Pakistan are slightly number one

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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?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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    1. Isn’t it only presented formally on an annual basis (sometime in July, with a 1st-April cut-off)?

      Seems entirely appropriate therefore that the newly-enMaced test side could have suffered a humiliating whitewash in the interim period to the world’s worse test side…

  1. The only aspect of the current rankings which surprises me is South Africa’s recent and rapid fall from grace. Still a fine pace bowling attack; arguably the finest.

    But I think the modern way of test cricket is to require a breadth of the skills to succeed against all comers, which I think is a good thing.

    No one team has an exceptional side at the moment, a fact that is reflected in the rankings.

    With England touring India and Pakistan touring Australia this winter, there is plenty to keep us interested and plenty of room for change ahead of the the next “May shift” in the rankings.

    Having lived most of my adult life through periods of utter domination (West Indies while I was younger, Australia for many years after that) I find this lack of domination refreshing and exciting.

    But it does make the holding of the mace seem less meaningful and more transient. You can’t have it all; where would you put it?

  2. Wunsappunatyme the rain in Port of Spain falling mostly on the plane of the cricket ground would have toppled the World No. 1 team (had the rankings existed back then) by dint of preventing the Mighty Windies inflicting yet another whitewash, and unable to repeat their previous result they would have dropped in the rankings.

    I have a vision of an elderly, and very wet, West Indian gentleman sitting in the stands of this Test thinking to himself that rain just ain’t what it used to be.

  3. Back on Planet County Championship, Yorkshire are in the entertaining position of their top 6 (including 3 test cricketers) being out played by their numbers 7 & 8. And I don’t mean 7 & 8 combined, I mean numbers 1 through 6 collectively scored 46 runs and that at the time of writing Andy Hodd at 7 had scored 48 and Azeem Rafiq had scored 73.

    For some reason, one team is looking like defending champions and the other is obviously propping up the bottom of the table, just that it’s the wrong way round.

    (Update: Rafiq is now out for 74, making him only 158% effective as Lyth, Lees, Ballance, Lehmann, Leaning and Bresnan; he’s clearly finished as a batsman).

    1. There are good day, there are bad days, and then there are days when Steven Mullaney runs through your top six and well it’s time to go jump off a bridge isn’t it?

      1. We once met someone who was convinced that Steven Mullaney was destined for success. That person was, admittedly, Steven Mullaney’s mum – but still.

      2. I was present when KC met Steven Mullaney’s mum – a lovely lady. I can never understand why people think mums are biased when they sing the praises of their wonderful sons.

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