August 9, 2014

Peer analysis of Test teams: Part 1

A look at the best and the worst Test teams of different eras
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The Australian team of the early 2000s is possibly the strongest Test team of all time © Getty Images

I have tackled the peer analysis of players in various forms during the years. However, I have never done a peer analysis of players within a group, i.e. teams.

Since cricket is primarily a team game and the players are there to contribute their bit to help the team to achieve the desired results (at least let us think it is that way), the team peer analysis is overdue. This pair of articles will redress the lacuna.

My first thoughts were to do a single article covering all aspects of team peer analysis. Then I realised that the article would be too long and it would be difficult for readers to assimilate all the information. Hence I have split the analysis into two parts.

The first one will look into the team comparisons using players, batsmen and bowlers, as the basis. In the second, I will compare the team performances using the Team performance index (which is a contribution index developed jointly by Milind and me, and which was covered in detail in the article on Test series) and the results, tweaked with properly derived home-away weights.

To handle this analysis I have split the 137 years of Test cricket into nine periods, not necessary of equal duration, but logical and with a reasonably equal distribution of Tests.

The periods are 1877-1914 (Pre WW1), 1920-39 (WW1-WW2), 1946-59 (the post-war years), 1960-69, 1970-79, 1980-89, 1990-99, 2000-06 and finally the current period, 2007-14. This is as logical a split as I can possibly arrive at.

I am sure some readers will have good reasons for fixing 1952-64 or 1984-1997 or something similar as the periods and support such propositions with valid ideas. But let us all agree that this is a logical grouping and move on.

There are no cut-off levels, no minimum requirements, no restrictions of any other kind.

All the 2132 Tests, including the recent Ageas Bowl non-contest, are included.

The table below is a support table to help interpret the following ones.

It summarises the Tests played by each team in the stated time periods.

Each table entry indicates the total number of Tests played, the home Tests played and the away Tests played. For this purpose a neutral location is strictly taken as an away Test for both teams.

This is fair and does not invoke any assumptions. This is the reason why in some of the time periods, the home Test count is different to the away Test count.

During the first period, the three Tests played in England during 1912 between Australia and South Africa cause the 131-137 split. The next neutral Test was only played during the 1990-99 period.

Between 2000 and 2006 five neutral Tests were played, and during the past seven years, 15 more, mostly by Pakistan. Thus there are in total 24 neutral Tests.

We seem to have a problem during 2000-2005. The difference between the home and away Tests is odd, which is illogical.

This is because Test #1768, played between Australia and ICC XI, is accounted only once: as a home Test for Australia. This also explains why the totals in the last column are 4263 and 2155 and not 4264 and 2156.

Even this mundane table is an interesting one in that it is a kaleidoscope of Test cricket as it unfolded. The loss of a decade and half for the South Africans, the recent virtual disappearance of Zimbabwe, the wide disparity in home and away Tests for Pakistan during the last period, the fact that England play at home more than away barring the first period when they travelled to South Africa quite often, and so on.

Number of Tests played
1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014All Tests
All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A All-H-A
Australia105-57-4867-35-3275-35-4067-30-3783-44-3997-54-43108-56-5284-43-4181-40-41767-394-373
England123-48-75120-58-62115-64-51100-53-4795-47-48104-57-47107-57-5092-49-4394-52-42950-485-465
South Africa40-26-1450-28-2247-25-2231-15-164-4-066-36-3078-38-4070-36-34386-208-178
West Indies22-8-1457-24-3349-20-2963-34-2982-30-5281-41-4082-39-4362-30-32498-226-272
New Zealand14-8-638-16-2243-19-2441-21-2059-28-3181-40-4156-29-2762-30-32394-191-203
India7-3-457-30-2752-36-1664-34-3081-42-3969-30-3972-32-4079-37-42481-244-237
Pakistan29-15-1430-13-1746-14-3280-43-3776-34-4266-28-3853-4-49380-151-229
Sri Lanka29-12-1767-30-3771-39-3264-34-30231-115-116
Zimbabwe39-22-1744-22-2210-7-393-51-42
Bangladesh44-21-2339-22-1783-43-40
Total268-131-137280-140-140418-209-209372-186-186396-198-198532-266-266694-346-348689-340-349614-292-3224263-2108-2155

Now let us see the Batting tables.

Batting: All matches
Bat-All 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia24.62(103%)36.50(116%)34.30(118%)34.45(109%)31.77(97%)33.94(105%)35.26(114%)43.71(135%)37.31(109%)
England25.31(109%)36.33(120%)31.38(107%)36.13(117%)32.28(98%)29.87(90%)30.29(95%)34.23(102%)36.92(108%)
South Africa20.21(81%)27.99(83%)27.34(90%)33.01(103%)40.36(124%)33.72(108%)37.73(114%)39.90(117%)
West Indies24.39(73%)36.16(125%)34.96(110%)36.49(114%)35.00(109%)29.85(94%)29.74(87%)30.34(86%)
New Zealand25.55(77%)21.25(69%)24.14(72%)27.93(84%)30.01(91%)29.68(93%)32.94(98%)29.88(85%)
India22.95(70%)27.13(89%)29.50(90%)31.91(97%)34.41(107%)35.24(113%)36.22(109%)38.13(112%)
Pakistan25.50(84%)28.67(88%)34.88(108%)35.64(111%)30.93(98%)35.35(106%)30.62(88%)
Sri Lanka25.89(78%)30.71(97%)34.36(103%)38.91(114%)
Zimbabwe26.62(84%)26.44(77%)24.90(72%)
Bangladesh20.78(60%)26.52(75%)
Total24.2032.6929.9532.2232.6632.5431.5633.6134.59

This table covers all Tests. The batting measure is simple and straightforward. It is really the Runs per Wicket value (RpW) with all runs and all wickets included. Extras are runs for teams and run-outs are dismissals by the bowling teams. This table compares the RpW for the concerned team with the total RpW value for all teams, excluding the concerned team. A percentage value above 100 indicates that the team has done very well. A percentage value below 100 indicates that the team has performed worse. Values higher than around 120% are highlighted in blue. Values below 75% are highlighted in red.

Only four teams during the 137-year long Test scene have a peer RpW ratio of greater than 120%. These are given below.

- Australia 2000-06 (135%). No surprise. Considered by many to be the greatest team ever.
- West Indies 1946-59 (125%). A surprise. Possibly the presence of the W's and the young giant Sobers helped. Also a low sub-30 batting RpW value for the rest, with bowlers ruling the roost.
- South Africa 1970-79 (124%). But only in four home Tests. So this can be ignored for all practical purposes. Probably more relevant is South Africa during 2007-14. South Africa scored at 117% on a high base of 34.6.
- England 1920-39 (120%). A top batting line-up, led by Hammond.

Now for the poor performers: The red lined entries.

- Bangladesh 2000-06 had the worst ratio - 60%. They were lambs to the slaughter. They improved slightly and finished the next (and current) period at 72%. Overall they have a ratio of around 65%.
- New Zealand, during the first two post-war periods, were very poor. Their ratios were 69% and 72%. Subsequently they have improved and are around the 90% mark now. It must be conceded that their home pitches were totally bowling-friendly ones.
- West Indies had a ratio of 73% when they started.
- Similarly India had a poor ratio of 70% during their first few years, albeit over seven Tests only.
- During the last period, Zimbabwe has been at around the 72% mark, but over ten Tests.

