August 20, 2014

# Performance and result analysis of Test teams

A look at Test teams across the years, measuring the peaks of each team, and the highest peak across teams
52

In the first part of the peer analysis of Test teams I had looked at the relative peer values of the batsmen and bowlers, not as individuals but under the ambit of their respective teams. The results were very illuminating in that we were able to identify the outliers very clearly. Since the bar was kept quite high, the number of outliers in any table was not high: No more than four to five in each table. Similarly I had also highlighted the poor performances over the years. Once again the outliers were not high. However this analysis was only the means to the end, which is an analysis of the teams.

In this follow-up article I will analyse the teams' Performance points and Result points over the many periods. This will let us get a clear handle on the best teams across the years. This is the more important analysis as evidenced by the fact that most of the comments dwelt on the teams, rather than the individuals.

The team performances will be measured through the Team performance index (which is a contribution index developed jointly by Milind and me and was used extensively in the article on Test series) and the Results index, which has been specially developed by me for this article and will be the basis for many a future analysis. The features of the Team performance index is summarised in a Word document, which can be accessed HERE. Since there is a graph embedded in the document, you can download the same and study at leisure.

The Test performance index is the most composite measure reflecting the performance of the team in the match, taking into account every aspect of the match. As such it is an excellent measure of the overall performance of teams. The Result index, on the other hand, is a little more contextual in that the actual result and the match location are considered. However a five-run win is the same as an innings-and-200-runs win. But it is an equally valuable measure. I will do both and present the tables.

Just to give the readers an idea of the Team Performance index, I have given below the Team Performance index values for England and India in the on-going series. India, with their 150-minute non-performance, allowed me to add the Oval Test numbers.

```            England  India

Nottingham   39.45   34.47 (England had better of draw)
Lord's       44.63   55.37 (95-run win for India)
Southampton  63.83   36.17 (266-run win for England)
Manchester   77.65   22.35 (Innings win for England)
Oval         86.17   13.83 (by 3 innings and 2 runs)

311.73  162.19 (England, by a few miles)
```

As I did this, I realised that this is not a peer analysis in that the comparisons to the period values do not make any sense. This has to be a direct analysis of the values. These analyses cover all matches up to and including Test #2135, the Harare match between the two African neighbours.

### Team Performance Analysis

First let me look at the Test performance index measure since I can straightaway go into the tables. All explanations will be available in the downloadable document.

Average Test performance points for teams across time periods
Perf Pts 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014 All
Australia46.16(105)52.69(67)57.07 (75)47.74(67)46.47(83)44.58(97)53.18(108)62.62 (84)51.88(81)51.16
England52.24(123)47.24(120)50.35(115)49.50(100)48.75(95)38.90(104)41.12(107)48.54(92)49.96(95)47.45
South Africa35.93(40)37.20(50)42.60(47)48.41(31)50.00(4)**51.01(66)51.74(78)57.08 (71)47.88
West Indies35.86(22)50.22(57)49.67(49)47.96(63)55.03 (82)46.44(81)40.49(82)41.32(62)46.69
New Zealand29.09(14)28.74(38)40.32(43)37.30(41)42.69(59)40.52(81)45.70(56)41.28(62)39.80
India31.57(7)36.26(57)40.32(52)43.56(64)38.65(81)44.68(69)47.37(72)48.84(80)42.95
Pakistan41.46(29)36.15(30)43.19(46)44.27(80)46.91(76)47.50(66)45.70(54)44.57
Sri Lanka34.25(29)39.60(67)52.05 (71)46.70(65)44.73
Zimbabwe36.82(39)33.86(44)39.55(11)35.75
Total47.4244.5646.1645.6945.6843.3445.0947.2147.1845.84
** The value for South Africa 1970-79 has been fixed as 50.0 because only four home matches were played.

The values presented here are the average Team performance points during the specified time period. It is agreed that the specific time periods might not be wholly fair to a particular team. But this is the basis for this analysis. At a later date I will do a more complex floating time period analysis in which we can look at the best period for any team. The period averages vary around 5% either side of the 45 mark. We can draw an overall inference that a higher value, such as the 47 during the 2000-14 period, indicates that more matches have ended in results.

It can be seen that achieving an average of 55.0 is extraordinary and only four teams in history have managed this feat. Australia 1946-59, West Indies 1980-89, Australia 2000-06 and South Africa 2007-14 form the elite group of such teams. Just to put these numbers in perspective, let me take the Australia 2000-06. Their performance index average is 62.62. This is the equivalent of winning all the 84 Test matches they played by 200 runs or six wickets in high-score matches. These comparisons are from actual matches. The average of 55.0 is, incidentally, equivalent to winning all matches by 100 runs or four wickets.

These numbers will stand out when I say that India and Pakistan have never crossed 50.0 in any time period. And Sri Lanka, once, during 2000-06, through that magician extraordinaire, Muralitharan.

Only one team, Australia, has got a performance index average of above 50.0 through the 137 years of Test cricket. Three teams, England, South Africa and West indies, have an average performance index value of 45.0.

Bangladesh have an average index value either side of 30. The lower figure finds matches involving New Zealand either side of the war. But New Zealand have since improved considerably and had their best period during 2000-06 with 45.7.

The custom graph above highlights the aforementioned peaks with distinct coloured dots. The best period for England was the first one, with 52.2. The best for India is the last one, 2007-14, when they averaged 49.17, despite the disastrous away tours. Pakistan was at its best during the 2000-06 period, with an average of 47.50. This period also proved the best for New Zealand, with 47.09 and Sri Lanka, with 52.1. The high values during 2000-06 seem to indicate that teams such as West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe could have contributed significantly to this upsurge. At least Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are showing signs of a move up. Note also the three dramatic drops after reaching the summit. Let us see whether South Africa, during the coming years, disprove this theory by sustaining their excellence for another period.

### Team Results Analysis

This is a fascinating exercise. I started as I normally do intuitively. 2 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. Very simplistic and nowhere near what is required. Then I arbitrarily fixed 2.5 for an away win, 2 for a home win, 1.2 for an away draw and 0.8 for a home draw. But I was quite restless. Something was nagging me. I remembered what Milind was always talking about. Do not use golden numbers without any analytical basis. So I spent quite some time thinking about it.

Out of the 2135 matches, there were 1403 results. These comprised of 836 home wins and 567 away wins. Taking 701 as the mid-point, there was a spread of 42%. That means there was a 13.8% additional chance of a home win. So the home win had to be devalued by this %. Similarly there was 13.8% less chance of an away win. Since this was on a lower number of matches the matches had to be increased in value by 16.2%. The total of points would then come to 2806. The numbers are summarised below.

: 2.0 * 701 / 836 = 1.67703
: 2.0 * 701 / 567 = 2.47266
: 1.67703 * 836 + 2.47266 * 567 = 2806.0 points.
Q.E.D.

Now for the draws. There were 732 draws out of 2135 matches played to date. It was clear to me that the 2 points had to be shared between the two teams and that I had to allocate 1464 points for draws. Unlike wins, there are 732 home draws and 732 away draws here. No playing with these numbers. In what proportion do I allocate? Simple. I assigned for the home draw, 50% of the home win points and for the away draw, the balance of 2.0 and I had the numbers. 0.838515 for the home draw and 1.161485 for the away draw.

: 0.838515*732 + 1.161485*732 = 1464.0 points.
Q.E.D.2.

The only downside, if it can be called that, is that these points are dynamic and change after each Test. The away win values changed after the Harare Test, albeit in the fourth decimal. But that does not matter to me since I do a dynamic calculation each time.

And what about losses? Unlike the Performance analysis, which rewards fighting and competing losses, here I cannot do that. A loss is what it deserves: in this Results analysis, a round zero. Tough luck if it is a one-run loss. This will be no different to a 675-run loss. In the Performance analysis, the one-run loss will fetch 49.91 points and the 675-run loss will fetch 7.2 points.

I am confident that Milind will be proud of this method of determining the weights, although he might have a better method up his sleeve.

Average Test result points for teams across time periods
Result Pts 1877-1914 1920-1939 1946-1959 1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2006 2007-2014 All
Australia 1.00(105) 1.32(67)1.47 (75) 1.16(67) 0.99(83) 0.93(97) 1.26(108)1.66 (84) 1.18(81) 1.21
England 1.21(123) 1.11(120) 1.09(115) 1.16(100) 1.15(95) 0.81(104) 0.83(107) 1.13(92) 1.10(95) 1.07
South Africa 0.48(40) 0.73(50) 0.80(47) 0.97(31) 1.25(4)** 1.22(66) 1.14(78)1.39 (71) 1.03
West Indies 0.61(22) 1.13(57) 1.16(49) 1.06(63)1.52 (82) 1.00(81) 0.61(82) 0.70(62) 1.01
New Zealand 0.63(14) 0.46(38) 0.75(43) 0.58(41) 1.02(59) 0.81(81) 0.97(56) 0.77(62) 0.79
India 0.29(7) 0.66(57) 0.69(52) 0.95(64) 0.86(81) 0.93(69) 1.13(72) 1.11(80) 0.91
Pakistan 1.00(29) 0.82(30) 1.00(46) 1.08(80) 1.19(76) 1.11(66) 1.04(54) 1.07
Sri Lanka 0.50(29) 0.88(67) 1.05(71) 1.03(65) 0.93
Zimbabwe 0.56(39) 0.42(44) 0.46(11) 0.48
Total 1.02 1.01 1.01 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.99 1.00 1.00 1.00
** The value for South Africa 1970-79 has been fixed as 1.25 because only four home matches were played.

It is clear that the overall period average will be quite close to 1.0 since all draws lead to two points and only the away matches carry slightly more weight.

