Which is the best team in the world? January 14, 2009

Who's next?

Now that Australia have fallen off the perch, who stakes the most persuasive claim to being the world's No. 1 Test side?
57



Australia may have fallen but they're still part of a three-way race for No. 1 © Getty Images

Graeme Pollock
former South Africa batsman and selector
The top two sides are South Africa and India. Both are pretty even, and it is hard to say who is better. India have done well against Australia in the last year or two and they have a good Test side, and South Africa have just won a series in Australia, which doesn't happen too often. A good Test side is one that has a good balance - where your top six are good players, all scoring runs, and you have a balanced bowling attack, with two good fast bowlers. Australia had all that till they lost a good spinner, and that's why they're are a pretty ordinary side at the moment.

Ray Illingworth
former England captain and selector
It is difficult one to assess, but potentially, at the Test match level, probably South Africa at the moment. A lot will depend on how Australia's new players settle in. One of the problems is that everybody has a dearth of spin bowling, apart from India, and everyone has been a bit let down by that. It also depends on the types of pitches you play on: certainly if you go to India, India are the best side in the world. Whether they'll be able to do that on harder pitches, I don't know. Over the next 12 months South Africa play Australia again, England play Australia, and India play in New Zealand. So things should get more clear.

Steve Rixon
former Australia wicketkeeper and New Zealand coach
You can't put a finger on any one team at the moment. It is very difficult to say one is better than the other at this point of time because different teams play better in different conditions. The one thing I do know is, there are only three in this particular race: Australia, South Africa and, of course, India. All of a sudden the wheels have turned and it is the first time people have started to ask this question.

Aunshuman Gaekwad
former India player and coach
South Africa are on top, followed by India. The South Africans have not only proved themselves at home but away, and the kind of the cricket they are playing for the last few years has been absolutely outstanding. India are yet to conclusively prove themselves overseas, and the series in New Zealand is a good starting point to overcome that challenge. They have faced problems on sticky, moving, seaming, bouncy pitches, so if they beat New Zealand then they stand a good chance of being called No. 1.

Interviews by Nagraj Gollapudi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TheGreatHypnotist on January 17, 2009, 20:52 GMT

    Well, Asian teams can get the No.1 position, but they will never hold onto it for at least 6 months. They have all the individual talents but no consistent team performance. Well when WI were No.1 they always had tough time against Pakistans. Aus also had tough time against India but Indians were destroyed my Mendis. SA are good against fast men on relatively good pitches. But they Struggle against raw pace and spin. So who is the best ? Well Aus will be the best even they struggle time to time. Now test is for SA, Aus and the rest is to play against SL in SL. How they cope with Mendis and Murali will decide who is the best. SL still are not contenders for No. 1 position.

  • Ind_cric_lover on January 17, 2009, 14:48 GMT

    I think we need to wait for atleast an year to decide who the best team is. Right now if a team plays India at home then India is the best side, SriLanka at home then SL is the best side, Aus at home then if its India or SA then they are the best teams else its Australia.. South Africa in SA is the best side in he world. Pakistan hasn't played test cricket for long and thus we don't know but their batting has certainly gone weak after Mohd. Yousuf's departure. So to get the answer to this 'who's the best team' we need to see which team is the most consistent over the next 1 or 2 years. Right now SA, India and Australia are the top 3 teams but mind you India must win against NZ and that win will not guarantee them the No 1 status

  • subash.frenz on January 17, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Hey guys don't write off AUS too soon . Its just that they r in a transition period. So for few moments SA might take the No. 1 ranking but its AUS who will keep it with them again. Few new guys need to settle the nerves then see the status of AUS. Talking abt they definitely need to prove overseas.

  • potter22in on January 17, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Australia is still the No1, and they are No1, They have twice accomplished 16 consecutive test victories (even SA dont' come anywhere near that sort of consistency/form/ruthlessness. Yes post retirement of many greats , they ((Aus)have slightly faltered. But they will rise back sooner. (they bt England 5-0 after losing the Ashes in 2005) . India just recently lost to SLanka and have not played /won against anyone outside India. South Africa are sure contenders for the No 1 position if they maintain their present form. And yes Pakistan are unlucky they they have not played any test cricket at all. So it remains that the race is between Australia and SAfrica in the immediate future. But only when all top teams play against each ranking has meaning.

  • Auckland_bluesz on January 17, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Definitely SA..! India r close behind,bt they stil hv to prove it overseas.. N guyz dnt write off AUS too soon,dey r gonna b back,itz jst dat dey hv lost many stalwarts in a short period n they r obviosly in a transition phase.. Dere's a big gap between the top 3 n d rest.. SL do well @ home bt life vthout mendis,murali,sanga z unimaginable.. SL z mostly dependant on few players(u knw who) n dey lack team performance n consistancy.! Eng are'nt d@ far behind aswl..

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Mr. vinodkrishna, just couldn't understand ur thinking. why are u bringing in kumble and dhoni in to picture? there should be no if's and but's while talking about no.1 team - while conveneiently considering kumble for the losses did u consider how good India will be if sachin, laxman and zaheer retire? There is nothing like "if this guy was playing" or "that guy wasn't injured"....it's the results that a team collectively has produced...and consistenly over a period of time. We indians live in the false frame of mind, trying to cheat ourselves. we should open our eyes and look at facts. There is no separate ICC ranking for kumble's India and Dhoni's India. We have won just 1 test in SA so far and still don't hesitate to call ourselves no.1, huh!

