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World domination

March 15, 2008

Chapter 4 of Arithmetic in Standard I: Inequalities (made up of course). Fundamental concept: If A > B and B > C, then A > C. Decisive and categorical. Just the way you want things to be when you’re 3 feet and bit tall and looking to get your homework right, or atleast more right than wrong. It wouldn’t do if the concept said "If A > B (most of the time) and B > C (most of the time, one could be reasonably certain that A > C (some of the time) except when C finds B more tiresome than it does A"

And so, in the cricketing world, when team A beats B consistently and B beats C consistently, we like to think that its safe to assume that A would thrash the living daylights out of C fairly consistently too. Logical. So, its not outlandish to nod in agreement when Andrew Flintoff and team spoke of the changing world order by their humbling of the Aussies in the 2005 Ashes series. Flashforward to the early 2008 and similar sound bytes, this time from members of the Indian team, except maybe the accent was on being confrontational.

But how credible are the challenges of teams other than Australia to dominate the game?

Winning much more than losing



Clearly displayed dominance over ALL opposition


The table above shows the teams in vertically descending order of win percentage over the last 10 years and each value in a specific cell shows percentage of games won by the team in that row against the team in that column. The blue-shaded cells mark those where the win percentage is greater 50% to indicate a clear advantage of the team over its opposition (hence the completely blue column for Zimbabwe).

Since the teams are ordered in descending order of wins, almost all cells to the right the of grey-shaded diagonal should logically be blue, but that is not the case, except for NZ, WI, Australia and to an extent, South Africa. For example; India have struggled to win any games against New Zealand (11%) who have however been more regularly beaten by Sri Lanka (33%). However Sri Lanka has been a relatively easier opponent for India, with India winning 43% of their test matches. Also, South Africa, who have long been considered the challengers to Australia have only managed to actually beat the world champions once (8% of their encounters), less than India, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka.

The ODI table however is a lot more conventional with the teams with higher win percentages having had the advantage over teams who haven’t won as many games. Even here though, SA have clearly dominated India (57%) but have won a fewer percentage of their games against SL (49%) than India have (53%).

The prevalence of several such ‘relationships’ indicate that barring Australia, most other teams have consistently found certain sets of conditions or skills in the opposition very hard to beat inspite of their perceived superiority.

So while India have become tougher nuts for the Aussies to crack, frailty against the likes of New Zealand among other sides will still undermine their claim to being the 2nd best. The same goes for the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka and others. Simply put, to be number 1, teams will have to learn to win, all the time, against everyone. And that is a very tall order.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sameer permalink
    March 19, 2008 6:12 pm

    I believe the analysis is quite inaccurate. By taking the last 10 years time-frame for the analysis, you are also including the historical inability of the Indian team to win abroad, which isn’t quite true over the last 3-4 years! What would be pertinent to see would be a similar kind of analysis over a much shorter time period; say the last 5 years!
    Also, analysis on such a large time-frame doesn’t reflect the current ability of a team; the core of almost every team changes in that period. The present analysis does not make any inroads into refuting what members of the Indians team are saying, they were not there in the matches in which the team lost!

  2. April 15, 2008 7:23 am

    Hey there,
    Just been browsing through some cricket blogsites I thought yours was a very good read and like the original content you have on here as well. Also liked your use of stats in your site as well, from them I can see a very noticeable gulf between the Aussies and the rest of the world, its a gulf we need to close up!

    Am wondering would you like to do a link exchange with me? I can put your cricket site on my cricket site if you could put me on yours? Feel free to check out my site at and the title of the site is Cricket, the Brilliant Game!


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