Teams October 7, 2010

Test series analysis - part 1

A comprehensive series-based analysis of results
68

West Indies: Most consecutive series undefeated
West Indies: Most consecutive series undefeated © Getty Images

Couple of weeks back I did an analysis of the Test match results by periods. I am confident that the readers derived a lot of new insights into the performance of teams. I had also done a graphical analysis of the teams over the years. Amit Patel had suggested that the analysis be done by series. A simple but very sound suggestion since the series wins are the ultimate objective of any teams. Individual tests are only the means to this end. Hence I decided to do a comprehensive Series-based analysis.

Ha! Easier said than done. This turned out to be one of the most intriguing tasks I have ever undertaken, comparable to the Night-watchmen analysis. This is primarily because the Test Series has a myriad of variations and as I opened one door I came across intriguing possibilities in front of me. Unlike the Test match analysis this also offered a lot of insights beyond the base performance graphs. Let us now move on.

What is a series? There have been 150+ one-Test series, and moving upwards to 34 six-Test series. I have defined a Test series as any bilateral contest between two teams. Even the one-Test series has been considered as a Test series. The minimal nature of the contest has been taken care of in the point allocation. Until now there have been 605 series played during the past 133 years.

Out of these 605, three have been triangular tournaments. The first was held during 1912 between England, South Africa and Australia. There were 9 matches and no Final. I have treated this as 3 bi-lateral series. A 3-match England-Australia series with England as home team. A 3-match England-South Africa series with England as home team. Finally a 3-match South Africa-Australia series on neutral grounds. Then the individual Series dynamics take over.

The second was the Asian championships during 1998 involving Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. There were three round-robin matches followed by a Final. The match between India and Pakistan in India has been treated as a one-Test series with India as home team. Two matches were then played in Sri Lanka. The matches between Sri Lanka and Pakistan/India have been treated as one-Test series with Sri Lanka as home team. Finally the Final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Pakistan has been treated as a one-Test series with Pakistan as home team.

The third was the Asian championships during 2001 involving Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There were two round-robin matches followed by a Final. The match between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Bangladesh has been treated as a one-Test series with Bangladesh as home team. The match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has been treated as one-Test series with Sri Lanka as home team. Finally the Final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Pakistan, played after a gap of 6 months, has been treated as a one-Test series with Pakistan as home team.

Other than the 1912 triangular tournament referred to above, 4 Test series have been played on neutral locations. These are Pakistan vs West Indies at Sharjah during 2002, Pakistan vs Australia at Sri Lanka during 2002, Pakistan vs Australia at Sharjah during 2002 and recently, Pakistan vs Australia at England during 2010. These four series carry "neutral" tags for both teams concerned. Sharjah could be termed "home" for Pakistan from many points of view. However it is fair to designate that as neutral. Thankfully, even though Pakistan cricket has gone through troubling times periodically, the neutral venues have ensured that we do not lose out on watching one of the most exciting teams in world cricket.

Now for the allocation of points for series results. I have given below the basis for points allocation.

1. Scoring method: I will not adopt the 2-1-0 method which I adopted for the Test matches. That was acceptable there since those were only single Test matches. They might be part of a longer series. However the impact was confined to the specific 3+ days. On the other hand, a series is a much greater contest and could be conducted over 3 months. The Test matches were played over different grounds and weather conditions. It would be unfair to use a simple 2-1-0 method. After all a series can range from a 0-0 draw in a 1-Test series to 5-1 in a six-test series. Hence I have adopted a more complex method of allocating series points, described below.

2. Series wins: In general, a 5-x series win will get more points than a 4-x series win, a 4-x win more points than a 3-x win, a 3-x win more points than a 2-x win and a 2-x win more points than a 1-0 win. This certainly makes sense since this rewards the extent and quantum of win. the minimum points for a series win is 3.0 for a 1-0 win in a 1-Test series at home. The maximum points, theoretically since this has not yet happened, is 15.0 points for a 6-0 away win. It is also necessary to mention that there has never been a 6-0 series win. The table is shown below.

4. Series draws: I will allocate more points, for both teams, for a 2-2 draw than a 1-1 draw. Similarly a 1-1 draw will carry more points than a 0-0 draw. Obviously a 2-2 draw is possible only in a 4+ match Test series. This makes more sense since the score draws deserve higher consideration than score-less draws. And so for other draws. There has never been a 3-3 draw in Test history. The table is shown below.

3. Series losses: A series might be lost 0-6, 1-5, 2-4, 2-3, 1-2 et al. Not all these losses are the same. The teams which have fought hard to win at least one or two Tests deserve some consideration. Hence I have allocated some token points for Test match wins in losing series. In other words, a 3-0 win will give x points to the winning team and 0 point for the losing team. A 3-2 win will give the same x points to the winning team and y points to the losing team. So the differential points will be reduced for closer wins. The table is shown below.

5. Win points in series wins: The series wins for 1-Test rubbers will get the lowest points, for 2-test rubbers more, for 3-Test rubbers still higher and maximum for 4/5/6-test rubbers. Again understandable since it is more difficult to achieve the wins in longer rubbers.

6. Dead rubbers: There is a misconception regarding dead rubbers. People complain about dead rubbers only when the leading team takes it easy and loses. If a team is leading 3-0 and wins, now everyone appreciates the ruthlessness of the winning team and exhorts them to go for a clean sweep. Finally no team wants to lose a Test, whether they are leading 3-0 or trailing 0-3. Having said that, I have given lower weight for the dead rubber results. Some fine tuning still needs to be done for this.

7. Away bonus: Away results, wins and draws, will carry an additional weight of 25%. Less than a third of the series (31.1%) are won away. It is far more difficult to win a series away than a Test away. Hence this significant weight. Since the weight is applied on the points secured, short series away wins carry correspondingly lower points.

8. Neutral bonus: Neutral results, wins and draws, will carry an additional weight of 12.5% for both teams.

9. Team Strength adjustment: The relative strengths of the teams are finally applied to the series points secured. The factor varies from 125% (for Bangladesh performance against Australia in 2003 et al) to 75% (for Australia performance against Bangladesh in 2003 et al). About 10 series qualify for these extreme adjustments. Then the weaker teams start improving and the adjustment becomes 122%/78% and so on. The relative Team Strength indices are used to arrive at this factor.

10. Series Index: The total points secured for the concerned period is divided by the number of series to get an Index value which indicates the position of the team in the concerned period. An index value of 5.0 is indicative of a very good period for the team. An average value of nearing 6.0 indicates significant domination and nearer 7.0, possibly complete and total domination.

A. Points allocation for winning team for series wins

Max    1-win  2-wins  3-wins  4-wins  5-wins  6-wins (Not yet there)
Tests
1        3      -       -       -       -        -
2        4      5       -       -       -        -
3        5      6       7       -       -        -
4        6      7       8       9       -        -
5        6      7       8       9      10        -
6        6      7       8       9      10       12

B. Points allocation for both teams for series draws

Max     0-0     1-1    2-2
Tests  Draw    Draw   Draw

1 1.0 - - 2 1.5 2.0 - 3 1.5 2.0 - 4 2.0 2.5 3.0 5 2.0 2.5 3.0 6 2.0 2.5 3.0

C. Points allocation for losing teams in series losses

Max     Matches won by losing team
Tests  0-win   1-win   2-wins    (3 wins is not possible)
1       0        -       -
2       0        -       -
3       0      0.50      -
4       0      0.50      -
5       0      0.50     1.00
6       0      0.50     1.00
Before we go on to the tables and graphs, let me identify some outstanding team performances in the form of great streaks. This is a great by-product of this series analysis. And series streaks have a far greater value than Test streaks.

First two wonderful streaks have been identified and presented here. I find it difficult to distinguish between the two. Both are outstanding examples of team performances.

The first is the longest unbeaten streak of test series without losing. Let us trace the path.

West Indies lost the 3-test series to New Zealand by 1-0 (that too a 1-wkt loss).

Then, during the next 14 years, West Indies went on to play 29 series, 17 away, and remained unbeaten, yes, you read it correctly, unbeaten. They won 20 series and drew 9 series. And let us remember, no weak teams. This is the definition of domination, matched by only one team afterwards. Just for information, West Indies gathered 174.5 points during this streak and averaged 6.02 points per series.

The streak came to an end during 1994 when West Indies lost 1-2 to Australia at home.