  • raheem030766 on January 17, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Lets be honest, there is only one team in the world capable of taking Australia's crown and that is Pakistan, only if other teams are brave enough to play them. The success of Indian team is only short term. They will come down to earth once they start playing quality opposition away from home. Additionally, soon batsman of the calibre of Tandulkar, Dravid and Laxman will be gone which will have similar impact as Australia has had following loss of some of their great players. In conclusion there are only three great teams, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa, the rest just make up the numbers.

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    I am not sure how people can say that we will get clarity about no.1 in the near future. In the coming months SA and Aus will be playing against each other who are topping the table and India is going to play against toothless NZ who is just above Bangladesh. Ever heard of 'apples to organges' comparison??? SA has not lost any of their last 10 series - can someone talk about India's stats in this regard? may be not!

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    I am surprised by Mr.Gaekwad's comments. So India can claim for top spot by defeating a bottom-ranked NZ? It just shows where India stands when it comes to playing in different conditions. India cannot talk about being no.1 until they 'at least' draw a series in SA and Australia...let alone winning them. SA is certainly No.1 at the moment, though they still lack a quality spinner.

  • His-Highness on January 17, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    SA may have had a good year, but they're still not the outright best in the world.That title would go to a team that is able to dominate like Aus did for so long.SA have been consistent but there is still debate?So surely it still has to be proven.Best in the world at the moment?Maybe.Best outright?No ways.In terms of the head to head records in recent years,the last time India toured SA,the umpiring was very poor,which is the case when most good teams play SA in SA.Ashwell Prince was more like a video game character with 3 lives.His contributions helped SA secure the series win.Both teams batted poorly with Prince being the difference.Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson were the difference between India and Australia in their last series. And in the recently concluded SA Aus series,Aus produced one of their worst performances ever. To hand SA the crown of best in the world after beating Aus once is wrong.In my opinion,the race for no.1 is just beginning with Ind and SA leading the way.

  • TheGreatHypnotist on January 17, 2009, 20:52 GMT

    Well, Asian teams can get the No.1 position, but they will never hold onto it for at least 6 months. They have all the individual talents but no consistent team performance. Well when WI were No.1 they always had tough time against Pakistans. Aus also had tough time against India but Indians were destroyed my Mendis. SA are good against fast men on relatively good pitches. But they Struggle against raw pace and spin. So who is the best ? Well Aus will be the best even they struggle time to time. Now test is for SA, Aus and the rest is to play against SL in SL. How they cope with Mendis and Murali will decide who is the best. SL still are not contenders for No. 1 position.

  • Ind_cric_lover on January 17, 2009, 14:48 GMT

    I think we need to wait for atleast an year to decide who the best team is. Right now if a team plays India at home then India is the best side, SriLanka at home then SL is the best side, Aus at home then if its India or SA then they are the best teams else its Australia.. South Africa in SA is the best side in he world. Pakistan hasn't played test cricket for long and thus we don't know but their batting has certainly gone weak after Mohd. Yousuf's departure. So to get the answer to this 'who's the best team' we need to see which team is the most consistent over the next 1 or 2 years. Right now SA, India and Australia are the top 3 teams but mind you India must win against NZ and that win will not guarantee them the No 1 status

  • subash.frenz on January 17, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Hey guys don't write off AUS too soon . Its just that they r in a transition period. So for few moments SA might take the No. 1 ranking but its AUS who will keep it with them again. Few new guys need to settle the nerves then see the status of AUS. Talking abt they definitely need to prove overseas.

  • potter22in on January 17, 2009, 11:24 GMT

    Australia is still the No1, and they are No1, They have twice accomplished 16 consecutive test victories (even SA dont' come anywhere near that sort of consistency/form/ruthlessness. Yes post retirement of many greats , they ((Aus)have slightly faltered. But they will rise back sooner. (they bt England 5-0 after losing the Ashes in 2005) . India just recently lost to SLanka and have not played /won against anyone outside India. South Africa are sure contenders for the No 1 position if they maintain their present form. And yes Pakistan are unlucky they they have not played any test cricket at all. So it remains that the race is between Australia and SAfrica in the immediate future. But only when all top teams play against each ranking has meaning.

  • Auckland_bluesz on January 17, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Definitely SA..! India r close behind,bt they stil hv to prove it overseas.. N guyz dnt write off AUS too soon,dey r gonna b back,itz jst dat dey hv lost many stalwarts in a short period n they r obviosly in a transition phase.. Dere's a big gap between the top 3 n d rest.. SL do well @ home bt life vthout mendis,murali,sanga z unimaginable.. SL z mostly dependant on few players(u knw who) n dey lack team performance n consistancy.! Eng are'nt d@ far behind aswl..

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Mr. vinodkrishna, just couldn't understand ur thinking. why are u bringing in kumble and dhoni in to picture? there should be no if's and but's while talking about no.1 team - while conveneiently considering kumble for the losses did u consider how good India will be if sachin, laxman and zaheer retire? There is nothing like "if this guy was playing" or "that guy wasn't injured"....it's the results that a team collectively has produced...and consistenly over a period of time. We indians live in the false frame of mind, trying to cheat ourselves. we should open our eyes and look at facts. There is no separate ICC ranking for kumble's India and Dhoni's India. We have won just 1 test in SA so far and still don't hesitate to call ourselves no.1, huh!

  • raheem030766 on January 17, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Lets be honest, there is only one team in the world capable of taking Australia's crown and that is Pakistan, only if other teams are brave enough to play them. The success of Indian team is only short term. They will come down to earth once they start playing quality opposition away from home. Additionally, soon batsman of the calibre of Tandulkar, Dravid and Laxman will be gone which will have similar impact as Australia has had following loss of some of their great players. In conclusion there are only three great teams, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa, the rest just make up the numbers.

