Reviews, Opinions, Analyses, Stats and Numbers

The Dot Ball Debate

February 15, 2021

Published in Bol News Weekly Print Magazine on February 13, 2021


2021 ICC Rankings Annual Update - New Zealand and West Indies to expect historic gains

 April 21, 2021

Its that time of the year when ICC Team Ratings go through changes overnight, often resulting in changes in ICC Team Rankings. Its time for ICC Team Rankings Annual Update. On May 1 every year, points earned earlier than 36 months are dropped from ICC Team Ranking calculations. The weightage of points earned earlier than May of last year is also halved. These mathematical adjustments often leads to changes in team ratings that may effect the changes in team rankings as well.

In ICC Test Team Rankings, West Indies are expected to break into Top-6 Teams for the first time since the inception of official ICC Test Ranking in 2002. West Indies are currently ranked 8th with 81 Rating Points. The Annual Update is expected to take them to 84.41 points, surpassing 79.59 points of South Africa and 76.85 points of Sri Lanka. Both South Africa and Sri Lanka will drop one rank in the table. England and Australia are also expected to swap places at 3rd and 4th spot. England (currently ranked 4th with 106 points) are expected to gain 3.14 points that will be sufficient for them to rise above Australia (expected to lose 4.89 points). Australia are currently ranked 3rd with 113 points.


The rating points of all other teams will also be updated but not resulting in any other change in ICC Test Teams Rankings. New Zealand, Pakistan and Zimbabwe are also expected gain a couple of points. India are expected to hold on to their top rank even after losing about a point. 

Bangladesh is expected to lose 4.86 rating points but the biggest loser of this year’s ICC Test Rankings Annual Update is expected to be South Africa with the loss of 9.41 points. It will also be the first time since August 1963 where South Africa will not be part of Top-6 Test sides (excluding their isolation era).




Meanwhile, interesting shake up, right at the top of the table, is expected in ICC ODI Rankings. England – the current #1 ODI Team – is expected to lose 6.12 points to slip from 121 points to 114.88 points. India (currently ranked 2nd) are also expected to lose 3.69 points, sliding from 119 to 115.31 points. Meanwhile, Australia are expected to gain 6.55 points raising their rating points tally from 111 to 117.55 – higher than both India and England – and their ICC ODI Ranking to 2nd spot.

New Zealand are expected to become the highest ranked ODI team in the world for the first time ever. They have never been ranked 1st in ICC ODI Rankings. New Zealand are currently ranked 3rd with 118 points. They are expected to gain 2.79 points taking their tally to 120.79, sufficient to place them highest on ICC ODI Teams Rankings table.


Sri Lanka (currently ranked 8th) and West Indies (currently ranked 9th) are also expected to swap places in ICC ODI Rankings. The biggest loser in this year’s annual update is expected to be Pakistan with a loss of 5.05 points. The ICC ODI Team Rankings of other ICC Full Member teams are expected to remain the same.


4 day Tests – Solution or Illusion?

January 16, 2020
Innovation is subset of survival mechanism. Cricket is no different when it comes to fundamentals of survival. Since its inception, Cricket has gone through many innovations to stay current with the time. On that note, the very idea of tinkering with some of the traditions of the game is not that wrong.

From inception of new formats to colored clothing to franchise Cricket, it is that thought and resulting innovations that has not only helped the game to survive in this fast age but also to remain open for new ideas and debates. Naturally, not all ideas converted into success. Some of those ideas faced failure of such magnitude that they got reversed overnight – without even a phase out plan – such as, super-sub concept.

4-day Tests is the most recent of such thoughts in Cricket. The thought, recently, became a debate only after it attracted serious consideration of some Cricket boards around the world. Knowing the Cricket boards are the most relevant forums for the sustainable growth of the sports, there must be definite merits for the idea to have elevated to the level of serious consideration by these boards.

One of the strongest points in support of the idea is the diminishing following of the longest format of the game. The supporters of the idea seem to believe the length of the game to be the reason behind it. They are probably pondering upon chopping off one day from every Test to create additional space in Cricketing calendar for more profitable Cricket that would help the sports survive longer.