Now for the other, equally mind-blowing streak.

Australia lost to Sri Lanka 0-1 during 1999 away.

Then, during the next 9 years, Australia went on to play 33 series, 12 away, and had 29 wins, 2 draws (New Zealand and India) and 2 losses. This is the alternate definition of domination, matched by only one team before. Just for information, Australia gathered 196.3 points during this streak and averaged 5.94 points per series. The two losses were the famous 2001 Indian win and the equally famous 2005 Ashes win, both by narrow 1-2 margins.

The streak came to an end during 2008 when Australia lost 0-2 to India away.

The most number of continuous series wins was by Australia during the period 2005-2008 when they had 9 consecutive wins. This streak was book-ended by the 2005 Ashes loss and the 0-2 away loss to India during 2008. The index for this streak was 6.29.

Australia had a 8-series streak of wins just before this one. England also had a 8-series streak way back in 1882. The best sequence for West Indies was a 7-series sequence of wins starting 1983.

Just for information, India has a sequence of 5 wins and 2 draws at the current point. With a win/draw against Australia, this will be extended to 8 series and possibly 9 when the New Zealanders come. But remember that these are not wins.

Since the article has already become quite a long one, I am going to keep the other tables and graphs to the follow-up article. Here I am only going to show the table for all tests combined.

Team       Total  Win Draw Lost Aw-W Aw-D Points Index
Series

Australia 197 113 29 55 45 12 870.1 4.42 England 239 118 39 82 45 24 888.8 3.72 West Indies 123 54 21 48 24 12 443.0 3.60 South Africa 106 49 17 40 20 11 338.4 3.19 Pakistan 124 48 34 42 18 20 338.0 2.73 India 133 47 30 56 15 13 339.1 2.55 Sri Lanka 87 31 20 36 8 10 188.6 2.17 New Zealand 136 29 35 72 11 11 225.5 1.66 Zimbabwe 43 5 7 31 2 2 32.6 0.76 Bangladesh 35 2 0 33 1 0 9.6 0.27

No surprises here. Australia leads with 4.42 points, followed by England with 3.73 points. West Indies are in close third position with 3.60 points. South Africa and Pakistan complete the top-5. To cross off the final 't', the 1-test series between Australia and ICC has been considered as a home series for Australia. There is no contra-away series since ICC as a country does not exist.

I will show the period-wise tables, team tables and supporting graphs in the next part which will follow in a few days. All the tables will also be made available then.

For those of you who have started sharpening their key-board skills to say that these points are arbitrary and not objectively determined, I have a one-sentence answer. The same points, arbitrary and subjective they may be, are applied across all teams and all periods, over 1971 test matches.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • No name given on October 11, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    A more comprehensive statistical analysis Ive yet to read. Its understandable that ICC has to keep its rankings current, but its nice to get all the cricket ever played on one table and then locate your team in it. I have loved it. I am also happy to note that anti-Team-Pakistan factors both within and without the country still may have a year or two's work ahead of them to throw Pakistan out of the all-time top 5. That gives the "guardian angel" time to execute the miraculous rescue. And hopefully Pakistan won't immediately be thrown out of the cricketing map =)Much blessings for the likes of AH Kardar and Imran Khan.. [[ A name would be nice. Ananth: ]] .

  • Raghav Bihani on October 11, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    You should also make a slight adjustment for a 2 test series like a 0.8 or 0.75 factor in their counting.

    Another method according to me is to eliminate counting the number of series altogether. Just Divide the number of points scored by a team by the maximum it could have scored. This under the current table is 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 for a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 test series. After doing this there is no need to give weights to the series.

    A country which has only played 1 or 2 test series is not penalised or favoured here because it is judged against the maximum points available to be scored. I have found this method to be more fair than the weight of 0.5 suggested by me before.

    Another thing I like about using this method is that we assign points only once to the series played. After then its all objective. In weighting there are 2 levels of subjectivity in the points allocation and weighting which may be questioned. In fact the weighting has already been questioned by a reader. [[ Raghav That is an excellent sugegstion. Also remember that that is what I did in the Test matches analysis and I feel there was more acceptance. What I will do is to do both and let us see and compare the results. After all we are it is a free world. Ananth: ]]

  • Gaurav Gupta on October 11, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Hey Ananth, great analysis, truly an interesting read.Just one concern. How were the test matches that were abandoned because of a bad pitch handled? There was one last year between West Indies and England and there was also one some time ago between India and Sri Lanka. Since there was hardly any play in those matches, should the weaker team actually get credit for drawing those? [[ Gaurav Why split hairs over a trivial factor. Once the toss has been done the match is a test match. Ananth: ]]

    Overall, a job well done. Looking forward to part 2.

  • Rohit Singh Loomba on October 10, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    With regard to response to Rachit, your adjustment will still not solve the problem as someone may say why .5 and not .33 (since most of the test series have been 3 game, not 2 game series). Basically you are trying to compare apples with oranges in a sense that different length of the series can not all be put together and given subjective markings as pointed by others. The only fair way to do this is to first separate series based on number of tests it contained and look at home and away record in different time frames. In statistics there is something called 'Selection Bias' and 'Confounders' that skew the analysis. The one Selection Bias (by bias I don't ever mean you are biased, I mean only in the strictest statistical term so please spare the outrage) is evident, the teams that played more 5 test series are better off than the ones who played 3 test series. Also Australia and England early on played mainly at home and to each other so that creates a different set of problems. [[ Rohit Your points are well made. The problems with 3 teams for 50 years, entrance of weak teams, period of stability, again entry of weak team is an omni-present problem. Kinly wait for Part-2. You need not look at the 133 year tables. I will be presenting the period wise separation as well as the progress of teams over the periods. That will offer much better insights If it would help I could do a splt pre-ww2 and post-ww2 also. At least 7 teams were there from 1952.. Ananth: ]]

  • Rachit on October 10, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Awesome analysis ... but there is one small doubt i have ... u give 3 points for a 1-0 win in a 1 match series and 6 for a 1-0 win in a 5 match series ... while this is completely fair as a 5 match series is tough to win, teams like Sri Lanka will be at a disadvantage since they have played a lot of 1 match series ... and teams like australia and england will have an (if i can say that) unfair advantage ... so a lot of 1-0 results will get sri lanka 3 points while australia or england will get 6 points for the same result .. this will definitely mean that sri lanka will not be able to compete wrt the average index ... for example, indiaq and sri lanka have a series win/sweris played ratio of .35 .... but the indexes are 2.55 and 2.17 .. while u may say that india has won series more handsomely than sri lanka, i am sure that a lot of this difference can be explained by the fact that sri lanka played a majority of there series as 1 match series .. or max 2 matches ... [[ Rachit Pl see my comment on the changes I am going to effect. I will now consider a 1-test series as half a series for the purpose of index calculation. Also the points band will be narrower. This should certainly address a number of points you have raised. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on October 10, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    Ananth, Shamaz Majid Sure. Just hoping to clear some of misconceptions:….Shamaz, 1) The question of hating pakistan etc does not exist. It is sad that even educated folk like you have fallen prey to such invidious propaganda. There is simply a concern because of certain activities widely perceived to be emanating out of pakistan- and not only by indians, that is all. Otherwise most indians would not even bother about pakistan, there are much better and constructive things to do- Trust me on this.

    2) I actually think it runs a bit the other way round, in fact. For eg. Wasim Akram is widely respected in india and you will hardly ever hear an adverse comment about him by indian cricket fans. However, I can guarantee you that every single blog or forum which contains something about tendulkar will have a virulent anti tendulkar brigade comprising 99% pakikstanis. Point to ponder. In any case, as Ananth says, it is futile going to and fro about this. Back to the cricket! [[ Abhi As one who has felt the heat from both sides a lot, let me assure you that there are any number of fanatics on both sides. Over the past two years I have been quite ruthless in handling such comments. Even now I have used the direct mailid (I did not want to expose my mailid) to warn both types of readers that I could easily blacklist such readers from the entire blog. I resorted to this only for hate mails. When Umar Akmal fails, I am indeed sad that such outstanding talent is not flowering. There is lack of mentoring. Younis Khan should be doing that. But where is he. I think Indian cricket has a stability unfortunately lacking in Pakistani cricket. And the reason is probably a miniscule part of the populace. I fervently hope that somone cleans up the Palistani "Aegean stables". IPL can afford lose more franchises than Punjab and Jaipur. For that matter world cricket can afford to lose IPL. But world cricket cannot afford to lose Pakistani cricketers. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on October 10, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Important note: Based on the reader responses, I will tweak the analysis in the following manner and come out with the final ratings, tables and graphs in the follow-up article. This is expected to be published no later than Friday, 15 October. 1. 1-test series will be taken as 0.5 series for purposes of determining the Index points. 2. There will be a tighter band of points, ranging from 2 to 8, as compared to the current values of 3 to 12. 3. A 3-1 win will carry lesser points than 3-0, a 2-1 win will carry lesser points than 2-0 and so on. 4. Higher credit will be given for coming from behind. However only if a team wins 2 remaining matches to either draw or win a series. This will not be applicable for 1-test comeback situations.