Now let us move on to the home and away performances of the teams.

Batting: Home matches
Bat-Home 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia26.85(116%)34.78(103%)34.40(112%)38.15(119%)32.10(93%)33.98(99%)37.23(113%)48.84(141%)40.95(111%)
England25.49(104%)39.70(127%)34.59(115%)33.72(102%)33.64(99%)29.74(84%)31.92(94%)37.50(105%)39.53(106%)
South Africa19.57(74%)28.52(80%)25.12(78%)35.86(109%)40.36(120%)33.14(98%)39.40(110%)37.34(99%)
West Indies32.81(96%)40.34(134%)36.96(113%)36.98(111%)40.03(120%)31.86(94%)33.20(91%)30.41(79%)
New Zealand26.27(76%)17.69(54%)23.74(69%) 27.30(79%)33.47(98%)32.50(96%)31.66(87%)34.82(92%)
India22.58(66%) 31.85(102%)31.25(93%)32.52(95%)36.55(108%)39.02(118%)36.12(100%)45.33(124%)
Pakistan24.85(78%)31.93(96%)46.90(142%)39.44(118%)33.08(98%)39.80(111%)47.59(127%)
Sri Lanka25.70(74%) 34.88(104%)39.52(111%)41.49(112%)
Zimbabwe29.10(86%)27.35(74%) 29.95(79%)
Bangladesh21.56(58%) 28.72(75%)
Total24.8034.0631.3033.1833.8534.1333.6536.1137.60

England 1920-29 (Wally Hammond), West Indies 1946-59, Australia 2000-06, Pakistan 1970-79 (Javed Miandad/Zaheer Abbas) and Pakistan in the few Tests played recently were the teams that exceeded 125% at home. Pakistan were way off on the bowling front, however.

New Zealand in the fifties and sixties, India in their initial matches, Sri Lanka in their first few matches, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in 2000-06 went below 75%.

Batting: Away matches
Bat-Away 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia21.70(88%)38.92(131%)34.21(124%)31.22(100%)31.38(99%)33.89(111%)33.24(115%)39.08(128%)34.26(107%)
England25.21(117%)33.94(116%)28.12(97%)39.11(134%)31.05(98%)30.03(96%)28.44(95%)30.96(98%)33.94(106%)
South Africa21.40(90%)27.25(85%)29.74(104%)30.33(97%)34.47(118%)36.36(118%)42.56(136%)
West Indies20.13(61%)33.17(119%)33.72(110%)35.94(117%)32.50(106%)27.97(94%)26.99(84%)30.28(93%)
New Zealand24.78(78%)23.88(81%)24.46(75%)28.55(90%)27.43(87%)27.17(91%)34.29(110%)25.99(79%)
India23.24(73%) 22.87(77%)26.24(82%)31.26(99%)32.35(105%)32.61(111%)36.30(118%)33.25(104%)
Pakistan26.14(90%)26.59(84%)30.87(98%)31.84(103%)29.45(99%)32.18(103%)29.78(91%)
Sri Lanka26.01(83%)28.01(94%)29.26(93%)36.66(115%)
Zimbabwe23.77(79%)25.53(80%)13.80(42%)
Bangladesh20.07(62%)23.87(73%)
Total23.6231.4028.7131.2731.5331.0529.6331.4032.21

For these tables I will only highlight the exceptions. First the blue-lined teams.

Australia 1920-39 (Bradman in England!), Australia 2000-06 and South Africa 2007-2014 were the three teams that exceeded 125% in away matches.

Bangladesh 2000-06 and 2007-14 and New Zealand 1920-39 went below 75% away.

Bowling: All matches
Bow-All 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia25.35(108%)30.90(93%)25.18(81%)32.40(101%)31.40(95%)33.61(104%)27.97(87%)27.35(79%)31.40(89%)
England22.09(85%)30.74(90%)27.53(89%)30.68(94%)29.39(87%)36.09(114%)35.03(113%)33.37(99%)32.64(94%)
South Africa28.34(120%)37.06(116%)32.19(108%)30.55(94%)22.19(68%)26.95(84%)32.11(95%)29.53(83%)
West Indies34.74(107%)30.74(103%)32.38(101%)34.51(107%)25.71(75%)29.24(92%)36.75(111%)38.11(111%)
New Zealand44.79(139%)38.44(131%)32.28(100%)39.24(123%)30.50(93%)35.39(114%)33.66(100%)35.16(102%)
India39.14(120%)36.77(127%)33.75(105%)33.49(103%)36.51(114%)33.84(108%)35.02(105%)36.51(106%)
Pakistan30.10(101%)37.01(116%)34.58(107%)31.26(95%)29.13(91%)33.24(99%)33.62(97%)
Sri Lanka39.33(122%)35.40(113%)29.00(85%)36.55(106%)
Zimbabwe35.34(113%)42.84(129%)32.63(94%)
Bangladesh51.74(158%)49.50(146%)
Total24.2032.6929.9532.2232.6632.5431.5633.5934.59

I have used the same formula to derive the ratio for bowling. The reason for this will be seen later. This method also maintains consistency. This means that the high values indicate a weaker bowling side and the lower values indicate bowling strength. The colour tagging is reversed so that the blue continues to represent great bowling sides.

Let us now see the outliers. First the high-flying bowling sides. Let us not forget that these are figures for all matches: home and away combined.

- West Indies 1980-89 (75%). Why gild the lily? Unarguably the greatest bowling attack ever. Colin Croft could not find a regular place. That single statement explains everything.
- Australia 2000-06 (79%) was an outstanding bowling side. Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie formed potent bowling attacks everywhere.
- South Africa 1970-79 (68%). But only in four home Tests. So this can be ignored for all practical purposes. Probably more relevant is South Africa during 2007-14, bowling at 83%. Also South Africa during 1990-99, during which period they bowled at 84%.
- Australia 1946-59 (81%). Spearheaded by Ray Lindwall, and having Keith Miller, Bill Johnston and an emerging Richie Benaud, this was a wonderful attack everywhere.

There are only two really poor bowling sides.

- Bangladesh 2000-06 had the worst ratio of 158%. They were there waiting to be taken apart. They improved slightly and finished the next (and current) period at 146%. Overall, they have a very poor ratio of around 150%.
- New Zealand, during the first two post-war periods, were very poor. Their ratios were 139% and 131%. Subsequent improvements have lifted them to the present 100% mark.
- India, during the fifties at 127%, and Zimbabwe, during the first half of the 2000s at 129%, were quite sub-par.

