England v South Africa 2012 July 17, 2012

The Dale Steyn world ranking method

In which a South African fast bowler determines which team is top dog
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With one bad omen after another, South Africa’s tour has been like the opening scenes of a horror film. They arrive in a dingy, obscure European country where the skies are always heavy and sinister and where the rain falls constantly. Their reliable and much-loved old wicketkeeper suffers a horrible accident and then, without even bowling a ball, they hear they’ve dropped down the Test ranking table. All that’s missing is Bob Willis banging out some sinister organ music on his pipes of doom. Welcome to England.

As any horror-film aficionado knows, what is needed in these circumstances is to keep your head down; don’t, whatever you do, split up to try to find the way home; and never say anything that could be construed as tempting fate. But Dale clearly hasn’t read the script.

“We’re the No. 1 team. We’ve got all the players, we cover all bases, so is there something wrong with me thinking we’re the best team in the world?”

Not at all, it’s a free country, Dale. If you want to believe you’re the Queen Mother or the reincarnation of Pegasus, knock yourself out. But please, think of the cricket gods. Remember what happened when Glenn McGrath predicted that Australia would thrash England? Well, yes, admittedly nothing happened the first seven or eight times, but eventually he pushed the gods too far.

Still, I can see why Dale might be a touch aggrieved at the ranking system. England were pants in Dubai and semi-pants in Sri Lanka, and they haven’t beaten South Africa since 2005.

But it isn’t easy to come up with a ranking method, given the eccentricities of the FTP. It’s like being asked to work out whether apples, pears or aubergines are the best, to two decimal places. A Test championship might solve things but there seems as much chance of me dueting with Lady Gaga on Mars as there is of the ICC getting that show on the road.

So naturally cricketers are going to come up with their own alternatives, such as Dale’s system, which is refreshingly straightforward. How does it work, Dale?

“We’re No. 1 in my mind.”

No. 1 in Dale’s mind. Why not? It saves an awful lot of messing about with spreadsheets. Every month, the ICC just gives him a call and asks him who he thinks is best.

So South Africa have the best players and are the best team in the world. But what about the upcoming series, Dale, any predictions?

“It doesn’t need to be pretty. It doesn’t need to be beautiful. We just want to get the job done.”

Coincidentally that’s also the motto of the Bolshoi ballet. My own prediction is that it’ll be damp, ugly and nigglier than an Argyle sweater full of fleas. There’ll be name-calling, DRS shenanigans, accusations about low standards of catering, a lunchtime standoff on a point of obscure cricket law, and a Twitter storm every Tuesday. The usual, in other words.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ck marais on August 21, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    when SA left for England there was never any doubt that they are better than England Humble pie!!!!

  • Leon on July 23, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    You may now start eating every single word sir

  • vineet on July 21, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Steyn you definitely have every right to believe that your team is the best with the quality of players you have and you yourself are and the consistency your team has shown for the last 10 years. Cant remember any other team now that is so consistent particularly outside there home.

  • ARVIND on July 18, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    JOn r

    some of your information is incorrect. when india was no 1 they didnt lose a series in almost 3 years. abroad they beat wi in wi, nz in nz, drew in sa and sl. you said they lost 2 in sa. they didnt. it was 1-1. at home they beat aus twice (2-0 both times) drew with sa 1-1 beat eng 1-0 beat sl 2-0. after the world cup yes they lost 4-0 to both eng and aus and lost their no 1 ranking deservedly. but between 2008-2011 they didnt do much wrong. the only side which did as well or better in that period was sa who won away series in eng,aus,pak,wi and nz. and drew in ind. at home they didnt dominate but didnt lose a series cept to aus in 2008

  • pramod on July 18, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Currently SA is the best team to compete(or dominate) in all conditions(for many years now). England, Australia, India, SL. Pakistan(in UAE) are all dominant in home conditions but it's not the case in away conditions. Lol... but SA is not as dominant in home conditions as abv mentioned teams. The era of dominance all over the world is long gone and may never be replicated again.