  • Hemianonymous on October 10, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    I completely agree with Anantha on the rating based on strength of the opposition. Treating everyone exactly the same will create huge discrepancy and would be a step in the wrong direction.

  • Anand on October 10, 2010, 1:42 GMT

    (Contd). Similarly, the Indian team that beat England in 2007 was probably depleted due to Sehwag's absence (hence a lower team strength) but Sehwag was in the worst patch of his career and his presence may have been worse for India under the circumstances. Probably such occurences are few and far between. But was just curious to know if they will change anything. My apologies iof I completely mis understood the definition of team strength.

    Also am looking forward to see a similar analysis in ODIs. Here my guess is the changes of the best team will be more dynamic. [[ Anand I have two Tesm Strength metrics. One based on Career-to-date figures and another one on Career figures. For this macro level analysis, I have used the career lbase4d numbers. This has the advantage of a settled number for players already retired. It also takes the temporary lapses in form in its stride. Any blips in players' career would be smoothed over. However the absence of a player is something else. The absence of McGrath and Warne would hit the team, to varying degrees. I have no idea how much we are going to feel the absence of Laxman in this test match. He is only a very good batsman overall but a giant against Australians. However his career numbers would only be used for determining the Team strength. India would have dropped significantly from Mohalli to Bangalore and that is also true in real life. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on October 10, 2010, 1:25 GMT

    Ananth: A thought occured to me. In your team strength factor, how would it change things if "current form" is taken into account? By current form, I mean the players' current form. Of course raises a flag on how current is current. But if we put some reasonable number to that, say the last 10 innings or so.. Or could be the player's form against a particular opponent. This may not yield the correct comparison of teams because I understand that even if Pointing scores signel digits in his next ten innings, a Australian team without him is a depleted one. The reason for this thought is there is a talk about Australi being depleted in 2003-2004 against India because of the absence of McGrath and Warne. While I agree that McGrath's absence was a handicap, give Warne's record against India am not sure how much of a factor his absence was. (Continued in the next message)

  • No name given on October 11, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    A more comprehensive statistical analysis Ive yet to read. Its understandable that ICC has to keep its rankings current, but its nice to get all the cricket ever played on one table and then locate your team in it. I have loved it. I am also happy to note that anti-Team-Pakistan factors both within and without the country still may have a year or two's work ahead of them to throw Pakistan out of the all-time top 5. That gives the "guardian angel" time to execute the miraculous rescue. And hopefully Pakistan won't immediately be thrown out of the cricketing map =)Much blessings for the likes of AH Kardar and Imran Khan.. [[ A name would be nice. Ananth: ]] .

  • Raghav Bihani on October 11, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    You should also make a slight adjustment for a 2 test series like a 0.8 or 0.75 factor in their counting.

    Another method according to me is to eliminate counting the number of series altogether. Just Divide the number of points scored by a team by the maximum it could have scored. This under the current table is 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 for a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 test series. After doing this there is no need to give weights to the series.

    A country which has only played 1 or 2 test series is not penalised or favoured here because it is judged against the maximum points available to be scored. I have found this method to be more fair than the weight of 0.5 suggested by me before.

    Another thing I like about using this method is that we assign points only once to the series played. After then its all objective. In weighting there are 2 levels of subjectivity in the points allocation and weighting which may be questioned. In fact the weighting has already been questioned by a reader. [[ Raghav That is an excellent sugegstion. Also remember that that is what I did in the Test matches analysis and I feel there was more acceptance. What I will do is to do both and let us see and compare the results. After all we are it is a free world. Ananth: ]]

  • Gaurav Gupta on October 11, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Hey Ananth, great analysis, truly an interesting read.Just one concern. How were the test matches that were abandoned because of a bad pitch handled? There was one last year between West Indies and England and there was also one some time ago between India and Sri Lanka. Since there was hardly any play in those matches, should the weaker team actually get credit for drawing those? [[ Gaurav Why split hairs over a trivial factor. Once the toss has been done the match is a test match. Ananth: ]]

    Overall, a job well done. Looking forward to part 2.

  • Rohit Singh Loomba on October 10, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    With regard to response to Rachit, your adjustment will still not solve the problem as someone may say why .5 and not .33 (since most of the test series have been 3 game, not 2 game series). Basically you are trying to compare apples with oranges in a sense that different length of the series can not all be put together and given subjective markings as pointed by others. The only fair way to do this is to first separate series based on number of tests it contained and look at home and away record in different time frames. In statistics there is something called 'Selection Bias' and 'Confounders' that skew the analysis. The one Selection Bias (by bias I don't ever mean you are biased, I mean only in the strictest statistical term so please spare the outrage) is evident, the teams that played more 5 test series are better off than the ones who played 3 test series. Also Australia and England early on played mainly at home and to each other so that creates a different set of problems. [[ Rohit Your points are well made. The problems with 3 teams for 50 years, entrance of weak teams, period of stability, again entry of weak team is an omni-present problem. Kinly wait for Part-2. You need not look at the 133 year tables. I will be presenting the period wise separation as well as the progress of teams over the periods. That will offer much better insights If it would help I could do a splt pre-ww2 and post-ww2 also. At least 7 teams were there from 1952.. Ananth: ]]

  • Rachit on October 10, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Awesome analysis ... but there is one small doubt i have ... u give 3 points for a 1-0 win in a 1 match series and 6 for a 1-0 win in a 5 match series ... while this is completely fair as a 5 match series is tough to win, teams like Sri Lanka will be at a disadvantage since they have played a lot of 1 match series ... and teams like australia and england will have an (if i can say that) unfair advantage ... so a lot of 1-0 results will get sri lanka 3 points while australia or england will get 6 points for the same result .. this will definitely mean that sri lanka will not be able to compete wrt the average index ... for example, indiaq and sri lanka have a series win/sweris played ratio of .35 .... but the indexes are 2.55 and 2.17 .. while u may say that india has won series more handsomely than sri lanka, i am sure that a lot of this difference can be explained by the fact that sri lanka played a majority of there series as 1 match series .. or max 2 matches ... [[ Rachit Pl see my comment on the changes I am going to effect. I will now consider a 1-test series as half a series for the purpose of index calculation. Also the points band will be narrower. This should certainly address a number of points you have raised. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on October 10, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    Ananth, Shamaz Majid Sure. Just hoping to clear some of misconceptions:….Shamaz, 1) The question of hating pakistan etc does not exist. It is sad that even educated folk like you have fallen prey to such invidious propaganda. There is simply a concern because of certain activities widely perceived to be emanating out of pakistan- and not only by indians, that is all. Otherwise most indians would not even bother about pakistan, there are much better and constructive things to do- Trust me on this.