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:43 GMT

    I am not sure how people can say that we will get clarity about no.1 in the near future. In the coming months SA and Aus will be playing against each other who are topping the table and India is going to play against toothless NZ who is just above Bangladesh. Ever heard of 'apples to organges' comparison??? SA has not lost any of their last 10 series - can someone talk about India's stats in this regard? may be not!

  • GlobalCricketLover on January 17, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    I am surprised by Mr.Gaekwad's comments. So India can claim for top spot by defeating a bottom-ranked NZ? It just shows where India stands when it comes to playing in different conditions. India cannot talk about being no.1 until they 'at least' draw a series in SA and Australia...let alone winning them. SA is certainly No.1 at the moment, though they still lack a quality spinner.

  • His-Highness on January 17, 2009, 3:19 GMT

    SA may have had a good year, but they're still not the outright best in the world.That title would go to a team that is able to dominate like Aus did for so long.SA have been consistent but there is still debate?So surely it still has to be proven.Best in the world at the moment?Maybe.Best outright?No ways.In terms of the head to head records in recent years,the last time India toured SA,the umpiring was very poor,which is the case when most good teams play SA in SA.Ashwell Prince was more like a video game character with 3 lives.His contributions helped SA secure the series win.Both teams batted poorly with Prince being the difference.Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson were the difference between India and Australia in their last series. And in the recently concluded SA Aus series,Aus produced one of their worst performances ever. To hand SA the crown of best in the world after beating Aus once is wrong.In my opinion,the race for no.1 is just beginning with Ind and SA leading the way.

  • Cricfacts on January 17, 2009, 2:59 GMT

    everyone i agree that South Africa and India are on top but lets not forget Aus here, not because they lost 2 test series that doesn't mean that there cricket has gone flat and i think Aus will thrash SA in the next series in SA because if everyone thinks SA is that good why couldn't they complete a series whitewash against Aus or even draw the last test? although SA were in such good form they fail to do so and this proves that they are not a real champion team like the Aus n then they lost both twenty20 match to Aus but now lets see what will happen in the ODIs. but to everyone i think Aus cricket is just experiencing a difficult time but i think they will bounce back and beat SA in SA and they will once show the world why they are at number one in the test and ODIs ranking for the past 13 years.one more thing if SA ever get to num one on any ranking they won't hold it for long because India will ambush SA.

  • CricketingStargazer on January 16, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    Excellent analysis vinodkrishna! England have lost series under Pietersen, Vaughan and Flintoff, but are unbeaten under Andrew Strauss (P5 W3 D2 L0) and won both series by wide margins so, clearly, by your method England are Number 1 in the world. Or could it be that there is a falw in this kind of reasoning, selecting carefully the data and limiting to just the series that give the right result???

  • Aditya_mookerjee on January 16, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    All the sides are absolutely great. But that is no answer to the query. Perhaps, All the teams deserve due credit. I would not like to be excessively happy, when India wins, but just so, because I hope to see all the teams as good as India, and Australia, and South Africa in the future.

  • Amol_Gh on January 16, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    After the first real wall of AUS's fortress was pulled down by SA by handing AUS a home defeat, the race is now open. But it's hard to ignore the record of consecutive unbeaten 11 Test series (10-Won, 1-Drawn away) by SA, capped by the WIN IN AUS which may be considered the ultimate test of strength/skill. Until that series, only AUS could have boasted of such a long stretch of unbeaten series until...Warne retired. I think once SA beats AUS at home in Feb, it will be SA on the top. Whether they can hold on to the crown is a diffrent issue. But I think they should be able to once the major hurdle (AUS) is crossed. Afterall, have not they held on tight since Dec 2006 till date ? IND is a close 2nd. But can they boast of a long unbeaten stretch like SA n AUS ? If they start performing overseas (Read: SA, AUS, SRL) a little better, then IND too will be in contention for the crown. Until then they will be NO. 2 alongwith AUS.

  • vinodkrishna on January 16, 2009, 5:13 GMT

    all buddies here... i dont know why everyone is speaking about india losing to srilanka and losing the test series in aus. note that those loses comes under the captainship of kumble. india came into contention for the no.1 spot only under MSD's captaincy.. so , why looking at the series where he was not the captain?look at the indian team record after he became captain... played 2 series and won 2... 100% record.. 5 matches , won 4 and drew 1...it is to be noted that MSD's team won the test against SA which was not done by kumble's team(virtually the same team excluding kumble)in the same series... so why looking at indian team under kumble and dhoni as the same... under MSD India is the best side in the world in all formats of the game... WAIT FOR THE NZ SERIES.....go India go...according to me no.1.MSD's INDIA ,2.SA ,3.AUS ,4.SL ,5.KP's ENG, 6.PAK

  • Dilee on January 16, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    Firstly,according to my view-point the ratings are as follows, considering all 3 forms of the game. 1.South Africa 2.Australia 3.India 4.Sri Lanka 5.Pakistan 6.New Zealand 7.England 8.West Indies 9.Bangladesh. SA, Aus & Ind are neck-n-neck. As a unit, SA are performing well. While some Aussie player are having a really bad time, most of the Indian players are having a purple patch. So it's just a matter of time & i believe then the competition will be really tough. No doubt about the great balance of these 3 sides. Sri Lanka has great potential, but unfortunately lacks opportunity & consistensy. The balance of the side too doesn't look good. But don't write-em-off. Remember the World Cup fellows??? England & WI needs to get their act right while NZ needs to stick in to a permanent squad. 2009 will be exciting & I predict a fall in Indian purple patch which will bring em back to reality. SA will continue to dominate & Australia will come back, but watch-out for Sri Lanka!

