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ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

Australia's fall from first to fifth

A look at the major areas where the recent champions have slipped over the last three years

S Rajesh

October 15, 2010

Comments: 89 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting cuts off the back foot, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 4th day, October 12, 2010
One of the factors in Australia's decline has been the poor conversion rate of their batsmen, and Ricky Ponting has been one of the biggest culprits © Getty Images

It's almost surreal, but according to the latest ICC rankings, Australia are the fifth-best Test team in the world. It was always expected that they would struggle a bit after the retirement of their stalwarts, but the swiftness with which they've plummeted down the rankings has been a bit of surprise, especially since they won just about everything till the end of 2007. Admittedly Australia's standards have fallen since those lofty days, but is fifth position a true reflection of how good they are? Here's a look at their results summary over the last three years, and a comparison with what they achieved between 2005 and 2007.

The first stat that jumps out is the number of Tests they've lost since 2008: against the top eight teams (excluding Bangladesh), Australia have won 17 Tests and been beaten 11 times, which is more than the number of defeats they'd endured in the previous eight years (2000 to 2007). The 2-0 defeat to India was the first whitewash they'd suffered in a series since 1982, when they lost to Pakistan, and they've also lost three Tests in a row for the first time in almost 22 years.

Despite these defeats Australia still have a win-loss ratio of more than 1.5, which is not bad for a team ranked fifth. The problem, from Australia's point of view, is that four other teams have done better in these three years - India, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka all have a better win-loss ratio against the top eight teams during this period. That also indicates how closely matched these five teams have been, and how poor the others are: fifth-placed Australia have a win-loss ratio of 1.54, while Pakistan, in sixth place, have a ratio of 0.30. In the three-year period before this (January 2005 to December 2007), Australia were the only team with a win-loss ratio of more than 1.50, while in the three years before that, two teams, Australia and England, made the grade.

Test record against top eight teams since Jan 2008
Team Tests Won Lost W/L ratio
India 28 13 6 2.16
South Africa 24 12 7 1.71
England 32 13 8 1.62
Sri Lanka 18 8 5 1.60
Australia 35 17 11 1.54
Pakistan 17 3 10 0.30
West Indies 22 2 11 0.18
New Zealand 20 2 12 0.16

Australia have also been hurt by the fact that they've played more matches away than at home during these last three years. Out of the 35 Tests, 21 have been away and only 14 at home. They've still been more consistent home and away compared to most other teams, though - their home win-loss ratio is third-best, next only to India and Sri Lanka. Overseas they are second only to South Africa, and tied with India. Yet overall they slip into fifth place because of the home-away equation of the other teams. While Australia have played 60% of their games away (including at neutral venues), India have played only 43% overseas, and for Sri Lanka the number is less than 40%. For Sri Lanka, especially, the home-away ratio has helped tremendously, for their overseas win-loss ratio ranks fifth among all teams, but their awesome home record gives them an overall ratio of 1.60, which helps them pip Australia.

Home and away records against top eight teams since Jan 2008
Team Home - Tests W/ L Ratio Away* - Tests W/ L Ratio
India 16 9/ 2 4.50 12 4/ 4 1.00
South Africa 9 4/ 3 1.33 15 8/ 4 2.00
Sri Lanka 11 7/ 2 3.50 7 1/ 3 0.33
England 18 10/ 4 2.50 14 3/ 4 0.75
Australia 14 9/ 3 3.00 21 8/ 8 1.00
Pakistan 2 0/ 0 0.00 15 3/ 10 0.30
West Indies 13 2/ 5 0.40 9 0/ 6 0.00
New Zealand 13 2/ 6 0.33 7 0/ 6 0.00
* Includes matches played at neutral venues

In the three years before 2008, though, Australia were the emphatic champions, which is what makes their current ranking so shocking. In 26 Tests against the top eight teams during this period, Australia won 20 and lost two - both to England in 2005 - for an outstanding win-loss ratio of 10. During this period they won 13 Tests in a row, which included a 5-0 whitewash of England in the Ashes series at home in 2006-07. Australia didn't lose a single home game in these three years, winning 14 out of 15, but they were also awesome overseas, winning six and losing only two out of 11 games. They were the only team with an away win-loss ratio of more than one.

The home-away schedule also worked to their advantage during this period (though it's not as if they needed help from such external factors). Out of 26 Tests, they played 15 at home and 11 away. India, on the other hand, had a 12-14 home-away spread, while Sri Lanka played nine at home and 12 abroad.

Win-loss versus the top eight teams between Jan 2005 and Dec 2007
Team Overall - W/L Ratio Home - W/L Ratio Away - W/L Ratio
Australia 20/ 2 10.00 14/ 0 - 6/ 2 3.00
India 8/ 6 1.33 5/ 2 2.50 3/ 4 0.75
South Africa 12/ 11 1.09 9/ 7 1.28 3/ 4 0.75
Pakistan 9/ 10 0.90 5/ 1 5.00 4/ 9 0.44
Sri Lanka 7/ 8 0.87 5/ 1 5.00 2/ 7 0.28
England 11/ 13 0.84 9/ 3 3.00 2/ 10 0.20
New Zealand 4/ 7 0.57 4/ 3 1.33 0/ 4 0.00
West Indies 2/ 16 0.12 1/ 4 0.25 1/ 12 0.08

Comparing Australia's batting stats between 2005 and 2007 to their performances since the beginning of 2008, the most glaring difference is that in conversion rates of batsmen then and now. During the first phase, Australian batsmen converted 41 of their 98 scores of 50-plus into hundreds - a conversion rate of nearly 42%. Since 2008, though, that percentage has dropped to 29% (43 out of 149). That tendency to get starts and not go on to a century was on display against India too, when there were nine scores of more than 50 but only Shane Watson and Marcus North got a century each. Ricky Ponting was the biggest culprit on this count - he batted beautifully and crafted three 50-plus scores, but the highest of those was only 77.