    2) I actually think it runs a bit the other way round, in fact. For eg. Wasim Akram is widely respected in india and you will hardly ever hear an adverse comment about him by indian cricket fans. However, I can guarantee you that every single blog or forum which contains something about tendulkar will have a virulent anti tendulkar brigade comprising 99% pakikstanis. Point to ponder. In any case, as Ananth says, it is futile going to and fro about this. Back to the cricket! [[ Abhi As one who has felt the heat from both sides a lot, let me assure you that there are any number of fanatics on both sides. Over the past two years I have been quite ruthless in handling such comments. Even now I have used the direct mailid (I did not want to expose my mailid) to warn both types of readers that I could easily blacklist such readers from the entire blog. I resorted to this only for hate mails. When Umar Akmal fails, I am indeed sad that such outstanding talent is not flowering. There is lack of mentoring. Younis Khan should be doing that. But where is he. I think Indian cricket has a stability unfortunately lacking in Pakistani cricket. And the reason is probably a miniscule part of the populace. I fervently hope that somone cleans up the Palistani "Aegean stables". IPL can afford lose more franchises than Punjab and Jaipur. For that matter world cricket can afford to lose IPL. But world cricket cannot afford to lose Pakistani cricketers. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on October 10, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Important note: Based on the reader responses, I will tweak the analysis in the following manner and come out with the final ratings, tables and graphs in the follow-up article. This is expected to be published no later than Friday, 15 October. 1. 1-test series will be taken as 0.5 series for purposes of determining the Index points. 2. There will be a tighter band of points, ranging from 2 to 8, as compared to the current values of 3 to 12. 3. A 3-1 win will carry lesser points than 3-0, a 2-1 win will carry lesser points than 2-0 and so on. 4. Higher credit will be given for coming from behind. However only if a team wins 2 remaining matches to either draw or win a series. This will not be applicable for 1-test comeback situations.

  • Hemianonymous on October 10, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    I completely agree with Anantha on the rating based on strength of the opposition. Treating everyone exactly the same will create huge discrepancy and would be a step in the wrong direction.

  • Anand on October 10, 2010, 1:42 GMT

    (Contd). Similarly, the Indian team that beat England in 2007 was probably depleted due to Sehwag's absence (hence a lower team strength) but Sehwag was in the worst patch of his career and his presence may have been worse for India under the circumstances. Probably such occurences are few and far between. But was just curious to know if they will change anything. My apologies iof I completely mis understood the definition of team strength.

    Also am looking forward to see a similar analysis in ODIs. Here my guess is the changes of the best team will be more dynamic. [[ Anand I have two Tesm Strength metrics. One based on Career-to-date figures and another one on Career figures. For this macro level analysis, I have used the career lbase4d numbers. This has the advantage of a settled number for players already retired. It also takes the temporary lapses in form in its stride. Any blips in players' career would be smoothed over. However the absence of a player is something else. The absence of McGrath and Warne would hit the team, to varying degrees. I have no idea how much we are going to feel the absence of Laxman in this test match. He is only a very good batsman overall but a giant against Australians. However his career numbers would only be used for determining the Team strength. India would have dropped significantly from Mohalli to Bangalore and that is also true in real life. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on October 10, 2010, 1:25 GMT

    Ananth: A thought occured to me. In your team strength factor, how would it change things if "current form" is taken into account? By current form, I mean the players' current form. Of course raises a flag on how current is current. But if we put some reasonable number to that, say the last 10 innings or so.. Or could be the player's form against a particular opponent. This may not yield the correct comparison of teams because I understand that even if Pointing scores signel digits in his next ten innings, a Australian team without him is a depleted one. The reason for this thought is there is a talk about Australi being depleted in 2003-2004 against India because of the absence of McGrath and Warne. While I agree that McGrath's absence was a handicap, give Warne's record against India am not sure how much of a factor his absence was. (Continued in the next message)

  • Mani on October 9, 2010, 20:49 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Great Work. Appreciate it very much.

    Would it help to differentiate between away wins on tough venues (like say Perth in the olden days) and away wins on relatively easier venues and may be credit the former more?

    Would it help to credit a team more for winning a match on a biased pitch (pitch that favour teams winning the toss) despite the toss going against them in the match in question?

    Similarly would it help to credit a team more for winning despite losing 'x' number of sessions to weather? [[ Mani All these three points would complicate the analysis a lot more while not brininging in corresponding improvements. Also these are subjective. How does one decide on the impact ground and toss. The grounds change a lot within months. Ananth: ]]

    I understand that these are more pertinent to match wins rather than series wins but match wins ultimately contribute to series wins right?

    Aside, a counter question on team strengths, while I understand the fairness in crediting a win over Aus more than a win over say Zim (no offence intended to Zim), a counter view is that it is not one teams fault that the other team is weak. Wouldn't that sort of work against the dominant teams as most teams would be weaker than them and hence the numbers show them as less dominant than they really were? My personal take would be a win is a win no matter who it is against - it is only a draw and a loss against a weaker team that should be penalized.

    Regards, Mani [[ This is a contra view. In an=y Rating system involving players/teams of widely varying strengths, such as ATP, Chess (FIDE), ICC rankings it is essential to give higher weight to results against better opposition. When a team/player is expected to win and does that they get a certain points. When a team/player is not expected to win they get more if they do differently. The stronger team may be penalized but then they have the resources to counter that. Remember how Federer lost the ground in ATP rankings because he was defending last years' s Grand slam wins at Paris and Wimbledon. Anand did niot gain much from his World Championship win because he won quite narrowly. If he had won 7-5 he would have got more points. 7-4, still more. These are the correct methods. Thanks for the inputs. Ananth: ]]

  • Topa Singh on October 9, 2010, 16:13 GMT

    @Animesh, I don't understand whats wrong with trying to improve the outcome. Chi has a deep statistical perspective just as we often don't. Not everyone has to think the same way. We are dealing with numbers and some of the things he is saying is valid. [[ Topa Your point is valid. However what Animesh is trying to say is that what is obvious to the statistics persons may be Greek and Latin to quite a few readers. He is happy at reading something which he can understand completely. I try not to have black boxes in my analysis since those would immediately insert a reader's block. Anyhow I am at peace with your comments, Chi Square's comments (I don't know why he cannot give out his name ???) and everyone else's comments. Ananth: ]]

  • arun n on October 9, 2010, 15:40 GMT

    Great Stats and analysis.Any chances of the possibility of accomodating the opposition strength in the results? For e.g. the 2-1 victory at home for India v/s Aussies shud probably fetch more points than say, India's 2-1 victory in Pak? [[ Arun You have not read the article carefully. The team strengths have already been incorporated and there are quite a few comments on this topic also. Ananth: ]]

  • arnav on October 9, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    Hi ananth.You are truely good.Awesome and hard work buddy.Really loved it.Cheers!

  • Shamaz Majid on October 9, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    Abhi,

    Compared to 95% of emails in this forum, my post is extremely mature and balanced, with no malice or hate intended. Yet I don't see you criticising any of those emails, many of which would not look out of place on the British National Party's website.

    I wonder why??? Yes, my point exactly.

    [[ Abhi/Shamaz Pl extend a hand of friendship from your respective places, possibly thousands of kilometres apart. Shamaz You are only seeing the published mails. You should see some of the deleted mails. Ananth: ]]

  • Animesh Agrawal on October 9, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    @Chi Square... come on mate, this is an objective analysis of something that has been hitherto completely subjective. There need be no standardization (even though Ananth has done a commendable job of reaching that), and to actually look for low p values with decent confidence intervals is missing the whole point of such an exercise.

    If it bothers you so much, why don't you do what Anirban did, and figuring out a way to do it yourself, make those tables and send them to him - if only to say that you cannot reject the null hypothesis?

    @Ananth: sorry to bother you again, but to repeat my query - what about a series in which the impact players don't play? Like the 2003-04 Indian tour of Australia? I keep using this example as it is the most dramatic one I know. [[ Animesh I thought it was sufficient when I gave you the pre and post retirement Team strength values for McGrath/Warne, Bradman and Pollock. Anyhow let me give you two more figures which will explain this concept clearly. 1678-2003-vs Ind-MCG.-79.00 (No McG/Warme) 1706-2004-vs Slk-Cairns-85.17 (With McG/Warne). I hope this is sufficient. Ananth: ]]

  • Hemianonymous on October 9, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    Bang on Target Chi Square. very well said indeed. That is what analysis is all about. I will love to hear some more about it. Ananth, we suppose he has added tremendous value to the post by providing his insight. Z score document has some kind of macro (virus?)in it that my computer finds problematic with the older version of word document. Is anyone else having the same problem? [[ Rahul I heve opened the document without problem using Office 2007. Through this mail i have requested Anirban to send a .doc file rather than .docx file. Ananth: ]]

  • AMan on October 9, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    Please READ:

    Are you able to do an analysis from 1990 to 2010...see the ratings for the last 20 years...to get a sign of the best team recently...