  • chiskop on January 16, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    Has to be SA. Look at the recent results between the three teams vying for the top spot. SA have beaten Aus (away), and drawn with India (away) where India needed the Kanpur cabbage patch to save the series (What happened to the ICC enquiry into that pitch, btw?).

    SA have not lost a series to either of these teams recently: Aus have lost to SA, and Ind have lost to Aus.

  • Viewpoint on January 16, 2009, 2:39 GMT

    India lost miserably to SL recently and that takes the credit away from claiming any #1 position! however, I believe India lost primarily to Mendis not to a team. It's a pity that after almost a year no other top team in the world has played SL. Till such time shouldn't SL be in the mix? (by SL I mean the M&M's because there's no one else worthy and just one Sangakarra can't make a big diff). Mendis & Murali are effectively 2 Dale Steyns by stats at least, which is enougn to win against anyonen right??

  • __PK on January 16, 2009, 2:18 GMT

    In my view, the answer will come from the upcoming ODI series between Aus and SA. India and England have both recently beaten the Australians and put themselves forward as potential Test number ones. But they did so at the expense of their ODI results, which in my view is cheating a bit. A cricketing nation should attempt to produce quality in all forms of cricket. Another issue is consistency - you should be the best side in the world for an extended period to claim the crown. South Africa are the best side in the world today, but tomorrow....?

  • apache31 on January 16, 2009, 0:22 GMT

    Both India and South Africa are vying for the top position but the edge goes to South Africa for their recent home and away record. Also India's recent humiliation by Sri Lanka in the test series still lingers in my memory.

  • royalbob on January 16, 2009, 0:17 GMT

    The answer is India. The momentum is with India and SA, especially both teams have beaten Australia recently.Indians have beaten Australians and England teams recently.

    The present form of Indian cricketers like Sachin,Gambir,Shewag and Zaheer is so freighting that no team can stand in their way now. If Indians can win in NZ them they on the way to be a top team sooner or later.

    Indians are at good form in one dayers also,especially after beating England 5-0

  • CricketingStargazer on January 15, 2009, 22:09 GMT

    Let's look at this objectively. Forget comparing teams on paper. Individuals rarely win matches, teams do and the best team is better than the sum of the individuals. Recent major series only.

    South Africa: Beat England 2-1 in England Beat Australia 2-1 in Australia (in both cases losing a dead rubber after going 2-0 up) Drew with India 1-1 in India

    India: Lost 2-1 to Australia in Australia (after losing the first 2 Tests) Drew 1-1 with South Africa in India Beat Australia 2-0 in India Beat England 1-0 in India Lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka

    Australia: Beat India 2-1 in Australia Lost 2-0 to India in India Lost 2-1 to South Africa in Australia (winning a dead rubber after going 2-0 down)

    South Africa... W2 D1 L0 India.......... W2 D1 L2 Australia...... W1 D0 L2

    South Africa clearly have the best record. India just edge Australia, by winning just 2 of 5 recent series against major opposition against Australia's 1 of 3.

  • blackerthanyourhate on January 15, 2009, 16:12 GMT

    Too many opinions around here.In my opinion their will always be stiff competion between India,South Africa and also Australia for this year.For the year 2008 South Africa has had a great year in test cricket.they have beaten england in england, squared a test series in India and also recently won a test series in Australia which is defnitely commendable.India on the other hand has won all home series but still hasnt managed a test series victory overseas and the way the team underperformed in Sri Lanka was absolutely ridiculous.So India still needs time to settle down under their brand new dashing captain Mr M.S Dhoni.India still has to prove a lot in test cricket and a lot of work has to be done if India wants the Top Position in Test Cricket.As far as Australia goes, they havent had a good year in 2008 but i am sure they will do the needfull to come back hard against the top competitors. So over all my vote goes to South Africa for being the best performers in test cricket for 2008.

  • JackJ on January 15, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    It has to be SA because of the away win in Aus. They also have the best mix of youth and experience, and, by far, the best pace attack. India has never won a series in Aus, so cannot be rated 2, alone, at present. I would rate Aus and India equal 2nd. India, though, have a problem. Shortly they will say goodbye to Sachin, VVS and Dravid. These guys are irreplacable and India's batting will not be top notch without them. I also see no sign of adequate replacements on the horizon. Aus has to rebuild, but, given their systemic strength, I dont believe it would take more than 2 years. Their resilience is amazing and only the super class Windies of 80's/90's could keep them down. For the sake of test standards, I'm disappointed that the effete ECB has succeeded in sidelining KP as skipper. England has the makings of a good test side now and need only the right leadership to realise their potential. But ordinary captaincy will doom them, as it often has. Only KP has the flair and panache.

  • drsuso on January 15, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    South Africa are the best right now. India is right behind them though India will slip to third or fourth in a year as Dravid and Sachin will be retiring soon. Australia will then take the second place. But I am afraid, none of them can beat Srilanka in Srilanka for a couple of years, beware of Mendis-Murali.