The outliers are shown in blue. The same four teams are there, indicating that either of the methods can be used. Australia have averaged 1.66 points during the period 2000-06. Incidentally the average of 1.66 points indicates a home win in every one of their 84 matches, assuming all matches were played at home. West Indies are comfortably in second place, with 1.52 points. This confirms their standing but also clearly separates them from the Australians. Australia in 1946-59 averaged 1.47 and South Africa recently with 1.38 points.

Note how sharply Pakistan have come back into the reckoning on the Results front. Over the years, Pakistan have the best result after Australia, matching England. This clearly shows that they consistently won matches away too. That is the only way to push up the average value.

It has to be conceded that Bangladesh's 0.13 represents a seriously low value, almost certainly indicating the paucity of draws. They have, however, improved to 0.35 recently. And it can be seen that their improvement is sharper than those of Zimbabwe.

The graph highlights the top-placed teams with a red dot. Of the other teams, England started at their best with an average of 1.21 result points. New Zealand's best period was 1980-89 when they crossed 1.0 for the only time in their career. India were good during the past 14 years with a value of 1.13. Pakistan have been quite consistent with most of the values exceeding 1.0 and their best period was the Wasim-Waqar-led 1990s. Sri Lanka crossed 1.0 during the first few years of the 2000s.

Many readers have expressed their views that there should not be any comparisons across periods. But then we will lose out the fun in a big manner. The objective of such comparisons is not to put one team on a pedestal at the expense of the other but to get more insights into how the game has moved on. It will also let us appreciate the achievements of the concerned teams more. These are not Ratings exercises but routes to understanding what different teams achieved despite, or because of, prevailing conditions.

The conclusion has to be made. Australia 2000-06 are ahead of West Indies 1980-89 in almost every table. They had no weakness of any sort. These two are followed by the Australians of 1946-59 and the South Africans of recent vintage.

Bangladesh's results during the first few years have been quite poor. But they are improving, seemingly at a fair rate.

But this is not the last word.

I promise I will do the far more complex analysis of finding the best team over a dynamic 50 Tests/15 series/10 years-max period, using Performance and Result points. That will settle all arguments. I do not promise but may even find a way to build in a team strength component, based on the cumulative Performance/Results points as on date of the concerned Test. Give me a few weeks.

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

• on August 26, 2014, 9:48 GMT

I remember Shane Warne in his commentary recently saying, to win win some matches you have to risk losing them. That i think is exactly the reason why the Aus side 2000-06 lost a few more matches/series than the WInd side of the 80s. In a 50-50 situation where the WInd team probably played out a dominating draw, the Aussies went after an aggressive target or set an achievable one, where other sides were content playing out a draw. WInd side of the 80s is not to be blamed here, it was probably the time that they played in. I think its the option of a draw available that makes most sides play defensively. How else can we explain Dhoni pulling down shutters on an 85 run target in 15 overs? Can you imagine the Aussies of 2000-06 doing that with Gilly at the crease, they probably would have won with 3 overs to spare or even lost by 25 runs. What if there was no option of a draw for Dhoni? what if it was an ODI where victory and loss are mutually exclusive? probably we'd have more results.
[[
Santosh, recently we have had a few situations in which Teams declared with over 500 runs targets and a few matches have been drawn. If you HAVE to win a Test desperately, you have to give the other team a target of 300 on the last day rather than 350 in 70 overs.
One thing also is certain. A team with 90% record at home and 40% away might be at no.1 by a specific Rating system but stands no chance of being evenly fleetingly thought of as an all-time great team. Anyone would go for a 70%-60% team.
Whatever my forthcoming analysis will reveal, the two teams we are considering: West Indies 198x-198x and Australia 199x-200x were magnificent away.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 18:07 GMT

Anantha, you said "As long as I keep a reasonable number of Tests as the minimum, all these questions will be answered. That is something which I will know only when I spend some time on the data." REASONABLE being the operative word it poses the imperative inquiry as to what that COULD be - even if you've said you'll "...know only when I spend some time on the data". The number of Tests played be each country differ both marginally in the case of some countries and quite drastically in the the case of others. That is one factor that ICC fails to consider when they randomnly stick to a DURATIONAL process. I suspect you'll settle on a # that is statistically derived and I suggest that the longest unbeaten run of 27 of WI be considered the BASE. That is... take the 27 unbeaten Tests WI played + total # of Tests played by all countries during that period and that will give you the # of Tests as the ABSOLUTE #. Just a thought.
[[
The streak numbers are always based on something like that. More cricket expertise and common sense rather than statistical derivations. For Tests it was 52 and 27. For teams it could very well be 27 or a round number like 30. For the ODI Streak analysis which I will do after this Test effort, Zaheer Abbas's 62 and Lillee'2 63 are prime candidates. So that is the way to go.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 5:16 GMT

Gerry_the_Merry: Read your input with interest but I couldn't help but observe the following (partly because I have already commented on this in a post here): WI went without a Series loss for 15 years - from 1980-1995. Patrick Patterson never played in a series that was lost! What a life. Yet, the Lloyd years (as a percentage of wins) was marginally lower compared to 1985-1991 under Viv Richards. LLoyd sure had to DRAG the WI up from the depths of winning a mere 20% of Tests over some 130+ Tests prior to him taking over (It is an AMUSING exercise to look up who was representing WI cricket during that period!). I will agree that 1979-1984 were a peak in that their best unbeaten run of 27 Tests occured during that time (which included 17 wins). But the overall successes of WI best compares under Richards from '85-'91. It was a truly REMARKABLE period in WI cricket.
[[
As long as I keep a reasonable number of Tests as the minimum, all these questions will be answered. That is something which I will know only when I spend some time on the data.
Ananth
]]

• NCP1 on August 21, 2014, 20:23 GMT

Great analysis over a long period. Clearly shows consistent performance, improvement and domination of teams like WI or AUS in a particular period of time. We all know that WI team was great with fast bowlers and fantastic batsman. It shows their utter domination with the next team at least 10 points below. Similarly AUS in the 2000-2006 period with the next best team at least 10 points below. The relative strength of other teams does matter but when one team is so superior for so long it shows up in your chart. Drop of WI team in the last few years is very clear as the improvement of SL and IND.
[[
This difference is more pronounced in the Results index. West Indies is 1.52 and the next best is 1.08 which is about 71%. This difference does not exist even in the 2000-06 period in which Australia was 1.66 and South Africa 1.14 (68%). In the Performance index, this difference for West Indies was 10.5 (on a lower value) and Australia's was also 10.5 but on a higher value.
Thanks for a nice nugget.
Ananth
]]

• McWheels on August 21, 2014, 11:37 GMT

Anath, again a well-constructed article which makes clear with a modicum of thought what might otherwise be incomprehensible.I especially appreciated the Team results explanation of weighting, a gem within the treasure. I find it intriguing that the 2 graphs you provide have the pretty much the same peaks in the same places, with the exception of SL not showing quite as well in absolute results. However, my instinct remains that if 2 excellent teams hammer it out over a tight series, we see the same outputs as if 2 poor sides fail to comprehensively beat one another. Ultimately what we are measuring here is how good each side was relative to its competitors, and in those relative terms Aus is clearly the winner. I hugely anticipate the team strength component, but feel you may need to take into account historical average scores, pitch measures, rolling home/away advantages by location to try and distill down a useful non-dimensional figure.
[[
You have interpreted the best-within-period idea correctly. Problem comes only when we compare these numbers across periods. We start talking about an Australian win over Bangladesh as seemingly not worthy of the 2.xx points, forgetting that Australia could have as well have lost that match. At least my next excursion into this will answer some of these points.
I may need to incorporate these measures if I did a Test Rating for the 137 years. Here I am going to only look for teams which strung together a sequence of good to very good results over an extended number of Tests. This is somewhat like the Bradman sequence of 52 Tests except that there is no single team possessing that type of streak. So I have to play with years and Tests.

Ananth
]]

• harshthakor on August 21, 2014, 11:16 GMT

Ananth I respect your criteria and consistency but still fell you could shorten the periods to atleast 4-5 years.Afterall was not Clive Lloyd's unit at its' peak in 1983-85 , Viv Richard's team at it's best from mid 1988 to 1990 before it started to decline.,or Ian Chappells Australian team at their spectacular best til the intervention of World Series Cricket.To judge a team's merit at it's best consistency and longevity is secondary to peak performances.Viv Richard's Calypsos in England in 1988 and Australia in 1988-89 could well have beaten Steve Waugh's Australians .The South African team that beat Australia in 1969-70 may well have bean the 2007-14 Proteas.The 1963 team led by Frank Worrel was more versatile than Loyd's bunch and all but won the famous 1960-61 series down under. I admire the consistency of the 2007-14 Proteas but feel they benefited from the standard of test teams declining and often failed to force wins in series ,particularly at home.
[[
I have repeated time and again that the current pair of articles have pre-determined basis of periods. You will have problems with the 4-5 year base when a team has played only 10 Test matches. Sustained excellence cannot be of shorter duration. The bars have to be moved higher so that the final result is worthy of passing the test of time. Also so many "could have beaten" phrases do not mean much. The teams were strong in their respective eras, that is all. Again why comment on the SOuth African's inability to produce wins at home when they could very well have compensated for this with some unexcepted wins away from home.
I think you should wait for the next installment of this saga.
Ananth
]]

• RaviMarathe on August 21, 2014, 10:16 GMT

Hi Ananth, a good article as always. It brings out some of the usual suspects and the more recent rise of the South African team. In this article and the previous one the general majority of the comments was reserved for Aus 2000-06 and WI 1980s teams and a general skim-over of the rest. However I see from the avg test result points plot that India (and SL in their 30 year history) are the only team that has a decade-on-decade improvement (with a small blip in the 70s). They have not been the best but they have improved. All other teams have seen poor decades following good ones.
[[
That is a nice point, Ravi and welcome back. This upward trend has continued in the Performance points measure indicating that when they won (mostly at home), they won well. The Result index has seen a drop, no doubt caused by the calamitous 13 Tests.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 8:43 GMT