Over the last three years, the four batsmen who've had the poorest conversion rates have been Ponting, Watson, Simon Katich and Michael Hussey. Katich has been the best among these players, but even he converted only eight of his 24 scores of 50-plus into hundreds. For Ponting the corresponding ratio was six out of 17, while Hussey had four out of 13 and Watson two out of 11.

In contrast the batsmen were far more ruthless in the three years preceding 2008: Ponting converted 12 of his 22 scores of 50-plus into centuries, Matthew Hayden seven out of 13, Hussey six out of 14, and Adam Gilchrist four out of nine.

Australia's batting in Tests v the top eight teams
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jan 2005 to Dec 2007 26 14,898 43.30 41/ 57
Jan 2008 onwards 35 20,382 36.39 43/ 106

Among the bowlers, the main difference is in the averages of the top wicket-takers during these two periods. Between 2005 and 2007 all the bowlers who took more than 50 wickets averaged less than 28, with one of them, Stuart Clark, averaging less than 20. In the last three years, though, all those who have taken more than 50 wickets have averaged greater than 28, with three of them conceding more than 30 runs per wicket. That's resulted in an overall higher average for bowlers. Combine that with the lower batting averages and it has meant that the difference between batting and bowling averages has dropped considerably during the last three years - between 2005 and 2007 it was 15.72; in the last three years it has slipped to 3.60. That's been enough for Australia's rank to slip from one to five.

Australia's bowling in Tests v the top eight teams
Period Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Jan 2005 to Dec 2007 26 482 27.58 54.8 17/ 2
Jan 2008 onwards 35 601 32.79 61.8 20/ 3

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by BillyCC on (October 18, 2010, 22:25 GMT)

maximum6, Australia would have to have lose many many series over a period of ten years to fall to where the West Indies currently are in world cricket after their period of dominance. Is that likely? Probably not, considering the closeness of the top five teams in the rankings.

Posted by stemsa on (October 18, 2010, 21:23 GMT)

So AUS have a better W/L ratio at home then ENG and a better W/L away, but ENG have better W/L ratio overall. Statistics... don't you just love it.

Posted by khansha on (October 18, 2010, 6:54 GMT)

A+ article / 5* article/ 11 out 10 points

The most telling set of statistics is probably the one at the end of the analysis.

For me that piece of comparison between the bowling averages and the batting averages pushes this article from great to outstanding.

This sort of analysis is so telling of the team's performance - its mind boggling how it has not been presented before.

Posted by landl47 on (October 18, 2010, 5:05 GMT)

This exercise seems to me to be of almost no value. The only thing that matters is the latest games each country has played against each other country. If Australia beats England in the Ashes series this Winter, or vice versa, neither side is going to care where they are ranked. England have won 5 and tied one of their last 6 test series. During that time, they haven't played India, so the comparative ranking of the two sides is based on what happened 2 years ago. That's a lifetime in cricket. India are a very good team. Australia are a team in decline. That's obvious and it's all that anyone really needs to know.

Posted by Catch2020 on (October 18, 2010, 4:27 GMT)

Good analysis. Australia is nowhere as bad as it's ranking makes it out to be. Most Indians don't realize it, but India is one of the toughest away tours on the circuit; and yet; this so-called 5th ranked team came tantalizingly close to beating us. I agree with Rajesh's statement that the top teams are very close -- well, partially; I think Sri Lanka is somewhat flattered by it's ranking; I may be wrong; but I cannot see SL winning tests on away tours of any of the other four countries (esp. without Murali). Our (India's) ranking flatters us a bit as well -- IMO, our bowling attack is just not good enough for us to be a consistent no. 1. SA has traditionally been a very tough tour for us (for some reason, perhaps tougher than down-under). Hoping to see us at least come out of it with even honours this time around.

Posted by MinusZero on (October 18, 2010, 0:43 GMT)

North has done terribly too. Only nine 50+ scores in 32 innings since 2008 and only 5 of those 9 are centuries. Australia need to make big changes and look to the future. At the moment, the future is bleak without biting the bullet and dropping players. Start with North and Hussey and on recent form Clarke. Although i expect Clarke will be the next protected species in the team.

Posted by _Australian_ on (October 17, 2010, 18:47 GMT)

To the comment posted by (f) on oct 17 at 11:29am gmt. Welcome to the world Australian cricket once lived in. Criticism is rife with people who are jelous of your prosperity. It won't be long before people start calling the Indian team arrogant. Just like what happened to a successful Australia. I would love to see people give credit where it is due but unfortunately that is not the world we live in. The West Indian team of the 80's was called arrogant for the way they strut their stuff and it happened to Australia also. I definately consider India to be no.1 and was very proud of the fight my Australian's showed in the recent series. If we had a captain who was a better thinker we might have even pinched the first test.