    With all due respect, I do understand how great West Indes were in the 80s/70s but we know at this stage they are no where near that level of superiority. [[ This is an amazing statement. You are talking about a team which played 29 series in 14 years, 17 away, won 20 series and drew 9 series as "no where near that level of superiority:. Ananth: ]]

  • ananth on October 9, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    [[ Z-Scores for Test all-rounders Anirban had mentioned the value of Z-scores and I had requested him to do the Z-scores work and send me the document. It is a very interesting one and the final graphs are more or less similar to the averages based one I have posted. I have uploaded the document for the readers to download and view. The link is given below. http://www.thirdslip.com/misc/all-rounders-z-scores.docx My thanks to Anirban. Ananth: ]]

  • Chi Square on October 9, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Without a doubt we started on the wrong note but right from beginning I just wanted to provide you a statistical point-of-view as you have enough people validating what you do already. The bone of contention for me is to support subjective opinion with some what subjective analysis. Yes, it is worth it in some circumstances (as you have shown time to time) but generally the role of data analysis is to either confirm subjective opinion with concrete facts or refute them unequivocally. The other goal of data analysis is to find counter intuitive facts that are hidden from view but are still very much true. But I appreciate your hard work and willingness to listen to your readers. Z score is definitely a good start, will be looking forward to read it. Since you enjoy this kind of work so much you should definitely try to employ basic stats where ever applicable. It will definitely help you enjoy this kind of work even more.It has never been personal from my side.Thanks for your response. [[ My final request is to add value to the posts. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • Chi Square on October 9, 2010, 2:46 GMT

    Anantha I am not trying to be dense. My point is pretty simple and it is quite frustrating that you don't see it even though you have already done a lot. Series analysis is an important technique used in many fields.But traditional series clustering algorithms generally deal with numeric data. While clustering categorical data have always attracted researchers’ attentions because of their prevalence in real life. But, as the data are getting much larger and more dynamic, incremental is an important quality of good clustering algorithms. The clustering algorithm present is an incremental with linear computing complexity. The experiment results indicate that it outperforms other categorical clustering algorithms referred in your analysis whether you realize it or not that has been your approach so far I think, for a change, you are onto something but you will have to stick to the statistical principles and apply scientific vigour to take it to the next level when it all begins meaningful [[ What I do may not meet the rigid statistical requirements. That has anyway never been the objective. I have taken a series as a unit for analysis. A series might consist of 1-6 matches. It could be played between teams of widely varying strengths. It may be played in Lord's or Mars, it does not matter. I have applied adjustments to take care of these and more variations. The net result is a point value for the series. A 0-1 loss for India against Sri Lanka may carry no points. A 5-0 win for England over Australia, away, may carry maximum points. Between these two extreme values, there may be 500 series related point values. These would all be cricket-wise correct. If not, I would do the required correction. Now since teams play differing number os series, I divide, get an Index value and rank them. The readers may evaluate these with their own expectations. If different, raise questions which I am bound to answer. What I don't understand is what is intrinsically wrong with this. Statistical requirements should and would take second place to cricketing requirements. If I say that the bext decade was West Indies during 1980s and support it with the numbers and that meets the reader's own expectation, that is fine. I may only be confirming the obvious. I may be validating a person's subjective assessment with analytical conclusions. I may also say how far ahead were West Indies to the second place team, by a mile, let me say. As distinct from the 1970s when West indies were just ahead of England. Again obvious. But validates many perceptions. Recently Anirban made a statement on Z-factors. I asked him to complete the task and send me the Z-factor tables. He did that and I am going to upload and provide the link. I think that sort of support will add value to this blog. Ananth: ]]

  • Hammad on October 9, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    Ananth,

    No matter who is at the top or above/below, I appreciate your passion for cricket. Its easy for me to comment than for you to do analysis on a format of a game which we all love. Therefore, I appreciate your work. Keep the good work coming and if it is possible, ODIs/T20s would be great.

  • Chi Square on October 8, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    What is the power of this study meaning how confidant are you in your assertions as per confidence interval?How do we know that you have achieved a 'p' value that is significant and your findings are not due to randomness in the data. Plus, to convert individual test data into series analysis changes categorical values to sort of continuous algorithmic wasteland that contorts even the very basic analysis and results. Please revise this analysis or stop altogether. Thank You. [[ Thank you for your comments. Although, being a simple cricket analyst and not a statistics scholar, most of it goes over my head, as probably with 99% of the readers. Ananth: ]]

  • Birju Bawra on October 8, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Ananth, excellent effort in quantifying an underlying subjective (& thereby extremely though) matter. Even better is your effort in responding to and accomodating most reader's queries. The Ind vs Pak debate is a never ending and mindless endevor between 2 fan bases high on ego and low on historical insight and, with an abundance of idiots and shortsightedness in ample supply on both sides. Don't get sucked into it too much, it will only lead to the unnecessary devaluation of an amazing effort. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your second part. [[ Birju I have to allow people to make their comments. The non-publishing criteria are 1. Being rude and offensive to me, other readers and other comumnists. 2. Making offensive remarks against great players. 3. Making totally worthless comments adding nothing to the article. Ananth: ]]

  • Animesh Agrawal on October 8, 2010, 18:17 GMT

    A brilliant analysis.. and a bit of an eye opener for one like me who has seen only the Indian Fab Four, and none of the Pakistan greats. Also, that WI and Australia should top such an analysis was no surprise; I did not, however, expect England to be sandwiched in between.

    I wonder, though, if team strengths changed as the top players retired. To see the impact of a major player retiring has been mentioned in a previous post, I simply wanted to know if it has been reflected in team strengths in the series immediately afterwards for this particular analysis. For instance after the retirement of Warne and McGrath post England's 5-0 whitewash, was the strength of the Australian side adjusted? Similarly (& perhaps more pertinently), in the 2003-04 India tour of Australia, was the Australian team strength taken to be lesser, as these two did not play?

    I realize these calculations are complicated; I wouldn't ever dare to try myself. I ask as you already have made such a good fist of it. [[ Animesh Very valid questions. The best way I can answer this is for me to take the trouble (I am only kidding, no trouble at all) of giving you three before and after team strengths.The last test of Bradman, McGrath/Warne, Shaun Pollock and the NEXT test. Test 303 (Bradman's last test)-75.99. 318-70.42. Test 1826 (McGrath/Warne's last test)-86.29. 1845-81.56. Test 1860 (Pollock's last test)-81.34. 1864-78.48. Even though Miller did not play in Test 318, the drop was mainly due to Bradman's absence. The significant drop for 1845 was the absence of these two bowlers. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhi on October 8, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    Ananth, Some generally good suggestions. However, surprised that you posted the immature and myopic comment by "Shamaz Majid" [[ Abhi Shamaz's comments are his views. Not that anyone needs to accept those. He has not made a personal attack against anyone in particlular. I have posted a number of comments from Indian followers emphasizing India;s current supremacy. As long as the line is not crossed I have no problems and the readers should not have. Ananth: ]]

  • Hema Adhikari on October 8, 2010, 16:13 GMT

    OK, thanks. I understand that you are doing your best. It is just that this thing is complicated. But you are very good in communicating with your readers. Ciao. [[ H.A. Maybe we will get it right after couple of attempts. Ananth: ]]

  • Sami Ullah Baig on October 8, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    During 1980s/1990s, Pakistan have been better than India because they were bestowed with brilliant bowlers and good all rounders. But recently Pakistan has been awful due to the political cum management problems of the PCB and also the law and order situation in Pakistan.