  • David on July 18, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    Andy, your wit has failed to prise even a grin from the awfully serious Colin Clarke, who I'm sure is a jolly nice chap, but just a bit clueless. Could you perhaps point out to him that we have not quite nabbed all the best Saffer players - not according to those boring stats touted by David Kendix, that is. Apparently 4 of the top 10 current batsmen are, well, Saffers that play for SA, and the Saffers who play for mighty Albion are lolling about at numbers 16, 17, 26 and 27. Bit of a rum record there,eh, Colin old chap? Another wee point for Colin to ponder is this: as far uni-dimensional & unimaginative plans, what's the ECB's plan B for scoring test runs? Is it, as dear old Colin might be wont to chuckle, "nab some more Saffers & another Saffer coach!" Is "need a keeper, nab a Saffer" plan C. Well, when the IPL wants to nab our Saffers, (a greedy lot,) could dear old blighty not come a serious cropper? Don't we have the intelligence to try something different? Eh, Colin old boy?

  • m4uptj on July 18, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    For a player like STEYN who has established himself in highest level & widely regarded as one of the best bowlers, got every right to say what he think & believe. Atleast he is not a hypocrite! England are a good team. But that doesn't mean anyone else should not think their team is better & got the ability to go the distance.. Thumbs Up for DALE!!! Looking forward to exciting test series...

  • Gareth on July 18, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    I'm more interested in the excuses George Dobell will make once SA thrash the poms. Oh this will be good.

  • Arvind on July 18, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    tho i feel england will beat sa in this series, sa do have a greater claim to the no 1 spot than england in the last 4 years.

    since 2007 - they have beaten aus in aus, eng in eng, pak in pak, nz in nz, wi in wi. drawn with ind in ind twice (which no one does, aus have lost 5 of their last 7 tests there and 2 draws, no wins) . their problem is at home, tho they havent lost a series cept to aus (2-1)in 2008, they have drawn several. 1-1 against ind, eng (tho eng were saved by the last man and rain twice) aus (recently) . they beat sl 2-1 recently. their home record isn't excellent like say india but sa also has the toughest batting conditions so their batsmen dont have it easy in home conditions. most of them have better away records.

    england are still pathetic on the subcontinent. 3-0 loss to an ordinary pakistan batting lineup. everyone criticizes india for being no 1 and losing 4-0 to england. this is equally bad. sa (and aus) are the only 2 teams that do consistently well abroad.

  • Udendra on July 18, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    SA definitely would have been the best test team in the world. Why, almost half of the England team were born in SA afterall!

  • ck marais on August 21, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    when SA left for England there was never any doubt that they are better than England Humble pie!!!!

  • Leon on July 23, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    You may now start eating every single word sir

  • vineet on July 21, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Steyn you definitely have every right to believe that your team is the best with the quality of players you have and you yourself are and the consistency your team has shown for the last 10 years. Cant remember any other team now that is so consistent particularly outside there home.

  • ARVIND on July 18, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    JOn r

    some of your information is incorrect. when india was no 1 they didnt lose a series in almost 3 years. abroad they beat wi in wi, nz in nz, drew in sa and sl. you said they lost 2 in sa. they didnt. it was 1-1. at home they beat aus twice (2-0 both times) drew with sa 1-1 beat eng 1-0 beat sl 2-0. after the world cup yes they lost 4-0 to both eng and aus and lost their no 1 ranking deservedly. but between 2008-2011 they didnt do much wrong. the only side which did as well or better in that period was sa who won away series in eng,aus,pak,wi and nz. and drew in ind. at home they didnt dominate but didnt lose a series cept to aus in 2008

  • pramod on July 18, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Currently SA is the best team to compete(or dominate) in all conditions(for many years now). England, Australia, India, SL. Pakistan(in UAE) are all dominant in home conditions but it's not the case in away conditions. Lol... but SA is not as dominant in home conditions as abv mentioned teams. The era of dominance all over the world is long gone and may never be replicated again.

  • David on July 18, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    Andy, your wit has failed to prise even a grin from the awfully serious Colin Clarke, who I'm sure is a jolly nice chap, but just a bit clueless. Could you perhaps point out to him that we have not quite nabbed all the best Saffer players - not according to those boring stats touted by David Kendix, that is. Apparently 4 of the top 10 current batsmen are, well, Saffers that play for SA, and the Saffers who play for mighty Albion are lolling about at numbers 16, 17, 26 and 27. Bit of a rum record there,eh, Colin old chap? Another wee point for Colin to ponder is this: as far uni-dimensional & unimaginative plans, what's the ECB's plan B for scoring test runs? Is it, as dear old Colin might be wont to chuckle, "nab some more Saffers & another Saffer coach!" Is "need a keeper, nab a Saffer" plan C. Well, when the IPL wants to nab our Saffers, (a greedy lot,) could dear old blighty not come a serious cropper? Don't we have the intelligence to try something different? Eh, Colin old boy?

