Australia are set for a Twenty20 tour of New Zealand at the same time the Test team is meant to be redeeming itself in South Africa from the ill-fated 2018 series.
While watching the Big Bash, I was forced to make some obligatory small talk. My sundry relative was from Byron Bay, and he refers to mother earth as if it’s a sentient being.
“How about those Indians…” he chirped, preparing to quote from his news feed, “…they won’t be number one for much longer.”
I paused, thought about where this conversation could wander, then pressed play on my response.
“Yeah, I guess.”
He sauntered off but left me with a problem – the current Test Championship doesn’t make a lot of sense. Basically, it merely takes one subjective decision, that is, who is number one, and replaces it with about a thousand other subjective decisions.
This doesn’t make it right. For example, if the Aussies beat India, how do they still stay number one?
Essentially, the current system is based on assigning points for every Test. It’s one point for a win, and half for a draw. If you win a series, then treat yourself to a juicy bonus point.
Points are then weighted by the strength of your opponent. A win against a powerhouse counts for more than knocking off any piss-weak opposition. Home or away is treated as the same.
Next, you average out the points across all the Tests you’ve played. This goes back up to four years. But here’s the catch – results in the last two years get a full weighting, and the two years before that still get half.
So, what’s the result? The final number is a kind of bastardised average. It heavily depends on who you play, and when you play them.
Take India, for instance, who are comfortably rated as number one. Their last three series have yielded just one win against the lowly West Indies, with languorous losses to both England and South Africa. And they might lose again here. Clearly the system is broken.
Here is my solution. I call it the Lineal Test Cricket Championship, and it works like boxing. Basically, you’ve gotta beat the reigning champ to take the title. Then, once you’ve got the title in hand, you’re obligated to defend it. It goes on the line every series.
No reasonable offers refused. And who is the current Lineal Champion, you ask? Bad news – it’s England.
They took it off Sri Lanka last month, who won it from South Africa in July. The good news – ratings points or not, it’s bound to be ours come the Ashes. Surely it’s worth getting on board.