Does India deserve to be number one!

There has been a lot of nonsense written about why India does not deserve to be the best test team in the ICC Rankings. Example here. There have been a lot of rebuttals as well. Example here. This post is yet another rebuttal of the same.

Let’s look at batting for a while. In the past three years, starting 01 Jan 2007, five of the top ten run scorers in the Test format, excluding runs scored against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and WI, have been from India. SL, SA, Australia, England, and WI have one each in the top 10. Not too bad I would say. Even the great Ricky Ponting is on the 15th step, which really makes you wonder why no one calls him over the hill anymore, but I digress. A team that has the best batsmen of the last three years must have something in it.

RankPlayerCountryMatInnsRunsHSAveSR10050
1V SehwagIndia2138213731957.7591.5257
2SR TendulkarIndia2647212616050.6154.96612
3DPMD JayawardeneSL1831208127574.3252.0676
4VVS LaxmanIndia29502053200*52.6449.86415
5JH KallisSA2239200918655.8049.5089
6MJ ClarkeAus24401983145*55.0851.33710
7R DravidIndia2954196617740.1241.07411
8S ChanderpaulWI22371933147*71.5942.06713
9G GambhirIndia1427186920671.8850.9177
10KP PietersenEng2240183015246.9255.9273
11KC SangakkaraSL1729179319264.0356.0377
12SC GangulyIndia2141176123947.5959.0139
13AJ StraussEng2240175717745.0545.4558
14HM AmlaSA22401730176*48.0547.51511
15RT PontingAus2441169915042.4760.78411

Now for the bowling. The list is much more evenly distributed this this. Three of the top ten bowlers, with same filters as above, are from India, with SA claiming another three, Australia two, and England and SL one each. Though bowling still remains a concern for the Indians, it is no better for the other teams. SA is arguably the strongest in this department, but then with Steyn injured and Ntini fading quickly, they might not enjoy the same status for long.

RankPlayerCountryMatInnsOversMdnsRunsWktsAveEconSR510
1Harbhajan SinghIndia23411209.51823465105332.8669.141
2MG JohnsonAus2344942.4168293710428.243.1154.331
3DW SteynSA1732598.210721199622.073.5437.373
4Z KhanIndia2240821.416826408331.83.2159.340
5JM AndersonEng2241839.417428678234.963.4161.440
6M NtiniSA2242724.514225277633.253.4857.230
7A KumbleIndia1833902.314727677238.433.0675.220
8PL HarrisSA223782817222907132.252.7669.930
9B LeeAus153061211719416728.973.1754.820
10M MuralitharanSL1525808.412323816735.532.9472.441
11Danish KaneriaPak1325759.412422786236.742.9973.520
12RJ SidebottomEng142558214015736026.212.758.241
13FH EdwardsWI1832507.36120205934.233.9851.640
14MS PanesarEng203378214123055839.742.9480.820
15CS MartinNZ1832652.214220615736.153.1568.600

The thing to note is that this data is for a three year period, and not for a one off year. So its not really a flash in the pan, but rather some sustained good performances by the Indian team. During this period, India has played an almost equal number of tests home (15) and away (14), so there is no real home advantage for the team.

I know that statistics don’t really tell everything, but they do tell you a few things, and what it does tell here is that India really has been a world’s best team for the past couple of years, even though SA are right on their tails.

All data from Cricinfo’s Statsguru. Batting and Bowling.