Reviews, Opinions, Analyses, Stats and Numbers

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

Coaches in Numbers

Misbah ul Haq becomes 6th person to takeover as Head Coach of Pakistan team in this decade. Probably a perfect time to see what results different coaches, in Pakistan's recent history, have left for Misbah to be bench-marked with.

So, here's a look at what results Pakistan has produced under different coaches in different formats in the recent past. The recent past, for this discussion, includes all performances in the current decade – 2010s – from Pakistan’s tour to Australia in 2009/10 onwards.

Results breakup across formats:

Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratios in all three formats have remained lower in 2010s than what Pakistan’s overall Win/Loss Ratios were in periods prior to it.

In Tests, Pakistan won Test matches with much higher frequency in 2010s than as compared to earlier. Pakistan won 42% of all Tests played in this period as compared to winning 30% of all Tests played earlier.
However, Pakistan lost Test matches also with higher frequency than the period before. Pakistan lost 43% of the Tests played in this period as compared to losing only 27% of all Tests played earlier.

The rise in frequency on both sides of the spectrum highlights the recent trend of more Tests producing results than earlier.

Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratio dropped, however. In 2010s, Pakistan won 32 and lost 33, whereas, Pakistan had won 104 and lost 95 till 2010.

In ODIs, Pakistan’s frequency of winning dropped from 53% to 49% while the frequency of losing rose from 44% to 48%. Subsequently, Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratio also dropped from 1.22 to 1.01.
In 2010s, Pakistan won 102 ODIs and lost 101 as compared to winning 382 and losing 312 ODIs in the earlier period.

The most considerable variance in Pakistan’s results occurred in T20I format where Pakistan’s staggering Win/Loss Ratio of 4.2 dropped to 1.5 – even after a splendid spell of 30 wins compared to 7 losses in last three years.
However, that looks so because of lesser number of T20I Cricket played till the beginning of the current decade.

At the turn of the decade, Pakistan had won 21 T20Is and had lost only 5, yielding an astounding Win Percentage of 78%. From then on, Pakistan managed to win 69 and lost 45 T20Is – a win percentage of 59%, still a pretty satisfactory frequency of winning.

Coaches in 2010s

Moving on to our primary topic of discussion, let us have a look at what results Pakistan produced under different coaches across the formats in the current decade.

Twenty20 Internationals:

Pakistan’s decade of 2010, in T20Is, is punctuated with the worst and the best performances at the beginning and at the end of the decade, respectively.

In a period of 18 months, during the first tenure of Waqar Younis as the Head Coach, Pakistan won only 6 out of 19 T20Is. To put into perspective, till the beginning of that tenure, Pakistan had won 21 out of 27 T20Is played in between 2006 to 2009. 13 losses in T20Is during that period is the most for Pakistan under any coach.

Mohsin Khan’s tenure lasted for only 5 T20Is; winning 3 and losing 2.

Under Whatmore, Pakistan started to rebuild, somewhat. During Whatmore’s coaching tenure of almost 2 years, Pakistan won 15 out of 25 T20Is, yielding a win percentage of 60% and a Win/Loss ratio of 1.67 (winning 3 out of every 5 matches).

Moin Khan supervised Pakistan’s T20I unit for only 4 T20Is; winning 2 and losing 2.

Waqar Younis returned to office in June 2014 and so did, to an extent, Pakistan’s performance in T20Is. During this tenure, Pakistan lost 12 out of 24 T20Is (1 resulted in a tie). Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratio dropped, again, to under 1.

In May 2016, Mickey Arthur took over and that coincided with Pakistan’s golden period in T20I format. During the next three years, Pakistan won 30 and lost only 7 T20Is, that was as good as Pakistan’s first three years in this format that saw Pakistan losing only 5 T20Is and winning 21, including WT20 Tournament in 2009.

One Day Internationals:

Pakistan decade of 2010, in ODIs, has remained pretty consistent – consistently average, to be exact.

Pakistan entered the decade ranked 7th in ICC ODI Ranking and its holding 6th spot, as of today, that has also remained the mean ICC Ranking of Pakistan throughout this decade.