Posted by Nampally on (October 17, 2010, 18:16 GMT)

The only way India can improve their away record is by playing more away Tests. In 2008, India did very well in Australia but poor umpiring resulted in the loss of the Sydney test. Now that more of Indian players have played in South Africa during the IPL, at least they know what to expect. It remains to be seen how they perform in the forthcoming SA Tour. Batsmen with sound technique always do well. I expect Sehwag and Vijay to open the innings with Dravid, Tendulkar & Laxman or Pujara consolidating it.Dhoni & Raina/Yuvraj can then finish it with a flourish. I expect a turn around in Indian performance overseas. If they beat SA, the ratio of 1.00 can be improved & SA's ratio of 1.33 can drop further.India should play more matches in England, NZ and Australia.Stop SL games for a while. Young bowlers like Unadkat, Mithun, Ashwin need this exposure to develop their potential.The future looks good for India to improve these ratios abroad.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 17:26 GMT)

@Tom Murphy, They say, a pessimist sees glass half empty while an optimist see the same glass half full. I admire your optimism.

@maximum6, I had a good laugh reading your comments, not that your comments are dumb or stupid, just that I found them hilarious.

I don't want to comment on the current ranking system as this is the same system that saw Aussies ranked Numero Uno for some time and now India being ranked # 1. Yes that's why I trust the ranking system, India sitting on the top while others being plain jealous of us topping the chart, while others admiring our achievement.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 13:57 GMT)

You don't really know anything about Australians, do you? So dream on. we've got you where we want you, we are finally the underdogs, a position we love more than No 1.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (October 17, 2010, 13:12 GMT)

It's great to see Australia going down the rankings. I wonder if they will quite plumb the depths West Indies have though. In any case 5th and slipping is great progress. It calls for celebrations!!! And it's noit just there that crazy things have happened.Bangladesh are suddenly winning a series. Wow!!!!

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 11:29 GMT)

I wonder why most of the people here are criticizing india for being no.1 . It is bound to happen to anyone be it michael schumacher , or the mighty Windies. At the moment , without any doubt India is the best team in the world. Also i think people should just stop criticizing tendulkar not in the one day. India needs sachin for the World Cup , and he should be used exactly like this , same thing what australian board did for the most important series , ASHES. i totally agree with Gary Harris on here!!

Posted by DavidNorman99 on (October 17, 2010, 11:18 GMT)

If the test rankings are being distorted by the number of games played home vs away, and by the number of series played against different teams, then why not go back to something similar to the previous system. Rather than consider the last few years' results, you consider the results of the most recent home and away series between each pair of teams. The system was only dropped because it was being distorted by Australia having not got around to playing the minnows, which they have now done.

Posted by DavidNorman99 on (October 17, 2010, 11:12 GMT)

Why are Pakistan shown as having a home record of won 0, lost 0, since 2008? They recently won 1, lost 1 against Australia in their home series hosted in England.

Posted by natmastak_so-called on (October 17, 2010, 10:57 GMT)

Aus lost to india even when they were at peak. this phase was expected from those arrogant bunch of so called great cricketers .

Posted by Hate.ME on (October 17, 2010, 10:52 GMT)

@ mrgupta .. Good observation. With retirement of Muralitharan, chances of Sri Lanka winning away have reduced (though they still have good spinners like Randiv, Mendis and Herath). "Since 2007, SL have never won a test match against top 6 teams." Sri Lankan team should start playing against these top 6 nations AWAY. I think, their next Test Series is with WI, that's not good.

Posted by Hate.ME on (October 17, 2010, 10:38 GMT)

Hmm.. good stats ! It clears many doubts. India @ home is almost unbeatable Win ration of 4.50 whereas South Africa's win ratio @ home is only 1.33 - Poor. But on the other hand, SA's win ratio away is 2.0 (highest) followed by India and Aussie's ratio of 1.0 ! No doubt that top 2 Test teams are India & South Africa. Sri Lanka's home ratio is 3.50 (2nd best after India) but it's away ratio is very poor only 0.33 (fact is they haven't played many matches away which they should to prove that they can win or at least draw matches on fast and bouncy pitches) ! Right now, I would rate England better than Sri Lanka considering the fact that Muralitharan - their trump card - has retired. So combining the ratios, India is No. 1 (though not as strong as Aus or WI of their time, Ind may achieve this status after touring Eng and SA), SA is No.2 and England No. 3.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 10:10 GMT)

Why dont my overseas buddies dont accept India as number 1!!!!!Why do always India have to win overseas matches!!It doesnt matter whether is bowling or batting friendly pitch ,The only thing that matters is whether team can play or not!!!Yes Indias have won matches in last few years in Australia, newzealand they have won test series!England they have won!!!!!!!!!of course they are playing excessively at home ..that doesnt matter!even australians play excessively at home!! Of course thats the only point concerning my buddies to raise!!!!!If a particular team is best it has to play in all sorts of conditions ...If australians are best they cud have played well in india!!!

Posted by SivuSoren on (October 17, 2010, 10:00 GMT)

Interesting stats ... but im now wondering why Aus have slipped from 1st to 5th in 3 yrs in the Test rankings but not budged even one spot in the ODI rankings. Aus still continue to be the No. 1 ODI team and India despite making huge improvements in the test results do not seem to be closing up the gap with Aus in the ODI rankings .... can u pull up some stats for the ODI results as well and explain why we are flying high in test matches but doing so-so in ODI while the reverse seems to be true for Aus.

Posted by Aussasinator on (October 17, 2010, 9:51 GMT)

The Test team of Australia needs a complete overhaul with a 2 year perspective. Other than Watson and Clarke, its time for the rest to move out. A very imaginative & skilful man- manager needs to be made captain because that's a very glaring deficiency for the past 3 years when they had been losing with very good bowlers in their ranks. Even Watson should be relieved of the opening slot and a new find needs to be blooded, or else, Watson is likely to be burnt out or get injured with the workload. The Australians dont have to worry abt their ODI and T20 teams though. Thats where they will be very very good, since the entire younger generation of Oz cricket players are orienting themselves towards the shorter version of the game.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 8:11 GMT)

I think we all know the India and Sri Lanka have an over-riding advantage playing at home. In my opinion, South Africa is the toughest opponent on average on all surfaces and in all conditions followed by England and Australia.

Posted by kcricinfo on (October 17, 2010, 7:41 GMT)

Australia have slipped no doubt but that was always going to happen. They lost 3 players who wouldn't look out of place in an all time test 11 in Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath. All this article proves is how close the top 5 teams are at the moment. If Australia had won at Mohali then they would have topped the rankings with a win/loss ratio of 1.8 compared to both India and South Africa at 1.71. India are nowhere near as good as the dominant West Indies and Australian teams of the past 25 years, they simply do not have the bowling. India are rightful in claiming the number 1 ranking at present but Australia and South Africa are not far away. It's a great situation for world cricket to have such fierce competition amongst the top teams. I say that India, Australia and South Africa are the top 3 because they have the ability to win in all conditions. Australia are rebuilding and have the talent to recapture the number one spot if they can recapture their confidence and consistency.

Posted by _Australian_ on (October 17, 2010, 5:45 GMT)

Not trying to give excuses at Australia's obvious fall but one glaring missed point is that in the last 3 years all of the teams in the top 4 currently have played Bangladesh in a series (some twice) gaining easy points. Australia has not played Bangladesh. Take away the points earned against Bangladesh and Australia would be ranked 3rd. Unless all teams play each other evenly home and away over a 4 or 5 year period the ranking system is going to be flawed. Also you need 3 tests per series no more no less. That is the only way the test ranking/championship is going to work fairly.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2010, 20:05 GMT)

India is best in the world. No one can touch india. Still dhone is not a good captain. His luck favoured him lot. I donot understand why he is not keeping tedulkar in his one day ODI. Whithout Tendulkar. this team will have to face lot of struggle.

Posted by waspsting on (October 16, 2010, 18:13 GMT)

fail to see whats so shocking. Mcgrath and Warne in particular, but also Gilchrist and Hayden WERE the team - along with Ponting. you had strenght in opening, middle order, keeping/batting, pace and spin. all thats left now is middle order strenght in Ponting. Of course, they've fallen! Still, its a bit like Roger Federer. he set so high a standard that anything looks dreadful now by comparison - even though he's still a fine player. Australia are up there with the best of them. In all conditions, only south africa and india are there with them - and none of the teams are superior to all the other teams in foreign conditions.

Posted by 2929paul on (October 16, 2010, 16:39 GMT)

India are surely the best at the moment. SA second with the best seam attack. Sri Lanka struggle horrendously away from home and with Murali gone, that's their wicket taker, dot ball bowler and 35% of their overs gone in one fell swoop. England are a continuous work-in-progress, always promising to give us cheer but somehow ultimately falling at the final hurdle (I live in hope). Australia are a falling star, needing to accept they have lost their winners and must re-build from scratch. At least it's not as boring as it once was. I just wish Pakistan and Windies could get their respective houses in order so that their fantastically talented players could perform as we all want to see.

Posted by vish515 on (October 16, 2010, 12:32 GMT)

@Adrian bartsch- agree with your point about talent in australian domestic scene and they need to be inducted in the national squad sooner rather than later .. however to be honest i have seen khawaja - sorry to say he's simply not up to scratch .. he has a long way to go - i cant see him in the same league of some of the other talented players waiting in the wings- i was most impressed with tim paine in the recent series .. anyways all the best - and- australia is STILL the team to beat -whether they are no1 or not-

Posted by rshn on (October 16, 2010, 6:03 GMT)

Good thing about India is they are too rebuilding like australian, but unlike australians, Indians have good reserve bench in Pujara and Vijay and many more to come. Austalians call themselves as a young team, but in reality they are all in the other end of the 30.

Australia is going down big time... India is rising up. you can see that in last 3 years or so.. India has been so dominant, destroyed almost everything on its path.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2010, 4:41 GMT)

Australia falling and India becoming #1, so what. West Indies fell, Australia became n#1. Its a cycle, no one stays on top forever and no one just produces players like Ambrose, Marshall, Richards , Lara, Warne, McGrath and Waugh just like that. India will go through the same thing, so to will South Africa. So Australia better get used to being down the list for a while.

Posted by Hindh on (October 16, 2010, 4:33 GMT)

For other teams to claim NO 1 spot from India they first will have to beat INDIA IN INDIA before chest beating india is not the best, and as for SA to be the best they will have to beat Aus in SA first before further talk. SA are yet to beat Aus in SA since re admission.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2010, 4:30 GMT)

I think we should all remember the reason Australia got to #1 was because the West Indies fell from that spot. Any team that loses great players will suffer this fate, Australia is no exception. Australia has done a better job managing the loss of there greats than the West Indies so were able to stay at #1 for a while, but that's all over now. They will however continue to be a good side. India have worked hard and deserve there spot so lets stop talking about them only being there because Australia fell. So what? Somebody had to fall so that someone could rise. No side remains number forever. Nobody.

Posted by AndrewFromOz on (October 16, 2010, 3:01 GMT)

Fifth is probably a fair indicator of where we sit. India is clearly the best at present.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2010, 0:52 GMT)

I'm not suprised by these stats, i have been a little concerned by the declining averages and an unwillingness to dispose of "dead wood", Hussey in particular has been a very poor performer, North has struggled in the last 12 months, and the inability to keep a team on the field without too many injuries will have also made a big impact. Here is another problem i see, Australia has give more debuts in the 2008-2010 period then in had done in the decade previous to that.

