Since the start of 2008 we have seen the balance of power in one day internationals shift heavily. Australia's throne is no longer secure and the fight for the new top nation before the WC begun. In this time Bangladesh have become a team worthy of consideration at home (mostly due to the efforts of Shakib who was recently related the best one day all-rounder in the world) and even England won one or two abroad.
If you judge the best nation by their win/loss ratio the table reads as follows:
New Zealand 2.50
South Africa 2.40
Sri Lanka 0.84
West Indies 0.20
This table shows a massive void between the top 5 and the bottom 4, yet we recently saw Sri Lanka beat Pakistan and both the West Indies and Bangladesh (at home) push New Zealand only to be beaten in a close contest. If instead we look at the averages runs per wicket what does the table show?
South Africa 38.54
New Zealand 32.95
Sri Lanka 27.94
West Indies 25.89
Pakistan once again is well on top again followed by South Africa.
Instead what if we compared the scores by the team and against the team over the period and see which team has been most dominant.(NR excluded)
Australia 237.15 vs. Opposition 190.75= +46.4
Sri Lanka 214 vs. Opposition 192.63= +21.37
South Africa 222.82 vs. Opposition 216.59= +6.23
India 236.46 vs. Opposition 231.69= =+4.77
New Zealand 208.27 vs. Opposition 207.6= +0.67
England 220.78 vs. Opposition 220.94= -0.16
Pakistan 238.17 vs. Opposition 244.39= -6.22
West Indies 213.5 vs. Opposition 229.94= -16.44
Bangladesh 178.54 vs. Opposition 231.46= -52.92
While these figures favor matches won by batting first it shows a very different table to what we have previously seen if we dissect it even further we find that in terms of average totals the best teams have been:
South Africa 223
Sri Lanka 214
West Indies 214
New Zealand 208
And in terms of bowling:
Sri Lanka 193
New Zealand 208
South Africa 217
West Indies 230
From these figures we learn that when Australia win they win by a lot, and that when Pakistan lose they get absolutely hammered (averaging -6.22 runs a match despite winning 2.6 to every loss!). That Sri Lanka despite being on a losing streak skittle out their opposition for next to nothing more often than not and that India, South Africa and New Zealand are very solid in both their batting and bowling.
So who is the best in the world today and who will be the best a year from now? As an avid cricket fan I really can't tell. And I enjoy that, the competition between all the teams, that we never really know who is going to win.