  • oxypnictides on January 15, 2009, 12:58 GMT

    Firstly, the ICC official test rankings do not really mean much - they have been accrued over years, and likewise, just like any statistically robust quantity, take time to change. But given the current test sides, SA and India are definitely ahead of Australia, if only slightly. There is another question that needs to be asked: if India travels to Australia now and plays on the wicket that suits the Oz best, can they be beaten by 320 runs? And too much is made out of the inability (of Indians) to play on hard, bouncy or seaming tracks; only two countries really have hard wickets now (Oz and SA), two have seaming tracks (but not hard and bouncy): Eng and NZ. The remaining 5 (Ind, Pak, SL, B'desh and WI) have low and slow tracks. (There are always exceptions: Sydney and Mohali, for example - but in general). Given the majority, the question that should be asked of a team first is: 1) Can they currently win on low and spinning tracks? then 2) Can they win on bouncy and seaming tracks?

  • biju on January 15, 2009, 12:47 GMT

    Looking at the balance of the team I would suggest India as the best team.But the problem is that India have not proved themselves consistently outside the country.That is because of the inconsistency of the top 6 batsmen though it is claimed to be most experienced and powerful batting line up in the world.I am sure year 2009 will unveil the uncertainty of the No 1 position and surely it will be between South Africa ,India & Australia.

  • worldaudience on January 15, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    Well i partly agree with every one that they say South Africa is the no 1 ,right now,as they have beaten Aus in Aus.But if u have a closer look comparing India,than U will find that India is a more balanced team than South Africa in all condition.Which pair u will prefer Smith-McKenzie or Sehwag-Gambhir.O.K now in middle order Amla,Kallis,Duminy,Devillers to Dravid,Sachin,Laxman,Yuvraj not much to choose about i think.Than Dhoni is a better bet than Boucher.Now Sharma ,Zaheer pair is more versatile on any surface than Ntini,Steyn ,Harbhajan is a better Bowler than Paul Harris.Also I will say India is the only team who was the bunny of ausies at their peak,Although South Africa beat the aussies ,but they r in their fag end of their great era.So going by this I fancy India is the Team to look out for in 2009,although the gap is very less.

  • switchgrind68 on January 15, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    Currently the best test team in the world is South Africa. Things can change in the next few months when Australia tour South Africa and India tour New Zealand. Those test series would surely make things crystal clear as far as the best team in Test Cricket goes. For now, the Top 3 sides in Test Cricket are South Africa, India and Australia, and these 3 sides are pretty evenly matched when it comes to abilty. Test Cricket is surely going to be exciting in 2009.

  • ShravanKoganti on January 15, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    its a tough fight between the 2nd and 3rd Best teams... but, before all this, the games we are witnessing are giving immense pleasure for us. The cricket have become very engaging and interesting. two things that i'm interested to see in the next few months is, whether India or South Africa would be more consistent and how Australia would build up with the new comers.

    to pick one of the two from India and SA, i'll go with South Africa for Test Cricket and India for ODI's.

    Indian batting line up is looking very strong, and on the other hand, players like Kallis and Gibbs are not playing to their standards which is not South Africa prove to the max. But, They have really won very convincingly over Australia in the recent times.

  • riteshjsr on January 15, 2009, 5:52 GMT

    I'm an Indian and though my heart says India, I'll have to grudgingly concede that having beaten Oz in Oz, SA are probably the best Test side at the moment. However, take Smith out of the equation and suddenly SA start looking beatable. The 3rd test against Oz is proof of this. India are a close 2nd with a great bowling attack, courtesy Zak and Ishant. It feels both good and strange to be talking about India's pace bowling prowess, considering seamers have been mere passengers during India's tours outside the subcontinent in the 90s. Australia would be 3 (they have it on their shirts as well ;-). Once Lee and Symonds are back to full fitness and form, they'll be very difficult to beat. England would come next (only if KP is at his best). SL should not be taken very seriously. Dhoni and his young brigade unravelled Mendis during the ODI series in SL, something the Indian test team struggled with. There's no doubt in my mind that India are the best ODI and T20 team in the world though.

  • abby122354 on January 15, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    while south africa, neil McKenzie looked really out of his league down here in australia, smith is a great cap and a brilliant opener/batsmen, kallis little outa touch, but still a brilliant all rounder...amla is really impressing me, shame he didnt get the big one in the test series..De villers has amazing talent and looks good for the future, while price and duminy speck for themselves, boucher is the best keeper in the world if u only look at wicketkeeping not batting, steyn is probs the second best fast bowler in the world atm, ntini has amazing experiance, morne morkel has potential but can he use it will be the biggest question, and with nel still in the mix it looks like a strong bowling lineup, harris looked alright tho disappionted me when he bowled in sydney, he didnt get much turn and that wicket.

    india seem a lot more balanced them south africa atm with the spinners and the bench strength

  • abby122354 on January 15, 2009, 2:21 GMT

    while indias spin attack bhajji and mishra are doing a really really good job, they may not be getting wickets but they arent letting the other team score more then 2 an over off them, which allows sharma and zaheer to bowl in an attacking way, and with backups such as Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, sreesanth, munaf patel, chawla, oyja..etc, indias bench strengh is looking really strong

  • abby122354 on January 15, 2009, 2:18 GMT

    In test cricket i reckon south africa are the best team in the world atm but in ODI cricket india are head and shoulders above the rest, the ODI team is balanced very nicely in test cricket, india just need to prove they are the real deal outside india, NZ series will be a perfect chance for that to occur, it wont be about if india win, it will be about how much india win, is it convincing or not, if its convincing then india would have to be a good contender for that number 1 spot. Indias attack looked well balanced with Sehwag and Gambhir opening together, its not about how much they score but its the pace, usually together their partnership run rate is 4 and over, with dravid and sachin at 3 and 4 respectively, then followed by laxman and yuvi its a strong middle order and dhoni as the keeper/cap, while indias bowling lineup is finally something to be proud of..zaheer khan is dominating on dead indian tracks, while sharma keeps impressing.