  • Hema Adhikari on October 8, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    You have worked hard on this Sir, but I think series concept itself is problematic. Series means few tests played within a certain duration. I agree with Topa that because of this you can not consider one test a series. Also the length of a series varies and so does the results, team strengths vary and so does other factors. 0-0 is a draw but 2-2 is also a draw. To assign value to these numbers is very difficult and while it may look simple, is a very complicated task. I suggest you look at more dynamic model such as ATP ranking or Chess ELO rankings. The point as mentioned by Raghav and Topa Singh is this- Australia playing Zim is not the same as England playing India irrespective of the results. Just as if Federe defeats a nobody he gets fewer points than if Mr. Nobody defeats Federer. Otherwise whole ATP ranking would be going astray. Please think these things trough before taking readers suggestion at their face value. valiant effort though! [[ H.A. I do not know why all of you chose to ignore the fact which I have already mentrioned that Australia will get LESS points for defeating Zimbabwe compared to what they get for defeating India. How many times should I emphasize that. Team strengths of each test are incorporated into the results. The location has been taken into account. The closeness or otherwise of the contests has been incorporated. As far as ATP/Chess Elo rankings, let me say that I know ATP rankings methodology to a Mastermind level. However ATP probably has got 100+ people working on their IT function. I am a one-man army. I do whatever I can. This model is quite complex and I have written 3 special programs. It is upto you readers to suggest improvements. If I can I will implement these. If I cannot or I do not concur with the suggestions, I will not. Already I have identified subtle modifications based on Topa's, Raghav's and Dhaval's suggestions. Let us work on that basis. Ananth: ]]

  • Shamaz Majid on October 8, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    Great article Anantha and thanks for standing up for Pakistan against the plethora of Indian Cricket followers. Their unashamed bias and hatred of Pakistan also shows how little they actually know about cricket. For anyone who knows cricket's history, Pakistan have nearly always been far superior to India and it is only in recent years that they have weakened through poor management, selection and discipline. Even now however, I personally believe that they have the most talented players in the world, but then that is my personal opinion and I certainly wouldn't want to impose it on anyone! I hope you will publish this as it is not meant to be offensive in any way and is a factual statement. Thanks.

  • Rehan on October 8, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    this is a really strange analysis, and probably goes a long way to show that statistics can cover any manner of sins. India is ranked 7th in win/loss, below Srilanka, Pakistan in win/loss is ranked 3rd, above South Africa & West Indies. So while your weighting might have taken some thought, before we consider this seriously, we should appreciate the fact that the win/loss rankings are absolute, and while we can dispute these results to kingdom come, they will be flawed for the human error that comes from your subjective weightings. [[ Thank you, Rehan. At least one person thinks that Pakistan is placed lower than they desrve. Ananth: ]]

  • Ajay on October 8, 2010, 12:56 GMT

    Hi ananth , I think u have done a mistake in number of series wins for Pak and india. If we count the number of series wins for pak and ind in records sections including 1 test series it should be 45 series wins for pak and 46 series wins for India . please check it. [[ Because of the way the triangular tournaments were treated, the number of series wins will not match. Anyhow it is Pakistan which has lost out because they suddenly have extra 1-test series tagged on to them. Ananth: ]]

  • Sanjeev Chandran on October 8, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    It will make no difference to the results but i was just wondering how did you consider the 2 tied tests. The India Australia one was part of a 0-0 drawn series. Did you give them 1.5 points or was it 2 points (considering it a 1-1 draw). I know logically it's the former but somehow i think the teams deserve the extra credit [[ Sanjeev I considered that series as a 1-1 draw and the Australia-West Indies series as 2-1. How I wish that India had finished at 215 and we had a third tie at Mohali. That would have been a rarest of rare instances (only the third). Ananth: ]]

  • Ska on October 8, 2010, 10:50 GMT

    Hi there,

    I didn't read the entire article, instead skipped straight to the last table & am not surprised. I'm sure your analysis was great going by the high % of positive comments you received. I'm writing here to appreciate your effort in replying to a number of comments. I think that's amazing. Great job.

  • ashish mishra on October 8, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    Great analysis again. Even non-statistician like me can appreciate how close the statistics can be to the feeling. Though I expected India to be nearer to SLK/NZ but probably last 10 years saved them. To Pak-bashers/India-obsessed you gave a fitting replay. These guys dont love/know cricket and are simply here for an individual/boundaries. The only regret is, there number is increasing and they are more a minority.

  • Ashwath on October 8, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    I guess a lot of people have asked about this but Im not sure. could you do a graph with the moving average of the past 5 series or so for all the teams so it is easy to track form over time? [[ Ashwath That is a fair request. However I have got to do so many graphs for the second part that I am not sure whether I can do this also (another 8). However I will provide tables with cumulative averages at the end of each series for each team so that you yourself can draw the graphs by importing the table into an excel sheet. Ananth: ]]

  • No name given on October 8, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    well done..really hard work...i am afraid you are making indians ur enemies by this fair analysis..but anywayz great job... [[ Next time please give a name. Ananth: ]]

  • Narendra Kumar on October 8, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    Though your analysis are near-to-perfection, i don't buy your theory to consider Sharjah as a neutral venue for Pakistan.You have written a piece on a public web forum,and people bound to have their own perception on the topic you have written.So please don't react as 'victimized' when some one criticize you,instead take it in your stride.

  • Raghuveer on October 8, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    Great work !

    Could you also please please please do a simulation of matches between the all-time XIs of various countries selected by cricinfo over a five (or even three) match series. It could be exciting if we could factor in one uncovered pitch per series (or something like that, if that may be possible). It would make for great reading and a good collection. Some of us could pitch in too. Please consider this. [[ Raghuveer In one sentence you have outlined couple of month's work for me. Will keep this in mind, as a long term project. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhinav Mishra on October 8, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    gr8 analysis i must say that before ganguly pakistan was always ahead of india due to the bowling attack it used to possess and now as its bowling attack is depleted therefore now india is a better team

  • Umair on October 8, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    Ananth

    Pakistan, recently, has been playing all their home games on foreign territory. Plus this trend is expected to continue (for at least 1-2 years). Keeping this in mind how credible, do you think, is the existing weightage of Pakistan home games? [[ Umair For what it is worth, Pakistan gets a neutral status even when they play at Sharjah. But so few neutral games have been played that it is not worth classifying this separately. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinish on October 8, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Ananth

    The analysis offers great insight.

    I wonder how this analysis addresses the mismatch between two specific countries, who play more often or less often over a period of time. For example, Aus and SA have played IN India, 4 times each (Aus - 2001, 2004, 2008, 2010 and SA - 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2010) in last 11 years where as NZ and WI have playes only once each (NZ - 2003 and WI - 2002)?

    Regards [[ Vinish These are anomalies caused because of scheduling/marketing/money-making/arrogant reasons. Nothing can be done. During the first 40 years almost all matches were between two teams. During early-2000s, India-Pakistan played as if there would be no morrow. Now India refuses to play, even on neutral grounds. India has been bloody-minded in inviting Bangladesh for a Test series at home. Why. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on October 8, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    I would like to further elaborate the point made by Topa Singh. A 1-1 draw gets 2 points. So if India and Australia play 2 test series of 2 matches each and draw each 1-1, both get 4 points in all. The average points per series is 2.0 . However, if they play out a 4 test series and draw that 2-2 each team is allocated 3 points. The points per series also works out to 3. Now though I agree that a 2-2 draw is more valuable than 1-1 draw, how do we explain the above.

    This same can be seen for wins. 3 single test rubbers won 1-0 give an avg. points of 3. While a 3 test series won 3-0 gives an average of 7. Again an anomaly.

    Some adjustments are needed at the end of the analysis. Should a 1 test series be counted only as 0.5 series? Then the winning case 3 series of 1-0 4.5 points average and a single 3-0 win 7 points average. You need to work out the weights, but some weighting is needed to calculate total number of series played. It is not taken care of in the points allocation. [[ Raghav Both you and Topa have made valid points. However in any analysis there will be situations which come down to such conclusions. Let me say that I reduce a single-test series win to 2.0 points instead of 3.0. That is probably fair. However in that case the example you have given will become still worse. 2.0 average as against 7.0. Let us take the Football WC. A team wins a match 3-0, loses the next two matches 0-1. It will have a GD of +1. Another team draws 3 matches, x-x and have a GD of 0. The first team will go through on gd. Is it fair. On balance the second team has performed better. The point is that all analysis can be made to have weak points by taking specific examples. I will probably do the following. Change a 1-test win to 2.0. Reduce the gap between 0-0, 1-1 and 2-2 draws. In general reduce the gaps so that these glaring discrepancies do not occur. Another thing, Raghav. You have taken two examples and shown up very glaring discepancies. However thse are going to be part of much bigger number of series and the impact is going to be much less. You could take a 6-0 win getting, say, 12 points and compare it with 4 1-test series wins averaging 3.0 and again point out a disparity. And so on. Ananth: ]]

  • Vinay on October 8, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    Great work Anantha.

    In Team Strength adjustment, you specified only 10 Series qualified for extreme adjustments. I suspect most of them involved Bangladesh/Zimbabwe. But were India/Pakistan teams considered weak prior to 1960? Was Srilanka Considered weak in 1980's?

