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ICC ODI ratings are a joke!
Srinivas Bhogle | July 19, 2003 20:03 IST
When I saw the updated ICC ODI ratings on the ICC web site, I couldn't believe my eyes. India, finalists at the cricket World Cup less than four months ago, are placed eighth. Thankfully, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh are ranked below us.
For the record, the ratings are: Australia (134), South Africa (118), England (107), West Indies (106), New Zealand (106), Sri Lanka (105), Pakistan (105), India (104), Zimbabwe (64) etc.
How does one react to such numbers?
Sourav Ganguly, who recently said that India are second best, behind Australia, was unusually kind when he called the updated ICC ODI ratings 'strange'.
These ratings are a joke.
What really surprises me is the gumption with which ICC released these ratings. I have been in this rating business for a while now with rediff.com and I am still nervous before every update.
What if our calculations don't seem right? Every serious cricket follower has a rather accurate gut feeling about what the rating should be, and we'd look silly if we got it wrong.
The ICC, it would appear, has no such worries. They rule. Their ratings are 'official'. Too bad if these Indians end up eighth.
The ICC even had the gall to justify their numbers by stating that the "ranking reflected India's inconsistency". If winning eight World Cup matches in a row is a reflection of inconsistency, I wonder what's the definition of 'consistency'.
The truth, of course, is that the ICC ratings have failed the test. Look at the numbers again: six of the nine best teams are in the range 104-107. Isn't that funny?
Rating schemes are supposed to discriminate as objectively as possible; not say that there's practically no difference between six out of the nine teams!
Especially when there actually are significant differences that a better rating scheme (see, for example, the Rediff ODI ratings) can spot.
The ICC ODI formula is really the culprit: it displays an almost fatal 'middling propensity'. The teams cluster in the middle largely because the equations force such a clustering.
The ICC ODI ratings suffer further because of more pig-headedness. While the ratings do recognize that defeating stronger teams (e.g. Australia) deserves a greater reward, they fail to extend this argument farther. Everyone knows that it is even more difficult to defeat Australia in Australia; everyone knows that it is much more difficult to win the big match (e.g. the final of a World Cup) than a pointless league encounter. Everyone, that is, except the ICC!
Finally, one is at a complete loss to understand ICC's ridiculous obsession with the August 1 date. It was thoughtful to reward recent wins more, and progressively roll back the reward 'weight' over time. But why roll back abruptly on August 1?
Why not use a 'moving one-year window' instead? Because of this silly obsession, the points that England gained less than a week ago by defeating South Africa have already been scaled down to 2/3. If these English wins had happened immediately after August 1, they would have carried a weight of 1, instead of 2/3, for almost 12 full months!
Before I end, I must confess that I too got it wrong when I wrote in the most recent Rediff ODI update that India is 'certain to climb' after the August 1 correction. India stayed put at 104 (because those great World Cup wins were neutralized by defeats away in New Zealand on pitches that John Wright told me were the worst he's ever seen there) while the other teams like New Zealand and England climbed instead, often riding on cheap wins.
In future, the prospects appear rather bleak. It appears easier for Sourav Ganguly's team to win the triangular at home against Australia and New Zealand, and even the VB Series later in Australia, than climb from 104 to, say, 114.
So get ready to be eighth today, seventh tomorrow, sixth a day later, seventh two days later and .. so on. We appear pretty much stuck unless Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya schedules 35 ODI games with Bangladesh at Dhaka and Kolkata. We will then win all 35 and move ahead of Australia to top the ICC ODI ratings!