Effective solutions rarely result without appropriate phrasing of problem statement based on correct root cause assessment. The decrease in spectators on-ground and viewership of Test Cricket is a problem, no denying there. But is the length of the game really the root cause behind it? This is where the popular opinion seems to stand in disapproval of the assumed assessment in support of the idea.

If it is not the length of the game then what is resulting in this lack of spectator interest in this format? Why is it struggling to maintain the same interest as compared to yesteryears? The best way to find the answer to that pertinent argument is probably to dive deeper into that comparison. And while at it, what better than also converting this subjective assessment to a more objective comparison based on numbers and results from the yesteryears.


Talking of results, in the last decade, the percentage of games drawn is on downward trend. More games have produced results. That should settle the ‘Test Cricket mostly producing dull draws, anyways’ argument.
It is the increasing dominance of home teams that has made Test Cricket bit more predictable. Sports resemble, in many ways, to suspense thrillers in movie cinemas. Predictability of the result and expected outcome often result in lack of viewer interest.

If the comparison is expanded from every year in the last decade to last few decades, the numbers tell similar story. The dominance of home teams is on the rise. Although, the percentage of wins by a visiting team has gone considerably higher but the percentage of draws has also seen a sharp decline. That points at significant decrease in frequency of visiting teams failing to avoid defeats on foreign soil.

In Cricketing World, a performance on foreign soil always perceived heavier in weight than a performance of same numerical value on the home turf. Not long ago, players used to make a name for themselves for playing out even a draw on a foreign soil. That’s what has gone down significantly in Test Cricket. Lesser number of gritty battles on foreign soil and higher frequency of meek surrenders by the visitors, instead. Probably because of better utilization of home advantage by the home teams.

Toss Advantage:

Winning the coin toss is another factor that plays a considerable role in proceedings of a Cricket game.

The role of toss is elevated from being considerable to significant in recent years. Has it been the same in previous decades?

Pretty much so, except for 2000s and 90s where winning the toss was practically as good as not winning it. It probably also points at the quality of the players and teams who were still able to compete even after being made to bowl or bat against their preference.

But still, ‘win the toss, win the match’ percentage has gone higher in the recent years. How about letting the teams announce their playing-XI after the toss, instead? That might allow the toss-losing team to re-adjust their plans according to their non-preferred choice. Still a better idea than chopping off a one full day, right?

People have not lost interest in Test Cricket because of its length. It is nothing but an illusion. People are still interested in seeing more of Leeds and Cape Town Tests. What they are no more interested in is boring, predictable, lopsided Cricket. For them, the grinding, fluctuating, unpredictable and intensely competitive Cricket is still irresistible, regardless if it lasts for 4 days or 5.

Transition of Test Cricket from 5-day to 4-day may be inevitable but, even before that, there are other factors that worth the experimentation. Minimizing the impact of home and toss advantage may bring enough thrill to pull back the interest in the game. 4-day Test is an illusion not the solution.


India’s anti-Pakistan Policy to gift Pakistan Women direct WC qualification

January 3, 2020
BCCI failed to invite Pakistan Women for the scheduled ODI series. Subsequent forfeiture of 6 ICC Women ODI Championship, by India, guarantees Pakistan Women’s direct qualification for ICC Women’s ODI World Cup to be held in New Zealand in 2021.

Picture Courtesy: PCB

ICC World Test Championship - Retrospective View - 2016-2019

July 31, 2019
Continuing on the detailed context of ICC Cricket World Test Championship 2019 – 2021, here is a look at how teams would stack up if Test Championship formula is applied, retrospectively, on the Test Cricket played in the last 2 to 3 years.


ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021

July 18, 2019
ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 culminated with a first of a kind ODI. Its time for the traditionalists to switch to another first of a kind venture in Test format.

