Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rankings and rants

The Dambulla stadium is Sri Lanka's Sharjah
Before the Asia Cup began, Aakash Chopra said that India will be playing Sri Lanka for the millionth time this year. It was casually mentioned on Twitter, but I think it was retweeted several times. And why not?
Right now, I'm bored of watching the Tri-Series. I follow the game on CricInfo, but that is also limited. I'd rather follow the score for the England-Pakistan test match, which looks to be another good game of cricket.
Dambulla has become the Sharjah of Sri Lankan cricket. Every limited over or T20 game played in Sri Lanka seems to be in Dambulla.'s understandable, as it is probably the only sporty wicket Sri Lanka has, considering their rubbish test match wickets.
So how do two teams deal with strategy when they meet each other so often in a year? It eventually comes down to luck on who wins the toss in the shorter version of the game. In the longer version, especially in the subcontinent, you need to bat first, put up a total of 600-plus and play out a draw. Unless of course, you're Virender Sehwag, who decides to make 288 in a day.
The boards need to be criticized for this. They schedule so many matches with the same side during the year, that most of the players find it hard to adjust to alien conditions when they play in countries like Australia and South Africa. India's record abroad has improved over the last few years, but it's still a long way from giving us the Number 1 test ranking. We're good, I agree, but we need to be more consistent.
I tend to agree with Kumara Sangakkara about the ICC rankings. If we play in subcontinent-like conditions throughout the year, barring a series abroad, then on what basis are we judged? India has been doing well in tests, but its ODI and T-20 (which I don't even count as proper cricket), haven't been the best in a while. Yet we're number 2 in the ODI rankings. The biggest tournament that we won in the last three years is the VB Series in Australia, which was three years ago. We haven't reached the semi-final of any major tournament involving all the cricket playing nations in the last two years.
My only theory is that since we play so much cricket, the probability of us winning more matches is greater. It's probably why the BCCI decided to work on the test itinerary for 2010, fearing that India would lose the Number 1 ranking. More matches played means the probability of more wins. Thus the ranking. If that is the case, then the ICC has some serious rethinking and restructuring to do.

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