Posted by knowledge_eater on (October 16, 2010, 0:40 GMT)

I thought Aus. were White Wash by India when they came in 2008 or something. May be we can call it Half White Wash. Since 2 games were drawn. Very Good analysis again. Every top team has there days to enjoy their supremacy. SAfrica and India are very close. SA needs to win in India and India needs to win in SAfrica. Its sad that Lanka doesn't play outside this much. Its whole different 'ball-game' when Ashes is in Aus. If England are deserved better team than Aus., then they must win against Aus in Aus. India beat great Australian team in India and almost pulled off winning against them in Aus. Great stuff. Great rivalry. Next stop is SA and England. Beat them claim your Supremacy. I had predicted India will remain top team for 5 years long time ago on one of the article. I think this is 2-3rd year of prediction. Peace.

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 23:42 GMT)

by the way watson is doing his part just fine .ponting is still going strong.the weak link is clarke.

Posted by Truthtriumps on (October 15, 2010, 22:47 GMT)

Reply to Nijnoz: True that Legends of Indian test team will retire in few years, but there is enough room and promise from youngsters to make the batting line up much stronger. the bowling department too seems picking up much better and it is now having a lot of tooth than in the past. India will rule test cricket for few more years. Honestly the threat for their number one status is from South Africa rather than Australia.

Posted by mrgupta on (October 15, 2010, 21:15 GMT)

I think the analysis was not thoroughly done. Lets consider the Away records only and let the oppositions only be the current Top 6 teams rather than NZ, WI and BD who have not done so well recently. I took the stats from Jan 2007 and found that Top 3 teams are SA, India and Aus. The most surprising is the fact that Sri-Lanka has not Won a Single test against Top 6 teams in an Away series since 2007 and still they are 3rd in the ranking and have the audacity to question the Ranking of Team India. See for yourself http://stats.cricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;home_or_away=2;home_or_away=3;opposition=1;opposition=2;opposition=3;opposition=6;opposition=7;opposition=8;orderby=win_loss_ratio;spanmin2=01+Jan+2007;spanval2=span;template=results;type=team

Posted by xenon555 on (October 15, 2010, 18:31 GMT)

What do you expect? Hayden, Gilchrist, Martyn, McGrath, Langer, Macgill, Bevan, Lehman, Gillespie, and Warne all retired at around the same time. To add to that Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken started to become hampered by injury. Bollinger, Mitchell, and Rhino are very good, but they cannot replace Glenn McGrath. Watson and Katich aren't as good as Hayden and Langer. Gilchrist beats Haddin, Warne beats Hauritz, Bevan and Martyn beat Hussey and Clarke. Its just a team on a whole new level.

Posted by LifesGladiator on (October 15, 2010, 17:53 GMT)

@All : Please stop picking on the Aussies or any other team. The ICC rankings consider only the win/loss ratio but not the teams they were won against and the situations. Add a third dimension by taking an average experience of players in a team and you will clearly see who is the Numero Uno.

Posted by TestOfTime on (October 15, 2010, 16:49 GMT)

Good and Bad News. Good news is that Australia is already in the rebuilding phase and is looking like a good unit. In 2-3 years time they will be a force to reckon for. the bad news is that 2-3 of their players will retire- Ponting, Hussey and Katich. Replacing them will be extremely hard. The only team i see who can dominate in the next 5 years consistently is South Africa. My fav team india will struggle really badly after their batting line up retires.

Posted by Venky_Virgo on (October 15, 2010, 16:43 GMT)

Lots of comment saying India rose as Aussies fall.. it was not all of a sudden ,, it happened gradually, 2001 series was a prelude, Steve Waugh s farewell series,, was more about Indian domination,, Steve steely resolve coupled with Bucknor s horrible umpiring and Parthiv patel 's equally scary wicketkeeping kept the series draw.. 2007,, India won in perth,, In last decade even with all stalwarts ,, India matched Aussies step to step..

In between, India won series in Pak,, england and NZ..

so plz.. stop downplaying india s achievement.. it all happened brick by brick, step by step.. not a two minute noodle types..

Posted by Yuvvaa on (October 15, 2010, 16:39 GMT)

why u guys talking about the Aus downfall, then really have to consider westindies downfall, coz they were the one who dominated test cricket once. Aus came to no.1 coz of WI downfall...

Posted by rajrele on (October 15, 2010, 16:21 GMT)

@Adrian...agreed there are promising youngsters...but the magic ingredient is a confident nucleus that makes new comers confident (clarke 2004,mark waugh 1993 etc ) and good players great (marsh,reiffel), the nucleus shared experience, their behaviour was observed, their confidence was infectious, minus three key players india beat australia...the nucleus for india is sehwag, harbhajan, tendulkar, dhoni, dravid, laxman and zaheer...australia has no core....rebuilding wil take a tour like windies 94-95 or ashes 89 but you need a leader with atleast 4- 5 years in him, aus is nearing the bottom, it has to hit it to go up.....a new core needs to be formed...watson, katich, bollinger, jonhson i see clearly.....two more are needed...till then be realistic.....

Posted by Nijnoz on (October 15, 2010, 15:35 GMT)

@Aussasinator Old dads and uncles?? So are RD, VVS and SRT and they are combined with Sehwag what is keeping India afloat. And it is the fall of Australia that allowed India to rise to the top. They are not the same menacing force as Australia was. Maybe the BCCI is dominating the cricket scene, certainly not their cricket team.