Hi Ananth. A fascinating article and I must say that you along with Milind are throwing some really great numbers to justify what was obvious to many but lacked statistical backing. While discsussion about Aus, WI and SA are well taken care of, I find that the Indian period from 2000 t0 2006 was the golden age of Indian cricket. Correct me if I am wrong but I think that having a shade better value of 1.13 compared to 1.11 currently shows that India did considerably well away from home during 2000-06. By that I mean that they kept chipping away wins and drawing more when travelling. 2007-14, India has won more at home I believe but its the away performances that have really harmed India.
[[
Dev, Yes it is true that India's best period was 2000-06, as was Sri Lanka's as was Australia's. That makes it three teams. India matched Australia, at home and away, during this period and that is a great achievement. Those were the batsmen who would think that batting for a day and a half to save a Test was a normal day in the office. As my next article would show, the current Indian team, on an average, finishes a Test innings in fewer overs than an ODI innings, and would be out of the office well before the lunch break.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 21, 2014, 1:12 GMT

Further to whether Aus post-2006 "dramatically" fell from the summit or not: it seems that the large historical slices you've used tend to smooth the curves so that all of the 3 post-summit drops look similar to each other. However, just to compare the last 2 (WI post-1989 & Aus post-2006), we know this wasn't the case, and we also know why. As late as 1995, it was still an open question as to whether WI's dominance had ended, or whether Aus was now the best test team. That's because WI still had a number of world-class players - Lara, Ambrose, Walsh. However, as the 90s continued, it became clearer that WI was in serious decline, and that decline has virtually continued to today. On the other hand, Australia's fall was spectacular and clear in the first 3 years, because they lost all their greats (bar Ponting) at once. But their rise in the last 3 years has been almost equally spectacular. The crucial differences, then, are the size of the fall and the extent of the bounce-back.
[[
Perfectly valid, David. India-Australia is a case in point. 4-0 followed by 0-4 and a potential 4-0 indicates that Australia at home is virtually impregnable. It is only the lack of quality spinners which is making them look only above-average away, especially in the sub-continent. Unlike the West Indians around 2000 when they started losing their status at home: barring those individual brilliancies.
I would say that is because of the FC system in Australia. Hughes goes back to the tough FC matches and comes back with impressive numbers. In India no Test player plays FC cricket. Gambhir went from Test failure to Test failure through IPL success. Where will Kohli and Pujara learn how to play on seaming pitches. I certainly am not "jealous" of IPL when I say that both of them and Rahane should give up an IPL to play for 2 months in England.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 20, 2014, 22:51 GMT

Hi Ananth. You observe the "three dramatic drops after reaching the summit" and ask if SA can buck the trend. However, in the case of Aus 2007-14, the drop has only been relatively dramatic - from stratospheric to very good. Aus 2007-14 is still significantly above average on both performance and results measures. Everyone has always acknowledged the extreme improbalility of ever repeating such a confluence in one team of "once-in-a-generation" quality players like Ponting, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath, which is the reason for the almost incomprehensible performance/results ratings (62.62/1.66). If you removed any 2 of the above-mentioned 4 players from that team, their performance/results figures would have probably dropped to around 55/1.45 respectively. Which would still make the figures for Aus 2007-14 worse (51.88/1.18), but not "dramatically" so. There are very few teams of the last 137 years that would be unhappy to have comparable figures to the current Aus team.
[[
Yes, your points are well made. Australia still is clocking in at 51.9 and 1.66, around their all-time numbers.
If Federer does not win a GS this year, it would be termed a fair year only. If Ferrer has a similar period, that would still be a great year for him.
Ananth
]]

• on August 26, 2014, 9:48 GMT

I remember Shane Warne in his commentary recently saying, to win win some matches you have to risk losing them. That i think is exactly the reason why the Aus side 2000-06 lost a few more matches/series than the WInd side of the 80s. In a 50-50 situation where the WInd team probably played out a dominating draw, the Aussies went after an aggressive target or set an achievable one, where other sides were content playing out a draw. WInd side of the 80s is not to be blamed here, it was probably the time that they played in. I think its the option of a draw available that makes most sides play defensively. How else can we explain Dhoni pulling down shutters on an 85 run target in 15 overs? Can you imagine the Aussies of 2000-06 doing that with Gilly at the crease, they probably would have won with 3 overs to spare or even lost by 25 runs. What if there was no option of a draw for Dhoni? what if it was an ODI where victory and loss are mutually exclusive? probably we'd have more results.
[[
Santosh, recently we have had a few situations in which Teams declared with over 500 runs targets and a few matches have been drawn. If you HAVE to win a Test desperately, you have to give the other team a target of 300 on the last day rather than 350 in 70 overs.
One thing also is certain. A team with 90% record at home and 40% away might be at no.1 by a specific Rating system but stands no chance of being evenly fleetingly thought of as an all-time great team. Anyone would go for a 70%-60% team.
Whatever my forthcoming analysis will reveal, the two teams we are considering: West Indies 198x-198x and Australia 199x-200x were magnificent away.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 18:07 GMT

Anantha, you said "As long as I keep a reasonable number of Tests as the minimum, all these questions will be answered. That is something which I will know only when I spend some time on the data." REASONABLE being the operative word it poses the imperative inquiry as to what that COULD be - even if you've said you'll "...know only when I spend some time on the data". The number of Tests played be each country differ both marginally in the case of some countries and quite drastically in the the case of others. That is one factor that ICC fails to consider when they randomnly stick to a DURATIONAL process. I suspect you'll settle on a # that is statistically derived and I suggest that the longest unbeaten run of 27 of WI be considered the BASE. That is... take the 27 unbeaten Tests WI played + total # of Tests played by all countries during that period and that will give you the # of Tests as the ABSOLUTE #. Just a thought.
[[
The streak numbers are always based on something like that. More cricket expertise and common sense rather than statistical derivations. For Tests it was 52 and 27. For teams it could very well be 27 or a round number like 30. For the ODI Streak analysis which I will do after this Test effort, Zaheer Abbas's 62 and Lillee'2 63 are prime candidates. So that is the way to go.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 5:16 GMT

Gerry_the_Merry: Read your input with interest but I couldn't help but observe the following (partly because I have already commented on this in a post here): WI went without a Series loss for 15 years - from 1980-1995. Patrick Patterson never played in a series that was lost! What a life. Yet, the Lloyd years (as a percentage of wins) was marginally lower compared to 1985-1991 under Viv Richards. LLoyd sure had to DRAG the WI up from the depths of winning a mere 20% of Tests over some 130+ Tests prior to him taking over (It is an AMUSING exercise to look up who was representing WI cricket during that period!). I will agree that 1979-1984 were a peak in that their best unbeaten run of 27 Tests occured during that time (which included 17 wins). But the overall successes of WI best compares under Richards from '85-'91. It was a truly REMARKABLE period in WI cricket.
[[
As long as I keep a reasonable number of Tests as the minimum, all these questions will be answered. That is something which I will know only when I spend some time on the data.
Ananth
]]

• NCP1 on August 21, 2014, 20:23 GMT

Great analysis over a long period. Clearly shows consistent performance, improvement and domination of teams like WI or AUS in a particular period of time. We all know that WI team was great with fast bowlers and fantastic batsman. It shows their utter domination with the next team at least 10 points below. Similarly AUS in the 2000-2006 period with the next best team at least 10 points below. The relative strength of other teams does matter but when one team is so superior for so long it shows up in your chart. Drop of WI team in the last few years is very clear as the improvement of SL and IND.
[[
This difference is more pronounced in the Results index. West Indies is 1.52 and the next best is 1.08 which is about 71%. This difference does not exist even in the 2000-06 period in which Australia was 1.66 and South Africa 1.14 (68%). In the Performance index, this difference for West Indies was 10.5 (on a lower value) and Australia's was also 10.5 but on a higher value.
Thanks for a nice nugget.
Ananth
]]

• McWheels on August 21, 2014, 11:37 GMT

Anath, again a well-constructed article which makes clear with a modicum of thought what might otherwise be incomprehensible.I especially appreciated the Team results explanation of weighting, a gem within the treasure. I find it intriguing that the 2 graphs you provide have the pretty much the same peaks in the same places, with the exception of SL not showing quite as well in absolute results. However, my instinct remains that if 2 excellent teams hammer it out over a tight series, we see the same outputs as if 2 poor sides fail to comprehensively beat one another. Ultimately what we are measuring here is how good each side was relative to its competitors, and in those relative terms Aus is clearly the winner. I hugely anticipate the team strength component, but feel you may need to take into account historical average scores, pitch measures, rolling home/away advantages by location to try and distill down a useful non-dimensional figure.
[[
You have interpreted the best-within-period idea correctly. Problem comes only when we compare these numbers across periods. We start talking about an Australian win over Bangladesh as seemingly not worthy of the 2.xx points, forgetting that Australia could have as well have lost that match. At least my next excursion into this will answer some of these points.
I may need to incorporate these measures if I did a Test Rating for the 137 years. Here I am going to only look for teams which strung together a sequence of good to very good results over an extended number of Tests. This is somewhat like the Bradman sequence of 52 Tests except that there is no single team possessing that type of streak. So I have to play with years and Tests.