  • rascally on January 15, 2009, 1:47 GMT

    As much as it pains me, I think South Africa is the best test side at the moment. A well-rounded batting line-up which goes down (although why they bat Harris so high is beyond me) and a good attacking bowling line-up. Their fielding has improved 200% since 2005 and, whilst I don't like Smith, I do like his captaincy. Australia maintain the number two spot, even with losing an entire team of the past 18months, only if those with injuries are able to make it back on board. Clark and Lee being injured has definitely been felt. Also, Aus selectors have proven themselves to be useless - I suppose it's a bit difficult when the team doesn't pick itself. India in at third based on their fielding. With the loss of lazy but talented players this may improve. Will need to improve a lot to knock SA off the perch though.

  • CricketingStargazer on January 15, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    Errrr. It seems that I am not the only one to have had a mental blank. I was sure that India drew in Australia. In fact, far from "nearly beating Australia", India lost the series by dint of losing the first two Tests, despite pulling one back later: hardly the stuff of a side claiming to be Number 1. What's more, the one win came after India threatened to withdraw from the series (to the neutral it looked suspiciously like "change the rules or we won't play") and led to a curiously docile Australian side appearing on the park when the row was settled.

    Taking that into account and India's famed poor away form, plus their struggle to beat a modest England side at home, they are, at least based on the last 18 months, some way off number 1 and could be threatened by Sri Lanka in the next year.

  • Revnq on January 15, 2009, 1:33 GMT

    As a diehard Aussie I think over the next couple of years we are going to see some truly engaging Test cricket - with a fantastic tussle going on for the number one spot between India, South Africa, and Australia. Although South Africa might not be officially no.1 at the moment, they certainly have the momentum and I would be surprised if they cannot wrap it up with a win in their upcoming home series. It is pertinent to note that the Australian selectors are finally waking up to the fact that a degree of ruthlessness is required. Hayden's (forced) retirement is the first step, as it won't be hard for his replacement to better his recent returns. M. Hussey needs to carry on from the 20/20 the other night and find runs in the ODI series, then carry it with him on tour. Lastly the injuries - to Graeme Smith and Stuart Clark. Smith, if not fit, will be a massive loss and one I think will tip the scales in Australia's favour. Clark would be a bonus but he is no certainty to tour!

  • CricketingStargazer on January 15, 2009, 1:22 GMT

    There is no question that South Africa is number 1, particularly as they were unlucky to only square the series in India. They have beaten all comers, home and away. India lost to Sri Lanka and only shared series with South Africa and Australia.

    Australia, Sri Lanka and England are all at a very similar level. Sri Lanka would beat both at home, but probably lose to both away. With the emergence of Mendis, perhaps Sri Lanka just edge 3rd, but are on the point of losing players like Muralitharan, Vaas and Jayasuriya, which will impact them badly.

    Who knows what level Pakistan are at? In 2006 they were heavily beaten by England. Since then they have barely played and are in turmoil anyway, rocked by scandals and inconsistent selections.

    What is without doubt is that the West Indies and New Zealand are the weakest of the Big Eight and the Bangladesh are weaker still.

  • Grog69 on January 15, 2009, 1:08 GMT

    Some good points raised in the comments, particularly Sri Lanka's position in the scheme of things. Perhaps their board need to sort out their future tours and get some tests on the go. I, for one, am itching to see this Mendis fella bowling against some quality opposition! As a South African, perhaps I am slightly biased but beating the best in their own back garden has to tip the scales in our favour. India are quality at present and as Smith is to SA, Dhoni is to India, a driving force. They have some excellent youngsters who have impressed me and Sachin is still playing with the grace and power he always has. I wouldn't write the Aussies off just yet, the return leg in SA is going to be huge played on pitches that suit both teams. All this means the future of test cricket is a mouth watering prospect. All we neen now is the West Indies to return to their former glory with their new batch of youngsters and the cricket world will be thriving!

  • J-Boydo on January 14, 2009, 23:31 GMT

    Based on current performance South Africa are the number one side. Away wins in England & Australia and a drawn series in India demands the number one position. But I think SA, India and Australia are really neck & neck (and neck). With all sides at full strength it is hard to pick who would win, it would come down to home advantage. India is still a fortress for the home side (no-one should read too much into Aus not winning a series in India, that's as rare as hen's teeth) and any team will have to play out of its skin to secure an away series win there. Likewise I feel India still have a bit to prove away from home: when they beat Aus in Aus (which they very nearly did) then that will go a long way in putting their case forward for the number one spot. But SA are a team on the up, whereas India and Australia are going through a rebuilding phase. The #1 spot will be a fierce battle for quite a while to come which is very exciting for test cricket.

  • Huntz01 on January 14, 2009, 23:07 GMT

    South Africa should be number 1, however they need to beat Aus in their upcoming home series. If Aus can beat SA at home then Aus should still be considered number 1. It's as simple as which ever of the two sides win in SA is the undisputed best side in Test cricket. As for India they are a great side, however they can't seriously be considered the best until they reguarly begin to win test series overseas on a regular basis..There is a serious gap to the other nations..

  • pinhead9810 on January 14, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    The best test team is South Africa and India for me are second. The best ODI team is India, there is no questions asked.

  • chapnis on January 14, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    @ Cameron: I think Mr Gaekward means is that if India beat NZ then India maybe no.1 not the other way around.