Posted by indy.rockz on (October 15, 2010, 15:17 GMT)

If there is any team in the world who could bounce back and retain the no.1 title is AUSTRALIA. India is good however India being no.1 is like a consultation price. The Demise of Australian era was a big reason behind India's getting the no.1 spot. Australian team is in the process of rebuilding and its still better than the others. When i say better than the others i mean how other teams would have performed if they also have young and inexperienced player in their teams. All Aussies need a good spin bowler. Their bowling attack is very predictable. The biggest gap that they have to fill is to get a good replacement for Warnie. They have good young batsman and their pace attack is also good. The only thing they lack is variety in their bowling attack and a good spinner is a must.

Posted by bkraks21 on (October 15, 2010, 15:06 GMT)

@ DaTBird187 - u almost lost to India in the last series in Oz if not for favorable umpiring. Get real mate. Aussies are a spent force now.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (October 15, 2010, 15:03 GMT)

Aussasinator, only a relatively recent fan could say this! :-) For approximately the last 35 years first the West Indies and then Australia have dominated for long periods so we've had a situation of great stability at the top. At the time when the West Indies we starting to decline and Australia were assuming the mantle of insulting domination back around 20 years ago there was similar talk about the decline of the Windies and hot debates about whether they should be regarded as 2nd, 3rd, or 4th behind Australia. When a team that has been dominant for so long starts to assume a mantle of fragility it provides a topic of conversation for years, particularly when the decline is gradual.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (October 15, 2010, 14:58 GMT)

Interesting stats. Personally i would have the rankings cover the last 10 home Tests and last 10 away Tests against each of the other 7 major nations. Each Test played would mean the 10th oldest drops out. Should be an interesting period in the next couple of years with a few mid-30's batsmen (Ponting , Tendulkar) due to replicate the loss of the big wicket-takers (Warne, Murali) in the last few years.

Posted by fueltofire on (October 15, 2010, 14:39 GMT)

Its the collective effort that the aussies were praised of during their period of dominance has been missing now..Their performance is getting down from one match to other like the that escapes out out the balloon and the confidence ponting showed in marshalling his troops is getting a pounding....

Posted by inswing on (October 15, 2010, 14:38 GMT)

Australia will be back in no time. Not to dominate like their glory days, but they will always occupy 1, 2, or 3 ranking. There is too much talent. India will start their decline in less than 2 years when the big names start averaging 30 and are not dropped. India will bounce back too, it will take several years. BTW, there one thing glaringly missing from the 'Numbers Game': graphs. Graphs are the best way to clearly and instantly depict a lot of information. Plot the running two-year average of win/loss ratio for several countries between 1990-2010. It will be very reveling. What's with the tables, and why the aversion to graphs?

Posted by Crazy_Cricket_Fan on (October 15, 2010, 14:06 GMT)

it would be nice to see the w/l ratio of top 5 teams excluding their performance against NZ,PAK & WI considering the fact that they are too far away from 5th slot. That would tell us who is true champ..i guess SL will be definitely at 5 :-).

Posted by arvin on (October 15, 2010, 14:02 GMT)

ian chappal should look at the mirror on the wall and think about the australian fall... then he should write about ouster of ponting from the team... no matter what young ponting can not catch upto old master blaster now in terms of runs or 100's despite best efforts of chappal brothers and that idiotic indian expert manjerkar ...

Posted by Aussasinator on (October 15, 2010, 13:32 GMT)

Why so much discussion over the Aussie downfall. They just dont deserve the top few slots. There is a serious lack of capability. Why not talk of Indian rise and their sustainability. Australia is a non-topic now. It''s a team of old dads and uncles.

Posted by KingofRedLions on (October 15, 2010, 13:23 GMT)

Never before has so much attention been paid to the ICC rankings.

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

@rajrele & vish 515 ... Australia will bounce back quicker than you think. There is plenty of young talent coming through the Sheffield Shield at the moment. Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja & Philip Hughes (50+ test match ave.) spring to mind. All are supremely talented, have excellent records in arguably the toughest Domestic league in the world, and they are all young and will improve. Tim Paine has also just proven he can be a very good test match player. Add to this George & Hazlewood and the future still looks very good for us. The sooner we can get them into the side regularly, the quicker we will rise back up the rankings.

Posted by vish515 on (October 15, 2010, 12:36 GMT)

@ DaTBird187 - "If India, Sri Lanka and England overturn us at home I'll care a bit more, but we all no that's not going to happen, don't we." - NO we dont- you dont have to wait long mate- your illusion is soon going to shatter starting with england this ashes and next summer india visiting australia - so mate those pigs will start flying .. it will take australia some time to get back their past glory..

Posted by Jaggadaaku on (October 15, 2010, 12:22 GMT)

@ DaTBird187, It would have been already when last time India toured to Australia if Bucknor wouldn't have helped Australia in Sydney Test.

Posted by Wasim_Wasamadroota on (October 15, 2010, 12:21 GMT)

The aim of the game is to win, Australia have the second highest win percentage marginally behind SA. Who wants boring draws? Australia have come back to the field and are struggling to put all facets of the game together but at least most of their losses are exciting. There doesn't appear to be much between the top 5 teams which is good for test cricket. Test cricket is alive and well. Looking forward to the new test championship format and the Ashes this summer.

Posted by AsherCA on (October 15, 2010, 12:17 GMT)

This same Australia under Ricky Ponting did have a winning streak that extended upto India Vs Australia at Sydney (some time after the so-called greats whose absence you lament retired). So what happened to the match-winning replacements for the greats after Sydney ?

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 12:09 GMT)

Can't Help but notice that if Australia had won that test in Mohali ( which by all means they should have) they would have had a W/L of 1.8 . And would have been no 1 in terms of W/L ratio !! (with India at 1.71) !! Shows you how close these teams are.. One ball Could have turned the table upside down!