Ananth
]]

• harshthakor on August 21, 2014, 11:16 GMT

Ananth I respect your criteria and consistency but still fell you could shorten the periods to atleast 4-5 years.Afterall was not Clive Lloyd's unit at its' peak in 1983-85 , Viv Richard's team at it's best from mid 1988 to 1990 before it started to decline.,or Ian Chappells Australian team at their spectacular best til the intervention of World Series Cricket.To judge a team's merit at it's best consistency and longevity is secondary to peak performances.Viv Richard's Calypsos in England in 1988 and Australia in 1988-89 could well have beaten Steve Waugh's Australians .The South African team that beat Australia in 1969-70 may well have bean the 2007-14 Proteas.The 1963 team led by Frank Worrel was more versatile than Loyd's bunch and all but won the famous 1960-61 series down under. I admire the consistency of the 2007-14 Proteas but feel they benefited from the standard of test teams declining and often failed to force wins in series ,particularly at home.
[[
I have repeated time and again that the current pair of articles have pre-determined basis of periods. You will have problems with the 4-5 year base when a team has played only 10 Test matches. Sustained excellence cannot be of shorter duration. The bars have to be moved higher so that the final result is worthy of passing the test of time. Also so many "could have beaten" phrases do not mean much. The teams were strong in their respective eras, that is all. Again why comment on the SOuth African's inability to produce wins at home when they could very well have compensated for this with some unexcepted wins away from home.
I think you should wait for the next installment of this saga.
Ananth
]]

• RaviMarathe on August 21, 2014, 10:16 GMT

Hi Ananth, a good article as always. It brings out some of the usual suspects and the more recent rise of the South African team. In this article and the previous one the general majority of the comments was reserved for Aus 2000-06 and WI 1980s teams and a general skim-over of the rest. However I see from the avg test result points plot that India (and SL in their 30 year history) are the only team that has a decade-on-decade improvement (with a small blip in the 70s). They have not been the best but they have improved. All other teams have seen poor decades following good ones.
[[
That is a nice point, Ravi and welcome back. This upward trend has continued in the Performance points measure indicating that when they won (mostly at home), they won well. The Result index has seen a drop, no doubt caused by the calamitous 13 Tests.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 8:43 GMT

Hi Ananth. A fascinating article and I must say that you along with Milind are throwing some really great numbers to justify what was obvious to many but lacked statistical backing. While discsussion about Aus, WI and SA are well taken care of, I find that the Indian period from 2000 t0 2006 was the golden age of Indian cricket. Correct me if I am wrong but I think that having a shade better value of 1.13 compared to 1.11 currently shows that India did considerably well away from home during 2000-06. By that I mean that they kept chipping away wins and drawing more when travelling. 2007-14, India has won more at home I believe but its the away performances that have really harmed India.
[[
Dev, Yes it is true that India's best period was 2000-06, as was Sri Lanka's as was Australia's. That makes it three teams. India matched Australia, at home and away, during this period and that is a great achievement. Those were the batsmen who would think that batting for a day and a half to save a Test was a normal day in the office. As my next article would show, the current Indian team, on an average, finishes a Test innings in fewer overs than an ODI innings, and would be out of the office well before the lunch break.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 21, 2014, 1:12 GMT

Further to whether Aus post-2006 "dramatically" fell from the summit or not: it seems that the large historical slices you've used tend to smooth the curves so that all of the 3 post-summit drops look similar to each other. However, just to compare the last 2 (WI post-1989 & Aus post-2006), we know this wasn't the case, and we also know why. As late as 1995, it was still an open question as to whether WI's dominance had ended, or whether Aus was now the best test team. That's because WI still had a number of world-class players - Lara, Ambrose, Walsh. However, as the 90s continued, it became clearer that WI was in serious decline, and that decline has virtually continued to today. On the other hand, Australia's fall was spectacular and clear in the first 3 years, because they lost all their greats (bar Ponting) at once. But their rise in the last 3 years has been almost equally spectacular. The crucial differences, then, are the size of the fall and the extent of the bounce-back.
[[
Perfectly valid, David. India-Australia is a case in point. 4-0 followed by 0-4 and a potential 4-0 indicates that Australia at home is virtually impregnable. It is only the lack of quality spinners which is making them look only above-average away, especially in the sub-continent. Unlike the West Indians around 2000 when they started losing their status at home: barring those individual brilliancies.
I would say that is because of the FC system in Australia. Hughes goes back to the tough FC matches and comes back with impressive numbers. In India no Test player plays FC cricket. Gambhir went from Test failure to Test failure through IPL success. Where will Kohli and Pujara learn how to play on seaming pitches. I certainly am not "jealous" of IPL when I say that both of them and Rahane should give up an IPL to play for 2 months in England.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 20, 2014, 22:51 GMT

Hi Ananth. You observe the "three dramatic drops after reaching the summit" and ask if SA can buck the trend. However, in the case of Aus 2007-14, the drop has only been relatively dramatic - from stratospheric to very good. Aus 2007-14 is still significantly above average on both performance and results measures. Everyone has always acknowledged the extreme improbalility of ever repeating such a confluence in one team of "once-in-a-generation" quality players like Ponting, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath, which is the reason for the almost incomprehensible performance/results ratings (62.62/1.66). If you removed any 2 of the above-mentioned 4 players from that team, their performance/results figures would have probably dropped to around 55/1.45 respectively. Which would still make the figures for Aus 2007-14 worse (51.88/1.18), but not "dramatically" so. There are very few teams of the last 137 years that would be unhappy to have comparable figures to the current Aus team.
[[
Yes, your points are well made. Australia still is clocking in at 51.9 and 1.66, around their all-time numbers.
If Federer does not win a GS this year, it would be termed a fair year only. If Ferrer has a similar period, that would still be a great year for him.
Ananth
]]

• wizard_2169 on August 20, 2014, 17:26 GMT

Excellent analysis. With the dynamic analysis , it can offer more insights. As a ballpark, a dip of 0.25 or more in averages is seen to be correlated with exit of some great players for the respective countries (and vice-versa as well .) E.g. Aus from 1.47 -> 1.16 in 1960s (due to exit of Benaud/ Davidson etc) and more recently - a steeper decline of 1.66 -> 1.18 (due to exit of greats like Warne/ McGrath/ Gilchrist / Hayden etc) . WI have noted the steepest decline from 1.52->1.00 in the eighties and have since never recovered. The recent gainers are Eng and SA. SL made big strides in 1990s - with the advent of Murali and others. NZ in 1980s (Due to Turner/Hadlee). India had shown remarkable improvement in the 70s (0.69 -> 0.95) - due to contribution of players like Gavaskar/ Vishwanath/ Spin quartet etc. It is also interesting to note that Pak team has maintained consistency across the years in the averages. May be the standard deviation index could bring this point out.
[[
Pakistan has always had a strong bowling team capable of winning everywhere. They have been recently been handicapped with many problems coming together. But until around 2005 or so this was true.
A drop of 0.25 in the Results table is a very significant one and it is clear that this is, as you have observed, accompanied by the departure of greats. Happened to West Indies, Pakistan and Australia. Now is happening to India and will happen to Sri Lanka.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 11:21 GMT

Hi Anantha, fascinating exercise.....you are breaking new ground !! As you have shown 2000-06 Aussies come out on top on all indices, but it is hard to believe that they were better than West Indies 1980-89. One thing to consider WI 1980-89 was an era of home umpires and it was very difficult to win away from home. But they consistently did that. Aus 2000-06 played in the neutral umpiring era, which certainly gave them an advantage. Plus with the 90 over a day rule it became difficult to escape with a draw. Hence chances of the better team forcing a result increased. Also during 1980-89 we didn't have minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Not sure if these factors can be built into the logic. I am eagerly looking forward to your analysis of the the Best Team of all Times. My heart tells me West Indies 1980-89......hope the stats bear that out !!
[[
I get your point very clearly. And my dynamic analysis incorporating both team strength and location should certainly answer your query. Also that would work on the best streak rather than fixed 10-year periods. I myself do not know which way the pendulum will swing.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 10:22 GMT

Dear Anantha, extreme depths touched in your article once again! It satisfies one's doubts about which was the best(est) team, if there ever was one at all! Have a request though, is there any measure by which the prowess of the oppositions can be taken into factor as well? I believe if we take the sheer number or oppositions as well as the quality of oppositions played, Australia will come out on the top nonetheless (As only England, Australia and a bit of India and Pakistan were the oppositions that offered any match to the mighty Windies of the 80's). The result remains the same...but an extra ounce of stat is added as a pillar to your analysis. Thanks!
[[
Avnish, if you read the last segment of my article I have mentioned that I will do the dynamic analysis and will try and include the opposition team strengths and the location. That will remove all doubts. My preliminary work indicates that I can do this very effectively.
Ananth
]]

• Ragav999 on August 25, 2014, 18:20 GMT

This is an excellent article along with your earlier piece. Thanks for putting so much time and effort for the sake of cricket lovers. It is very comprehensive, unbiased and revealing. One can conclude that Australia from 2000-06 have been the stand out team by any measure over the history of test cricket. This despite having to contend with McGrath and Warne missing many tests due to injury and testing positive for drugs respectively. I think what many fans of WI's team of 80's don't comprehend is that even though they did not lose a series, they did not win many tests either which helps in maintaining a good Win/loss ratio and better team score.
[[
The next article will, hopefully, make a final statement about it. But discussions, arguments and exchanges are the lifeblood of this blogspace.
Ananth
]]

• Cool_Jeeves on August 25, 2014, 8:54 GMT

But Bradman's 1948 invincibles would be certainly up there as the joint #1 in my books with the 80s Windies. Bradman's own batting may well have tilted the scales in his team's favour, in a hypothetical match up.

• Cool_Jeeves on August 25, 2014, 8:52 GMT

Hi Ananth, certainly. Numbers don't lie, and they cannot be overlooked, but neither can it be overlooked that apart from a lone series against NZ in a very narrow loss in a side without Richards, WI did not lose anything or even remotely look like losing. But numbers are numbers, and I for one would agree that Aussies were a bit more relentless when pressing for wins. West Indies team that played 6 against India had little in common (except Kalli and Clarke) with the teams that toured Australia, NZ, Pak, Eng in 1980. The other 4 tours were all by the full strength team. In 1979 there was also World Cup in England. In one of my previous posts I meant that West Indies always had 1-2 reserve bowlers who were clocking world class numbers (e.g. Walsh was on the fringes, so was Clarke, so was Daniel - combined they would average 26 with 4+ wickets per test).

