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Series Points – A New Way of Ranking Test Players – 2000s Part One

Shane Warne - the leading player in the 2000-04 period.

Series Points – A New Way of Ranking Test Players

This article is the latest in a series which introduces Series Points, a new ranking method for Test players which directly compares all players together (i.e. batsmen and bowlers as well as fielding ability), whilst also awarding more points to players who performed well against stronger opposition – the original article has a more detailed description of series points for teams and individuals, suffice to say here that we divide up the team series points [TSPs] allocated by the ICC Test rating system into individual series points [ISPs] based on their performances with bat, ball and in the field.

I also covered in the original article the Test Player of the Decade for the 1930s, following which we have looked at
each decade up to and including the 1990s.

There have been so many more series played in the 21st century so far that it’s necessary to split the analysis into two parts, 2000-04 and 2005-present – in the period 2000-04 there were 61 Test series played; by comparison, there were only 55 series played in the whole of the seventies. This article covers part one, from 2000 to 2004.

The Minnows

This decade has seen the record books re-written as teams from Bangladesh and, more recently, Zimbabwe have been put to the sword by the more established Test teams. These rankings take this fact into account by discounting series points achieved against Bangladesh and, after the early part of the decade, Zimbabwe.

Series Points 2000-04

Rather than follow the format I’ve previously adopted for these articles, as this is a sort of interim report I thought it might be interesting to show how the rankings were evolving over time, specifically Points Per Five-Test Series (PP5) rather than total points. The table below shows the PP5 top ten ratings as they stood at the end of 2002, 2003 and 2004 respectively:-

2002 2003 2004
110.53 Kallis (SA) 121.96 Kallis (SA) 113.04 Warne (Aus)
108.33 Cairns (NZ) 108.33 Cairns (NZ) 109.73 Kallis (SA)
101.82 Gilchrist (Aus) 106.96 Warne (Aus) 104.23 Taufeeq Umar (Pak)
98.00 Murali (SL) 105.75 Pollock (SA) 104.00 Shoaib Akhtar (Pak)
95.63 Pollock (SA) 100.88 Gilchrist (Aus) 102.29 Murali (SL)
93.33 Kumble (Ind) 100.00 Bond (NZ) 100.00 Wasim Akram (Pak)
92.22 Tillakaratne (SL) 98.33 GC Smith (SA) 98.84 Gilchrist (Aus)
90.26 Tendulkar (Ind) 97.92 Murali (SL) 89.14 Pollock (SA)
88.00 Rashid Latif (Pak) 90.59 Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) 86.74 Kumble (Ind)
85.00 H. Singh (Ind) 88.75 Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 86.25 GO Jones (Eng)

Kallis was phenomenal to the end of 2003, although he tailed off a little the following year to allow Warne to overtake. Geraint Jones hot start means he is the only English representative. Note that the above tables include all players, regardless of games played – the following table shows the PP5 rankings at the end of 2004 with a qualifying minimum number of games (sorry Geraint):-

PP5 Player
113.04 SK Warne (Aus)
109.73 JH Kallis (SA)
102.29 M Muralitharan (SL)
98.84 AC Gilchrist (Aus)
89.14 SM Pollock (SA)
86.74 A Kumble (Ind)
85.56 Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak)
82.33 ML Hayden (Aus)
82.03 KC Sangakkara (SL)
80.00 RS Dravid (Ind)

Five teams are represented, with Australia, not surprisingly, leading the list with three players.

Series Points are awarded by the ICC based on the Test/Series results, meaning winning teams get extra points to share out, so the following table shows the total ISPs scored as a percentage of Team Series Points:-

% TSPs Player
14.76% JH Kallis (SA)
13.65% AC Gilchrist (Aus)
13.44% A Flower (Zim)
12.50% BC Lara (WI)
12.44% RS Dravid (Ind)
11.81% M Muralitharan (SL)
11.37% ML Hayden (Aus)
11.35% SM Pollock (SA)
11.24% SR Tendulkar (Ind)
10.52% RT Ponting (Aus)

This list is more representative of how valuable players are to their teams, e.g. Andy Flower ranks highly here although Zimbabwe were not especially successful in this period; ditto Lara. Top percentage points scorers for
the other top teams not featured were:-

New Zealand – MH Richardson 9.38%
England – ME Trescothick 8.90%
Pakistan – Inzamam-ul-Haq 8.25%

Player of the Series Awards
Player of the Series awards, as measured by ISPs, typically agree with the man of the series awards as voted in about 90% of cases; one glaring difference is the classic India-Australia series in 2000-01, for which Matthew Hayden received the honour – according to Series Points, Harbajan Singh was the Player of the Series and by a significant margin. Singh is one of eleven players who won multiple ISP Player of the Series awards:-

PoS Player
5 AC Gilchrist (Aus)
4 A Flintoff (Eng)
JH Kallis (SA)
M Muralitharan (SL)
RS Dravid (Ind)
2 CL Cairns (NZ)
D Gough (Eng)
Harbajan Singh (Ind)
Saqlain Mushtaq (Aus)
SK Warne (Aus)
SM Pollock (SA)

Gilly basically continued where he’d left off at the end of the nineties – he won six awards in the first eleven Test series of his career, more than half. Flintoff started slowly, but took four awards from his last five series – his PP5 score for that period was over 100 (note that this doesn’t include the 2005 Ashes, which will be included next time). Kallis was the top all-rounder for this period – only three batsmen scored more runs and in addition he took 113 wickets and 47 catches. Murali took an incredible 305 wickets during this period, way ahead of the next man (Pollock with 188). Dravid was the pick of the Indian batsmen over the first half of the decade (which is saying something in itself), as he averaged almost 65.

Next time….

We’ll finish the decade, bringing us up to date and completing the all-time list.

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