Posted by rajrele on (October 15, 2010, 12:02 GMT)

What rings loudest is that australia has no backup plan, this is the best hand, there are no players waiting in the wings to redeem them, haddin is no gilchrist, if only pakistan could focus on cricket, they would be a real dynamite package capable of disrupting all calculations, the most improved team i think is england, quiet and effective minus the towering KP they are silent favourites, if bollinger cant make the breakthroughs and the north, hussey and clarke dont perform, aus is going to have a very long summer down under....which could be the end for ponting....i think aus has come full circle to the point where kim hughes gave up the captaincy.....soon we will confront the golden question.....who is the new border ?

Posted by azzaman333 on (October 15, 2010, 11:46 GMT)

Once we dump North and Hussey, we'll be fine.

Posted by cric4india on (October 15, 2010, 11:37 GMT)

The first table which indicates W/L ratio for the teams since 2008 is same as ICC rankings except for SL and England. That's okay because they have almost identical ratio. Still people complain about the rankings. Isn't it stretching it too much?

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 11:32 GMT)

Excellent statistics provided by Mr. Rajesh. This reflects the fall in the standard of Ausssies, specially in the last years. Both in batting and bowling definitely there is a fall and this is the cause of their slip from No.1 o No.5 position. As the author rightly pointed out that although Ponting got three 50 plus scores, he has not converted a single one into a big one. Similarly in 24 innnings Katich has converted only 8 innings into a big one. Watson and Hussey were also in the same boat. One has to cace it they do not have a bowler of the calibre of Glen McGrath and Shane Warne. The retirement of Hayden and Gilchrist has weakened the team considerably. A good statistical and analytical article !

Posted by daager on (October 15, 2010, 11:20 GMT)

I think the Aussies fall from the top has made test cricket better - they were almost too good at one stage and just smashed everyone in sight. What a team they were. Even now I dont think they are really ranked 5th. I think India are going to be tested against us Saffers in the upcoming series. Dale and Morne on quick pitches should give them a few problems. Cant wait. Both series should be excellent and it cant come soon enough for me - so much for test cricket dying, its still by far the most watchable cricket being played.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (October 15, 2010, 11:03 GMT)

this would mean more if the FTP was more balanced. lets say each team plays home 40%, away 60% - same number of tests each [10]. then it would be more accurate. i'm sri lankan, but i know if we get one 3 test tour of australia, we'll be no. 5 and they'll be no. 3 hahaha. more even scheduling will give the rankings more meaning

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 10:43 GMT)

Pls reaffirm titles of stats tables. "Australia's batting in Tests v the top eight teams", Australia could play against 7 top teams only. They can not play against themselves.

Posted by DaTBird187 on (October 15, 2010, 10:43 GMT)

The day I take notice of the test rankings is the day pigs fly and Sachin Tendulkar isn't mentioned in a Cricinfo article about Afgani medium pace bowlers.

Only one of the teams in the top 4 has beaten Australia in a test series in Australia and that was overturned 3 months later in South Africa. If India, Sri Lanka and England overturn us at home I'll care a bit more, but we all no that's not going to happen, don't we.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (October 15, 2010, 10:39 GMT)

While India maintain their extraordinary home form and their away form is similar to that of their rivals, they are going to be impossible to dislodge from top spot in the ICC rankings. Similarly, even if Pakistan, New Zealand or the West Indies shows a miraculous revival in form, the top 5 are not going to change over at least the next 2 years because the gap from 5th to 6th is huge; this though is reducing series with these three sides to the level of being almost meaningless (whitewash or be damned). In contrast any side from the top 5 that can win three consecutive series against top-5 rivals is likely to be challenging for top spot: at present though, only India looks like putting together that sort of run of form.

Posted by boooonnie on (October 15, 2010, 10:03 GMT)

There are two ways Aust cricket can increase their rankings 1) Stop playing overseas tests, and 2) Start playing boring cricket for draws. And does anyone in the world truly want that? No! Because whatever those rankings say, Australia is still one of the most exciting teams playing world cricket. For goodness sakes we only lost to the #1 country in the world on their own turf by one miserly wicket!

Posted by ejsiddiqui on (October 15, 2010, 9:54 GMT)

This article tells the story that "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LEGENDS RETIRE IN SAME PERIOD".

This is the effect of the retirements of Hayden, Gilchrist, Langer, McGrath and Warne. Moral of the story: You must prepare excellent backup to replace legends.

INDIA will feel this factor too, when Sachin, Dravid and VVS would retire in almost same period.

Posted by pom_basher on (October 15, 2010, 9:42 GMT)

never seen a losing team, and a team who is no 5 in the rankings, get so much press

Posted by smalishah84 on (October 15, 2010, 9:16 GMT)

Pakistan have been so pathetic in the 2000s. And yeah as allblue mentions that they would be good contenders if they play cricket and not politics and spot-fixing. The highest under-achievers are Pakistan I should say (in terms of on-field performance. Off the field they beat everybody hands down).

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 9:02 GMT)

These stats emphasise how close the top 5 sides are. As an Aussie I am not too concerned that we are ranked 5th at the moment as I have no doubt we will be right up there again soon. Although it is great to be ranked number 1 (India are rightly very proud of their current ranking), I don not place too much emphasis on the ranking system. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are a better side than SL, I can only recall 1 series that we have lost to them when 2 of the 3 tests were washed out. SA have won only one series against us since the pre-apartheid days where we then beat them a few weeks later and England have the 05 & 09 Ashes triumphs on home soil. Atrue indication of where these sides are will come in the coming months in the Ashes and the India vs SA series. Both are mouth-watering contests. I can't wait to see what will happen in both series. I'm just happy to see great, competitive test match cricket again!