    Also, India at home after 1960 was a strong team but a weak team before 1967/1968, our first win abroad. Did you factor in such details?

    Cheers Vinay [[ Vinay The extreme values come into play when one team is TWICE as strong as the other, a very rare occurence indeed (8-4 or 6-3). Most of the times nowadays it is 8-5 or 7-4. When India was relatively weak, most of the other teams were also not that strong. The numbers were like 7-5. Incidentally these numbers represent the actual index value divided by 10 and rounded off. Ananth: ]]

  • Topa Singh on October 8, 2010, 4:28 GMT

    I appreciate that you answered my questions but let me try to explain myself once more as i think I did not do a good job. The 2-2 draw is more credible for the weaker team or the under dog; not for the top dog so it can not be considered universally better than 1-1. Lets say Australia and Zimbabwe played and somehow in one test rubber, Zim managed a draw...could be luck etc..same teams played couple of years later and Zim lets say managed a 1-1 scoreline, for the sake of discussion lets say the drew 2-2 six months later. Which performance is better for Zim..clearly 2-2 as they managed to hold champions over long period of time and match them. But which is the most embarrassing performance for Australia..the same 2-2 result. I hope you get my point that your criteria is flawed as it does not take into account the relative strengths of the team. Plus how many series were drawn when rain interrupted on the final days when one team was dominant? Answer is many many times. But I digress. [[ Topa The situation you have raised is taken care of through team strengths. I have given below two real instances. 2005 Ind-Eng Played at India. 1-1 draw. India got 2.37 points and England 3.73 points because of two reasons. One is that this was away for England. The other was that England was weaker than India marginally (8-7). Another example. 0-0 draw during 1932. Nzl vs Eng played at New Zealand. Vast difference in team Strength between the two teams (8-4). Despite this being an away series, England got only 1.41 points against New Zealand's 1.88.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Topa Singh on October 8, 2010, 2:55 GMT

    Good effort but there are many problem in the analysis: I generally like your work but this one is poor.

    1. Why 2-2 draw is given more points then 1-1 draw, what if the same team played 1-1 draw twice separated by few months? [[ I think most people would understand that a 2-2 draw deserves more credit than a 1-1 and 0-0 because of the effort put in by teams to achieve results. I do not understand the second part. Ananth: ]] 2. Why a team that wins 3-0 should be given the same points as the one that wins 3-2 ? I know you have mentioned that you are measuring the differences and that is reduced for the winner but you are not comparing team A with Team B only. You are comparing with all the others so that is clearly wrong way to go. [[ There are two ways of doing things. I have given credit for 3 wins to the winning team and for 2 wins for the losing team thus reducing the differential. Alternative is to recognize the margin per se. Anyhow let me wait for the comments. I see merit in your suggestion also. Ananth: ]] 3. 1 test rubber is not a series (i.e more than one matches) so please either dont call it series analysis or please exclude them [[ No I do not agree. I have taken care of this by reducing the points. Ananth: ]] 4. How did you account for dead rubbers is not very clear [[ Dead rubber wins get reduced points. What more can I say. Ananth: ]] 5.Pakistan has played as India for the longest time (combined team), how have you taken that into account? [[ Not correct. Pakistan has not played as India. A few Pakistani players for India, that is all. If so why are you not questioning the early test players who played for England and Australia, of other players who have played for two countries. I can give you the list, if required. Ananth: ]] 6. Problem that Richard mentioned still needs to be addressed [[ This was addressed and the report corrected exactly 3 minutes after I received Richard's comment. Ananth: ]]

  • Pakistan People on October 8, 2010, 2:53 GMT

    For Indian supporters who are having problems digesting that Pakistan is ahead of India - please note Pakistan is also one of the few countries who has won more tests than they have lost and India is not in that list. But I am sure with the current trend India will be able to go ahead of Pakistan soon. Pakistan is doing its best to wipe off their best record amongst sub-continent teams.

  • Ali Shah on October 8, 2010, 0:39 GMT

    Once again a great article Ananth. I really look forward to your articles. They do quantify a new insight every time. Like Emran mentioned in the comments above even I am surprised that given Pakistan's terrible last decade they are still ahead of India? That was a real revelation for me. [[ Ali Pakistan are just ahead. With the current trend, unless reversed, India could probably move into the top half in the next two years. Ananth: ]]

  • MZ on October 7, 2010, 23:34 GMT

    Nice analysis and in right direction...I think series wins are more exciting and motivating for the teams and fans.

    I would like to see this broken up in "periods of dominance and/or ascent" intervals. for example, England has not been in top 4 for quite some time now, and India has been coming up nicely.

  • Lahiru on October 7, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    Nice work Anantha ... good to know there is atleast one individual at cricinfo who is not biased. Three cheers for you mate. [[ Lahiru I will not accept your comments. Cricinfo publishes news and unfortunately Pakistan has been in the news recently. I do not see any biased news reporting in Cricinfo. As far as Cricket analysis is concerned, there is fair coverage across all countries. Please change your perception. Anyhow I do not work for Cricinfo. Ananth: ]]

    Btw it would be nice to see a graph showing how these team indexes vary over time with a little note of special event (e.g. Vic Richards, Ambrose retiring started west indians down hill). Will be a great resource to understand the history of cricket. [[ Possibly in a separate article. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on October 7, 2010, 21:33 GMT

    (Continued) The reason I request for such an analysis or looking for this factor is as follows. My personal belief is that the difference between the WI team of 70s and 80s and the Aus team in 2000s is that the Aussies were better at getting out of jail. Also, the transition I noticed in the Indian team over the last decade is the ability to get out of jail. I strongly feel that the 16 wins under Steve Waugh really started when Langer and Gilchrist pummelled Pakistan into submission (they had already won two tests before that but the manner in which they converted a certain defeat into a magical win paved the way for 12 more victories). Similarly, the Kolkata test in 2001 changed Indian cricket in a big way. I would love to see your analyses on teams based on their ability to fight back. I understand this involves several factors but with your knowledge, I believe you can come up with something there. Would like to know your thoughts [[ Anand Dhaval's comment is on these lines. Pl see response to him. It is difficult to capture the non-measurable impact of tests like Calcutta 2001. The impact went beyond the specific series. Ananth: ]]

  • Anand on October 7, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    Ananth: I love your analyses and this one is top draw too. My sincere appreciations for your efforts. Will there be any change in your results if you add factors like wins from behind or draws from behind? I mean something like in a 3 test series a team is down 0-1 and then goes on to win 2-1 (e.g., India vs Aus 2001) or a team is down 1-2 with one to play and manages to win the last match to make it 2-2 (e.g., Aus vs WI 1999). The reason I say this is, one team has the luxury of playing for a draw (and may be playing negative cricket) while the other has to force a win. I remember the 2008 test series in INdia when Dhoni set an 8-1 field in the last test match. India went on to win because Australia was under pressure to win and aquare the series. Not sure if Dhoni could have done that if India was trailing. Ofcourse, I am not sure how often this happened in test cricket. Or could this be a separate analysis. (Contd. in next msg)

  • gaurav on October 7, 2010, 21:20 GMT

    Is it possible to see line graphs for diffeent periods. Say an Index vs Time graph

    Its going to be great see teams go up and down with time. The WI domination era( born well after that), the Aussie juggernaut, the S.A breakthrough and the Indian rebound. [[ Gaurav In the follow-up analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Pawan Mathur on October 7, 2010, 21:16 GMT

    Ananth, Can you elaborate in more detail how teams have fared in series involving different number of matches, i.e 6 match series, 5 match series, and so. [[ Pawan Will try and do this in the follow-up analysis. Ananth: ]]

  • Anonymous on October 7, 2010, 19:48 GMT

    @emran xaman- pakistan were a better team than indiA IN THE 1985-2000ish area they were both neck and neck for a a few years after and then india had a great streak pakistan had a bad one- thats why pak is over india just a bit

  • Shri on October 7, 2010, 19:34 GMT

    As always, a highly enlightening analysis. You have successfully condensed a ton of statistics into a highly concise and informative table. However, I am not clear on one point. For e.g. in 1978-79, the Australian team was severely depleted due to WSC and so the visiting England team should receive lesser credit for winning this away series by 5-1, than they normally would. Is this scenario already accounted for in the "team strength" category? It would seem logical to weigh the strength of a particular team based on the form of its individual players at the time (possibly based on the ICC rankings at the time?) [[ Yes, Team strength takes care of thius. From being ahead on TS Australia went behind on a relative basis. However please remember that England also lost Greig et al. Ananth: ]]