Bowling: Home matches
Bow-Home 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia25.40(116%)29.18(90%)24.71(83%)34.17(111%)30.02(94%)31.90(104%)26.05(86%)27.36(85%)29.18(89%)
England19.67(77%) 29.76(91%)25.13(82%)27.18(82%)29.57(92%)35.11(117%)35.87(126%)31.62(101%)30.42(93%)
South Africa26.05(114%)35.67(117%)31.41(111%)30.87(99%)22.19(70%) 25.38(84%)28.20(88%)26.71(81%)
West Indies29.79(95%)35.53(128%)32.78(105%)35.77(117%)25.99(82%)27.71(93%)34.57(111%)34.00(106%)
New Zealand46.06(149%)34.94(123%)32.80(105%)37.08(120%)28.39(91%)34.17(118%)31.25(99%)33.62(105%)
India37.10(119%)36.01(130%)33.26(108%)29.17(91%)33.50(109%)26.48(89%)33.35(107%)33.25(104%)
Pakistan23.28(80%) 33.06(106%)35.40(113%)28.66(91%)27.41(92%)32.32(103%)52.26(163%)
Sri Lanka30.87(99%)32.25(110%)26.27(82%) 30.66(95%)
Zimbabwe33.19(113%)40.40(130%)29.95(93%)
Bangladesh45.26(147%)52.59(169%)
Total23.4731.4028.7131.2731.5331.0529.6031.4432.18

Australia 2000-06 and 1946-59 were outstanding at home. South Africa had three periods of glory, including the most recent one. West Indies, during the eighties, were invincible at home as a bowling unit. England and Pakistan, during their respective first periods, and Sri Lanka, during the first few years of the millennium, were very potent at home in the bowling department.

New Zealand, after the war, and Bangladesh, in their first 14 years, have been quite poor bowling teams, even at home.

A brief explanation on Pakistan's outrageous 163% in their last four home Tests. Unfortunately their bowlers were bush-whacked by Sri Lankan and South African batsmen to the tune of 450, 305 for 4, 644 for 7 and 606. However, Pakistan also responded well.

Bowling: Away matches
Bow-Away) 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014
Australia25.28(102%)33.15(97%)25.62(78%)30.93(92%)33.17(98%)36.28(107%)30.29(88%)27.33(73%) 33.80(90%)
England23.52(87%)31.57(86%)31.01(99%)35.00(107%)29.22(82%) 37.34(111%)34.09(102%)35.58(99%)35.75(96%)
South Africa32.94(137%)39.11(117%)33.05(106%)30.26(90%)28.91(85%)36.29(101%)33.07(88%)
West Indies39.29(117%)27.40(85%)32.12(96%)33.10(97%)25.56(69%) 30.83(91%)38.90(110%)43.12(118%)
New Zealand43.17(128%)41.02(134%)31.88(96%)41.71(126%)32.31(94%)36.73(110%)36.49(102%)36.87(100%)
India40.91(121%)37.75(124%)34.79(105%)39.06(118%)39.99(120%)40.68(124%)36.45(102%)39.77(108%)
Pakistan39.84(129%)40.78(125%)34.21(101%)34.61(102%)30.52(89%)33.96(94%)32.39(85%)
Sri Lanka46.52(139%)38.30(115%)32.79(91%)45.46(125%)
Zimbabwe38.64(116%)45.55(129%)45.96(124%)
Bangladesh59.76(171%)45.55(124%)
Total24.9134.0631.3033.1833.8534.1333.6535.8837.08

West Indies 1980-89, Australia 2000-06 and England 1970-79 were outstanding in away matches. West Indies, with a figure of 69% in away matches, should surely be classified as the best bowling side.

Quite a few teams have been powerless away. South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, when they started, have all been toothless tigers away from home.

Differential Index: Without creating another table and adding to the profusion of tables, I created an interesting combination value. I subtracted the bowling ratio from the batting ratio for all matches and the resulting differential ratio is an indicator of the overall strength of the teams. A positive number indicates a strong side and a negative number a weaker side. First, let us look at teams that had the combined ratio greater than 30%.

Only one team, for all practical purposes, had both ratios in blue. This also indicates that it is not easy to do this. Australia 2000-06 had a combined ratio of +56% (141%-72%). This single factor indicates that this was the strongest team of all times. They had no weakness, other than the odd loss to India.
One other team, South Africa 1970-79, had blue in both leading to a combined ratio of +56% (124%-68%). But this has to be discounted because South Africa played four home matches during this period. But this gives us an idea of the potential greatness of this wonderful team unfortunately destined to lose the next 18 years through their own abhorrent policies.
Australia 1946-59 had a combined ratio of +37% (118%-81%) and could be considered to be the second-best team of all time. Their batting was very good and bowling was equally good.
West Indies 1980-89 had a combined ratio of +34% (109%-75%) and could also lay claim to being the second-best team of all time. Their batting was good, but not great. Their bowling was outstanding. My gut feeling is that they would finish with better results record than the two Australian teams.
South Africa 2007-14 had a combined ratio of +34% (117%-83%). Their batting was very good and bowling was equally good.

The best home differential is for Australia 2000-06 with 56% (141%-85%). The best away differential is for Australia 2000-06 with 55% (128%-73%). They have been equally devastating, home and away.

I have done a visual comparison for these numbers. If any reader locates any other team with the difference greater than 30% please bring it to our notice.

Only two teams qualify for the plastic spoon (wood is expensive nowadays). Bangladesh 2000-06 had an abysmal difference of -98% (60%-158%) and Bangladesh 2006-14 had a slightly better number of -71% (75%-146%). New Zealand 1920-39 and 1946-59 had low difference ratio of -62%.

The worst home differential is for Bangladesh 2000-06 with -89% (58%-147%) and the worst away differential is for Bangladesh 2000-06 with -109% (62%-171%). No further statements are needed.

There is no doubt that Australia 2000-06 is the best team ever. However let me reserve judgement on this until we have a look at the next part, which is more team-oriented and will cover performance and results. It is possible that West Indies 1980-89 may have a say there.

One interim conclusion, pending a final one after the second part, is that both Bangladesh 2000-14 and New Zealand 1920-59 have been poor teams. The only difference seems to be that New Zealand came out of this because they were overall very professional and the future stars at that time, Martin Crowe, Richard Hadlee and Glenn Turner, and Stephen Fleming, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori, later, were great role models and team players. The best player of Bangladesh is a prima donna with easy T20 league money as the lure, and is poorly handled by BCB. The future seems dicey. What are the odds on Shakib Al Hasan doing a Ryan ten Doeschate?

