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Australia’s Test summer: The ICC Player Rankings

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Roar Guru
12th January, 2023
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For those who are not aware, the International Cricket Council maintains an official set rankings and ratings for cricketers in all formats of the game.

The methodology, originally developed by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is a closely guarded secret, but is based on the following metrics.

Each test performances are adjusted for strength of opposition and relative performance of other players in the same test.

A ‘peak’ rating (i.e. not whole of career), weighting the most recent performances highest, with that weighting dropping for older performances. This covers a roughly two-year period.

A discounted rating for new Test cricketers, with their performances discounted until they have played a certain number of tests.

This is by no means a perfect system and I have previously debated whole of career vs peak periods as a way of defining a batter’s status in the game. But it provides an interesting insight into a player’s current trajectory, particularly if you record changes to their ratings over time.

For your interest the current number one ranked players are:

Batting: Marnus Labuschagne (AUS)

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Bowling: Pat Cummins (AUS)

All-round: Ravindra Jadeja (IND)

The recent one-sided series over the summer obviously helps the Australians here, but it should be noted that Labuschagne has finished three of his past four series ranked number 1 in the world and Cummins has been ranked number 1 for over three years now, since the 2019 Ashes in England.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 30: Marnus Labuschagne of Australia bats during day one of the First Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Optus Stadium on November 30, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Quinn Rooney – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

So how did our current team fare after a summer of toweling up the West Indies and South Africa?

David Warner (Batting rank 14, rating 680)

Warner actually improved his rating for the first time in five series. He had not previously finished a series higher than when he started since The Pakistan/NZ summer on 2019/20. He improved his ranking from 17th to 14th in the world.

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Warner’s highest ever position was fourth in the world in 2014/15 – that is a full 22 Test series ago. I don’t see a return to anything even approaching this peak. Incidentally, Warner’s all time highest rating of 880 ranks him 48th in cricket history and 13th among Australians.

Usman Khawaja (Batting rank 8, rating 770)

Since returning to Test cricket in the 2021/22 Khawaja has improved his rating in each and every series. He first broke into the world’s top 10 after the 2022 Pakistan series. This summer his maintained his eighth spot and marginally improved his rating.

Khawaja’s highest ever position was achieved after the first test in Sri Lanka in 2022, so he is at or around his peak right now. At that point he was ranked 6th in the world, although that ceiling is not good enough to get him into the top 100 of all time.

Usman Khawaja of Australia acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the field during day two of the Second Test match in the series between Australia and South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Marnus Labuschagne (Batting rank 1, rating 929)

Marnus keeps on chugging along. He has been number 1 since the 2021/22 Ashes. His rating dipped during the 2022 away test season, but he brought it right back up this summer. So expect another dip in India, but not a free fall.

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Labuschagne’s best all time rating was during the 2021/22 Ashes and it is good enough to place him 11th on the all-time list. Of all Australians only Ponting, Smith and Bradman have ever had a higher rating.

By the way, Labs is the 120th ranked bowler in Test cricket.

Steve Smith (Batting rank 2, rating 892)

After suffering a decline from the 2019 Ashes peak to the end of the 2022 Pakistan tour, Smith has improved his rating in Sri Lanka and especially this summer, to be back in the upper echelon.

Smith hasn’t been ranked below fourth in the world since 2014, which is frankly remarkable. His current rating is some way off his peak of 947, but then it should be considering that number, achieved during the 2017 Ashes is second all time only to The Don himself.

He may never get back there, but his current output is as good as anyone going around. If you are interested, the top five all time is rounded out by Len Hutton (ENG), Ricky Ponting (AUS) and Jack Hobbs (ENG) – a fair list.

Smith ranks 124th for his bowling, but improved his rating for the first time in 12 months with that wicket against South Africa.

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Travis Head (Batting rank 4, rating 841)

Travis Head is current rocketing up the charts. He is now the 4th ranked batsmen on the planet, behind only Labuschagne, Smith and Pakistan’s Babar Azam. After a dip during the 2022 Asian tours, he started this summer ranked 16th in the world. That is some jump.

Head’s current rating is obviously his highest ever. It is good enough to rank 79th in history and 23rd of all Australians. The question for Head is whether he can translate two great home summers into value overseas.

Head’s bowling is still coming along. He is ranked 107th and doubled his rating points this summer.