Right after a first of a kind ODI Final, the World Cricket is all set to step into another first of a kind kind of affair in another format. Its the commencement of long awaited ICC World Test Championship. It has taken almost a decade since the idea was first given a serious thought, postponement of the event in 2013 and 2017 editions and more than a century since the first multi team tournament in Test format for ICC to come up with a Championship for the Format.

Here’s all we need to know/remember about this novel affair in Cricket

Period : July 2019 to June 2021
Format : Partial-League with Final between the top 2 sides
Contestants : India, England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh
Stipulation : All teams to contest 6 other teams in a Test series of 2 to 5 Tests. Each team to play 3 Test series at home and 3 series away from home.
Ranking Method : Points scoring based on result of each Test played. No points for series win. 
Points Calculation  : A total of 120 points will be up for grab for each Test Series that will be shared between the teams depending on the result of each Test and number of Tests in the Series. The lesser the number of Tests, the higher the context it will carry in the championship.
For a quick reference, here’s how the points allocation will vary depending on the number of Tests in a Series.

in Series
Points Available Points for each

Since the championship is not going to follow a complete round-robin structure, it is bound to bred certain degree of variance in playing circumstances for each team.

Variance in number and venue of Tests for each team :
Not all teams will play equal amount of Tests, nor the impact of win, loss or a draw or a tie will be the same for all teams.
England will play 22 Tests in 6 Test Series, while Australia will play 19 and India will play 18 Test each during the same number of Test Series. South Africa will play 16 and West Indies will play 15 Tests, New Zealand and Bangladesh to play 14 Tests each and Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play 13 Test each across 6 Test series during the championship.

Variance in number of Home and Away Tests:
As a result of accommodating certain degree of flexibility in scheduling for each team, there will be no uniformity in the number or even breakup of number of Tests each team will play at home and away. On one hand England will play 11 Tests at home while Pakistan and West Indies will play only 6 Test each at home. India will play 10, Australia and South Africa 9 Tests, while Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka will play 7 Tests each at home.
Similarly, England will play the most number of Tests, 11, away from home, while Sri Lanka will play only 6 away Tests. Australia will play 10, West Indies 9, India 8, while Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa will play 7 Tests each away from home.
In terms of Percentage of Tests each team will play at their home and away from home, South Africa and India will play highest percentage of total Tests (56%) at home. West Indies, on the other hand, will play only 40% of Tests at their home. Bangladesh, England and New Zealand will play identical number of Test at home and away. Sri Lanka will play 54% of their Tests at home while Australia will play 47% and Pakistan 46% of their total Tests at their home.

Variance in Points Available per Test:
The non-uniform nature of scheduling will reflect, naturally, on Points/Test factor as well.
For instance, winning an Ashes Test will yield 24 points that will be almost as good as Pakistan and Sri Lanka playing for a tame draw in UAE that will yield 20 points to both sides. Ashes will consist of 5 Tests while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play only 2 Tests in their series. A win in UAE for either Pakistan or Sri Lanka will yield 60 points, which will practically mean, on points table, to be as good as winning 3 Ashes Test.
Some teams, the ones playing lesser number of Tests in the Championship, will carry this advantage of earning as much from a draw as a win for another team in another series. On the average, England could earn 33 points, Australia 38 and India 40 points from a Test win; while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will carry the advantage of earning 55 points on the average from each of their Tests.
If this average is further broken down on home and away basis, Pakistan and West Indies will enjoy the maximum availability of Points per Test at home, that is, 60 points for each home Test. The least, in this context, would be England’s 33, then India’s 36 and Australia’s 40. In the same context, Australia will yield least value out of winning and away Test as they could earn only 36 points, on the average, from an Away Test. Sri Lanka on the other hand will have maximum 60 points available for each away win.

Variance in Quality of Opposition for each team:
Each team will play a different set of opponents, therefore, not every team will face same level of opposition in the championship.

Sri Lanka will enjoy the advantage of not facing off with Australia and India in this Championship, and instead, playing weaker/lesser ranked teams to complete the scheduling requirements. Similarly, Bangladesh and New Zealand will not play England and South Africa who are ranked 3rd and 4th in current ICC Test Rankings. On the other hand Australia will avoid playing only Sri Lanka and West Indies who are ranked 6 and 8, respectively, in the current rankings. Similarly, India will skip number 7 ranked Pakistan and number 6 ranked Sri Lanka.