• Cool_Jeeves on August 25, 2014, 3:59 GMT

contd...3/3. McGrath and Warne have tremendous aggregates, but what matters in team strike power is wickets / match. These two did perhaps more than 9 per match, and including Gillespie, around 13 per match. But West Indies for a long time had even their 4th bowler running at 4.5+ wickets per match during the 76-86 period. Hence comparable or higher striker power.

I cannot agree that while the Aussies produced slightly inferior strike numbers than WI, that they should be considered better simply because they had Warne, a spinner, while WI did not have any spinner. Sure, the Aussie attack was more balanced, but the Windies quicks delivered the numbers everywhere.

Regarding fragility of the WI batting, I remember ONLY 2 tests - 1985 and 1989 sydney tests. But they consistently did well against India, Pak, Australia, England (underwood). Australia however stumbled against spin in India in 2001.

Hence Ananth's stats are impressive, but I stick to my Best Indies.
[[
Let us wait and watch for a few days more. Gerry you may very well be right but should be prepared to accept the results once all these factors such as weak teams and location are taken into account.
While I was doing the preliminary work on that article, I noticed a peculiar quirk. Between 1/12/78, when they played India at Mumbai and 30/12/1980, when they played Pak at Multan, for over two years, West Indies played 21 Tests away: 6 against Ind, 3 against Aus, 3 against Nzl, 5 against England and 4 against Pak. What a quixotic scheduling.
Ananth
]]

• Cool_Jeeves on August 25, 2014, 3:54 GMT

Contd... 2 of 3. Further, Australia did drop 2 important series which they wanted to win - in 2001 against India and in 2005 against England.

Regarding Aus batting being the strongest of all time - this is a claim I cannot accept ever. West Indies in 1980s were the strongest batting line up of THEIR time, and one of the strongest ever, as also the Aussies of 2000, but I would leave it there. To say they were the best ever is impossible - just look at what happened in the 2005 Ashes. Ponting with 39.4 was the highest averaging batsman. Everyone else practically failed. England's was perhaps the strongest pace attack since the West Indies of the 80s - no one likes real pace.

Australian bowling - here certainly there is no comparison - the West Indies had 1-2 bowlers usually who were averaging as good as any all time great - e.g. Croft, but Australia was McGrath, Gillespie and Warne, with no reserves. I cannot consider Lee in the same league.

contd...

• Cool_Jeeves on August 25, 2014, 3:50 GMT

@drinks.break - very merited arguments, though you have slightly stretched the interpretation of the point I made about West Indies changing gears. I also did not mention anything about WI making it look effortless. I just meant that they seemed to have enormous lasting powers and other teams would start falling away in the second innings.

Regarding higher % of games won - In WI time, there were no minnows the played against - They never played Sri Lanka during this period. India were always good at home, with spinners - it did not matter a whit. Australia - whacked 2-0 in 1979 and in 1983-84 whacked 6-0 in 6 consecutive tests. England in England - they had beaten Australia (3-1 in 1981), India, Pakistan, NZ, and then again 3-1 over Australia in 1985. And 2-1 in India in 1984-85. It was this England team which was thrashed 10-0 by WI.

Australia did have many good wins, but I would not take the 5-0 over WI very seriously. They were pathetic in 2000 (and since)...contd.

• SLSup on August 23, 2014, 15:40 GMT

Anantha, I found the rating link, it's the Idea Cricket Rating Zone at http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/zones/cricketrating It has last update as Aug 8th 2014.
[[
Yes, that is the work I do for Idea Cricket Ratings. It encompasses all the elements of Ratings but is only for the short term: 1 year and 5 years.
Ananth
]]

• Sportz_Freak on August 22, 2014, 15:30 GMT

Cont...final.

The Aus tendancy to go for it though led them to lose a few games they should have drawn. Calcutta and Chennai were drawable matches that they lost going for the win.

A couple of points on the other teams.....

If the SA team of Amla (& Smith) can find an additional gear to finish off teams/series they will definitely belong in the conversation. They prefer to win to get ahead in the series and then hang on for draws in the other matches. No one can draw a match like them though (its a compliment).

Lastly, while plenty has been said of the aura and fear factor of the Windies (physical threat) and Aussies (fear of getting hammered/routed)...the biggest aura still belongs to one person who hasnt been mentioned here as much as he should (as always). Its not always an opposition captain confirms that this guy is unable to bat before declaring with the score at 903.......
[[
I am also surprised that the 40s Australian team does not even get a mention. Their Performance number is better than that of West indies and their Result number is better than the South Africans. They certainly deserve to be included in the discussions.
Ananth
]]

• Sportz_Freak on August 22, 2014, 15:25 GMT

Contd..

Lastly, both teams had a swagger which I loved. One difference though (and this is just an observation, nothing statistical) - the go-for-a-win-at-all costs Aussies made them a more entertaining team to watch. The Windies bowling strategy of "pulp them into submission" was effective but often resulted in very poor over rates and the play extending an hour or two longer. It got monotonous after a while. The Aussie batting with their 4 RPO just took the game away no matter the situation. A few games comes to mind - mumbai, at 99-5 Gilchrist and Hayden with that incredible stand take the game away in a couple of sessions. Langer&Ponting vs Pak 60 odd for 5, come up with a 300 stand against some lightning fast bowling. Aus vs NZ in 2001 -Fleming, a highly astute captain - defending 440 with a chance for a rare win - Aus 6 down, still over 150 odd to win..spreads the field somewhat..because of what Gilchrist can do..that is an Aura.

Contd once more..

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 15:24 GMT

Anantha, Sept 13 noted. The exchange between you, Gerry, and drinks.break speaks for how big a factor TEAM-work is to CONSISTENTLY succeed in Tests compared to individual brilliance of certain players - even with the Gilly/Warne example of how their combined efforts may have contributed to Team Performance points. I can think of better players than Gilly or Warne but whose performances didn't contribute as well to a winning TEAM because the rest of the team wasn't as good as the AUS during Gilly/Warne combine to make their efforts count AS MUCH. What is great about analytical work like this Test Performance & Results Analysis is that it leaves out all Subjectivities to focus on exactly what it must (and does): performance and results!
[[
The one big drawback in this analysis is the not-artificial-but-somewhat-rigid fixing of timeframes. My period groupings are the best I could think of and I am not sure whether anyone can think of a better grouping. But this drawback will disappear in the next analysis. The added measures will be Location results, recent form and the team strengths. And we may very well get surprises there. The West Indians for a specific period during the 1980s, the Australians during the mid-2000s, the 1940s Australians during specific period are all possibilities.
Ananth
]]
Gerry, your response/points noted. I once analysed those WI years with their PACE QUARTET to compare with Quartets (not all pace) from other countries (alt time periods) and found NO statistical difference. It was just PACE and a lot of bruises!

• Sportz_Freak on August 22, 2014, 15:19 GMT

Excellent analysis. Confirms what the eye-test suspected - that while the Windies were very good, the Aussies were better. As you mentioned, the Aus batting had no holes while the #6 spot for WI was a little suspect. The biggest lineup differences were Gilchrist at 7 and Warne as a spinner to give the attack variety.

Also, I know one of the points that is used against the Aussies in this comparison is that they lost a couple of series - whilst this is true, one thing everyone forgets is that they had to play a lot more 3 test series where its easier to get "ambushed" so they chance of one dropping one somewhere was higher. A quick count indicates that WI had four 3 test series out of 19 in the 80s. Aus had seventeen 2 or 3 test series (out of 24) between 2000 and 2006 . They won 60 tests, lost 10 and drew just 11 which is staggering. (Goes to 70/10/11 if you include 1999).

Contd....

• drinks.break on August 22, 2014, 12:06 GMT

@Gerry_the_Merry, you seem to suggest that WI under Lloyd/Richards only won when the mood took them - because if they were able to change gears so easily in order to "mow down" any opposition, then why didn't they win more? Perhaps you've mistaken a laconic and easy-going demeanour on the field with "playing within themselves". A bit like saying that Mark Waugh was better than Steve because he looked effortless at the crease - or accusing him of not caring about his wicket. Did WI not care enough to win more? Because Aus under Waugh/Ponting won a much higher % of games than WI under Lloyd/Richards - and they didn't lose any more often either. Aus's great achievement was to virtually eliminate the draw. With WI, you might not have been able to dominate their pace quartet, but you could sometimes hold on for a draw. With Aus, even that option was taken away from you - thanks to hyper-aggressive batsmen in Hayden, Ponting & Gilchrist, and hyper-controlled bowling by McGrath/Warne.
[[
David, good points. The Australian batting was, by far, the best ever seen on the field. Even Bradman-led lineup could come near that. There was no weakness. Gilchrist at no.6/7 was a fearsome sight. I would venture to say that an Indian batting lineup with Sehwag and containing the four greats + Dhoni could have come closer. But not in all conditions.
Many of these observations are subjective. We have to go by objective verifiable methods.
The Aussies also taught a masterclass on "How to win". Their batting was absolutely top-drawer, incomparable. Their pace bowling was very good, certainly not comparable to the West Indian attack or Pakistani attacks. There are two X-factors which we have to agree which would set the Australians from the others. Gilchrist and Warne. I personally think these two probably added 10 Performance points and 0.3 Result points to the side.
Ananth
]]

• Cool_Jeeves on August 22, 2014, 10:35 GMT

SLSup, there are in my mind principally two reasons why Lloyds/Richards' team of 1976-86 was better than Richards in 1985-91.

Firstly the bowling - Ambrose *& Bishop sure, but the others were usually a flagging Marshall, Patterson, and Walsh. Can't compare with Holding/Marshall/Garner/Croft + one or two other deadly bowlers who came in and went out intermittently.

Secondly, in the period you mention, 1985-1991, Richards was a brilliant batsman only till 1986. Thereafter he briefly shone in the 1988-89 tour of Australia, but from 1987-1991 with the exception of that tour, there was a steady deterioration of the West Indies team because of his own batting declining as age caught up with him.