  • m4uptj on July 18, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    For a player like STEYN who has established himself in highest level & widely regarded as one of the best bowlers, got every right to say what he think & believe. Atleast he is not a hypocrite! England are a good team. But that doesn't mean anyone else should not think their team is better & got the ability to go the distance.. Thumbs Up for DALE!!! Looking forward to exciting test series...

  • Gareth on July 18, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    I'm more interested in the excuses George Dobell will make once SA thrash the poms. Oh this will be good.

  • Arvind on July 18, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    tho i feel england will beat sa in this series, sa do have a greater claim to the no 1 spot than england in the last 4 years.

    since 2007 - they have beaten aus in aus, eng in eng, pak in pak, nz in nz, wi in wi. drawn with ind in ind twice (which no one does, aus have lost 5 of their last 7 tests there and 2 draws, no wins) . their problem is at home, tho they havent lost a series cept to aus (2-1)in 2008, they have drawn several. 1-1 against ind, eng (tho eng were saved by the last man and rain twice) aus (recently) . they beat sl 2-1 recently. their home record isn't excellent like say india but sa also has the toughest batting conditions so their batsmen dont have it easy in home conditions. most of them have better away records.

    england are still pathetic on the subcontinent. 3-0 loss to an ordinary pakistan batting lineup. everyone criticizes india for being no 1 and losing 4-0 to england. this is equally bad. sa (and aus) are the only 2 teams that do consistently well abroad.

  • Udendra on July 18, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    SA definitely would have been the best test team in the world. Why, almost half of the England team were born in SA afterall!

  • Scobby LOC on July 18, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I am West Indian, and I am accustomed to seeing a batting collapse.Comparing England and S.A,if the top order fails for the English side,they will be routed,by the fierce S.Africans.On the other Hand, like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jacques Kallis can be a stubborn obstacle,who can build an innings around other players even if wickets are falling. The Ravi Bopars,and the can be at times,fragile middle order will have to prove their strength if the Cooks and Strauss and of course K.P crumble. If England want to go 1up,take the field at coin toss lads. I am rooting UNDERDOGS.

  • Nitin on July 18, 2012, 4:30 GMT

    Seems like Mr Hughes is clutching on to straws here with nothing much to write on. A pretty pathetic effort to take the mickey out of Steyn for no reason or rhyme.

  • landl47 on July 18, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    What Dale, or anyone else, says before the series doesn't matter all that much. What everyone says after the series is maybe a bit more significant. However, I can't help giggling at those who point out that it's only recently (the last 3 years, to be precise) that England has been a good side. Yes, that's right, this England side was definitely not the best side in, say, 1995. In fact, they are so poor that none of the current players was even playing then!

  • anoop on July 18, 2012, 3:09 GMT

    well its a joke that saf get down to icc ranking coz they are surely consistent all around world while eng are playing at their best at their backyard so my team to support is surely saf not jokers

  • Jem Lloyd on July 18, 2012, 0:59 GMT

    "... Bob Willis banging out some sinister organ music on his pipes of doom." LOL. As for the majority of the comments on here, grow up and get yourself a sense of humour! I'm English and I think SA have an awesome team which on paper is pretty evenly matched with England in every department. Those saying England don't deserve to be number because they've not won in the sub-continent really need to take some anti-stupid pills and lie down. Manchester City won the Premiership title this year but because they didn't win every single game, does that mean they don't deserve to be called the best team? As for England only doing well at home, people should check the records on cricinfo before writing such drivel. Especially when it's written by an Australian! Neither the England team (nor media) have ever claimed that they are the greatest ever - especially compared to the truly great WI and Aus teams of the past 3 decades. They are however an extremely good side - as are SA!

  • Geoffrey Plumridge on July 17, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    The team that South Africa brought to England in 2003 was a far superior side to the team they bring in 2012. And the England team of 2003 was very weak compared to the one that rightly has the number one title now. And yet that series was a draw. Engalnd will demolish South Africa this series, big headed Steyn or no. I wonder what the commentary on cricinfo will be like then?