    Now at the moment in my opinion;

    1. South Africa 2=. India 2=. Australia 4. England 5. Sri Lanka 6. Pakistan 7=. West Indies 7=. New Zealand 9. Bangladesh Ray Illington says no-one has spin bowling except India. I hardly think Sri Lankas spin attack is sub-par

  • ahmadmalik on January 14, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    continued

    6. England: Poor selection, lack a good quality spinner and faith in KP, only way they can win Ashes this time (with Australia already in trouble and Hayden retiring) is under KP with good bowling attack including Hoggard, Harmison and a spinner (not monty)

    7. NewZealand:

  • ahmadmalik on January 14, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    1. South Africa: Great Bowling attack , Dependable Batsmen (if Smith is fit & Kallis is back in form)

    4. India: has got potential to be number one, with Yuvraj, Dhoni, Zaheer & Gambhir. I think now its the time for Dravid & Laxman to retire like Ganguly with dignity.

    3. Australia: Australian ERA is now over with retirement of Warne, McGrath and now Hayden. We have already seen them losing 2 test series and their Number one ranking is under threat both in one day and test cricket.

    4. Srilanka: Great Great Great potential with Murali and Mendis , only problem is with their batting especially openners.

    5. Pakistan: Honestly speaking half of their test team is playing in Lahore Badshah (M. Yusuf, Inzi, Rana Naveed, Imran Farhat etc) and should remove Shoaib Malik from captaincy, and main bowlers BANNED due to drugs. Team has got potential but needs DISCIPLINE, remove POLITICS and unfortunately TERRORISM IN COUNTRY (they havent played a test match at home soil for one year)

  • CricketPissek on January 14, 2009, 18:25 GMT

    @m.s.a.- it's rude to shout! pls don't use ALL CAPS mate :) the only doubt i have about SA's future is in its wicketkeeping. Boucher is excellent of course, but how many years does he have left in him? Dhoni's still quite young and his keeping is improving all the time. Sanga is superb for ODIs and Prasanna Jayawardene is both the most underrated and best wicketkeeper in int'l cricket at the moment, in my humble but shared opinion. England could have been contenders, but are a joke now. NZ have lost the plot and Windies don't threaten anymo, but could be a dark horse as well. i really wish there were more test matches this year for Sri Lanka :(

  • D.V.C. on January 14, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    Australia may have a good spinner very soon. The leg spinner, Bryce McGain, will be back from injury soon; in time to play a first class game before the Ashes tour. He was in line to make his debut in India before his injury and he is head and shoulders above Australia's other current spin options.

  • Scopey123 on January 14, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    I agree with the comments abour Sri Lanka, Mendis is currently outstripping Mutia in his wicket haul and if they bat better could be the dark horses. SAF to me still seem a little green, good point about Smith's position in the team, but Amla is looking good. Australia seem ripe for the taking at the moment, but must still be regarded as the best. England have done a pakistan, and lost control. But India do not have the killer instinct despite having a hell of a batting line up. It's all pretty tight. But as an Englishman, the team i would like to beat the most is still Australia.

  • Hurts_Like_Stink on January 14, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka would be interested to hear that there is a dearth of spinners. It has to be South Africa, they won in Australia. When do they meet India again? I think i will pull up a chair for that series...

  • Muflinkinut on January 14, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    India don't compare to SA when playing away from home, so I'd hve to say SA at this stage for consistency both home and away.

    India's record playing in South Africa is also terrible.

  • JogeshPanda on January 14, 2009, 11:57 GMT

    At present its definitely South Africa with their astounding performance last year but India is also in reckoning of strongest unit.The only disadvantage India has that they are playing quite a less number of test matches this year as compared to Proteas or Aussies.Otherwise the current team has that additional spark over South Africa with a batting line-up of legends and wonderful stroke maker.A major part of SA's success in last year can be credited to the strong performance of their captain while his Indian counterpart yet to prove his credential in batting but there is no shortage of words for his leadership abilities.But Indian should also be weary of retirement of some of their legends amd some are in their final leg of illustrious career.They have to find enough bench strength for cover these greats if they want to remain in the hunt of best test playing nation.Whereas SA shall be looking into their current bunch of young player to grow-up as the legends.

  • kamal_lak on January 14, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    I am an Indian and I have no hesitation in saying that if Sri Lanka is given more opportunities and improves its batting a bit more they can be a world beating side. Both Murali and Mendis are spinners who dont rely on the pitch to have a say in a match. And as it stands nobody from Australia and South Africa have played him in any form of the game. Put Malinga in the mix and if they find a robust opening partnership going, there can be a big four in cricket too..and how lovely that sounds after years and years of Oz domination...

  • CricketPissek on January 14, 2009, 10:53 GMT

    if sri lanka can get its batting act together, it'll definitely become a contendor. (terrible against zim & bang these days!) the pace bowling is looking very very good, and the spinners are of course, world class. the batting looks good on paper, but it needs to click and consistently perform. Illingworth saying "One of the problems is that everybody has a dearth of spin bowling, apart from India, and everyone has been a bit let down by that" just shows how the little country of Sri Lanka will always be ignored or at the very most, patronised againt, by stuck up citizens of "Developed Countries" Unfortunately, SL doesn't get many test match opportunities to improve its image.

