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?

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

  • Nalin 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.

  • Prashant 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 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.

  • Srinivasan 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.

  • Jehan 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..

  • g 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!

  • Vaseem 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.

  • g 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!

  • g 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.

  • Dinesh 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.

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