  • magal007 on July 17, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    england have an all pace attack and normally prepare wickets that suit the like. South africa has the same! I don't expect swan or tahir to shine on this tour. This tour should be dubbed *battle of the pace-men*

    THE PITCHES IN ENGLAND ARE COLD AND SKIDDY. THEY NEED TO BE SPRINKLED WITH SALT, AND RISING AGENT THROWN IN!

  • Stuart on July 17, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    In England's last 10 home games they've won 7 and lost none. In South Africa's last ten home games they've won 5 and lost 3. SA have won 1 of their last 5 home series. I'd say it was far more important to be able to play in home conditions than in the subcontinent. As far as imports are concerned, the number in the England side is unfortunate, but the two English born members of the top 5 have been at the top of the English averages for the last two years, all the bowlers are English born, and Strauss and Prior moved to England at the ages of 6 and 11.

  • Grant on July 17, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    For a few precious days after England lost the 1st test to Sri Lanka, SA was technically ahead of England in the ICC rankings calculations. Only, by the time the official rankings were released, England had managed to draw that series and retain the top spot. SA has gone from 2nd place to 1st, back to 2nd and since then down further to 3rd, all without bowling a single ball or facing a single delivery. Any way you try to interpret the near meaningless rankings, an in-form SA is the only real challenge to England's supremacy.

  • Anshuman on July 17, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Didn't find the article funny.

  • Shawn on July 17, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Nice article - got me laughing :)

  • Rishabh on July 17, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    Hahaha......wonderfully tongue-in-cheek as always!

  • jas sohd on July 17, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    England is my team but SA is just a little better than us, but they have the worse luck in cricket.can't wait to see dale vs jimmy

  • jas sohd on July 17, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    England is my team but SA is just a little better than us, but they have the worse luck in cricket.can't wait to see dale vs jimmy

  • Wayne Hamilton on July 17, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    I anticipate a close contest. The South Africans have a tendency to freeze and I believe that it will work against them.England'c consistency will prevail. Test series of this magnitude should be played over five test matches.

  • ali bajan on July 17, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    what ever happened to the old method of ::

    "whoever has the most silverware in the closet" ...

    Test teams still play for challenge trophies ..

    Australia was the number 1 ranked team (according to the rankings) ... But for at least 5 years the WI managed to draw to keep the Frank Worrell Trophy ...

    until Steve Waugh won that trophy .. Australia did not "feel" they were the best in the world ..

  • Andrew Hughes on July 17, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    Thanks all for your comments

    Sav, I'm guilty on the first charge, but not on the second. I can admit to several dubious tendencies, but I'm glad to say that cheering on Strauss, Swann and chums is not one.

    For what it's worth, I think South Africa are the better team, but as long as we see a semblance of a contest this summer, I'll be happy.

  • Ambuj on July 17, 2012, 17:08 GMT

    nonsense by Dale Steyn

  • Pat on July 17, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    What happens if Dale turns schizophrenic? In whom do we place our trust?

  • Judge on July 17, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    Dale is right, the ranking system is not convincing. When is the last time SA lost a series? When is the last time England beat SA?

  • Gwinyai zhandire on July 17, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    He's right! Kp, trott couldn't make the Proteas XI, in england theyre Legends! And of al the english bats noone as good as AB, Kallis, Amla. Look out for Rudolph!

  • Antony on July 17, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    If you have 2 pairs of semi pants does that make a pair of underpants?

  • ish on July 17, 2012, 15:47 GMT

    This article is not about Dale Steyn or his 'ranking method'; it is a demonstration that Andrew Hughes is English and therefore wants England to be on top, despite the fact that he retains 'a healthy suspicion of professional sportsman'!! England ARE playing quintessentially PROFESSIONAL cricket these days but SA still have some NATURALLY TALENTED cricketers like AB, Steyn etc. Mr.Hughes, is this really you???

  • Atul on July 17, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    Andy, This article has flavour of supporting ICC ranking system. India was no1 sometime back for similar reasons England is today and perhap I heard same cry from all corners. Ranking system is most objective way of doing... well rankings, Everyone understands how it works and you are free to make work on your side. So if Dale want to get to number one perhaps they should bring wi and pakistan in sa and beat thm 5-0 if they can't too bad.