  • Lazys0d1990 on January 14, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    South Africa. Easy. Unsuprisingly we're stuggling in the absence of Warne and McGrath and Gilly (and now Hayden), but we're in a rebuilding process that'll take a few years. India come close but I think need to beat the Proteas home and away to be regarded as number one

  • Cam_PT on January 14, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    The rankings are there for a reason, and they still say Australia is number 1. However South Africa are within touching distance now and it is only appropriate that they play each other in SA in the next few months. Although India have been playing some great cricket of late, it has all been at home. Mr Gaekwad's comment that if they beat New Zealand in NZ then they stand a good chance of being no.1, very funny, made me laugh. All respect to their limited overs success but New Zealand's Test efforts have been abysmal. To be number 1 they will have to beat either Australia in Aus or/and South Africa in SA.

  • aj251181 on January 14, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    Australia, SAF & India are ahead of us. But SriLanka closely follows them. Aussies are still a good team with or without a spinner. Absence of Hayden can be a factor in the coming months. But SAF without Smith is a different team and if he doesnt contribute, SAF still looks a young and vulnerable side. The coming tour of AUS to SAF will paint the true pic. India i feel is slight;y better than SAF with their more balanced team combination.

  • pragmatist on January 14, 2009, 8:45 GMT

    The lack of a decent spinner really hampers South Africa's claims. India are very good but I'm yet to be convinced they can sustain their form over a long period. Sri Lanka should have at least been mentioned given their two world class spinners and substantial batting lineup. England could and should be up there with fantastic players like KP, harmy and freddie but are let down by bell, monty and poor selection - especially in the keeper's position.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • pragmatist on January 14, 2009, 8:45 GMT

    The lack of a decent spinner really hampers South Africa's claims. India are very good but I'm yet to be convinced they can sustain their form over a long period. Sri Lanka should have at least been mentioned given their two world class spinners and substantial batting lineup. England could and should be up there with fantastic players like KP, harmy and freddie but are let down by bell, monty and poor selection - especially in the keeper's position.

  • aj251181 on January 14, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    Australia, SAF & India are ahead of us. But SriLanka closely follows them. Aussies are still a good team with or without a spinner. Absence of Hayden can be a factor in the coming months. But SAF without Smith is a different team and if he doesnt contribute, SAF still looks a young and vulnerable side. The coming tour of AUS to SAF will paint the true pic. India i feel is slight;y better than SAF with their more balanced team combination.

  • Cam_PT on January 14, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    The rankings are there for a reason, and they still say Australia is number 1. However South Africa are within touching distance now and it is only appropriate that they play each other in SA in the next few months. Although India have been playing some great cricket of late, it has all been at home. Mr Gaekwad's comment that if they beat New Zealand in NZ then they stand a good chance of being no.1, very funny, made me laugh. All respect to their limited overs success but New Zealand's Test efforts have been abysmal. To be number 1 they will have to beat either Australia in Aus or/and South Africa in SA.

  • Lazys0d1990 on January 14, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    South Africa. Easy. Unsuprisingly we're stuggling in the absence of Warne and McGrath and Gilly (and now Hayden), but we're in a rebuilding process that'll take a few years. India come close but I think need to beat the Proteas home and away to be regarded as number one

  • CricketPissek on January 14, 2009, 10:53 GMT

    if sri lanka can get its batting act together, it'll definitely become a contendor. (terrible against zim & bang these days!) the pace bowling is looking very very good, and the spinners are of course, world class. the batting looks good on paper, but it needs to click and consistently perform. Illingworth saying "One of the problems is that everybody has a dearth of spin bowling, apart from India, and everyone has been a bit let down by that" just shows how the little country of Sri Lanka will always be ignored or at the very most, patronised againt, by stuck up citizens of "Developed Countries" Unfortunately, SL doesn't get many test match opportunities to improve its image.

  • kamal_lak on January 14, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    I am an Indian and I have no hesitation in saying that if Sri Lanka is given more opportunities and improves its batting a bit more they can be a world beating side. Both Murali and Mendis are spinners who dont rely on the pitch to have a say in a match. And as it stands nobody from Australia and South Africa have played him in any form of the game. Put Malinga in the mix and if they find a robust opening partnership going, there can be a big four in cricket too..and how lovely that sounds after years and years of Oz domination...

  • JogeshPanda on January 14, 2009, 11:57 GMT

    At present its definitely South Africa with their astounding performance last year but India is also in reckoning of strongest unit.The only disadvantage India has that they are playing quite a less number of test matches this year as compared to Proteas or Aussies.Otherwise the current team has that additional spark over South Africa with a batting line-up of legends and wonderful stroke maker.A major part of SA's success in last year can be credited to the strong performance of their captain while his Indian counterpart yet to prove his credential in batting but there is no shortage of words for his leadership abilities.But Indian should also be weary of retirement of some of their legends amd some are in their final leg of illustrious career.They have to find enough bench strength for cover these greats if they want to remain in the hunt of best test playing nation.Whereas SA shall be looking into their current bunch of young player to grow-up as the legends.

  • Muflinkinut on January 14, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    India don't compare to SA when playing away from home, so I'd hve to say SA at this stage for consistency both home and away.

    India's record playing in South Africa is also terrible.

  • Hurts_Like_Stink on January 14, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka would be interested to hear that there is a dearth of spinners. It has to be South Africa, they won in Australia. When do they meet India again? I think i will pull up a chair for that series...

  • Scopey123 on January 14, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    I agree with the comments abour Sri Lanka, Mendis is currently outstripping Mutia in his wicket haul and if they bat better could be the dark horses. SAF to me still seem a little green, good point about Smith's position in the team, but Amla is looking good. Australia seem ripe for the taking at the moment, but must still be regarded as the best. England have done a pakistan, and lost control. But India do not have the killer instinct despite having a hell of a batting line up. It's all pretty tight. But as an Englishman, the team i would like to beat the most is still Australia.