Tractor's blog

Who was really the most successful Test cricket team in 2015?<

So England have thoroughly spanked South Africa in Durban and, at the time of writing, are still basking in Ben Stokes’ magnificent 250 in Cape Town. Whatever happens from here, it certainly seems that England can’t lose this second test. This is rather interesting, given the Proteas are sitting comfortably atop the ICC test rankings on 114 points with England a dull, mid-table sixth on 99 points full rankings here.

When England, under Strauss, were number one in the world, it really felt like we were the best side around: we’d beaten just about everybody, including some hard-fought and increasingly rare away wins. We cemented top spot against India at home in 2011, scoring a mahusive 710-7 at Edgbaston to win by an innings and 242 runs. Boof. We lost it in August 2012 at Lord’s after a rollercoaster of a test against South Africa in glorious sunshine and the Saffas have been pretty much there at the top ever since.

But the ICC ranking system is mind-boggling. I dare you to try to understand it. It’s here and it’s about as comprehensible as Duckworth-Lewis in Xhosa Sign Language.

Who’s really had the best 2015? In order of the current rankings, here are the vital statistics for the top six teams:

South Africa (played 8): The first was the last of a 3-test series at home to West Indies in Cape Town: won by 8 wickets chasing 124. The second and third were, admittedly, rain affected draws in Bangladesh in July but South Africa scored only 248 in their one full innings, versus Bangladesh’s 326. Hardly convincing stuff. Tests 4, 6 and 7 were heavy defeats in India, by 108, 124 and 337 runs respectively, with the Test 5 another drizzly draw. And then our own glorious 241-run win in Durban. That’s one 8 wicket win versus a cumulative 810 run defeat.

India (played 9): First was an impressive draw in Sydney, having reached 252-7 chasing 349 on the final day. India also drew in Bangladeshi rain, but they’d posted 462/6d, so well ahead of South Africa’s performance there. By test standards, there followed a narrow-ish defeat in Galle before two convincing wins in Colombo and the above-mentioned series win against South Africa. It’s a net 901-run winning year for India.

Australia (played 13): So we know they began the year with a draw against India. Two smashing victories in the Caribbean followed before this summer’s Ashes (all by huge margins, the Aussies winning 2 and losing 3). They’ve since beaten New Zealand twice (and drawn the third) and West Indies twice at home, with a 2015 net win of 1,092 runs and 4 wickets.

Pakistan (played 8): Their first and seconds tests came in Bangladesh in May, and they managed a high-scoring draw and a 328-run win. A 2-1 series win in Sri Lanka followed, before the 2-0 series win (with one drawn) against England in UAE. For the year, it’s a net victory of 760 runs and 10 wickets.

New Zealand (played 8): The Kiwis began 2015 with a 193-run win against Sri Lanka in Wellington before rekindling English cricketing fires in May with a 199-run win and a 124-run defeat. Bonus points for electrifying cricket all round! As mentioned already, they lost 2-1 in Australia then beat Sri Lanka twice at home. A fairly piddly 182-run, 2 wicket net win.

England (played 14): Unusually for the perennial tourists, England first tests of the year didn’t come until April in the West Indies. We drew the first, won the second by 9 wickets and lost the third by 5. The New Zealand thriller-series came next (1-1, remember?) and then the 3-2 (‘but it just wasn’t good cricket’) Ashes win. The three in UAE we’ve gone through already (drew one, lost two) and, as we all know, we’ve whacked the Saffas all kinds of which ways in the last few days. Net, it’s 12 wickets win versus 343 run defeat. Yes, that’s negative 343 runs, but it’s still not as bad as South Africa’s!

In addition, we’ve played more than anyone else and won 6, a win ratio up there with India and Australia’s for 2015. Pakistan do also have a great win ratio, but they’ve only played 8 (and none in ‘unfamiliar’ conditions) and I have decided England and Australia get bonus points for playing so many more (along with the ‘Great-series-against-New Zealand-which-made-us-all-actually-excited-about-the-Ashes-which-we-had-all-been-bored-about-before-then’ bonus point for us).

So Tractor’s unofficial rankings are as follows:

New Zealand
South Africa

Now just to see what 2016 can bring.


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