If there is one great benefit to the ongoing turmoil at the top of the ICC’s Test rankings, it is that it is slowly starting to dawn on people that rankings are relative. Top can mean ‘out on your own, everyone else trailing in your wake’ or it can mean ‘hurray, it rained in Port of Spain’.
Pakistan being top does at least provide a better narrative than any of the alternatives. These itinerant cricketers have had more to conquer, so their narrow superiority seems less offensive to the somewhat unhinged types liable to get upset about the rankings.
Unusually for the current cricket world, Misbah ul Haq’s Pakistan also seem to possess the capacity to learn. After arriving in England early, because they were hugely inexperienced in these conditions, they got to grips with how to go about things and drew the series. Similarly, a year ago, they turned a second Sri Lanka tour into an opportunity to make amends when it could so easily have ended up as more of the same.
Their 2014 tour saw Rangana Herath doing the Rangana Herath thing, plodding his way to 23 wickets in two Tests to take Sri Lanka to victory. “We’re not having that,” said Pakistan and second time around they allowed him just two wickets and he was dropped for the third Test.
Compared to other modern sides, Pakistan are unusually disposed to fighting back. Let’s say it’s something to do with being forged in adversity. If nothing else, that at least allows us to characterise Australia, England and India as pampered prima donnas in comparison – and who wouldn’t want to do that?