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

  • on August 18, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Anantha, I'd really like for you to do an analysis of the best pace bowlers of all time. I did a partial analysis using the following criteria: Test >40, Wickets >200, Average <26, Strike rate <58. It narrowed it down to 17 pace bowlers: Ambrose, Donald, Garner, Hadlee, Holding, Imran Khan, Lillee, Marshall, McGrath, Pollock, Roberts, Steyn, Trueman, Walsh, Wasim, Bob Willis, Younis. I did a ranking system from 1-17 for: WpI (wicket per innings), WpM (wicket per match), average, strike rate and economy for each bowler. I looked at the average ranking with and without economy as a factor. With economy factor the overall ranking I got was: 1. Marshall, 2. Hadlee, 3. Steyn, 3. Garner, 5. Trueman, 6. Donald, 7. McGrath, 8. Lillee, 9. Ambrose, 10. Imran Khan, 11. Younis, 12. Wasim, 13. Holding, 14. Pollock, 15. Roberts, 15. Walsh, 17. Willis. Without the economy factor, the overall ranking order changed slightly. What didn't change was who were in the top 6 or bottom 6. Looking forward!
    [[
    Will look at that but I have done some bowler analysis earlier. It was for all bowlers and Murali came on top. My feeling is that with 25% of Steyn's career ahead of us, maybe we should wait for some time.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Nayan-Jyoti on August 12, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    @Ananth Sir, I think there is a small mistake in the article. After the last table which is for Bowling : Away Matches, look at the 3rd sentence of the 4th paragraph which is "Australia 2000-06 had a combined ratio of +56% (141%-72%)". But 141-72 equals 69, not 56. Actually you have written the differential index for Australia in 2000-06 correctly which is +56. But you miswrote "141%-72%". It should have been Batting in all matches minus Bowling in all matches which would give "135%-79%=+56". But you wrote Batting in home matches minus Bowling in away matches. Am I right or am I missing something. Sorry if I am wrong.
    [[
    Nayan,
    Antony Purcell has already raised this matter and I have replied to him.
    Australian net should read +56% (135%-79%). The final difference was correct but the component numbers were not. Thanks for being so alert.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 12, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Excellent analysis. Gives a relative strength of each team compared to their own levels. In general batting averages are on the increase, going on to prove that batting is evolving (increase of academies, protective gears, analytical techniques, support staff, commercialization - not necessarily flat pitches - contribute to relatively declining bowling averages). I somehow don't really agree that India was next best to Australia during their peak. India didn't really win a series outside subcontinent against a top - 5 opposition till 2007 (Eng- till date their only win against a top-5 opponent across generations). Won in 00-01 (a see-saw series, won in Chennai cliffhanger). In Oz, they couldn't beat a 2nd string team. They lost in 2004 at home. Indians weren't really dominating, despite the presence of their thespians, due to inconsistent bowling. But still, it was also the best "away" years for India. Australia, by far, was the superior team, SAF weren't far behind though.
    [[
    Your second point will be clearly proved in Part-2. Do not forget Sri Lanka during this period.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Nayan-Jyoti on August 12, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    @Ananth Sir, After going through this article, the current state of Indian test team hurts me more. During 2000-2006 when Aus were in rampage, it was India who took the fight to them. India ended Aus's unbeaten streak of 16 matches twice. Many say that India's current poor show away is not surprising as India were always poor away from home. But actulally from 2001 to 2010, India were very good in foreign soil. They won matches in every country. Even when they lost there was fight. I think there are many reasons for current poor show. 1) Current Indian batsmen are nowhere near the past greats. Many compared Pujara to Dravid and Kohli to Sachin. Rahane is better than Kohli and Pujara 2) Dhoni the poor defensive test captain. Ganguly was best captain for India. He was aggressive. 3) Poor slip catching & poor keeping. Have you ever seen Dhoni diving for a catch? 4) Dhoni's fixation with Jadeja. 5) Attitude of the current players. Sorry for the long post. I am just frustrated with India.
    [[
    All your points are valid. And compunded by the hegemony and intransigent attitude of BCCI. I am not talking of a single instance. I know that all umpiring decisions even out over a period. But in this match if DRS had been in place, Pujara might have got a reprieve, India might have finished at 150 for 5 and finished with a (wholly undeserving) draw.
    Anyhow Kohli and Pujara have got years to go before they can be mentioned in the same sentence as Tendulkar and Dravid. At least Rahane is not out of place when we say that he is a Laxman in the making. If these three guys do half of what the wonderful trio achieved, they would be very good Test players. But not if they are hyped n levels. And what Kumble achieved overseas, even during his lean years, seems plenty more, compared to what Ashwin can do. And the less one says about Jadeja, the better.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 12, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    I kinda don't understand how South Africa doesn't get enough credit given the fact they are the current #1 side and have been near that mark for a while now. Good article. [[ They might be no.1. But that is the ICC ranking which does not always do it correctly. Some of the earlier no.1s have been surprising. What we mean is that South Africa's limited over failings seem to cast a shadow on their Test performances. Home/Away results have to be identified for any rankings to have credibility. In Odis all matches are same. That is quite ridiculuous. Ananth ]] I really like the idea of distinguishing between home and away tests, but in case of Pakistan, will you count UAE as home or neutral? However, I don't think any other sports use that in their rankings, and it will isolate cricket from major sports.
    [[
    It is quite possible that considering UAE as neutral for Pakistan may be correct. But what do I do for Aus-Saf in Eng, Pak-*** in Bng, Pak-*** in Slk, Pak-*** in Eng and so on. Hence for the sake of consistency I have decided that all neutral matches would be away matches for both teams. It is very fair.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Rally_Windies on August 11, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    I totally love this analysis , It takes all the subjectivity out of the debate. I understand the use of 10 year bins for the exercise, but do agree with the other comments that this is the one flaw with the analysis as there is not one team that remains unchanged year a 10 year period. But since most of the hard work is done ... That one flaw can be totally eliminated with a rolling calculation over a 5 year period and a score for each year. ... I don't expect this to be manually done , but it is definitely worth the time scripting. This method is GOLD ! and I would really love to see what happens if this was done with a 5 year rolling calculation ....
    [[
    I would go farther than that. I have already explained that. I would use 50 tests/15 series as the minimum cut-off and do a complete rolling calculation based on Performance and Result points. One team could do this in 4 years and another in 8 years. So even that variation will be taken out. Please wait. Possibly in the next month or two.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • TheScot on August 11, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Very nice and revealing analysis Anath. Specially the confirmation that South Africans have been the best bowling units for their last three periods. What if they had played in 80s as well, arguably there would have been no all out WI or Australian domination. Open for debate. Just commenting on the last line of your article. The chances of Shakib doing a Tendo are negligible. Tendo was a South African playing for Netherlands where only few can pronounce the world 'cricket' correctly (I lived there so I have experienced it) and fewer cared for the game. While Shakib plays for Bangladesh, arguably the most passionate cricketing nation in the world. And he would not like to become the villain for Bangladesh and lose all his endorsements contracts.
    [[
    Yes, I agree that that was fair bit of "tongue--in-cheek". In fact I like Shakib a lot as he is truly world class. I hope he and the BCB shake hands and he is back on the ground soon, not in some fancy dress but in whites and greens.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 11, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    Hi Anantha, Just for mention: Batting in Away matches for Zimbabwe in the last period is 42%. You might have missed that intentionally, due to very few no. of matches played by them during the period. And Murali needs a Special mention for Sri Lanka's good bowling results for home matches! :) And Very nice Article, as always. Jay.
    [[
    Yes, Jay, you are correct on both counts. Zimbabwe played only 3 Test away during the past 6 years, against Nzl and Win. Unfortunate to score 51, 143, 211, 107, 175 & 141: All six scores below 200. Come to think of it the last three Indian scores have been below 200.
    I agree with you. I should have added Murali's name as the architect of the amazing 82% at home between 2000-06.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • its.rachit on August 11, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Hi Ananth ... On an unrelated topic, after seeing Steyn perform in Sri Lanka, can I say that he is the greatest fast bowler ever ??? i mean he basically is at the same statistical level of Lillie, Marshall and others .. you add in the batsmen friendly pitches and rules and that shud ideally give him the edge ... if we can give the batsmen of pre 90s the advantage of helmet, bouncers etc, shud not the bowlers of now get the same benefit ... Steyn wud probably end up with 500 wickets in 100 tests at a strike rate of 40 and average of 22.xx ...(unless there is a sudden and huge fall in performence) ... i listen to people say that he is among the best and I say why among the best and why not the best ???
    [[
    I have already referred to this in an earlier article. Steyn should finish his career and then we can do a proper analysis. If you look up the recent 52/27 Test streaks analysis, Steyn is right there amongst the best. 157 wickets in 27 Tests at 20.7. So, "amongst the best" seems right.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 18, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Anantha, I'd really like for you to do an analysis of the best pace bowlers of all time. I did a partial analysis using the following criteria: Test >40, Wickets >200, Average <26, Strike rate <58. It narrowed it down to 17 pace bowlers: Ambrose, Donald, Garner, Hadlee, Holding, Imran Khan, Lillee, Marshall, McGrath, Pollock, Roberts, Steyn, Trueman, Walsh, Wasim, Bob Willis, Younis. I did a ranking system from 1-17 for: WpI (wicket per innings), WpM (wicket per match), average, strike rate and economy for each bowler. I looked at the average ranking with and without economy as a factor. With economy factor the overall ranking I got was: 1. Marshall, 2. Hadlee, 3. Steyn, 3. Garner, 5. Trueman, 6. Donald, 7. McGrath, 8. Lillee, 9. Ambrose, 10. Imran Khan, 11. Younis, 12. Wasim, 13. Holding, 14. Pollock, 15. Roberts, 15. Walsh, 17. Willis. Without the economy factor, the overall ranking order changed slightly. What didn't change was who were in the top 6 or bottom 6. Looking forward!
    [[
    Will look at that but I have done some bowler analysis earlier. It was for all bowlers and Murali came on top. My feeling is that with 25% of Steyn's career ahead of us, maybe we should wait for some time.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Nayan-Jyoti on August 12, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    @Ananth Sir, I think there is a small mistake in the article. After the last table which is for Bowling : Away Matches, look at the 3rd sentence of the 4th paragraph which is "Australia 2000-06 had a combined ratio of +56% (141%-72%)". But 141-72 equals 69, not 56. Actually you have written the differential index for Australia in 2000-06 correctly which is +56. But you miswrote "141%-72%". It should have been Batting in all matches minus Bowling in all matches which would give "135%-79%=+56". But you wrote Batting in home matches minus Bowling in away matches. Am I right or am I missing something. Sorry if I am wrong.
    [[
    Nayan,
    Antony Purcell has already raised this matter and I have replied to him.
