ICC Test rankings January 12, 2010

"I don't rate India a long-term No.1" - Ian Chappell

Cricinfo staff

Former Australian captain and leading commentator Ian Chappell has said India don't have the resources to retain their No.1 spot in the ICC Test rankings for a long enough period to emulate Australia and the great West Indies teams of the past. Chappell said that India's batting alone will not sustain them and to do so, they will have to unearth a couple of champion bowlers.

Chappell and former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar aired their views in Time Out, Cricinfo's new fortnightly audio show hosted by the leading commentator Harsha Bhogle. India bagged the top ranking from Australia after beating Sri Lanka 2-0 in the three-Test series at home last month. India jumped from No. 3 to No.1 for first time since the rankings came into place in May 2001.

Manjrekar said a big reason for India's success is the arrival of a strong opening pair in Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and the ability to adjust to foreign conditions.

"It's a huge asset to have, a stable opening pair. I noticed a change in India's batting around the time Sourav Ganguly was leading India, John Wright was in charge, and I saw India playing on foreign pitches," Manjrekar said. "I found that the new generation of Indian batsmen could play the pull shot, the cut shot, and they were pretty good against the short deliveries."

However, Chappell felt that India have completed only half the job of being a well-rounded team.

"I don't think great teams are built on opening batting partnerships. But to me, there is a far more important thing, and this is one reason why I don't rate India as a long-term No.1, " Chappell said. "I think you have got to have two champion bowlers in your line-up to be a long-term successful cricket team. That is where India is falling down at the moment.

"When I look at the averages and the strike-rates for India in the last 12 months, I don't see two champion bowlers. In fact, I am struggling to find one champion bowler in that line-up. They've got some good bowlers. Sure, they have got a very good batting line-up, but the bowling is really not good enough to see them win consistently all around the world."

Over the last two years, India have played 20 Tests, winning nine and losing three. Three of those wins have come against Australia, including one in Perth during their last tour in 2007-08. Chappell acknowledged that India had performed above themselves in the last two tours of Australia, but their success would have tasted much better had they beaten them while they were still a major force in international cricket.

Since the collective retirement of their champion players like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer and later Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, Australia haven't produced the same level of consistency in results.

"I would have thought it was a greater achievement if they had caught up with Australia while Australia was still very much a great side, rather than waiting for Australia to come back to the field," Chappell said. "That to me has been the disappointing thing. It seems to me that the other teams have almost thrown their hands and said that 'it's hard to beat them, we will just wait for them to fall back and then we will catch them'."

There's lots more on the first episode of Time Out. Harsha, Sanjay and Ian discuss Pakistan's debacle in the Sydney Test; Ian recounts an enthralling Sydney Test that he was part of, and a look at teams who have pulled off such Houdini acts. Have a listen here.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • C on January 14, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    Well Mr Chappel I too would have called Australia a truly great side if they had caught up with West Indies while West Indies was still very much the greatest side ever, rather than waiting for WI to come back to the field" LoL

  • Sanjay on January 14, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    Whilst India could do with two good fast bowlers, Ian should have scrutinised India's record (and specially the performance of our fast bowlers since 2000). It is not just batting that has helped us win overseas during this time. India now has a good bunch of fast and seam bowlers who have done their job more than adequately during this time. Other countries reputed for their fast bowling e.g. Pak, SA and Aus, inspite of having good fast bowlers have not really stood out as is made out by Western commentators/media and the like. India now has a good bunch of fast bowlers and the more the merrier. This article smells more of Ian's disappointment for India having replaced Aus at the top. And I must mention, this is typical of Aussies (having lived here for a long time, I can vouch for that). The crap Ian's mentioned about öther nations catching up after Aus best have left is bullshit. Eg. - Steve Waugh could not beat Ind in India with his awesome team that included Mcgrath, Warne and co.

  • Kamaljeet on January 14, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    Mr. Chapell comments show that defeat don't get well with Aussies. We have very good batting line up in all the formats and a decent bowling line up and options. I would like to remind Mr. Chapell that Indian has won alomst equal number of tests from Aus in last 10 years when they were ruling the international cricket and all the greats were still around. Right now three teams (Ind, Aus and SA) can bet for No-1 spot and it will be interesting to see how we stand against SA (No.-2). Another fact is that in last 2 years Aus is bowled out atleast 5 times under 200 in tests. So, please accept the fact that other teams has improved over the period and Aus lost its shine after all the greats taken retirement (I respect all of them as much as Tendulkar but not Ponting). You can not have things forever even mightly WI fallen from the peack.

