Pakistan's dismal Twenty20 ranking is justified
It isn't the ICC's fault that we rank number 7. They never asked Pakistan to under-perform, why are we blaming them?
The International Cricket Council (ICC) for the very first time, unveiled international rankings for Twenty20 cricket. The rankings came as a shock for many cricket followers particularly in Pakistan, as Pakistan was ranked at number 7 amongst Twenty20 playing countries.
The cricket-crazy nation questioned the ICC's criteria for rating their country at number seven, despite winning this format's World Cup in 2009, qualifying for the final twice, and being the only country to play a semi final in all three ICC T20 World Cups (2007, 2009 and 2010).
They also questioned the omission of Pakistan's premier fast bowler Umar Gul from the top 10 bowlers. Gul was the leading wicket-taker in the T20 World Cup of 2007 and 2009 and is widely regarded as a Twenty20 specialist due to his ability to bowl lethal Yorkers.
Cricket fans, however, must understand the criteria of rankings and gauge Pakistan's performance in recent years in Twenty20 cricket before blaming the ICC for conspiracies and considering it a result of 'India's influence'.
ICC rankings, for all formats (Test, ODI and T2OI), are based on the performance of the last two years and the ongoing year. How teams and players have performed three or four years ago doesn't come under the ICC ratings radar, which is a sensible criteria to understand teams and players' current performance. The rankings are based on three years' performance with different weights placed on each year.
The following describes the current pattern of the rankings:
1st year- August 2009 to August 2010: 33%
2nd year- August 2010 to August 2011: 66%
3rd year- August 2011 to onwards: 100%
Now, lets take a look at the facts.
Since August 2010, Pakistan has played ten T20s and has lost seven.
Of the three wins, two were against Zimbabwe and one was against New Zealand.
Since 2009, Pakistan has played twenty-four T20s, but has lost thirteen of them. This amounts to more than 50%.
On the other hand, if we look at the performance of the current number one team England, since August 2009, they played 20 T20s, out of which they won 12 and lost six. Two of the matches ended in a no-result.
How can we expect Pakistan to be in the top tier after winning less than 50% of their matches since August 2009?
Moreover, since August 2010, Pakistan has only won three matches, out of which two were against low-ranking Zimbabwe. Given the statistics and the ranking criteria, it goes without question that Pakistan is justifiably ranked at number seven.
The ICC never asked Pakistan to under-perform. Why, then, are we blaming them?
As Twenty20 cricket is rarely played at an international level, the margin of points earned and lost in Twenty20 rankings will be far more significant than in Test and ODI cricket. A single win can leapfrog teams to the top tier, and similarly, a loss can cause them to crash just as fast. For example, if England - who is currently number 1 - lose their next Twenty20 against India then they will move to number 3 after losing just one match and their opponents (India) will jump to number 2 from number 5 in space of just one victory.
If Pakistan win their next four Twenty20 International matches then they are likely to jump to number 3 from number 7.
Pakistan's next four matches are: one against Sri Lanka and three against England. Cross your fingers!
As far as players' rankings are concerned, the same criteria of performance in the last two years and the on going year is applied to extract batting, bowling and all-rounder rankings. However, the ICC has adapted a slightly different criteria, as compared to Test and ODI cricket, to calibrate Twenty20 rankings of players.The strike rate of batsmen will be preferred over runs scored and the economy rate of bowlers over wickets-taken.
To elaborate, a batsman who scores 20 runs off 10 balls will be given more points than batsman who scores 50 off 60 balls. Moreover, a bowler, without any wicket, bowls 4 overs for 10 runs will be given more points than bowler who has taken 2 wickets by leaking 40 runs in 4 overs.
The England batsman Eoin Morgan was ranked number 1 amongst batsmen while Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis grabbed the top spot amongst the bowlers. Since August 2009, Eoin Morgan has scored 563 runs in just seventeen matches at a strike rate of 140, and his batting average (51.18) is the highest amongst the top ten run-getters during the period.
Amongst the bowlers, since August 2009, Ajantha Mendis has grabbed only 16 wickets, which came at the economy rate of just 5.97. Furthermore, his bowling average is 14.18. Mendis recently had a world record of taking 6 wickets against Australia. These fantastic figures (4 overs, 1 maiden, 16 runs and 6 wickets), will weight at 100% as they came after August 2011. Thus it is no surprise that Ajantha Mendis is the top ranked bowler.
Pakistan fast bowler Umar Gul, who is the format's second leading wicket-taker with 47 wickets managed only 10 wickets in 13 matches since August 2009. This is why he couldn't feature amongst the top ten bowlers in the T20 rankings for bowlers. He currently stands at number 21.
The Pakistani players, who have performed well since August 2009, were awarded the ranking which they deserve as Saeed Ajmal is ranked at number three amongst the bowlers. Ajmal is the leading-wicket taker with 32 wickets to his name in twenty-four T20s since August 2009. However, since August 2010 - which is weighted higher (66%) - his performance hasn't been as good. Ajmal can, nevertheless, become number one if he performs exceptionally well in Pakistan's next Twenty20 which is against Sri Lanka this year on November 25.