Andrew Strauss of England plays the ball on the leg side during day one of the 4th npower Test Match between England and India at The Kia Oval on August 18, 2011 in London.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Rankings add edge to England series LONDON: England head to the Oval for the final Test of the summer against India on Thursday as the world's top side courtesy of a rankings system which is now widely accepted but not generally understood.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings are the brainchild of former Wisden almanac editor Matthew Engel.
"Test cricket crucially depends on context," Engel wrote in the 1995 edition. "It needs a five-Test series (six is too long) for the personalities to emerge and the battle to capture the public imagination. These half-hearted one-off Tests rarely work."
Engel's proposal, which was adopted by the ICC, awarded points on the basis of home and away series between each of the Test-playing nations.
It was replaced in 2003 by the present system designed and introduced by English actuary, scorer and cricket statistician David Kendix.
"What you had, unfortunately, was a situation some years ago when South Africa were top of the table and yet it was clear intuitively to anyone following the game that Australia was the number one team," Kendix said.
"Indeed, Australia had just beaten South Africa comprehensively home and away. This was clearly not sustainable," he added in a telephone interview.
"And the reason you had that situation was that South Africa at that point had just beaten Bangladesh and Zimbabwe home and away, whereas Australia had not recently played them at all.
"So you basically had four series victories for South Africa which counted for just as much as victories over the likes of England, India or Pakistan.
"Since Australia happened not to have the played the two weakest teams at the time, their series points were only enough for second place in the rankings.
"At that point it became difficult to believe it was a fair reflection of the relative strength of the teams.
"Matthew's advocacy of Test rankings was great and I have huge admiration for him as he started the process.
"He had the great idea of trying to establish a league table that gives that context to Test cricket and I said to him soon after my system was adopted by the ICC, how many prototypes of anything ends up being the final version?
Tuesday, August 9, 2011 Bruised, battered but don't write off India Birmingham: India's reputation of being fearsome fighters that has been steadily built over the last decade will undergo the sternest test over the next five days as they prepare to deny England what they would hope is their tryst with destiny.
England have long wanted to stake claim to the No. 1 Test rankings and the manner in which they have played their cricket off late has been not only competitive but truly inspirational. A win in the Edgbaston Test that is scheduled to start on Wednesday will not only give them an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the four-match series but also assure them of the numero uno position in the ICC Test Championship rankings.
For India, the climb has not been an easy one and for a skipper and a team that won the Cricket World Cup barely four months ago, it won't be easy to digest that the slide from the top has started so soon.
Whether India were under-cooked going into the series, or whether they were injury-hit, or just plain simple jaded and tired, no amount of reasoning and logic will be able to apply a balm to Indian cricket if the team were to lose their third straight Test match and lose their two-year-long reign at the top
There's no Zaheer Khan and no Harbhajan and no Yuvraj, the much-vaunted Indian batting lineup has not even fired once, the bowling has depended on some lion-hearted performances that unfortunately has come in bits and pieces and England are firmly in the driver's seat. And even though the Test match marks the return of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the visitors face the tough task of not just winning the third Test and saving their rank, but also win back the millions of fans who have been crestfallen with the losses at the Lord's and at Trent Bridge.
Even the stats are against Team India. They have lost four of the five matches they have played at Edgbaston, while England have won 23 of their 45 Tests here. The only time India managed to draw a Test here was way back in 1986.
England are on a roll and everything has gone right for Andrew Strauss and his men. Which is probably why this is the best time to alter the script and show that famous Indian fightback spirit.
This Team India, built by three successive captains starting with Sourav Ganguly, is not one to give up a fight. Yes, they have embarrassed themselves in the first two games, but that's precisely why it's time to see them come back into their own and deliver a knock-out blow to England.
One doesn't need to go back very much back in time to remember a couple of such instance. During the 2007-08 tour to Australia, India lost the Melbourne and Sydney Test matches. What they then showed in Perth has become part of cricketing folklore as the visitors sent the Aussies packing within three days. Similar fight backs have also been seen in the tour to Sri Lanka and South Africa. And England will make a big mistake if they think that the third Test will be a walk in the park for them.
A noted cricket writer recently said that India had been "engulfed in delusionary self-congratulation" and that the two losses have been a harsh wake-up call for them. So while one should congratulate England for their outstanding performances, it's also a good time to warn them of the great Indian rope trick.