    Australian net should read +56% (135%-79%). The final difference was correct but the component numbers were not. Thanks for being so alert.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 12, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Excellent analysis. Gives a relative strength of each team compared to their own levels. In general batting averages are on the increase, going on to prove that batting is evolving (increase of academies, protective gears, analytical techniques, support staff, commercialization - not necessarily flat pitches - contribute to relatively declining bowling averages). I somehow don't really agree that India was next best to Australia during their peak. India didn't really win a series outside subcontinent against a top - 5 opposition till 2007 (Eng- till date their only win against a top-5 opponent across generations). Won in 00-01 (a see-saw series, won in Chennai cliffhanger). In Oz, they couldn't beat a 2nd string team. They lost in 2004 at home. Indians weren't really dominating, despite the presence of their thespians, due to inconsistent bowling. But still, it was also the best "away" years for India. Australia, by far, was the superior team, SAF weren't far behind though.
    [[
    Your second point will be clearly proved in Part-2. Do not forget Sri Lanka during this period.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Nayan-Jyoti on August 12, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    @Ananth Sir, After going through this article, the current state of Indian test team hurts me more. During 2000-2006 when Aus were in rampage, it was India who took the fight to them. India ended Aus's unbeaten streak of 16 matches twice. Many say that India's current poor show away is not surprising as India were always poor away from home. But actulally from 2001 to 2010, India were very good in foreign soil. They won matches in every country. Even when they lost there was fight. I think there are many reasons for current poor show. 1) Current Indian batsmen are nowhere near the past greats. Many compared Pujara to Dravid and Kohli to Sachin. Rahane is better than Kohli and Pujara 2) Dhoni the poor defensive test captain. Ganguly was best captain for India. He was aggressive. 3) Poor slip catching & poor keeping. Have you ever seen Dhoni diving for a catch? 4) Dhoni's fixation with Jadeja. 5) Attitude of the current players. Sorry for the long post. I am just frustrated with India.
    [[
    All your points are valid. And compunded by the hegemony and intransigent attitude of BCCI. I am not talking of a single instance. I know that all umpiring decisions even out over a period. But in this match if DRS had been in place, Pujara might have got a reprieve, India might have finished at 150 for 5 and finished with a (wholly undeserving) draw.
    Anyhow Kohli and Pujara have got years to go before they can be mentioned in the same sentence as Tendulkar and Dravid. At least Rahane is not out of place when we say that he is a Laxman in the making. If these three guys do half of what the wonderful trio achieved, they would be very good Test players. But not if they are hyped n levels. And what Kumble achieved overseas, even during his lean years, seems plenty more, compared to what Ashwin can do. And the less one says about Jadeja, the better.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 12, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    I kinda don't understand how South Africa doesn't get enough credit given the fact they are the current #1 side and have been near that mark for a while now. Good article. [[ They might be no.1. But that is the ICC ranking which does not always do it correctly. Some of the earlier no.1s have been surprising. What we mean is that South Africa's limited over failings seem to cast a shadow on their Test performances. Home/Away results have to be identified for any rankings to have credibility. In Odis all matches are same. That is quite ridiculuous. Ananth ]] I really like the idea of distinguishing between home and away tests, but in case of Pakistan, will you count UAE as home or neutral? However, I don't think any other sports use that in their rankings, and it will isolate cricket from major sports.
    [[
    It is quite possible that considering UAE as neutral for Pakistan may be correct. But what do I do for Aus-Saf in Eng, Pak-*** in Bng, Pak-*** in Slk, Pak-*** in Eng and so on. Hence for the sake of consistency I have decided that all neutral matches would be away matches for both teams. It is very fair.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Rally_Windies on August 11, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    I totally love this analysis , It takes all the subjectivity out of the debate. I understand the use of 10 year bins for the exercise, but do agree with the other comments that this is the one flaw with the analysis as there is not one team that remains unchanged year a 10 year period. But since most of the hard work is done ... That one flaw can be totally eliminated with a rolling calculation over a 5 year period and a score for each year. ... I don't expect this to be manually done , but it is definitely worth the time scripting. This method is GOLD ! and I would really love to see what happens if this was done with a 5 year rolling calculation ....
    [[
    I would go farther than that. I have already explained that. I would use 50 tests/15 series as the minimum cut-off and do a complete rolling calculation based on Performance and Result points. One team could do this in 4 years and another in 8 years. So even that variation will be taken out. Please wait. Possibly in the next month or two.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • TheScot on August 11, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Very nice and revealing analysis Anath. Specially the confirmation that South Africans have been the best bowling units for their last three periods. What if they had played in 80s as well, arguably there would have been no all out WI or Australian domination. Open for debate. Just commenting on the last line of your article. The chances of Shakib doing a Tendo are negligible. Tendo was a South African playing for Netherlands where only few can pronounce the world 'cricket' correctly (I lived there so I have experienced it) and fewer cared for the game. While Shakib plays for Bangladesh, arguably the most passionate cricketing nation in the world. And he would not like to become the villain for Bangladesh and lose all his endorsements contracts.
    [[
    Yes, I agree that that was fair bit of "tongue--in-cheek". In fact I like Shakib a lot as he is truly world class. I hope he and the BCB shake hands and he is back on the ground soon, not in some fancy dress but in whites and greens.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 11, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    Hi Anantha, Just for mention: Batting in Away matches for Zimbabwe in the last period is 42%. You might have missed that intentionally, due to very few no. of matches played by them during the period. And Murali needs a Special mention for Sri Lanka's good bowling results for home matches! :) And Very nice Article, as always. Jay.
    [[
    Yes, Jay, you are correct on both counts. Zimbabwe played only 3 Test away during the past 6 years, against Nzl and Win. Unfortunate to score 51, 143, 211, 107, 175 & 141: All six scores below 200. Come to think of it the last three Indian scores have been below 200.
    I agree with you. I should have added Murali's name as the architect of the amazing 82% at home between 2000-06.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • its.rachit on August 11, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Hi Ananth ... On an unrelated topic, after seeing Steyn perform in Sri Lanka, can I say that he is the greatest fast bowler ever ??? i mean he basically is at the same statistical level of Lillie, Marshall and others .. you add in the batsmen friendly pitches and rules and that shud ideally give him the edge ... if we can give the batsmen of pre 90s the advantage of helmet, bouncers etc, shud not the bowlers of now get the same benefit ... Steyn wud probably end up with 500 wickets in 100 tests at a strike rate of 40 and average of 22.xx ...(unless there is a sudden and huge fall in performence) ... i listen to people say that he is among the best and I say why among the best and why not the best ???
    [[
    I have already referred to this in an earlier article. Steyn should finish his career and then we can do a proper analysis. If you look up the recent 52/27 Test streaks analysis, Steyn is right there amongst the best. 157 wickets in 27 Tests at 20.7. So, "amongst the best" seems right.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Andrew73 on August 11, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Really interesting article. I think you've been a bit hard on poor old Bangladesh in your closing comments though. Those NZ players you mention all came along a long time after 1959 - it took them a long time to become a credible test side. Bangladesh have only really had 1 (maybe 1 and a half) generations of test players come through - most countries take longer than that to really get going (SL the shining exception).
    [[
    Andrew, I am someone who has always espoused the cause of the underdogs. I do not think even the Bangaldeshi followers would have talked about the innings of Gilchrist, Ponting, Inzamam and Tendulkar against Bangladesh. In fact I would rate these 4 innings as amongst the top-5 of the concerned batsman.
    The team results/performance analysis is in the next part. Somehow we have veered towards it. But looking at the individual RpW values, Bangladesh are way down there: that has to be conceded.
    I get the feeling that they are also a victim of the times we live in. Back in the 50s/60s it was possible for the weaker teams like Nzl/Ind to play for a draw. A first day score of 250 for 3 virtually guaranteed a draw. Today the teams do not have the luxury of playing for a draw. No first innings is safe. As we saw at Galle yesterday.
    If a team takes its time and scores 400 in 150, a team like 200x Australia would reach this in about 100 overs and the pressure is back on the first batting team, with over two days still available. In 1965, the team would have taken well over 150 overs and time would be lost. So the weaker teams suffer since they cannot put together two good performances in a Test.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Daas_R on August 11, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    Hi Anantha. My apologies if my previous comment came across as abrasive. I have the greatest respect for your analysis and to offend you was not my intention. My apologies again. At the same time, I think you misunderstood what I said. I was not commenting on the weakness of the opposition. I was pointing out that since the percentage values are calculated relative to the average of the RpW of that era (excluding the team itself), Australia 2000-06's percentage value received a considerable boost because of the poor RpW values of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The stats of West Indies of 80s on the other hand were compared with those of established test sides, none of whom had poor RpW values.
    [[
    No, Daas, your comment was not abrasive at all. Nor was my response on thise lines. I only mentioned that you should get your facts checked. That is all. I am also trying to remove the impression from the minds of people that it is easy to visit Bangladesh/Zimbabwe and notch up easy wins. Look at how Zimbabwe is fighting at Harare now. Your points on RpW values, which is the theme of this article, are valid. In that sense the 2000-14 period has presented some easier opposition. But then India has never invited Bangladesh. Australia does that once in a blue moon.
    My apologies if I have been a bit too strong in my response.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • tpjpower on August 11, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    Fantastic article, Anantha. Your groundbreaking statistical work has added so many layers of insight to our understanding of the game, and this is yet another superb contribution. The sole quibble I have is with the conclusions you draw using the differential index. You have provided evidence to support the claim that Australia of 2000-06 was the *most dominant* team of all time, but I'm not sure that this can be equated with the mantle of "strongest" or "greatest" team ever.
    [[
    Pl wait for Part 2 before coming to a conclusion.
    Ananth
    ]]
    The crucial difference is in the quality of the playing field, which was certainly weaker in 2000-06 than it was in the 1980s (when the West Indies were the leading side). The poorer overall standard - especially skewed due to the weakness of 20% of the teams (Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), but also because of the paucity of outstanding bowling attacks during this period - would enhance the differential.
    [[
    Pl see my response to a comment from Daas_R. Weakness in 20% of teams does not mean anything if only only 7% of the matches played are against these teams.
    Ananth
    ]]
    What happens if SL is excluded from the 1980-89 diff. ratio calculation, and ZIM/BANG from the 2000-06 period?

