September 1, 2014

The all-new national cricket board rankings

Why should all the lists be just about the players?

Ijaz Butt checks the PCB chairman roster to find he's only due back in the job in 2016 © Getty Images

The recent news that Angelo Mathews is officially the world's third-best Test batsman saw many supporters' eyebrows raised to Warnean levels. The surprise in some quarters stirred much debate and proved once again that where there's a list, there's some cricket fans squabbling over it. On this basis, it's a bit short-sighted of the ICC to limit their ratings to only players and teams, so here, to provoke discussion, are the first ever International Board Rankings. It seemed silly to base the points system on anything as mundane as competence and good governance, so they are listed in order of entertainment value:

1. Zimbabwe Cricket, 1100 points
ZC launched a well-timed assault on the inaugural top spot with their decision to ban allrounder Tinashe Panyangara from the current tri-series for jokily sharing a compilation video of Mitchell Johnson's bowel-wobbling short stuff with his own side's batsmen. Panyangara - labelled "disruptive" to the team environment - has effectively become the first cricketer to be banned for banter, which, while a not wholly disagreeable precedent, does seem a touch harsh. He was also fined US $1000, which, in Zimbabwe's inflation-wrecked economy, is roughly equivalent to the IPL auction value of one Glenn Maxwell.

2. Bangladesh Cricket Board, 1046 points
Banning alleged bad boy Shakib Al Hasan for six months was initially on the yeti side of heavy-handed. Reducing his ban to three months just after you've crashed to a 3-0 ODI series defeat against West Indies was a comic masterstroke, akin to a city mayor sacking the entire fire service, then reinstating them all when the public not unreasonably pointed out it was getting a little bit smoky everywhere. Strong work.

3. Pakistan Cricket Board, 983 points
The glory days of Ijaz Butt are long gone, but when it comes to the PCB chairmanship, there are hot potatoes with ticking time bombs inside them people are keener to hang on to. After journalist Najam Sethi stood in several times in the last year, this week the role is being fulfilled by canny old Shaharyar Khan who, naturally, has also done the job before. The PCB remain a smile-inducing force to be reckoned with.

4. England and Wales Cricket Board, 762 points
After an incredibly strong run of performances, there are signs the ECB may be losing its gift for comedy. Obviously the entire ODI side is a laughing stock, but it's been left to captain Alastair Cook, rather than Giles Clarke, to provide the foot-in-mouth quotes, not least when recently suggesting Graeme Swann was the wrong sort of friend. A worrying loss of form for Paul Downton and Co.

5. Board of Control for Cricket in India, 555 points
India suffered a big comic deficit when N Srinivasan stepped aside to run the ICC. There's been the odd hint of former glories, but without Srini the BCCI has felt a little like Anchorman remade with Sunil Gavaskar in the title role instead of Will Ferrell. Still, blaming the humiliating Test series defeat to England on the fact the players couldn't do extra nets because their wives and girlfriends wanted to go on tourist trips was promising. It was previously unknown that you can't play the seaming ball if you've recently been sightseeing with a woman.

6. Sri Lanka Cricket, 424 points
Frankly, a poor show. SLC has a lot of credit in the bank for the pure comedic simplicity of not being bothered to pay its players for a couple of years a while back, and a propensity for political interference on par with Saddam's sons once coaching the Iraqi football team. However, more recently they've shown far too much common sense, not least by moving the second ODI against Pakistan to a completely new venue within 24 hours as a result of an apocalyptic weather warning. This commitment to treating fans decently loses them a good few hundred points.

7. West Indies Cricket Board, 377 points
Banning Sunil Narine for the first New Zealand Test because he chose to play in the IPL final instead of attending a squad training camp to improve his knuckle ball by doing a few sit-ups was slightly ludicrous. That's pretty much it, though, from the WICB, recently. Shoddy.

8. Cricket Australia, 219 points
Chairman Wally Edwards was one third of the gang who graffitied all over cricket's constitution, but he always seemed happy to just pass the spray cans to Srini and Clarke rather than do any real vandalising of his own. CA now also runs the slickest media operation in cricket, showing that Australian administrators can deal with spin effectively even if their batsmen can't.

9. Cricket South Africa, 37 points
Not much to see here. The failure to fine Dale Steyn for his new beard being disruptive to his chin environment was a major oversight.

10. New Zealand Cricket, 0 points
Pitiful. NZC presides over a settled, happy team full of youthful potential which has just won an away Test series against a top-eight nation for the first time in 12 years. They've fallen a long way since changing the captaincy with all the tact and deftness of an elephant trying its hand at open-heart surgery. Pull your socks up, Kiwis.

James Marsh writes Pavilion Opinions. He is also a Tefl teacher whose students learn superlatives by being shown Graham Thorpe videos