  • Dhaval Brahmbhatt on October 7, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    Ananth - great work! How about allocating weightage for "come from behind" series wins? I am not sure if that gets factored into your calculations inherently, given that this is a series and it does not matter whether you start with a 0-1 deficeit and take the series 2-1 (India Australia 2001). Thanks, Dhaval [[ Dhaval I thought of this but did not implement the same since ups and downs in a Test series are common. Either of the teams will always fall behind and I did not want to apply this this concept to shorter rubbers. The only condition I think is worthwhile to include is if a team had to win the remaining 2 tests to win/draw the series and did just that. I do not want to lower this to 1 test and 3 tests situation does not exist. This will then be possible in 4/5/6 test rubbers. Ananth: ]]

  • manish on October 7, 2010, 18:14 GMT

    Please stop treating anything before 40's as equivalent of modern cricket. And for true analysis only include tests after 1970. [[ Manish Your thinking is completely wrong. It also shows a lack of awareness of great cricket which was played over the years. Ananth: ]]

  • pakpas_net on October 7, 2010, 18:09 GMT

    *******************************************************. [[ I have published this comment as blank since it contains some highly objectionable statements that I am pro-Pakistan and the analysis is uselss because of this. I could have just deleted the comment. Then there are people waiting to say that I do not publish negative comments. So I will not give this person the satisfaction of seeing his comment on print. Just because my analysis values Pakistan at 2.73, ahead of India at 2.55, this comment comes in. If the numbers had been reversed, this would have become a great analysis. This is the type of thinking which exists with some Indian cricket followers, thankfully the minority. Ananth: ]]

  • Andy Church on October 7, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Very nice workings, Anantha. I am just surprised that your allocations are all based on linear assumptions. IMHO, this is definitely a limitation of validity, however it does eliminate somewhat the element of subjectivity. I suspect non-linear allocations would simply change the margins of dominance. [[ Andy Even on a linear basis the complexity is very high. I made a mistake, pointed out by Richard. Any more complex, even verification of tables would become tough. Ananth: ]]

  • AN on October 7, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    No surprises here; nice to note that my "back of a scrap-book" list based on general historical knowledge, matches up with one kind of quantitative analysis. Any reasonable and logical statistical change would still generate the same results/ordering of teams. The disturbing trend for world cricket is that both WI and Pakistan have organizational problems and are in danger of slipping further in the future unless some change occurs quickly. Having just 5 competitive teams is a danger to the game itself.

  • Richard Mackey on October 7, 2010, 13:53 GMT

    Ananth,

    You say that "Australia lost to Sri Lanka 0-1 during 1999 away. Then, during the next 9 years, Australia went on to play 34 series, 13 away, and had 32 wins and 2 losses".

    What about the 0-0 draw with New Zealand in 2001/02? Or the 1-1 draw with India in 2003/04? [[ Richard You are absolutely correct. I had to do some manual work combining the computer analysis and overlooked the two draws. Has since been corrected. However the 34 series and the points are correct. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhishek Mukherjee on October 7, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    A timeline? Like the earlier decade analysis for teams? Please? [[ Abhishek In the second part of course. Ananth: ]]

  • Samir Gupta on October 7, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    This sounds about right. What is surprising for me though is the tiny difference between Pakistan and India. Intuitively, I would have suspected a much larger difference. Could this be due to the relative upsurge in Indian performances and decline in Pakistani performances over the last decade (when the frequency of matches has also gone up). At the risk of being too greedy, it would be interesting to do this analysis for periods like 1877-1949, 1950 - 1969, 1970- 1989 and 1990 - till date. [[ Samir You have got it right. India has narrowed the gap over the past 8-10 years. No problems with your suggestions. Will try and accommodate. Ananth: ]]

  • jay on October 7, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Gr8 one Ananth, once again. This may seem arbitratory, but u have worked really very hard on it. cheers!!!

  • Murali on October 7, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Can you include the number of home series and away series that each team has played? [[ Murali Will be done in the secod article. Ananth: ]]

  • emran_xaman on October 7, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    That actually surprises me.. I never thought it before that Pakistan can be rated as a better Test team than India..wow... [[ Emran Barring the last few years Pakistan has always been ahead of India, with their more balanced attacks and strong pacers. Even now I feel they have the players to be right at the top. Ananth: ]]

  • Bhagyesh on October 7, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    I would like to see if there is any connection between your analysis and ICC Test Ranking since both are based on Series. Though no arguing the fact that you are the best statistician. [[ Bhagyesh ICC's ranking is based on individual tests and also only for the past 5-10 years. Ananth: ]]

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  • Bhagyesh on October 7, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    I would like to see if there is any connection between your analysis and ICC Test Ranking since both are based on Series. Though no arguing the fact that you are the best statistician. [[ Bhagyesh ICC's ranking is based on individual tests and also only for the past 5-10 years. Ananth: ]]

  • emran_xaman on October 7, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    That actually surprises me.. I never thought it before that Pakistan can be rated as a better Test team than India..wow... [[ Emran Barring the last few years Pakistan has always been ahead of India, with their more balanced attacks and strong pacers. Even now I feel they have the players to be right at the top. Ananth: ]]

  • Murali on October 7, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Can you include the number of home series and away series that each team has played? [[ Murali Will be done in the secod article. Ananth: ]]

  • jay on October 7, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Gr8 one Ananth, once again. This may seem arbitratory, but u have worked really very hard on it. cheers!!!

  • Samir Gupta on October 7, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    This sounds about right. What is surprising for me though is the tiny difference between Pakistan and India. Intuitively, I would have suspected a much larger difference. Could this be due to the relative upsurge in Indian performances and decline in Pakistani performances over the last decade (when the frequency of matches has also gone up). At the risk of being too greedy, it would be interesting to do this analysis for periods like 1877-1949, 1950 - 1969, 1970- 1989 and 1990 - till date. [[ Samir You have got it right. India has narrowed the gap over the past 8-10 years. No problems with your suggestions. Will try and accommodate. Ananth: ]]

  • Abhishek Mukherjee on October 7, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    A timeline? Like the earlier decade analysis for teams? Please? [[ Abhishek In the second part of course. Ananth: ]]

  • Richard Mackey on October 7, 2010, 13:53 GMT

    Ananth,

    You say that "Australia lost to Sri Lanka 0-1 during 1999 away. Then, during the next 9 years, Australia went on to play 34 series, 13 away, and had 32 wins and 2 losses".

    What about the 0-0 draw with New Zealand in 2001/02? Or the 1-1 draw with India in 2003/04? [[ Richard You are absolutely correct. I had to do some manual work combining the computer analysis and overlooked the two draws. Has since been corrected. However the 34 series and the points are correct. Ananth: ]]

  • AN on October 7, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    No surprises here; nice to note that my "back of a scrap-book" list based on general historical knowledge, matches up with one kind of quantitative analysis. Any reasonable and logical statistical change would still generate the same results/ordering of teams. The disturbing trend for world cricket is that both WI and Pakistan have organizational problems and are in danger of slipping further in the future unless some change occurs quickly. Having just 5 competitive teams is a danger to the game itself.

  • Andy Church on October 7, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Very nice workings, Anantha. I am just surprised that your allocations are all based on linear assumptions. IMHO, this is definitely a limitation of validity, however it does eliminate somewhat the element of subjectivity. I suspect non-linear allocations would simply change the margins of dominance. [[ Andy Even on a linear basis the complexity is very high. I made a mistake, pointed out by Richard. Any more complex, even verification of tables would become tough. Ananth: ]]

  • pakpas_net on October 7, 2010, 18:09 GMT

    *******************************************************. [[ I have published this comment as blank since it contains some highly objectionable statements that I am pro-Pakistan and the analysis is uselss because of this. I could have just deleted the comment. Then there are people waiting to say that I do not publish negative comments. So I will not give this person the satisfaction of seeing his comment on print. Just because my analysis values Pakistan at 2.73, ahead of India at 2.55, this comment comes in. If the numbers had been reversed, this would have become a great analysis. This is the type of thinking which exists with some Indian cricket followers, thankfully the minority. Ananth: ]]