  • on August 11, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    Anand, Excuse me if I am making a simple error and I by no means intend to be rude. But the compined +56% figure you give for Australia seems consistent with the data from the individual tables but inconsistent with the numbers in the parntheses As always, a very impressive analysis.
    [[
    Antony, you are correct. I deal with so many numbers that silly mistakes seem to occur, more frequently now than before. My sincere apologies.
    Australian net should read +56% (135%-79%). The final difference was correct but the component numbers were not. Thanks for being so alert.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Daas_R on August 10, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    Hi Anantha. I don't see how we can compare teams across different eras using this analysis. The percentage values allow us to compare a team's performance with the mean performance in that era. That does not necessarily translate into better performance in absolute terms. For instance, a huge factor in Australia 2000-2006's stats being so good are the poor showings by bits-and-pieces teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Compare that with West Indies 1980-89 whose stats were compared to teams whose performance wasn't that terrible (except Sri Lanka who lie on the borderline). What we can conclude then is that Australia of the noughties were much ahead of their contemporaries then WI of the eighties were. However, we still can't compare these legendary teams to each other.
    [[
    Let us get this in perspective. Of the 84 Tests played by Australian between 200-2006, 4 were home Tests against Bng/Zim and 2 were tough away Tests against Bng. The scores of the second Test were Bng: 427, Aus: 269 after being 93 for 6. Bng: 148 and Aus: 307/7 after being 231 for 6. Easy matches ??? Pl get your facts correct before making wide sweeping statements.
    Giving a 1984 Test summary. That too away. Eng: 191. Win: 606. Eng: 235. So let us keep our balance correct.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • SLSup on August 10, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Pointer to Ananth's response: Exactly. Hence my request for @harshthakor to back-up his claims. Also, a correction if I may: I may have erred in saying IND won 14 Away in 82 years, if my memory doesn't fail, it was only 12 Away series wins in 82 years.