  • Sudhanshu on January 14, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    I think India is almost unbeatable in Test Cricket coz of their batting...but that doesnt mean they win a lot. They draw a lot of matches, their bowling has to improve to be number one. I think India and Australia are presently the best sides in the world and it is difficult to choose one. By the way, England is catching up guys, watch out for another 6 months, may be England gets that status...

  • andrews on January 14, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    The Guddu, wake up. Australia moved to number 3 at the same point as India claimed their number one position. The rankings are a disgrace anyway. India are there because they have won four series in a row. They have won four series in a row because they have played three at home and one away against the minnows New Zealand. They will never have a good enough away record to be a true number one. Yes I know you say it has improved. But it has improved from totally abysmal to merely disastrous. India has not won more than one Test in their last away series against anybody, not even Bangladesh. The rankings put forward by Wisden in the 90's are a much fairer system. On this system, Australia would be on 26 points, South Africa on 24, and India 22. It is based on actual results, not the foibles of a computer, which will miraculously dump a heap of points from India in April, and make it all close again. Totally inadequate system.

  • Sushil on January 14, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    Chappell has hit the nail on the head. India the number one cricket team in the world is a joke:) We certainly dont have one single bowler who can be termed good. The biggest joke is bringing back rejects like Ashish Nehra who looks like he belongs somewhere else and not on a cricket field. Where are the promising youngsters and claims of Dhoni and his brigade of the idea being to try and test out youngsters and develop a larger pool of players. Not one young indian bowler is being given a fair run at the expense of the so called experienced great Indian bowlers. It can be understood if Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh were considered to be great bowlers like Wasim Akram, Shane Warne or the truly great ones..but they are just ordinary bowlers whom anybody can replace on the Indian domestic circuit instead the Indian board, corporates and the media project this Indian team as a No.1 team..a team which cant field, cant bowl and depends on one or two batsmen to perform.

  • mohamed on January 14, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    I think Ian Chappel under rated our bowlers. India and South Arica are the only teams beat Australia now and then. Why Ian Chappel questionig the talents of our bowlers. Mr Ian Chappel has forgotten that India beat Australia which included the champion players like McRhath, Shane Warne, Gillespie, Waugh brothers, Hayden, Justin Langer, Ponting and Gilchrist in home and away series. In fact with the sustaining performances of our bowlers we have gained the number one ranking. I hope Zaheer, Ishant, Harbajan, Sreesanth and other bowlers will perform continiously well. No need to say about our world class batting line up. Surely India has the talent to remain a long term number one test team.

  • Sunil on January 13, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    I love how the majority of the comments that support Ian Chappell have been published. For example, I believe that Chappel has it all wrong. First he compares Sehwag to Bradman, when we all know that Bradman is in a class of his own, next he says that India wont be able to sustain being no.1. They have a very classy batting line up and their bowling is constantly improving, espcially with the likes of Ishant Sharma coming up the ranks, so i think that India have a good chance of still being no.1 at the end of the year.

  • Kent on January 13, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    To so many people who have responded to the article, go back and read the headline and the content. It's "I don't rate India a long term number 1". Chappell doesn't take away from India's current status as #1, his point is that he doesn't see them holding on to the mantle long term without having 2 spearheads.

    Also, why is it that some fans from the subcontinent can't take anyone having an opinion of their team or players that doesn't elevate them to godlike status. On the whole, we don't critise you for thinking your stars walk on water, so don't criticise us for having national pride.

    Bunch of babies.

  • Robin on January 13, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    I have to agree with Ian. It is a fair assessment of the current Indian team. Lots of great batsmen, but no champion bowler. I think Harbajan needs to be given a rest, and give Amit Mishra a prolonged run. He has the potential of becoming a fantastic spin bowler for India. It is also a common situation with all the top teams at the moment, except for South Africa who has Dale Steyn and the up and coming Wayne Parnell. England also have some good bowlers in Anderson, Broad and Swan. The cricketing world should keep a close eye on the West Indies as well, for if they can sort out the differences between WICB and WIPA, they can be a force to be reckoned with in a few years. Keep an eye on Taylor, Edwards, Roach and Benn.

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