In the 1976-86 period, I suggested this period simply because was the all-conquering batsman we know him to be.

When Richards was dropped before the 1992 tri-series against India and Australia in Australia, there was a big hue and cry, but soon after people observed the higher energy levels.
[[
Gerry/SlSup: I can only say: Wait and watch for this to be answered, in these columns on 13 September.
Ananth
]]

• on August 22, 2014, 10:15 GMT

Forgive my off topic comment. Ananth, I know you are very much averse to this idea, but still for fun & What If analysis, can you please include Rest of the World matches in Eng & Aus (1970 - 72) & Packer supertests in 2 series and provide an alternate Cricket Stat universe in an separate article? You may say to me that, you yourself look at the scorecards & compute & prepare your own stat of players accordingly. Obviously we can do that but perhaps in the hand of a person like you, the analysis may become much more in-depth than a mere statement of some raw data. You may only need to capture the summary details of those matches & somehow carry out the study once keeping them separate from your prepared database of Test matches (because they are FC as per ICC & you look at them like that). Is this not possible for you at all? Again I apologize if this request has made you angry.
[[
First, Arnab, what makes you think that I would get angry. The players who played in these matches are the best ever and my favourite players.
Problem is that there is too much work involved for what I perceive will be of no great benefit. In my programs I have put in many checks and validations. One thing I hate is hard coding. Now let me tell you. At least in 10 program segments I have to hard code one team in one single Test (Test #1768 between Australia and ?????). I had to create a country called ICC and exclude that from many programs.
So I have to create a separate database and modify many programs to set up and run these. All to what purpose. That the RoW teams were great. Of course, they were. Also how many matches are we looking at.
Flawed it is, but I believe and work within the guidelines of the entity, how often do I wish they are not so weak-kneed and ineffectual, called ICC. In their infinite wisdom (or lack of it), they have considered the Aus vs ICC as official but not Aus vs RoW. The 111 by Hayden and 76 by Sehwag are counted but Sobers' 254 and the Chappell/Walters hundreds are not. But I cannot do anything about it.
Start a campaign to make these Tests official. I will support you.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 22, 2014, 4:45 GMT

Anantha, you said you "..don't have a Team Ranking table" but I am telling you that you DO! Hahahaha. Yes, I am awaiting the next post eagerly to see what it represents; the rankings I referred to is the link you shared a months back where there is a Test ranking method where I didn't fully agree with. Not that I completely disagreed but it was hard to believe SL standings were THAT high. I was wondering if I could have the link to revisit that page.
[[
Let me check back into the documents. But that will vertainly be out-of-date by now. I am confident that the one I am now working on for the third installment of this interesting topic will overcome many objections.
Ananth
]]
You said "...intellectual efforts are rarely sponsored". True. What it also means is that they ARE sponsored, albeit RARELY. Aha. Keep searching for that elusive and exceptional soul who'll recognize the value of your work and perhaps someday we'll have a ranking that EVERYONE can have an intellectual debate on.
[[
For me the recognition I get from my readers more than makes up. But if one has to do week-in-week-out analysis and website management, some form of support is needed.
Ananth
]]
However, I think we will have MANY a diagreements on methodology once it is published IF IT IS ANYWHERE NEAR how ICC does it now! I just read the entire ICC methodology before submitting this post. Wasted my time, AGAIN!

• Cool_Jeeves on August 22, 2014, 4:15 GMT

contd...(2) The previous Australia series (1983-84) was amazing also. While there was good competition, the Windies did not lose a single second innings wicket in the entire series. They nearly chased down 300 without loss in the first test itself. In Barbados, after a small lead, they bowled Australia out for almost an innings victory. Steve Waugh's Australians were completely different. The captain's philosophy was to play at the team's extreme best form at all times. This posed a problem when teams occoasionally rose - for instance in India 2001 or New Zealand in 2000, when Australia was a bit surprised. With the West Indies that never happened, they just mowed down teams with the exception of Australia in 1981-82. People have written that you should compare 1979-84, which was the peak of the West Indies. You have replied that 5 years is too little. Why don't you compare 1976-1986 excluding packer years? based on having watched both teams, I feel you will reach different results
[[
Gerry, I don't know how many times I have to write that the floating period will be covered in the next Dynamic period analysis. It has been mentioned in both articles and a few times in my responses.
If West Indies were TRULY great between 1976-86, that will come through in the next analysis. Anyhow I will never ever exclude one set of years because the players opted to go out and play for a rebel outfit. Australia and West Indies, during 1977-78, will be what they played with: sans the rebels. These are subjective calls and do not have a place in whatever I do.
Ananth
]]

• Cool_Jeeves on August 22, 2014, 4:09 GMT

Hi Ananth, very interesting. The previous article was thought provoking also. However, my instinct runs completely contrary to your conclusions. For a start, I noticed in some comments that mentioned the West Indies played well within themselves. That is absolutely true. Another comment, perhaps from you, that Australia had perhaps more aggressive openers - totally disagree. There are 3-4 dimensions to this.

Firstly, anecdotal. In the Lord's test of 1984, had Haynes not been run out, West Indies may well have won by 10 wickets, chasing 344 in 5 hours. In 1984 in the same series, except the 1st and 4th tests at Egbaston and Old Trafford, the games were apparently very close in the first innings. But the way the West Indies changed gears in the second innings was not funny, and either it was Haynes carrying his bat at the Oval in a low scoring match, or Marshall taking 7-22 or Greenidge cutting loose, the change in momentum was stunning. contd...

• on August 21, 2014, 21:22 GMT

Hi Ananth! A really fascinating and deep study! I look forward to the dynamic analysis with the oppo strength and the match conditions incorporated. As a lifelong West Indies supporter I feel slightly galled that they are not at the top, but we seem to have short memories about how excellent that Aussie side of 2000-2006 were. An interesting area of study could be about how balanced certain batting line ups are. I can rarely remember that Australian side getting skittled and I instinctively feel that is because they had such a variety of batsmen who had their own strengths in different conditions. Bowling to Adam Gilchrist vs Ponting vs Hayden vs Waugh were very different prospects. As such a bowling side could never feel settled against them. In comparison to England's line up in 2010, I feel Australia had more options to combat the bowling. England were excellent but slightly one dimensional in comparison.
[[
West Indies had a single weakness: the absence of a quality spinner. Australia had none. And I think that was the difference. But the West Indian pacemen were God's own quartet. They could come to the flat pitches of the sub-continent and blast the teams out.
Ananth
]]

• Harry31j on August 21, 2014, 18:55 GMT

Many thanks Anantha. One thing I don't understand, how is India's index in a steady incline in last 7 years? Shouldn't it be a see-saw by virtue of dismal away tours separated by great home performances? Or is the graph not a continuous one?
[[
Harry, the graph is not a continuous one. It connects the period numbers together. In other words, India's overall Result index for the period 2007-2014 is 1.11. The same for the frozen 2000-06 period was 1.13. These two are connected to show the trend across periods. If you look along the vertical columns this will be clear.
Ananth
]]

• SLSup on August 21, 2014, 17:16 GMT

The 50% margins highlighted interests me because I usually take a 50% winning percentage of Tests as the equivalent to determine how well a player has captained a side. That's why I rate Viv with close to 55% winning margin better than Lloyd's record of winning close to 50% (If I recall right it was 53% & 48% respectively). To hit a 50% winning margin as a Team or as a Skipper is quite an achievement. Not many teams or captains have achieved that in history. As is to be expected, your Test Performances periods overlap (as some others have pointed out, too) but, then, cricket is not Chess - it's a team sport. The same can be said of captaining a side because players overlap leadership changes and it is not always the captain who wins or lose a game. As an aside, may I have the DIRECT LINK to the Team Rankings that you do. The more I look at ICC method the less I like it. I'd like to look at yours to see if I could tweak it! Good luck to me!
[[
No, I do not have a Team Rankings table. Milind and I have been exchanging notes on that for a few months now. Now I expect the Dynamic period work will push it forward. The next logical step would be a 137x52 week rankings. But that is some time away. Managing that level of data and the presentation would require some form of sponsorship. But then intellectual efforts are rarely sponsored. Even if a batsman cannot buy a run, he only needs to hold a "fairness cream" in his hand, companies would be queuing up with their cheques. No complaints at all.
Ananth
]]

• Biggus on August 21, 2014, 12:03 GMT

@Anand:- It wasn't just Packer cricket that caused the weakening of the Australian team of the mid '70s. Jeff Thomson was badly injured in the first test versus Pakistan in late '76, well before Packer cricket, and was never the same again apart from one legendary spell in Barbados a year or so later. Similarly the bowler who topped the bowling averages in our 5-1 defeat of the Windies in 75/76, Gary Gilmour, was succumbing to injury woes and a lack of hunger for the professional game during the same series Vs Pakistan. Ross Edwards and Ian Redpath, who had scored three centuries during that 5-1 beating of the Windies, never played post Packer and Ian Chappell retired soon after the conclusion of the Packer series. The Packer affair certainly caused some problems but in my opinion the demise of some players and retirements of others caused more. The real problem in the aftermath of Packer was the reintegration of the us and them camps, the major casualty ending up being Kim Hughes.
[[
Yes, it is true that Packer happened and other retirements happened soon afterwards. Certainly they were never anywhere near their 1975 level. And 1979-1980 saw new lows.
Ananth
]]