  • SLSup on August 10, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    @harshthakor also says AUS of '00s played weaker teams. Any stats to back this up? Almost all MODERN BATTING GREATS were playing during this time! AUS had to contend against them - including modern greats in bowlers! Ponting, for example, said Sanga's inning where he played a near double in an invincible fashion against AUS was the finest he'd ever seen by a visiting batsman. The ONLY saving grace for your argument is perhaps this: that the WI attack in consideration mostly played their cricket AWAY compared to other attacks. I'll give you that IF THAT IS A FACTOR (and I think it is to SOME extent). But it is not fair to say AUS played "weaker" teams without backing it up. AUS side in '00s was quite remarkable.
    [[
    Any weaker teams during 2000s were compensated by similar weaker teams during 1980s: at different times different teams had their low levels.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • SLSup on August 10, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    Anantha's response to Harry31j: Well put regarding IND. Recently I had to point out here in Cricinfo Conversations that IND has won only 14 series AWAY in 82 years of playing Test (compared to SL's 7 in 32). Also, IND recent high standing in ICC Ranking is aided by excessive # of Tests played against SL (in the absence of PAK vs IND games for so many years). I like the IND team and the brand of cricket they play OVERALL but I disagree with IND fans who over-hype.

    @Harshthakor says Lloyd's WI was better. NOT REALLY. Lloyd's WI was better than the WI before him! They had some 130 Tests prior w/20% winning margin until Lloyd improved it to mid 40th percentile. It was under Viv Richards that WI cross the 50% winning margin (which is my GENERIC marker for a successful captain). VERY FEW captains/teams have accomplished that. One can talk of tactics and boldness etc but it is results that count and I amused how many dont even MENTION Richards when discussing teams/captains. He was SUPERIOR.

  • its.rachit on August 10, 2014, 15:38 GMT

    Well it boils down to WI between 1978 (post their loss to NZ) and 1995 (prior to their loss to Aus) and Australian team between 1999 (their WC win over WI) and 2008 (prior to their loss to India) ... and I am considering Tests and ODI combined to get the true measure ... WI had a longer rule and were unbeaten in tests .. but their ODI reign ended in 1983 .. they have not made to the finals since ... on the other hand, Australia did lose 3 series ( SL in1999, India in 2001 and Ashes in 2005, which are probably the 2 greatest test series of the recent past) .. but apart from that their domination was TOTAL .. in tests (2 strings of 16 consecutive wins) and in ODIs, 3 WC wins (2 of them clean sweep) and couple of Champions trophy ... the intangible factors like no. of teams, bounder rules, quality of opposition basically even out ... so my vote should go to AUstralia cos their domination was like Schumi and Federer and Ozzies, Schumi and Fedex reigns were also during the same period :-)
    [[
    Since you bring in Schumi & Fed, this particular comparison is like one between Senna & Schumi and Laver & Fed. Not easy to compare across eras. Australia was more balanced and could probably win anywhere. They had more match-winning batsmen (Gilchrist being the X-factor). West Indies probably had the more potent bowling attack and were aided by friendlier rules in force. Imagine telling Roberts/Holding/Marshall/Croft/Ambrose that they could bowl one or two bouncers per over. I stand by the 3-2 verdict in favour of the Australians.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • dunger.bob on August 10, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    @ harshthakor: You said a couple of things I can't agree with. You said the opposition was weaker when Australia played but doesn't the period correspond pretty much exactly with the best Indian side of all time? In fact, if it weren't for Australia India may have dominated that period. .. Anyway, that's what I think and it's no wonder the Aussies struggled to win in India up against a side with that sort of batting. What was the quality of the Indian side when the WI toured. I guess Dev and maybe Shastri would have played through most of that but I don't remember many of the others. Also, you said The WI faced tougher opposition but for most of the 80's the Aussies were complete rubbish. Pakistan was pretty strong and so were the English but I'm pretty sure South Africa weren't even playing then. You had to go on a rebel tour to play them. .. Overall, I can't agree with that part of your argument either. No offence, but I just think it needed saying.

  • harshthakor on August 10, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    My best teams 1.Cllive Lloyd's West Indies(1979-84_ 2.Don Bradman's Australians (1948) 3.Frank Worrel's West Indies (1963) 4.Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting's Australians2000-2007) 5.Ian Chappell's 1975 Australians 6.South Africa of 1970. 7.Pakistan led by Imran Khan in 1987-88 8.Pakistan led by Mushtaq Muhammad in 1977 9.England led by Peter May in 1957. 10.India led by Sunil Gavaskar in 1979-80

    Never forget Ian Chappel's Australia which gave West Indies a 5-1 drubbing in 1975-76 .To me the Indian team of 1979-80 beat one of the strongest Pakistani teams to have played overseas.India had batting depth till no 9 with Kirmani and Binny and outstanding talent with Gavaskar,Vengsarkar,Vishwanath and Kapil Dev.

  • harshthakor on August 10, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    Australia led by Ponting and Waugh had the advantage of playing in an era where more test matches were played and the opposition was weaker.Lloyd's West Indians faced stronger Pakistani and Australian teams capable of giving later champion Australian teams a run for their money.It is difficult envisaging Steve Waugh's team demolishing India 3-0 in the manner Lloyd's men did in India in 1983-84 or beating England 5-0 on their home soil.Australia was more professional but did not posess the Carribean match-winning talent in batting and bolwing be it Viv Richards.Gordon,Greenidge,Clive Loyd or Malcolm Marshall.

    Pakistan at their best morally would have won the test world championship title in the 1988 series in West Indies unofficialy but for some dubious umpiring decisions .South Africa in 1969-70 and West Indies from 1963-66 were teams capable of challenging Bradman's,Ponting's Steve Waugh's and Clive Lloyd's best teams.They posessed more variety than Lloyd's or Ponting's men.

  • on August 10, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    I kinda don't understand how South Africa doesn't get enough credit given the fact they are the current #1 side and have been near that mark for a while now. Good article.
    [[
    They might be no.1. But that is the ICC ranking which does not always do it correctly. Some of the earlier no.1s have been surprising. What we mean is that South Africa's limited over failings seem to cast a shadow on their Test performances.
    Home/Away results have to be identified for any rankings to have credibility. In Odis all matches are same. That is quite ridiculuous.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Nuxxy on August 9, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    The biggest obstacle to South Africa being truly effective has long been the lack of a match-winning spinner. I wonder how much closer the comparison between 2000-2006 Aus vs 2007-2014 RSA would be without the genius of Shane Warne. Tahir was a gamble that didn't pay off. Piedt's debut is very encouraging.
    [[
    I like the way Piedt bowls. A little bit on the expensive side but seems to offer South Africa a better option in the longer run. He could be a handful on spinning tracks.
    We should never try to imagine teams sans player(s). Where would India be without Kumble, SA without Steyn and so on. The only thing I am certain is that SA during 2007-14 is quite a bit ahead of any other team.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Harry31j on August 9, 2014, 20:56 GMT