Cameron Green (Batting rank 40, rating 577. Bowling rank 62, rating 338. All round rank 14, rating 192)

There is a fair way to go for Cameron Green but the important thing to note is that in each of his five series to date, he has finished with a higher batting rating than when he started. His bowling has been more patchy, having a dip overseas before rebounding this summer.

Green’s batting for the summer was on par with his previous record, only adding a single point to his rating. His highest batting rating was achieved after the first test in Sri Lanka.

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With his maiden five-wicket haul, Green rose 9 places in the world rankings. His career best bowling rating is still his debut series during the 2021/22 Ashes.

Continuing development with the bat seems a given for Green, with his bowling likely to be up and down depending on his opportunities as a fifth bowler.

Alex Carey (Batting rank 28, rating 628)

This was a big summer for Alex Carey, improving his world ranking from 57 to 28, but he has actually improved his rating across each of his four series to date. His current rating is his highest ever and only India’s Rishabh Pant and Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim are above him as full time keepers.

Onwards and upwards for the admirable Alex Carey.

Alex Carey of Australia celebrates his century.

Alex Carey of Australia celebrates his century. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc (Bowling rank 9, rating 749)

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Starc marginally improved his rating over the summer, but in reality it’s been at or around the same level since the 2020/21 India series. This is good enough for him to sit inside the world’s top 10.

Starc’s best ever rating was achieved against New Zealand in 2019/20 and is 98th all time and 29th among Australians. That was a while ago, so expect Starc’s output to remain at his current level, which is still pretty good.

Starc currently ranks 103rd with the bat, but this is good enough for him to be the 5th ranked all rounder in cricket. This either tells you that the rankings don’t work for all rounders or that there are very few about. Starc’s batting peak of 59th in the world was achieved back in 2017.

Pat Cummins (Bowling rank 1, rating 878)

The number 1 bowler in the world finished this summer with exactly the same rating as when he started it, which shows his consistent excellence. Since returning to test cricket in 2017 Cummins rapidly improved his ranking to top 3 by the 2018/19 summer and has maintained his standards ever since.

Pat Cummins of Australia  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Get this: Cummins’ peak rating, achieved during the 2019/20 Ashes is 5th all time and is equal best ever among Australians, with Glenn McGrath. We should never take for granted how good this lad actually is. Expect more of the same, from Postman Pat – he always delivers.

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Incidentally, the top 4 all time are 19th century bowlers Sidney Barnes (ENG) and George Lohmann (ENG), followed by the all time great Imran Khan (PAK) and the world record holder Muttiah Muralidaran (SL).

Cummins’ batting has fallen off a cliff since taking over the captaincy, and given a choice of which discipline to stop practicing, I’m happy with that. He now ranks 128th in the world, after peaking at 89th. He is still somehow the 9th ranked all rounder in the world.

Josh Hazlewood (Bowling rank 10, rating 733)

Hazlewood sits just behind Starc in the rankings, but this is primarily due to missing tests (there is a small drop in rating every time a player is not selected). Back in the 2020/21 summer he was ranked as high as 4th in the world.

Hazlewood’s peak was back in 2017 when he reached number 2 and that rating was good enough to be 48th all time and 13th among Australians.

Scott Boland (Bowling rank 39, rating 519)

The admirable Scotty Boland has a discounted rating, due to not having reached the minimum threshold of tests yet. He rose to 43rd with a rocket after the 2021/22 Ashes and despite losing points whenever he missed selection managed to improve further this summer.

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Nathan Lyon (Bowling rank 14, rating 713)

This shows Australia’s current strength in bowling. Lyon is ranked 14th in the world and is the lowest ranked of our first choice specialist attack. No respite for the opposition there. Lyon had a very good summer, improving his ranking from 16th with a 30 point ratings boost.

Lyon was ranked 7th in the world back during the 2017/18 home Ashes, but he hasn’t ranked outside the top 25 since 2013. Expect more of the same from Mr Consistent But Not Exciting.

(Note: Michael Neser and Matt Renshaw did not do enough to discuss. Renshaw has a best ever ranking of 27th, so there is something to work with there)

Overall, ten of the twelve players used during the West Indies and South Africa Series improved their batting ranking.

Six of the nine bowlers used did the same (with Captain Pat also maintaining his). That indicates a bit of a feast. It remains to be seen whether the away tours to India and England produce just a slight dip or a disastrous famine. Here’s hoping for the best.

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