• McWheels on August 21, 2014, 11:43 GMT

JP, Just acknowledging your mail. Will respond to you directly. Ananth

• harshthakor on August 21, 2014, 11:25 GMT

South Africa gained some spectacular wins in Australia in 2007-08 and in England in 2012 but often failed to win rubbers at home .Infact they reached the top with the decline of Australian cricket in 2009.No doubt I praise their depth in bowling and talent in batting but feel it did not compare in terms of talent or match-wining killer instinct to the champion West Indian and Australian teams.Infact arguably the side led By Hanse Cronje was equally good which became the 1st overseas team to defeat India in a series for 15 years in 2000.I find it difficult imagining thei Proteas bunch emulating the 1969-70 South African team that vanquished Australia 4-0 at home. I would make inclusions of West Indies from 1960-67,South Africa fro 1965-70 and Pakistan from 1976-79 and 1987-92.
[[
Let us see whether any teams you have mentioned to get included in the next analysis which will incorporate location and team strength (based on Performance points).
The South African 4-0 series was the only series they played. Can we do any extrapolation. It is like extrapolating Barry Richards' average.
Ananth
]]

• harshthakor on August 21, 2014, 11:04 GMT

Ananth,I praise your great efforts but wish to stress some important factors. In certain periods of the game the competitiveness and opposition was much stronger like in the mid 1970's, late 1980's or early 1990's.Ian Chappel's 1975 Australians were arguably atleast as talented as Steve Waugh's team thrashing the Calypsos by a 5-1 margin in 1975-76 and earlier England 4-1 at home in 1974-75 and 1-0 in England in 1975.If not for advent of Packer cricket it may well have been joint world champions with Lloyd's men till 1979 which they proved with their performances in World series cricket drawing 1-1 in the Carribaen in 1978-79 Pakistan under Mushtaq Muhammad was almost on par with West Indies and Australia in the late 1970's and again under Imran from 1987-92 were the joint champions with the West Indies Had that side played from 2007 -14 it may have conquered the South African team with it's great talent. Infact South Africa from 1965-1970 was stronger than from 2007-14 .
[[
If West Indies consistently defeated teams who were nearly as strong as they were (using Performance points as the base), this fact will come out in the dynamic period analysis. If Australia was unbeatable in 1975 and became poor in the next two years due to the Packer incursions, what really can we do. Packer happened and cannot be wished away. Maybe Lillee & co could have said "No" to Packer. The bottomline is that the real scores are all what matter.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 7:42 GMT

Brilliant analysis this, but then there is a quirk,and South Africa 2007-2014 is one of it i presume, since they went 2 years without a series win at home, but then guess it gets evened out by the long term trend,Between can similar study be done on individual players in those dominant eras, in a sense contributed the most , a sort of qualitative assessment of winners.Also suprising is overall rating of ENgland,without much highs, they are consistently good, which given my formative years watching cricket ,97 when I gave serious look into cricket, England were hastily assembled crew of obnoxious bit and pieces military medium all rounders.
[[
Ameya, Australia had similar lapses when they faced India during the 2000-06 period. It happens. Probably West Indies, during their peak in the 1980s did not have such blips.
Ananth
]]

• Hutton364 on August 21, 2014, 6:30 GMT

Very interesting, but it's a shame that the 1920-39 period does not correspond with the great years of DG Bradman - 28-39. I suspect Australia's score might be higher than 52.69. Or another interesting figure would be right across Bradman's career, including 1948.
[[
In my dynamic period analysis, the 1928-38 Aussies could come on top. I will not have the tight-jacketed time limits such as decades or in-between-wars etc.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 6:05 GMT

Great Job! Much hard work, I suppose!
[[
Thanks and yes. On an average a week per article, assuming all base database work is done.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 5:25 GMT

Great analysis ananth ! While I haven't watched any of the 80's windies and not much of the australia 2000-2006 era(except the world cup moments)..I can still appreciate the quality of the game they presented through the stats and the comments here. Just a query... Many say that it was tougher to bat in the 70s and 80s on those uncovered pitches and thats why batsmen of those days were better,even though they possess a lower batting average than most premier batsman of this era. For example most people consider viv richards to be a far better batsman than, say sangakkara(who has an average close to 60 now).. My question is that..why is the comparison not made for bowlers. Bowlers like Steyn and ajmal are at most times on top of the batsmen on some of the flattest and dull pitches with shorter boundaries,heavier bats,stronger batsmen,faster outfields and on top of that they can perform across formats and across continents. Whats your take on it
[[
Shreyan, Who said that there were uncovered pitches as recently as 1980s. The uncovered pitches started disappearing around the 1950s and were completely phased out during the 1960s.
I am a great believer of the axiom that a great player of one era would have been equally great in another era as long as the adjective "great" is carefully preserved and given only when really deserved. Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara, Dravid, Sangakkara, Murali, Warne, McGrath, Steyn (just a few random names) belong to this category. These players would have been very successful in any era because of their adaptability. The Indians have been guilty of putting the good players on the pedestal very quickly. Players in case: Kohli and Pujara.
Ananth
]]

• Pinnacle99 on August 21, 2014, 5:00 GMT

Cricket is a game where it can be said that you are only as good as the opposition allows you to be. The Great Windies team were truly awesome, but I would give the 200x Australian team the edge as they played against some very strong opposition, such as the Indian team that had possibly their greatest ever batting line up, the always good South Africans, and, the sometimes brilliant English team. And let's not forget a Murali powered Sri Lankan side or Pakistan for that matter.
[[
You are correct in that the cricket followers have a habit of devaluing the overall opposition quality just by bringing in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They forget that Australia played very few matches against these two teams. The 1980s West Indies team also played a few weak teams. But the dynamic period analysis would tend to favour the West indies slightly since the best sequence of Test matches would be identified and could very well be 1979-87 (just two numbers, that is all).
Ananth
]]

• MilPand on August 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT

I am indeed proud that weights were assigned after carefully weighing alternatives. That 2.47 and 1.16 are fairly close to your initial approximation indicates that you have a good handle on keeping the inherent biases at an arm's length. An average value is meant for smoothing out. It requires choosing a meanigful constant and I believe that there are limited benfits in terms of rolling values. The periods chosen in this case, pre-war, post-war, decades and later by number of tests are an example of how to assign a window independently. Often the choices are made beforehand and we need not get a cause-effect relationship. It is commonly forgotten that cricket lies somewhere between Chess and Poker in terms of the role played by chance. Bradman is rated highly not because of the large scores but doing so depsite getting out early often. Abject failure is certain. I suggest using neighbourhood ballpark and use 2.5 as the weight instead of dynamically determined 2.47.

• on August 21, 2014, 3:40 GMT

Ananth, you did not answer my previous 2nd question - as 1403 is an odd no., is 701 the middle number or 702 ? Forgive me for repetition. Also based on your dynamic period selection, you may also tell who are the best players to be selected in two World XV for that very period. Thanks Arnab Kolkata
[[
Does not really matter. Whether it is 701 or 702, there will be a fourth place difference in decimal, that is all.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 21, 2014, 1:02 GMT

Hi Ananth. Is there a possibility that your analysis could progress to the stage where you could produce an alternative test rankings system - depending on how thin you can cut your historical slices, eg, a ranking based on each team's previous 5 test series. It would be interesting to see to what extent the "performance" and "results" measures do or don't diverge as the slices get thinner.
[[
There is already a blueprint for a complete all-time Test rankings system. The effort is huge and we are not sure how it can be done. There is need for some support/sponsorship. Also time. But done, it will be. The next analysis will give you a taste of that.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 23:20 GMT

Ananth, As a general observation, the background colours for your graphs are quite glaring and painful. Also, 12% of males have some form of colour blindness and you might want to use colour-blind friendly colour schemes. It is testament to the outstanding quality of your analysis that these are my only comments. An exceptional piece of work. I'm looking forward to your dynamic mean analysis.
[[
Thanks, Antony. I have tried different colour combinations and am yet to get a set of 10 colours and back-ground which works. Maybe as the first commenter Arnab mentioned, I should use a white background and try using darker colours only.
Ananth
]]

• nareshgb1 on August 20, 2014, 20:05 GMT

The stats do not bring out the following

- Hayden did not do well against good attacks. First time he played against SA with genuine pace (Donald) - he went off with a broken arm. In England 2005, he was very poor. He would have not lasted at all against "THOSE 4 quicks" - the same can be said more or less of other Aussie batsman - most of whom and Ponting, Gilchrist in particular gorged on weaker teams. Its that much easier when you are leading on the first innings by 150 and there is no more than 1 slip fielder - Great as McGrath was, surely Lillee was better? Greenidge, Richards, Kalli, Lloyd would have smashed these guys around - at least they would have fared much much better than other teams. In any case, once "THOSE 4 quicks" had softened the batting, the bowling would also have lost its swagger. Its one thing having 500 on the board always and bowling with 5 close-in fielders - another thing having to defend 200 all the time.

WI of the 80s by a mile.

• Biggus on August 20, 2014, 16:30 GMT

@Rama Knian:- I don't have to watch old tapes to see how good the '80s Windies were since I saw it live and it's my opinion that the 2000 Aussies would likely win such a hypothetical game. The Windies, and that includes the '80s version, have always been poor players of leg spin. Even during their period of dominance we beat them regularly at the SCG with only modest spin resources. How they would have dealt with a spinner of Warne's calibre can only be imagined, but if a journeyman like Bob Holland could make them look clueless Warne likely would have gone through them like a dose of salts. They were a great side but their attack could look one dimensional at times.
[[
Certainly the Aussies 200x possessed a more balanced attack and that would have proved the undoing of West Indies. And I think the Aussie batting was better. More attacking openers, a better middle order and a once-in-100-year keeper.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 15:15 GMT

If by some magical means the 'best WIndies team' of 80-89 played the 'best Austrailian team' of 2000- 06, I am sure that Windies will beat them consistently. Look back at some old tapes and see the high level of play that 80-89 WINdies team rendered.