Difficulty Index:
To sum it up, if all these variances and non-uniformity in playing conditions for each team are quantified (comparatively) and mapped on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most difficult path, here is how the difficulty levels for teams participating in this Test Championship would look:

ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021 - Difficulty Index
ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021 

Apparently, England will face the most difficult test in this Test Championship. The next toughest would be for Pakistan (difficulty index 8.7) and then India (8.2). New Zealand and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would enjoy the easiest path (only comparatively) during this Test Championship. 

Interested to know how teams would stack up if the same ICC Test Championship formula is applied to Test Cricket in the recent years? Find the answer here


World Cup Records

May 29, 2019
ICC Cricket World Cup is the longest running and the most prestigious competition in the sports. Born in 1975, the tournament has come a long with many greats - of their time and all time - gracing the event during its past 11 editions. Subsequently, the tournament owns its own closet of records with quite a few great names listed at the top in various shelves of that closet.
Here's a quick look at some of the most followed records in Cricket World Cups


WORLD CUP 2019 TEAMS REVIEW - PART 3 : The Momentum Look

May 28, 2019
Summarizing how 2019 Cricket World Cup participants have performed against each other in last 4 years versus in the last 2 years


WORLD CUP 2019 TEAMS REVIEW - PART 2 : Since ICC Champions Trophy 2017

May 28, 2019
Narrowing down the period for our Review of 2019 World Cup participants – on the basis of their Win-Loss Ratio – to last 2 years, more specifically since the last ICC event, here is a look at how teams have scored during this period.

and here’s how each team has done against other opponents since ICC Champions Trophy 2017


WORLD CUP 2019 TEAMS REVIEW - PART 1 : World Cup Runners Against Each Other Since 2015 World Cup

May 23, 2019
Right, so we are into the final week before ICC Cricket World Cup and the customary World Cup fever has just kicked in.

There’s no more Cricket to talk about for the next one week, leaving the fans around the world with nothing but ample time to take out their microscopes and analyze the teams participating in the contest through various statistical views, angles and dimensions.

Is there any right statistical view that could provide definitive evaluation of the teams participating in the World Cup 2019? The simple answer is, no – unless resorting to such methods and algorithms that become too complicated for a common fan to comprehend. Instead, there are quite a few popular views to benchmark the contestants of the World Cup.

One of such scenario is analysis of teams since the last World Cup. To make it even more relevant, let’s take look at the teams, specifically, against each other since the last World Cup, held in 2015.

That pretty much reflects the form of participating teams amongst each other in the last 4 years.

Moving on, let’s take a quick look at how teams have fared against the other 9 teams in this period, starting with Pakistan


England vs Pakistan ODI Series 2019 - Bowling Analysis

May 20, 2019
The series termed as the full-dress rehearsal of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is over. It provided 4 days of run fest with 7 out of 8 completed innings going well above the 300 runs mark.

In such a high scoring series, bowling looked the harder of the traits and – to an extent – eventually deciding the fate of the series as well. Here’s a quick recap of bowling performance from both the teams

Leading bowlers in the series by STRIKE RATE:

Leading bowlers in the series by BOWLING AVERAGE:

Leading bowlers in the series by ECONOMY:

Leading bowlers in the series by DOT BALL PERCENTAGE:

Leading bowlers in the series by BOUNDARY PERCENTAGE:


TV, Radio and Web Shows

On Samaa News - 30 March 2022

On Dawn News 26 Feb 2022

On Samaa News 21 Feb 2022

On Dawn News 14 Feb 2022

Radio Caravan - 17 May 2019

On Radio Caravan - 4 May 2019

On Dawn News TV -- 24 April 2019

On Hum News Live - 28 March 2019

On Radio Caravan - 20 April 2019

On BBC Urdu

On BBC Urdu
Discussion about ICC Rankings Update