    I understand why you split 14 odd years left of the 21st century the way you did, but I want to know what is India's differential between home & away during 2011-14. I've a feeling it might be worse than even Bangladesh during this period. I'm very depressed by the way India threw the towel in Manchester, am not going to watch anymore tests until Dhoni resigns. What are your thoughts?
    [[
    Enough has been written on India's away woes during the past few years. The problem is also the inability of Indian followers to recognize that they have a very good team at home and a below-average team away. When I see the normally aggressive South African batsmen like du Plessis and de Villiers score at around a run-an-over to save Tests: how often in the past few years, I am amazed at their all-round skills. India cannot bat for 3 hours to take the match to a fourth day, leave alone bat the whole of the last day. India is a over-hyped team, partly due to IPL.
    Just a thought: If England had declared at 367 at the end of the first day, only the innings break equivalent of 2 overs would have let India go to the third day. A match lost in 90 overs of batting: that is a single day's play. Conditions, my left foot. Buttler was the perfect example of how a talented and committed batsman can play a 74-ball-121 during a June ODI, a run-a-ball 85 on his Test debut and then buckle down to play a 110-ball-50 a few days later. He could have easily decided that he would go swinging and England would have been all out for 250.
    Dhoni is an excellent limited overs captain. But a very poor Test captain. His handling of Jadeja is simply amazing. Jadeja as the only Indian spinner for three Tests and then insisting he bats ahead of Ashwin are actions which would have invited serious action in another place. But Dhoni is untouchable. The Chennai connections are pulling India down.
    But who do you make as the captain. The cup-board is bare.
    I was amazed at Ashwin's reactions in the interview with Gautam. He was aggressive and was almost telling Gautam "how dare you ask such questions".
    Ananth
    ]]

  • SLSup on August 9, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    Anantha, I like this peer review of Tests. I posted a similar finding for AUS of '00s in my blog (the one that no one reads - link copied below if useful). It was neither identical or exhaustive as your research here. Mine was specific to how the WI Pace Quartet compared with other such "quartets" during their best UNBEATEN Test streaks by country. AUS and WI streaks stands out with AUS going an incredible 22 Tests with 20 wins ('05-'08). Compare with WI best unbeaten streak of 27 Tests w/17 wins or ENG best of 26 Tests w/9 wins ('68-'71). SA best was 10 wins in 15 Tests('12-'13). I agree AUS run is better per the more conclusive aspects considered in your article. http://crickcritique.blogspot.com/
    [[
    A few years back I had also done a similar analysis comparing specific team streaks. The West indian team came off better. But this is a non-specific period-based analysis over specific number of years.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 9, 2014, 18:53 GMT

    NO mention off the England teama from 1951-1958? They didn't loose a series during that period. Easily the best ENG team in test history.
    [[
    Yes, I agree with you on the quality of that team. But they lost out in the second part of that period.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 9, 2014, 17:37 GMT

    @karanbest4 You have to remember that when india played in australia 2003-4 Mcgrath and Warne did not play. It is true that India always played warne very well. But Mcgrath was a very big loss for the Australians at home.

  • kentjones on August 9, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Anantha,let me try my best to encourage you here.Cricket is probably the only game that has three different formats,could spread over five days or be finished in a matter of five hours.It involves differing levels of athletic prowess, physical endurance,determination,discipline,sheer guts,bad mind,shrewdness and intelligence.It often reflects the drama of real life.The team advantage could change hands swiftly and regularly even sometimes in the last over.There are absorbing individual battles waged within the big team war,where heroes can be made and legends forged for:runs(50s,100s),wickets(five,ten),maidens, fours,sixes, catches or simply playing out time.It is intriguing as well as psychologically absorbing and quite remarkably,this most beautiful game is only KNOWN BY LESS THAN ¼ OF THE WORLD.Your statistical project presented in your un-imitatible style can serve as an introduction to the game as well as to woo,captivate and illuminate the ignorant ¾.Be the shining light, Ananth!
    [[
    Thanks a lot for some wonderful and inspiring words.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • siddhartha87 on August 9, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    How about England 2010-2012 ?
    **
    This analysis is period-based and not years based. Ananth **

  • on August 9, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    You wrote: "Australia 1946-59 (81%). Spearheaded by Ray Lindwall, and having Keith Miller, Bill Johnston and an emerging Richie Benaud, this was a wonderful attack everywhere." Great bowlers of my childhood all, Lindwall, Miller, and Benaud. But how could you forget that big-hearted, miserly assassin, Alan Davidson?
    [[
    My mistake. I was only looking at the first half of this period. Davidson was one of my favourite cricketers also. Apologies and thanks for pointing the miss.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • chandrathej on August 9, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, when they started, have all been toothless tigers away from home. I think, the list should include Pakistan as well who had similar percentages away from home when they started.
    [[
    Even when they started Pakistan had a good bowling side, partly inherited from the undivided India. Fazal was great and Khan Mohd was pretty good.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 9, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    The Australian team of late nineties and first part of 2000 -05 was simply brilliant , the foundation was so strong and it was built by great Steeve Waugh and his team , it was existing and fascinating watch even today. Success was only word .

  • B.C.G on August 9, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    So South Africa just about edge in.Good to know.Athough part 2 should back this up.Grt stuff as usual.
    [[
    South Africa, recently, has showed that they belong to the great teams list. They might have missed out on the knowck out events but on the Test pitch they are outstanding.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • karanbest4 on August 9, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    Australia 2000-06 Coudn't Even Defeat India on its Home Soil. In 2003-4, In fact india were on top in 3 of 4 tests.
    [[
    But they defeated every other team, home and away. Djokovic stays at no.1 despite his loss to Tsonga. That is the way such aberrations should be taken.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • rafe01 on August 9, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    I notice you've honed in on the six or seven best years for Australia, but are less selective about other past teams golden era's. Would it make any difference if you compared similarly select periods of time for the great teams of the past?
    [[
    I have only highlighted the outliers. If I write about the other teams' high spots the article would be twice as long. It is upto the readers to look for these and come out as the other commenter has done.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • rafe01 on August 9, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    I notice you've honed in on the six or seven best years for Australia, but are less selective about other past teams golden era's. Would it make any difference if you compared similarly select periods of time for the great teams of the past?
    [[
    I have only highlighted the outliers. If I write about the other teams' high spots the article would be twice as long. It is upto the readers to look for these and come out as the other commenter has done.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • karanbest4 on August 9, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    Australia 2000-06 Coudn't Even Defeat India on its Home Soil. In 2003-4, In fact india were on top in 3 of 4 tests.
    [[
    But they defeated every other team, home and away. Djokovic stays at no.1 despite his loss to Tsonga. That is the way such aberrations should be taken.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • B.C.G on August 9, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    So South Africa just about edge in.Good to know.Athough part 2 should back this up.Grt stuff as usual.
    [[
    South Africa, recently, has showed that they belong to the great teams list. They might have missed out on the knowck out events but on the Test pitch they are outstanding.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 9, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    The Australian team of late nineties and first part of 2000 -05 was simply brilliant , the foundation was so strong and it was built by great Steeve Waugh and his team , it was existing and fascinating watch even today. Success was only word .

  • chandrathej on August 9, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, when they started, have all been toothless tigers away from home. I think, the list should include Pakistan as well who had similar percentages away from home when they started.
    [[
    Even when they started Pakistan had a good bowling side, partly inherited from the undivided India. Fazal was great and Khan Mohd was pretty good.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • on August 9, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    You wrote: "Australia 1946-59 (81%). Spearheaded by Ray Lindwall, and having Keith Miller, Bill Johnston and an emerging Richie Benaud, this was a wonderful attack everywhere." Great bowlers of my childhood all, Lindwall, Miller, and Benaud. But how could you forget that big-hearted, miserly assassin, Alan Davidson?
    [[
    My mistake. I was only looking at the first half of this period. Davidson was one of my favourite cricketers also. Apologies and thanks for pointing the miss.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • siddhartha87 on August 9, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    How about England 2010-2012 ?
    **
    This analysis is period-based and not years based. Ananth **