There is added interest (that is, slightly more than none) in this Test series between India and Bangladesh because of the ICC Test Championship, which India leads. You will all now know that South Africa won the final Test of their home series against England, and squared the series. This kept them narrowly ahead of Australia. After two and half closely fought days between India and Bangladesh, as expected, India has won the first Test.
The current standing is:
What I’m trying to work out is how India finds themselves on top of the table. I know they have been a good team for ten years and in recent times, they have improved their standing by winning in both England and New Zealand for the first time. Also, Australia has come back to the pack, but the facts are that Australia has still a better overall record than India if you look at the most recent home and away series against each other Test nation.
Here is a thumbnail of India and Australia:
India has lost the last away series they have played to each of: Australia (1-2), South Africa (1-2), Pakistan (0-1) and Sri Lanka (1-2). They have no home series losses but have drawn with New Zealand and South Africa. So, that’s four away losses and two home draws.
Australia has away losses to India (0-2) and England (1-2) as well as a home loss to South Africa (1-2). No draws. In summary, that is three series losses. In addition, they have won far more Tests than India with clean sweeps against England (home), Pakistan (home and away) and Sri Lanka (away).
In the face of that, I could not see how India is in front of Australia (or South Africa).
To get some understanding you need to read the rules. Contrary to my suspicions, the system has not been tweaked to favour India. It’s hard to follow but the gist is this:
1. Matches have to have been played in the past four years to count. It’s not simply a matter of counting the last home and away series. However, each August, year four results are dumped – each August they only look at three years worth of results. Over the 12 months, they build it out to a full four years. That is why each August, the table changes, even if nobody is playing.
2. Matches played more than two years ago count for half those played in the past two years.
This does explain some things. Australia’s losses are all recent while India has improved in recent times (as mentioned). Also, Australia’s clean sweep away victories against Pakistan and Sri Lanka no longer count. They are more than four years ago.
Personally, I don’t much care for the ICC Test table. It’s pretty meaningless. But seeing we have one, I thought I’d try to de-bunk it. In the end, deciding the best test team at any one point in time is entirely subjective, debatable and inconclusive. They only thing that is certain is that Australia is not it. But then again, that could be debatable…