• Jaundiced_Observer on August 20, 2014, 12:25 GMT

Great Analysis, Ananth. I had the perception, gleaned from interviews with players and from articles about Viv, that the great WI sides often did just enough to win; score 450 and bowl out opposition rather than score 600 for example. Your second method cleanly sidesteps this point in comparing them, and also gives a nice statistical way to support the qualitative view we have of Pakistan as a quality test side.
[[
Your first point can be verified. It goes into my already bulging To-do-box.
Pakistan always had a very good bowling attack which is a pre-requisite to Test successes. They did not necessarily need the home advantage.
Ananth
]]

• analyseabhishek on August 20, 2014, 11:08 GMT

You have just confirmed through solid analysis what many Cricket fans suspected through a gut feeling- that the Aus team in early 2000s would have beaten the WI team of the 80s- just because the Australians had a leg spinner too- named Shane Warne!
[[
The fact that the Australia 200x was probably the best does not mean they would beat the West Indies easily. My take is that a 5-Test series played at SCG, MCG, Kingston, Lord's and Eden Garden is likely to finish 3-2. One day I expect to do this simulation.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 9:11 GMT

Ananth, my observations: 1. Though it is Test Analysis, you could have used the Country's ODI jersey colour as the respective line colour of a country in 2 graphs, eg. Aus - yellow, India - light blue, Slk - Dark Blue, Pak - Light Green, SA - Dark green etc. Also, the background colour for 2 graphs may be removed for better visibility. 2. As 1403 is an odd no., is 701 the middle number or 702? 3. Except pre WW1 & 1946 -59, you used 10 yrs period. Then for post 2000, you could have used 2000 - 2009 & 2010 onwards. Will it be any problem? 4. Apart from your future analysis on best teams over dynamic 50 Tests / 15 series / 10 yr period, you can select 4 yrs as a standard period as Cricket & Football World Cup & Olympic occurs every 4 yrs. The best batsmen, bowlers, allrounders & wicketkeepers of last 4 yrs can also be evaluated & ascertained based on the last 4 yrs performance. This 4 years period may be a fixed one eg. 1877-81, 1882-86 etc or a rolling one eg. 1877-81, 1878-82 etc Arnab
[[
1. The background colour cannot be removed. It has to be something. If it is white, I lose all lighter colours and if it is black, I lose all darker colours. These two colours have been decided after a number of attempts.
2. These are Test matches. Why should there be ODI colours. Also there are shades of the same colour used in jerstes.
3. I have tried to equalize the number of Tests in the last two periods. Maybe from 2016 onwards, I may do a strict decade split.
4. 4 years during 1880s produced 1-2 Tests, during the 1900s, 10-15 Tests, during 1950s, 50 Tests, during 1980s, 120 Tests and in the 2000s, 200 Tests. So that sort of analysis will lead us to nowhere. Olympics, WCs happen ONCE every 4 years. Here Tests are played DURING those 4 years. Too much of a variation.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 9:11 GMT

Ananth, my observations: 1. Though it is Test Analysis, you could have used the Country's ODI jersey colour as the respective line colour of a country in 2 graphs, eg. Aus - yellow, India - light blue, Slk - Dark Blue, Pak - Light Green, SA - Dark green etc. Also, the background colour for 2 graphs may be removed for better visibility. 2. As 1403 is an odd no., is 701 the middle number or 702? 3. Except pre WW1 & 1946 -59, you used 10 yrs period. Then for post 2000, you could have used 2000 - 2009 & 2010 onwards. Will it be any problem? 4. Apart from your future analysis on best teams over dynamic 50 Tests / 15 series / 10 yr period, you can select 4 yrs as a standard period as Cricket & Football World Cup & Olympic occurs every 4 yrs. The best batsmen, bowlers, allrounders & wicketkeepers of last 4 yrs can also be evaluated & ascertained based on the last 4 yrs performance. This 4 years period may be a fixed one eg. 1877-81, 1882-86 etc or a rolling one eg. 1877-81, 1878-82 etc Arnab
[[
1. The background colour cannot be removed. It has to be something. If it is white, I lose all lighter colours and if it is black, I lose all darker colours. These two colours have been decided after a number of attempts.
2. These are Test matches. Why should there be ODI colours. Also there are shades of the same colour used in jerstes.
3. I have tried to equalize the number of Tests in the last two periods. Maybe from 2016 onwards, I may do a strict decade split.
4. 4 years during 1880s produced 1-2 Tests, during the 1900s, 10-15 Tests, during 1950s, 50 Tests, during 1980s, 120 Tests and in the 2000s, 200 Tests. So that sort of analysis will lead us to nowhere. Olympics, WCs happen ONCE every 4 years. Here Tests are played DURING those 4 years. Too much of a variation.
Ananth
]]

• analyseabhishek on August 20, 2014, 11:08 GMT

You have just confirmed through solid analysis what many Cricket fans suspected through a gut feeling- that the Aus team in early 2000s would have beaten the WI team of the 80s- just because the Australians had a leg spinner too- named Shane Warne!
[[
The fact that the Australia 200x was probably the best does not mean they would beat the West Indies easily. My take is that a 5-Test series played at SCG, MCG, Kingston, Lord's and Eden Garden is likely to finish 3-2. One day I expect to do this simulation.
Ananth
]]

• Jaundiced_Observer on August 20, 2014, 12:25 GMT

Great Analysis, Ananth. I had the perception, gleaned from interviews with players and from articles about Viv, that the great WI sides often did just enough to win; score 450 and bowl out opposition rather than score 600 for example. Your second method cleanly sidesteps this point in comparing them, and also gives a nice statistical way to support the qualitative view we have of Pakistan as a quality test side.
[[
Your first point can be verified. It goes into my already bulging To-do-box.
Pakistan always had a very good bowling attack which is a pre-requisite to Test successes. They did not necessarily need the home advantage.
Ananth
]]

• on August 20, 2014, 15:15 GMT

If by some magical means the 'best WIndies team' of 80-89 played the 'best Austrailian team' of 2000- 06, I am sure that Windies will beat them consistently. Look back at some old tapes and see the high level of play that 80-89 WINdies team rendered.

• Biggus on August 20, 2014, 16:30 GMT

@Rama Knian:- I don't have to watch old tapes to see how good the '80s Windies were since I saw it live and it's my opinion that the 2000 Aussies would likely win such a hypothetical game. The Windies, and that includes the '80s version, have always been poor players of leg spin. Even during their period of dominance we beat them regularly at the SCG with only modest spin resources. How they would have dealt with a spinner of Warne's calibre can only be imagined, but if a journeyman like Bob Holland could make them look clueless Warne likely would have gone through them like a dose of salts. They were a great side but their attack could look one dimensional at times.
[[
Certainly the Aussies 200x possessed a more balanced attack and that would have proved the undoing of West Indies. And I think the Aussie batting was better. More attacking openers, a better middle order and a once-in-100-year keeper.
Ananth
]]

• nareshgb1 on August 20, 2014, 20:05 GMT

The stats do not bring out the following

- Hayden did not do well against good attacks. First time he played against SA with genuine pace (Donald) - he went off with a broken arm. In England 2005, he was very poor. He would have not lasted at all against "THOSE 4 quicks" - the same can be said more or less of other Aussie batsman - most of whom and Ponting, Gilchrist in particular gorged on weaker teams. Its that much easier when you are leading on the first innings by 150 and there is no more than 1 slip fielder - Great as McGrath was, surely Lillee was better? Greenidge, Richards, Kalli, Lloyd would have smashed these guys around - at least they would have fared much much better than other teams. In any case, once "THOSE 4 quicks" had softened the batting, the bowling would also have lost its swagger. Its one thing having 500 on the board always and bowling with 5 close-in fielders - another thing having to defend 200 all the time.

WI of the 80s by a mile.

• on August 20, 2014, 23:20 GMT

Ananth, As a general observation, the background colours for your graphs are quite glaring and painful. Also, 12% of males have some form of colour blindness and you might want to use colour-blind friendly colour schemes. It is testament to the outstanding quality of your analysis that these are my only comments. An exceptional piece of work. I'm looking forward to your dynamic mean analysis.
[[
Thanks, Antony. I have tried different colour combinations and am yet to get a set of 10 colours and back-ground which works. Maybe as the first commenter Arnab mentioned, I should use a white background and try using darker colours only.
Ananth
]]

• drinks.break on August 21, 2014, 1:02 GMT

Hi Ananth. Is there a possibility that your analysis could progress to the stage where you could produce an alternative test rankings system - depending on how thin you can cut your historical slices, eg, a ranking based on each team's previous 5 test series. It would be interesting to see to what extent the "performance" and "results" measures do or don't diverge as the slices get thinner.
[[
There is already a blueprint for a complete all-time Test rankings system. The effort is huge and we are not sure how it can be done. There is need for some support/sponsorship. Also time. But done, it will be. The next analysis will give you a taste of that.
Ananth
]]

• on August 21, 2014, 3:40 GMT

Ananth, you did not answer my previous 2nd question - as 1403 is an odd no., is 701 the middle number or 702 ? Forgive me for repetition. Also based on your dynamic period selection, you may also tell who are the best players to be selected in two World XV for that very period. Thanks Arnab Kolkata
[[
Does not really matter. Whether it is 701 or 702, there will be a fourth place difference in decimal, that is all.
Ananth
]]

• MilPand on August 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT

I am indeed proud that weights were assigned after carefully weighing alternatives. That 2.47 and 1.16 are fairly close to your initial approximation indicates that you have a good handle on keeping the inherent biases at an arm's length. An average value is meant for smoothing out. It requires choosing a meanigful constant and I believe that there are limited benfits in terms of rolling values. The periods chosen in this case, pre-war, post-war, decades and later by number of tests are an example of how to assign a window independently. Often the choices are made beforehand and we need not get a cause-effect relationship. It is commonly forgotten that cricket lies somewhere between Chess and Poker in terms of the role played by chance. Bradman is rated highly not because of the large scores but doing so depsite getting out early often. Abject failure is certain. I suggest using neighbourhood ballpark and use 2.5 as the weight instead of dynamically determined 2.47.