
Several media pundits and cricketers (including Ganguly) pointed out that India was a joint winner of the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka as well as a runner-up at the ICC Cricket World Cup. Hence to rank India as the 8th best one-day international team ahead of only Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh was a travesty of justice. The rankings were termed rubbish. They proposed that weightage be given to important tournaments like the above two, which is a fairly valid point. Surely if the rankings allocates points for victories/defeats depending on the opposition strength, the importance of the tournament cannot be ignored while determining the points from a particular game. Similarly the nature of the match, if it is a knockout game, should also be a parameter.
The ICC, ever so keen to explain its position on such trivialities (but not on major issues like match fixing, chucking, doping etc.), issued a press release describing how India's ranking was because of its inconsistent performances against lower ranked teams like New Zealand, West Indies etc. and that it hadn't played the better sides like Australia & Pakistan often enough. Additionally, India's better results of 2000/2001 had been moved out of the two year window. Fair enough. But they conveniently ignored the calls for weightages for tournaments and knockout matches.
A couple of days ago, the ICC Test rankings were released. This ranking puts India at #5. Bizarrely enough, the reason India are the 5th best Test side in the world is because their poor results from 2000/2001 where they got whipped by Australia (away) and South Africa (home) have been dropped because of the two year sliding window. Strange how the same timeframe can have contrasting effects on the rankings. So are the rankings still a joke?
I think they still are. They're far too complex to calculate and you can't call it the ICC Test Championship unless there's a proper playoff between the 1st and 2nd ranked teams. Surely a championship needs semi-finals, finals etc. How are those teams decided? Based on the points they rack up. So I support the championship to the extent of the points system but not beyond it. Surely if the ICC thinks their rankings are a fair indication of the way the teams perform currently, then there's nothing wrong with having semi-final at the end of the cycle. Are the ICC scared that if they do have such knockout games and if Australia do get knock off their currently Everest-like perch, the rankings would get devalued? Of course not. That's the whole point of a knock-out game. A knock-out Test match would be far more interesting than a knock-out Oneday game simply because a Test match gives the team which's on the defensive halfway through the first day more opportunities to come back. That is very rarely the case in a one-dayer.
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