  • JP on July 17, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    Of course, South Africa can't be deemed the best in the World when they've only won 1 home series in the last 4 years. England are Number 1 and deservedly so.

  • Bogie55 on July 17, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    Comments board types are focusing on the rankings nonsense, but the really revealing comment is: “It doesn’t need to be pretty. It doesn’t need to be beautiful. We just want to get the job done.” There's something of this to the England side too - certainly in the top order - but the way Pietersen, Bell, Anderson and Swann play suggests a bit more focus on joy and showmanship. This is why I for one couldn't get behind the South Africans - they work really hard at being serious, pragmatic and unloveable.

  • Venkat on July 17, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    Everyone and Boycott's mother have a problem with the ranking system, when they're not No.1. Indians have a problem with it because Pakistan is ranked higher. SL has a problem with it because they never seem to move higher than No.6 regardless of how many series wins they have. The English were caught unawares when someone told them they were No.3 and then found out a new format of the game called ODI. Dale Steyn has a problem with anyone and everyone who's not Dale Steyn.

  • Varun on July 17, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    A rare mediocre piece from a great comedy writer. I guess everyone is allowed a day off.

  • JonR on July 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Firstly, to the poster who stated give SA ten home games they'd be top of the table, well, their last eight home games they lost or drew 50% (3 losses and one draw over the last two years) so my view would be let 'em play there!

    And this ongoing hypothesis about 'you have to win in the subcontinent if you want to be #1 in the world' is also extremely tired; let's look at how India (the last subcontinental team to have graced the #1 spot) fared away from home; they played ten games away whilst #1 Test side; winning their two against Bang, and drawing one and winning one against W.I so far, so easy peasy; lost one, won one and drew one against SL and lost two and won one in SA. Why aren't people telling subcontinental sides they need to be more consistent in the west?! I do take the point they MUST have won in the subcontinent though, so that rule must apply to them as well. Also... They didn't play Pakistan away, which may well have given lie to the whole thing...

  • Siddharth Sharma on July 17, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    Soon Dale will get unsolicited offers from various self proclaimed number one clubs and sub clubs to endorse them to ICC. The answers will flow like " Clubhoppers 11 is the best team in my mind"

  • Farrukh Aziz on July 17, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Nice one Andy!

    Though I love England's Cricket team, I have a feeling this will be SA's for the taking.

    Looking forward to some smashing battles!

  • Sav on July 17, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    Well its obvious that the writer of this article is British or has a tendancy to support them, In my opinion the players of South Africa cant even be compared to England, as England are an average team that performs ONLY in england. South African players are MUCH more talented, better fielders ,better batsmen, better BOWLERS. Also, half the english team are South African by decent and could not be selected by South Africa (due to lack of natural talent) so most are now playing for England. So Dale Steyn does has some thought behind his comments. Coming from somebody that does not support South Africa*

  • Shatru on July 17, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    Wow... we have a problem when Dale deviates from official ranking system, which all poms were deeming useless when team BCCI was at the helm! By the way writing in funny section doesn't help either.

  • Charl on July 17, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    I like Dale's system better! England will loose if the weather does not save them... Dale and co. will push themselves to their best, and England won't have any answers! 2 days and counting...

  • baba on July 17, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    Let Dale deliver

  • anees on July 17, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    obviously

  • Aidan on July 17, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Made me smile, nice article.

  • colin clarke on July 17, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    I'm sure Mr Steyn is a jolly nice chap. He is a fine bowler as well. However, he's also South African, and we've already nabbed all their best players, so I fear Mr Smith and his chaps are going to come a cropper. Their biggest problem is that they've always been an extremly two dimensional and unimaginative side, and if plan A doesn't work, they don't seem to have the intelligence to try something different.

  • Usman on July 17, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    'Remember what happened when Glenn McGrath predicted that Australia would thrash England?' Nice article but the fact of the matter is that this is the first time in history that England are managing to win consistently for a significant period of time. England did win the ashes that summer in 2005, but only just. And do you remember what happened that very next ashes? Yes that's right it was a 5-0 shut out for Australia. England have never won convincingly it's only now that they are showing a fraction of the dominance Australia had for so long. And in order to be no.1 they have to win in the subcontinent...the so-called kp's and bells and what not didn't have a clue against world class spin bowling.No doubt this will be a tight series with S.A. and I see them giving English batsmen a very hard time.

