Australia’s rocky road to Number One

India’s 42-month reign at the top of the ICC Test Cricket rankings has come to an end with Australia becoming the Number One ranked team. However, this has raised a few eyebrows in the cricketing fraternity with some questioning the logic behind the ranking system.

The reason behind India’s fall to third in the rankings is because as per the latest update, all matches played since May 2019 are rated at 100 per cent and those of the previous two years at 50 per cent. So, let’s analyse the results of India and Australia for the last three years. From 1 May 2017 to 1 May 2019, Australia played 17 Test matches, won 9, lost 6 and drew 2.

In this time, they played in Bangladesh and lost and won a Test each, hosted the Ashes and Won 4-0, went to South Africa and lost 3-1 in a series that was remembered mostly for the ball tampering incident, hosted and lost 2-1 to India and later won 2-0 against Sri Lanka at home.

In the same period, India toured Sri Lanka and won 3-0, hosted Sri Lanka and won 1-0, went to South Africa and lost 2-1, beat Afghanistan in the sole Test match at Bangalore, lost 4-1 in England, beat the West Indies 2-0 at home and finally won 2-1 in Australia taking their tally to 11 wins, 7 losses and 3 draws in 21 Tests. From 1 May 2019 to 12 May 2020, Australia played 10 Tests, won 7, lost 2 and drew 1.

They played and drew the Ashes 2-2 in England, which could easily have been 3-1 if they had managed to contain Ben Stokes at Leeds, Won 2-0 at home against Pakistan, a team which has performed poorly in Australia since the beginning of the millennium and capped it off with a convincing 3-0 win against New Zealand at home. At the same time, India won 2-0 against West Indies in the Caribbean, beat an in-transition South African side 3-0 at home, easily won 2-0 against Bangladesh in India and lost 2-0 to New Zealand away from home to take their tally to 7 wins and 2 losses from 9 Tests.

While some may argue that India’s showing overseas needs work, it can be said with certainty that they have been impregnable at home. Australia, on the other hand, seem to be unpredictable with losses at home to India and away from home against Bangladesh. To be ranked Number One in Test cricket, a team should be unbeatable at home and competitive abroad.

At present, there are very few teams which are good travellers. Every Team struggles to acclimatise to the swing in England and New Zealand, the bounce and pace in Australia and South Africa and the spin in the subcontinent. So, how long will this current Australian team, led by Tim Paine, reign as the Number One Test team in the world? Only time will tell.

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