Pakistan produced reasonably good results during the first tenure of Waqar Younis. Pakistan won 19 out of 34 and lost 14 ODIs, maintaining a win percentage of 56% and Win/Loss Ratio of 1.4

Pakistan played 15 and won 10 ODIs during the brief stint of Mohsin Khan. That produced a healthy win percentage of 67%

Dav Whatmore’s tenure saw Pakistan winning 22 and losing 22 ODIs out of 47 played, yielding a Win/Loss Ratio of perfectly 1.

Pakistan, then played 5 ODIs, during Moin’s tenure, winning 3 and losing 2.

Then came the second tenure of Waqar Younis as Head Coach of Pakistan; that’s exactly where Pakistan registered their worst results in ODIs during any period of considerable length. During this period, Pakistan lost 24 out of 40 ODIs, yielding a massive Loss Percentage of 60%. In contrast, Pakistan won only 15 ODIs, yielding a Win/Loss Ratio of only 0.6 – easily one of the worst periods for Pakistan in ODI format.

Mickey Arthur replaced Waqar in 2016. Although the numbers improved a bit but only in comparison to dismal numbers during Waqar’s second tenure. Under Mickey, Pakistan lost 34 out of 64 ODIs and won only 32. Although an improvement, yet Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratio during his tenure remained under 1.


Pakistan won 4 and loss 5 out of 12 Tests played during the first tenure of Waqar Younis. Win percentage of 33% as compared to loss percentage of 42% and Win/Loss Ratio of 0.8 – considerably lower than Pakistan’s Win/Loss Ratio of 1.09 before this period.

Mohsin Khan’s tenure as coach was a rare golden period in Tests for Pakistan. During this period, Pakistan played 8 Tests, won 6 and lost none. This is as rare as it can get – a win percentage of 75%.

Pakistan’s Test performance, however, dipped right after. During Dav Whatmore’s tenure, Pakistan won only 3 out of 13 Tests and lost 7 – a Win/Loss Ratio of only 0.4; Pakistan’s lowest in any format for any span of considerable duration.

Pakistan didn’t play any Tests during Moin Khan’s tenure.

Waqar’s second tenure saw much better results. Pakistan won 8 out of 15 Tests and lost only 4; a Win/Loss Ratio of 2 (winning 2 Tests to every Test lost).

Then came Mickey Arthur. During his tenure, Pakistan won 10 out of 28 and lost 17 Tests. Pakistan’s loss percentage of 61%, during this period, is by far the worst frequency of losing Tests.

In a nut shell, this is how Pakistan’s Coaches fared in numbers during this decade

ICC Rankings:

Numbers do provide quantitative measure of proceedings to quite an extent. However, it often does not reflect the quality of, say, a win or a loss that are counted equally in numbers.

Let’s resort to ICC Rankings as the standard to evaluate the quality of results Pakistan produced under different coaches during the recent past. Here’s the quick view of :

a) What was Pakistan’s ICC Ranking in the format when a coach took over 
b) What was Pakistan’s ICC Ranking in the format when that coach left and 
c) What was the Net gain between the start and end of tenure of a particular coach:

To sum it all up:

Waqar's first tenure was not that bad. The second, however, was as horrendous as it can get. Although, Pakistan did do well numerically in Tests during his second tenure but in terms of quality, it was still below par - as reflected by net drop of 1 spot in Pakistan's ICC Test ranking between the start and end of his second tenure.

Mohsin Khan had a reasonably good short stint.
Moin Khan's tenure wasn't long enough to talk about much. Dav Whatmore produced average results. Although, Pakistan's ranking did improve in Tests and T20I formats but performance in ODIs remained pretty ordinary.

Mickey Arthur revolutionized Pakistan in the shortest format but in the longest format, Pakistan remained an inconsistent, undecided and under-performing unit that lost many more than what they should have. In the medium length format as well, it was far from satisfactorily consistent.

Under Mickey, although Pakistan did manage to win the accolades of rising to the Number 1 in ICC Test Ranking and winning ICC Champions Trophy but even with such achievements, Pakistan's results in the formats remained highly inconsistent that was a disappointment in itself. Yet, in T20Is, it left Pakistan with a kind of consistency that World of Cricket only dream about Pakistan.


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


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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


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