  • Matt on July 17, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Had it not rained in New Zealand SA would surely have overtaken us as the number one team. Our press keep plying this mantra that we have the best bowling attack in world cricket and yes we have a good team, probably the best in my lifetime but Steyn, Morkel and Philander with Kallis as back up are for me the best attack around. At best we will get a draw, otherwise its an SA victory.

  • al_cric on July 17, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    well, i think steyns got a point

  • rory on July 17, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    HaHa, Brilliiant understated British humour. Love it. Not much of substance to it, but really funny.

  • Boozyy on July 17, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Nothing like the burning smell of sweet English ass.

  • Lakshita Gunatillaka on July 17, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Andrew, yes this is a clever little piece for your column, but the reason I think this is funny is that Steyn's sentiment has just been thoroughly debated by a few people down here in Australia. A few Indians, Sri Lankans and Aussies managed to finally agree on something cricket related...that South Africa are actually, probably, maybe the best test team in the world at the moment. England winning 10 tests at home, against the might of the Windies and the ever reliable Pakistan? Probably not the best basis for a number one ranking system...give any team 10 consecutive home tests (even my unreliable Lankans) and they'll come up with the goods more often than not. Steyn has a point to prove this series...mine!

  • jeooa on July 17, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Dale is by far the best bowler in the world. South Africa is regarded by many as the best team in the world.

    Dale has a right to make such comments and its justified by both his and the teams recent performances. What England seems to forget is that only recently England has been playing good cricket. Where as for a long time they were considerd to be the joke on international cricket. South Africa has ALWAYS been near the top and always plays good cricket.

    England outside of England are average at best. Where as South Africa are always up there beating/competing with ALL teams

  • Jesse on July 17, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    Dale is by far the best bowler in the world. South Africa is regarded by many as the best team in the world.

    Dale has a right to make such comments and its justified by both his and the teams recent performances. What England seems to forget is that only recently England has been playing good cricket. Where as for a long time they were considerd to be the joke on international cricket. South Africa has ALWAYS been near the top and always plays good cricket.

    England outside of England are average at best. Where as South Africa are always up there beating/competing with ALL teams.

  • David on July 17, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    Would you have preferred it if he'd said "we're not the best in my mind"? Or maybe he should have said "England is the best in my mind"?

    If Dale had said anything other than "We're no. 1", I'd have been a worried supporter.

  • mohammad Ashraf on July 17, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Good, Mr. Huges you are awesome ,man ,so icc should now call ,every month , to Dale stayn ,in order to rank the countries , good job taken by dale called Da'e method ...

  • Athol Henwick on July 17, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    I enjoyed this Andrew. As a Saffa, I subscribe to the Dale Steyn method. In fact most of saffas do. When we lose, it is (honestly) always the umpiring, ref or some other factor.

    When we win it always to be expacted as our god given right. So, for example, our failure to win a world cup is down to a number of factors that have not previously been mentioned (and not, as is widely belived, that the team are chokers) 1. They keep using balls that our bowlers are not used to. 2. They keep coming up with systems for scoring in rain affacted matches that are too complicated. 3. It is too noisy in India. 4. It is too cold in England. 5. We get confused when we play English players who sound just like us when they speak. 6 And finally, the opposition batsmen keep hitting the balls we bowl at them without any regard for our reputations or above mentioned god given right.

    Hopefully this will put paid to the oversimplified chokers tag that we are constantly saddled with.

  • Sean on July 17, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    England have to be favourites. They are at home and used to a moving ball, both from a batting and bowling perspective. There is no better bowler in English conditions, than Anderson. And the rest of the pace attack arent too shabby, either. There is no better opening pair in the world than Cook and Strauss. There is no craftier spinner than Swan. Pietersen saves his best for SA and Australia and Trott will have something to prove. They bat well down to 9 or 10.

    SA's opening pair are untested and if Smith fails, the team does poorly. Too much will be asked of AB, so Smith, Kallis and Amla will have to carry the batting with the odd contribution from others. Morne is a bit soft. When SA need him to stand up, he falls over. Steyn will be brilliant, but he needs two other bowlers to pair with

  • Peter Jerome on July 17, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    England? No.1? Forgive me good Lord. They are plain lucky to be playing so many home series back to back. Drag them out of their cocoon and we all know what they do. Heart says S.A., but mind says AUS are the best bet for the No.1 spot. Best of Luck S.A. A little more fearlessness & you guys can surely trash England at home. Best of Luck. Come England, India is waiting for you.

