ICC's "best ever" rankings
Yesterday, the ICC announced that
Matthew Hayden was ranked 10th in the all-time 'best ever rating' list. I thought the announcement was rather unwarranted, except perhaps as a retirement present
, for there wasn't really any other reason to make this announcement. Maybe visits to the ICC's website were dwindling. Perhaps Google AdSense wasn't giving them enough revenue.
Anyone could have visited the player rankings
site and found out which batsmen or bowlers had the highest ratings. Any "all-time" list that doesn't include Sachin Tendulkar is bound to be viewed as casus belli
by India's news-hungry media & clueless 'fans'. Thankfully, the BCCI hasn't reacted so far. Following the 'outrage', the ICC put out a clarification
The original media release said "Such outstanding ratings can only be achieved by players who display consistent excellence over a prolonged period of time". The clarification said "The rankings give an indication of how players peaked during their careers but do not give a full picture of those players' level of consistency or longevity in the game" I'm fairly sure the two statements are contradictory when they refer to the correlation between the ranking & longevity.
Let's set the record straight - the 'best ever' ranking is a value for the peak performance of a player. It doesn't imply that is his career mean or median. All it provides is a rating, a value at a point in time (say after a test series). Based on the ICC's all-time list, it seems like ratings of 900 and above are very difficult for people to achieve (Tests: 25 batsmen, 19 bowlers & ODIs: 8 batsmen, 5 bowlers). It's the sort of rating you get from having multiple brilliant performances in the time gap between the ratings getting updated.
Sample this: Don Bradman
had test scores of 132, 127*, 201 & 57* to help him get the all-time high rating of 961. Joel Garner
had ODI bowling performances of 3/29, 2/26, 0/6, 2/16 & 4/10 (3/29 in 10 overs being his costliest effort) to help him get to a #1 rating of 940. Syd Barnes
had test bowling performances of 3/26, 5/102, 7/56 & 7/88 for a #1 rating of 932 (and never played test cricket again!). Viv Richards
had ODI scores of 51(50), 80*(39), 53(57) & 66(39) to get a #1 rating of 935.
With a huge "We told you so" smirk on my face, let me point out that nearly 2.5 years ago, just after the ICC Player Rankings site was launched, we wrote
To determine the 'best ever' batsmen and bowlers, the site uses the highest rating at a given point in time. Wouldn't it have been better, and a fairer judgement of who the best really is/was, if the players' ratings had been averaged over their career? If Sunil Gavaskar is ahead of Lara, Miandad, Haynes & Tendulkar in the all-time one-day batting list, Peter May and Matthew Hayden are ahead of Richards, Gavaskar & Lara in the all-time test batting list and Tony Lock is ahead of Warne, Lindwall and Trueman in the test bowling list and Ewen Chatfield is ahead of Kumble, Vaas & Wasim in one-dayers, then David Lloyd's backside is indeed a fire engine.
Just sample these to get an idea of how moronic this 'best ever' ranking is: Botham is a "better" test bowler than Marshall, Hadlee, Warne, Donald, Lillee, Gibbs, Holding, Kumble, Akram, etc. Gary Kirsten is a "better" ODI batsman than de Silva, Mark Waugh, Ganguly, Jayasuriya, Gilchrist, Ponting, Azhar, Inzamam, Symonds, Sehwag, etc. Maninder is a "better" ODI bowler than Akram, Bond, Bracken, Saqlain, Kumble, Warne, Imran, etc. Botham is a "better" test batsman than Zaheer Abbas, de Silva, Thorpe, Mark Waugh, Langer, etc.
Just take the entire ranking with a large bucket-ful of salt. May the farce be with you!
Labels: hayden, icc, rankings, tendulkar