Posted by Hagemaru_Hageda on (October 15, 2010, 7:25 GMT)

Frankly speaking these rankings does not make any sense. ICC need to scrap this ranking system.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (October 15, 2010, 7:20 GMT)

Interesting, but not exactly unexpected: Australia are human again; the top 5 Test teams are way ahead of the bottom 5 (it makes the question of two divisions with promotion and relegation totally unworkable); and with Australia under pressure batsmen are not making the big scores that they used to. The home win/loss ratio for Australia is somewhat misleading because it is a while since they hosted a series against strong opposition: the lost to South Africa at home and one suspects that India or England would give them a serious test. One interesting thing is that none of the top sides are seen to be particularly good travellers (NB England's away record is coloured by the disastrous series in the West Indies when the team was in turmoil, so it is not an exact reflection of current form - bear that in mind and the records of the top 5 are pretty close). Another is the amazing strength of fortress India: only South Africa have come close to breaching it.

Posted by allblue on (October 15, 2010, 7:10 GMT)

This is a very useful and interesting list, thank you. I think it shows two things. Firstly, for the rankings system to have true legitimacy it has to compare like to like, because for example the home/away ratio alone clearly distorts Australia's current standing. However, despite its clear failings, the system does pretty accurately reflect the current situation i.e. India are the best of a group of five that are all pretty close to each other (and that would be six if Pakistan could just get on and play cricket). After three decades of having one team dominate this is excellent for Test cricket. Looking at the series coming up over the next eleven months, any of the five have the chance to be ranked No. 1 this time next year.

Posted by KaZsa on (October 15, 2010, 6:22 GMT)

I know this column is about Australia. But I can't help noticing that despite being at top 5 in the rankings for the last 7 to 8 years, (Becoming the 2nd in the rankings only second to Australia when Aussies were at their peek) Sri Lankans have only played 18 matches in the period considered.This ranking system is really no value without a proper FTP.Test cricket needs to be given proper value and the players like Sanga and Mahela should be challenged often in pitches like Perth.That will make the game more and more interesting.

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 5:50 GMT)

Australia are without doubt the poorest of the top teams. They managed to draw with Pakistan . Disgraceful. A good analysis but it doesn't accurately show how bad Australia truly have become.

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 5:11 GMT)

Still though, winning the ODI world cup the last three times and not having lost a game at the event since 1996 is pretty impressive.

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 5:09 GMT)

England will beat AUS in Ashes......their bowling is very weak.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (October 15, 2010, 4:39 GMT)

My god...no mention of Laxman or Tendulkar. Am I on the right website?

Posted by BillyCC on (October 15, 2010, 4:34 GMT)

"Despite these defeats Australia still have a win-loss ratio of more than 1.5, which is not bad for a team ranked fifth". This quote cements my view that Australia are not doing too badly and that world cricket is currently at its most competitive in its entire history. Never have the top 5 teams been so close, Australia reigned supreme for 15 years (1993 to 2007/8). The West Indies reigned supreme for the 20 years before that. And prior to the 1970s, there weren't even 5 fully fledged and functioning teams.

Posted by Nujee on (October 15, 2010, 4:33 GMT)

Excellent stats......australia were definitely a more dominant no.1 than india atm

Posted by   on (October 15, 2010, 4:08 GMT)

Excellent analysis Michael. It really shows that the difference between success and failure is a fine line!

Consider if Australia had won the first test in India - which they should've (kudos to India for toughing it out) - they'd have a W/L ratio of 1.8 - so perhaps 2nd in the rankings? One ball - indeed a fine line!!

Posted by Navin84 on (October 15, 2010, 4:04 GMT)

Is Australia going to do a West Indies? Their record is still good despite being 5th. But as the saying goes "as long you are at the top you must come down", well it happened to West Indies who fell right from the top to the bottom with a bang, like falling off a cliff, unlike Australia they are going down one step at a time. Expect Australia to rise again soon but not too sure West Indies can do the same for the next 10 years to come with their past and current situation.

Posted by Marcio on (October 15, 2010, 3:52 GMT)

Yes, these stats show what any fair minded person knows: Australia is still a far better team than a linear ranking of 5 indicates. One thing not mentioned is how many games they have lost by a whisker, or where they drew after dominating the game but failed to get the last wicket or two. That is certainly one big difference between Australian teams of yore and the current one. There are a lot of players in the team that are to "nice" and lack a killer instinct - Michael Clarke, Marcus North, and even Ponting has become a little "nice". This is probably quite deliberate. The management learned from past mistakes, and the team is very well behaved now. Maybe too well behaved.

Australia have had a lot of rough luck too - so many crucial umpiring decisions going against them, but it's great they never mention that. They are still number one in the 50 over game with a similar team, so that just shows you that sometimes you can get on a bad roll, and it's hard to bring the momentum back.

Posted by Da_Punjabi on (October 15, 2010, 3:40 GMT)

It is called "curse of Sydney" which started the downfall of Australia. All things come together with this terminology. The game was played by 14 players against 11 of opposition. January 2008 ( 2nd January 2008, Sydney, Australia) remember it ?

Lest we forget! Never Again! The legacy will live on just like the curse of Bambino.

Posted by TATTUs on (October 15, 2010, 3:37 GMT)

Australia certainly dont deserve to be at number 5 and Sri Lanka dont deserve to be at number 3. Enough said.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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