Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's captain, has questioned the way the ICC Test rankings work. He was responding to a query whether the players take seriously a system that has India at No. 1 despite not having won a series in Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka since 1993, and whether that system needs a change.
"You should have asked that question of Haroon [Lorgat, ICC's CEO], who was here a while ago…" Sangakkara said. "If rankings can't be understood by the public, the players, or the administrators, what's the use of having rankings? If you want rankings, they should count towards playing a Test championship.
"Rankings need to be fairly done. A fair FTP is the first step towards having proper rankings. Once every two years each side should play each other at least once, home or away. That's how you get a fair deal when it comes to Test cricket."
Sri Lanka themselves were ranked No. 2 last year without having won a Test in India, Australia and South Africa, a spot they lost after their loss to India in India. About his own side's dismal record in the three countries ranked higher than them, Sangakkara said, "I don't think we have played enough Test cricket away. Two Test matches here, two Test matches there. I think that's not good. We need to play Tests regularly.
"We have a very good balanced attack, pace and spin. From 2006 to 2009 we have done well. We have won in New Zealand, in England, and in Pakistan. South Africa, Australia and India are the three places that we need to win. We need to play often in those places."
The Test rankings, as they stand now, don't give extra weightage to victories away from home, and run over a time of three years, including "all Test series completed since August more than three years ago". The rating points earned or conceded are calculated based on the difference between where the teams stood before the start of the series. For example, if in the ongoing series India beat Sri Lanka, they will gain fewer points than they will concede if they lose the series. Same goes for Australia, who are facing a much lower-ranked Pakistan. Even if Australia end the series 1-1, they will concede three rating points.
The system, though, stands to work well only if the FTP works evenly. For example, if a side spends a year playing only home series, and uses the home advantage to win series against competitive sides, its rating points will tend to misrepresent the strength and quality of the team.