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  • Peter Jerome on July 17, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    England? No.1? Forgive me good Lord. They are plain lucky to be playing so many home series back to back. Drag them out of their cocoon and we all know what they do. Heart says S.A., but mind says AUS are the best bet for the No.1 spot. Best of Luck S.A. A little more fearlessness & you guys can surely trash England at home. Best of Luck. Come England, India is waiting for you.

  • Sean on July 17, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    England have to be favourites. They are at home and used to a moving ball, both from a batting and bowling perspective. There is no better bowler in English conditions, than Anderson. And the rest of the pace attack arent too shabby, either. There is no better opening pair in the world than Cook and Strauss. There is no craftier spinner than Swan. Pietersen saves his best for SA and Australia and Trott will have something to prove. They bat well down to 9 or 10.

    SA's opening pair are untested and if Smith fails, the team does poorly. Too much will be asked of AB, so Smith, Kallis and Amla will have to carry the batting with the odd contribution from others. Morne is a bit soft. When SA need him to stand up, he falls over. Steyn will be brilliant, but he needs two other bowlers to pair with

  • Athol Henwick on July 17, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    I enjoyed this Andrew. As a Saffa, I subscribe to the Dale Steyn method. In fact most of saffas do. When we lose, it is (honestly) always the umpiring, ref or some other factor.

    When we win it always to be expacted as our god given right. So, for example, our failure to win a world cup is down to a number of factors that have not previously been mentioned (and not, as is widely belived, that the team are chokers) 1. They keep using balls that our bowlers are not used to. 2. They keep coming up with systems for scoring in rain affacted matches that are too complicated. 3. It is too noisy in India. 4. It is too cold in England. 5. We get confused when we play English players who sound just like us when they speak. 6 And finally, the opposition batsmen keep hitting the balls we bowl at them without any regard for our reputations or above mentioned god given right.

    Hopefully this will put paid to the oversimplified chokers tag that we are constantly saddled with.

  • mohammad Ashraf on July 17, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Good, Mr. Huges you are awesome ,man ,so icc should now call ,every month , to Dale stayn ,in order to rank the countries , good job taken by dale called Da'e method ...

  • David on July 17, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    Would you have preferred it if he'd said "we're not the best in my mind"? Or maybe he should have said "England is the best in my mind"?

    If Dale had said anything other than "We're no. 1", I'd have been a worried supporter.

  • Jesse on July 17, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    Dale is by far the best bowler in the world. South Africa is regarded by many as the best team in the world.

    Dale has a right to make such comments and its justified by both his and the teams recent performances. What England seems to forget is that only recently England has been playing good cricket. Where as for a long time they were considerd to be the joke on international cricket. South Africa has ALWAYS been near the top and always plays good cricket.

    England outside of England are average at best. Where as South Africa are always up there beating/competing with ALL teams.

  • jeooa on July 17, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Dale is by far the best bowler in the world. South Africa is regarded by many as the best team in the world.

    Dale has a right to make such comments and its justified by both his and the teams recent performances. What England seems to forget is that only recently England has been playing good cricket. Where as for a long time they were considerd to be the joke on international cricket. South Africa has ALWAYS been near the top and always plays good cricket.

    England outside of England are average at best. Where as South Africa are always up there beating/competing with ALL teams

  • Lakshita Gunatillaka on July 17, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Andrew, yes this is a clever little piece for your column, but the reason I think this is funny is that Steyn's sentiment has just been thoroughly debated by a few people down here in Australia. A few Indians, Sri Lankans and Aussies managed to finally agree on something cricket related...that South Africa are actually, probably, maybe the best test team in the world at the moment. England winning 10 tests at home, against the might of the Windies and the ever reliable Pakistan? Probably not the best basis for a number one ranking system...give any team 10 consecutive home tests (even my unreliable Lankans) and they'll come up with the goods more often than not. Steyn has a point to prove this series...mine!

  • Boozyy on July 17, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Nothing like the burning smell of sweet English ass.

  • rory on July 17, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    HaHa, Brilliiant understated British humour. Love it. Not much of substance to it, but really funny.