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The Light Roller

It's clear which team is the best in the world

A deeply scientific analysis comes to a foregone conclusion

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
"No, you're more handsome, and if you disagree, I'll glower at you till you give in"  •  ICC/Getty Images

"No, you're more handsome, and if you disagree, I'll glower at you till you give in"  •  ICC/Getty Images

Another week, another venerable institution falls victim to cancel culture. But while we lament the latest blow to Test cricket, surely an even greater pang was felt by those readying themselves to ballyhoo India for scaling yet another peak in the game.
With the series result in limbo, we may never be able to proclaim India winners in England, backing up their twin successes in Australia to go with an indomitable record at home. The greatness of Virat Kohli's team is there for all to see, although some people do keep pointing to evidence suggesting they might not be the best around. Such as the fact they lost the World Test Championship final to New Zealand. And that they are ranked No. 2 in the world, behind New Zealand. And their only series defeat in the last three years came against… New Zealand.
So which of these teams is actually the best? The Light Roller has put together this largely unscientific comparison:
Loveable and humble as he is, Kohli would have to go some to outdo Kane Williamson in the popularity stakes. Even those who pretend to find fault with his "neck beard" can't avoid wanting a slice of Kane. Plus, he's in charge of the No. 1-ranked WTC champions (have we mentioned that?) so he must be doing something right.
Verdict: New Zealand
The reappointment of Ravi Shastri to the India job was undoubtedly a great service to cricket commentary boxes the world over. But we'll have to give this one to Gary Stead on the basis that he picks from a player pool consisting of the roughly two dozen New Zealanders who don't like rugby.
Verdict: New Zealand
While it's possible to make a strong case for Rohit Sharma winning this category all on his own, we've got no time for such hipster posturing. According to our sophisticated database, India's three middle-order musketeers, Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, haven't made a century since well before anyone had heard of Wuhan. And New Zealand have Devon Conway.
Verdict: New Zealand
India are blessed with such riches that they could probably pick two separate attacks - and R Ashwin might not get in either of them. But can any of that compare to Williamson packing the leg-side field and programming Neil Wagner to run in hour after hour and repeatedly try to hit the batter in the head? Wagner-Ball wins every time.
Verdict: New Zealand
Another no-contest, unfortunately. Both teams wear their abilities well and are comfortable strutting their stuff. But while New Zealand could till recently call on the timeless wonder of Colin de Grandhomme's mullet, India have to answer for Ravindra Jadeja and his various crimes against denim.
Verdict: New Zealand
Anyway, after adding that all up and cross-checking with social media, there's only one possible conclusion as to who has the best Test team in the world. It is, of course… New Zealand India! Never in doubt.


Spare a thought for the ICC (not something we would suggest you do very often), after cricket's governing body found itself stuck between a rock and the end of a 20-year war. The return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan might well have all sorts of implications for the stability of the region, the fates of innocent people, and a geopolitical landscape that is - to slip into some particularly egregious cricketing parlance - genuinely a bit of a minefield. But it turns out the first thing many people wanted to know about after the fall of Kabul was how far the Afghanistan Cricket Board had got with its women's programme (answer: not very). Cricket Australia, in particular, is very concerned about this, despite being party to the process of giving Afghanistan Full Membership four years ago - when the country didn't have a women's team at all. The put-upon folk at the ICC, meanwhile, can console themselves with the thought that they are already well used to dealing with despotic regimes (insert least-preferred Big Three member here).


The resignation of the head coach a month before the start of a global tournament - in the midst of protracted manoeuvring over who will be the new chairman of the board - might just seem like Pakistan doing Pakistan things. And even when you consider that the man doing the resigning was staid, sensible old Misbah-ul-Haq, if you start doing the sums, it quickly adds up. Misbah, of course, was on the committee two years ago that recommended the sacking of Mickey Arthur and then - what luck! - stepped straight in to the fill the vacancy (taking on the role of head selector, for good measure, too). Having bided his time through a largely uninspiring run in charge, you might have assumed he would doggedly occupy the crease until the last - but then you remember that staid, sensible, over-my-dead-body Misbah also scored one of the fastest Test hundreds of all time. In short, we should have seen this coming. Classic tuk-tuk boom.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick