Ever wondered how ICC calculates the Cricket Rankings?

ICC (International Cricket Council) Rankings in cricket is considered to be the highest level of benchmarks in rating and scaling a particular team or a player in any format. ICC as a whole body and its rankings are as equivalent as how Mumbai University is for the college students of Mumbai or any apex education university would be for any college students of their respective cities or countries.

For any international cricketer or any aspiring cricketer around the world, ICC is an institution for them and every rule, every spoken word and every law released by ICC is a matter of utmost importance to them. Over the years since many decades we have followed ICC Cricket Ratings where the top 10 teams, bowlers, batsman and All-rounders are judged and rated in every format of the game. In the 90’s and the early 2000’s, Ten Sports would showcase the ICC Top 10 rankings everytime during intervals and ads and many of the kids and adults of that generation grew up watching and adoring this rankings which eventually helped us to gauge a particular team and a player. In fact as a kid many would wait in between cricket matches or WWE for ad intervals so that we can see the Ten Sports ICC Cricket Rankings which had its own unique style of presenting it back in the early 2000’s introducing every team and player in short along with their photo and points and also explaining why they are at a particular rank and still the process would not be longer than a minute!

Though, ICC Top 10 Rankings have stopped coming that much on TV, but that is hardly relevant to the fact about the weightage and importance of its activity and still people can access the rankings online on numerous sites including Sportsnasha.com. All that’s fine, but ever wondered, on what basis does ICC calculates all the teams and players of different attributes? What sort of maths or prescribed format of calculation goes behind making the rankings? Well we will let you know about it…..

The points calculation for test rankings is done as below.

• Each team scores points based on the results of their matches.
• Each team’s rating is equal to its total points scored divided by the total matches and series played. (A series must include at least two Tests).
• A series only counts if played in the last four years.
• Series played in the first two years of the four-year limit count half; essentially, recent matches are given more weight.
• To determine a team’s rating after a particular series:
o Find the series result
 Award 1 point to a team for each win
 Award 1/2 point to a team for each draw
 Award 1 bonus point to the team winning the series
 Award 1/2 bonus point to each team if the series is drawn
o Convert the series result to actual ratings points
 If the gap between the ratings of the two teams at the commencement of the series is less than 40 points, then the ratings points for each team equals:
 (The team’s own series result) multiplied by (50 points MORE than the opponent’s rating) PLUS
 (The opponent’s series result) multiplied by (50 points LESS than the opponent’s rating)
 If the gap between the ratings of the two teams at the commencement of the series is more than or equal to 40 points, then the ratings points for the stronger team equals:
 (The team’s own series result) multiplied by (10 points MORE than the team’s own rating) PLUS
 (The opponent’s series result) multiplied by (90 points LESS than the team’s own rating)
 If the gap between the ratings of the two teams at the commencement of the series is more than or equal to 40 points, then the ratings points for the weaker team equals:
 (The team’s own series result) multiplied by (90 points MORE than the team’s own rating) PLUS
 (The opponent’s series result) multiplied by (10 points LESS than the team’s own rating)
o Add the ratings points scored by the team to the total ratings points already scored (in previous matches, as reflected by the Table)
o Update the number of matches played by the team through adding one more than the number of games in the series (a two Test match series will result in the match count getting incremented by three)
o Divide the new rating points with the updated number of matches to get the final rating.

And regarding the home win and away win topic, I too think home wins are rewarded more. I am not totally sure about this. But I feel an away win should be rewarded more since playing well in unfamiliar conditions is greater than playing well in familiar conditions.

How do the ICC Test ratings work?
The rating system is based on assigning points to teams for every Test match played, and then averaging it out over all Tests played by the team during the period under consideration. The final rating is thus an average score for the team during that period.
The points awarded to a team depends on the strength of the opposition. A win against a stronger opposition counts for more than a win against a weak opposition. The strength of the opposition is determined by their rating points at the start of the series, and updates happen only at the end of a series, not after each Test.

Is there a bonus for winning a series?
Yes, a series win counts as an extra Test match won. So, if a team wins a series 2-1, when assigning points it will count as a 3-1 win.
Does an away win count for more than a home win?
No, there is no extra weightage given to an away win; only the opposition strength is taken into account.
Does a team’s rating get affected if it sends a second-string team for a series?
No, the only number that is taken into account is the team’s rating points at the start of the series. If the opposition beats a team which is weakened by a few withdrawals, it will still get the same points as it would have beating the full-strength team.

How does the calculation work in a series?
Each team gets one point for a Test win, 0.5 points for a draw, and an extra point for a series win. Thus, if Australia win a five-Test Ashes series 2-1, they will get 4 points, while England will get 2.
The method for calculating the rating points in a series depends on the relative strengths of the two teams playing that series. If the difference in rating points between the two teams at the start of the series is less than 40, then each team gets:
• The team’s series points (4 for Australia in the above example) multiplied by 50 points more than the opposition’s rating points, plus
• The opposition’s series points (2 in the above example) multiplied by 50 points less than the opposition’s rating points.
If the difference in rating points between the two teams at the start of the series is 40 or more points, then the stronger team gets:
• The team’s series points multiplied by 10 points more than the team’s own rating, plus
• The opposition’s series points multiplied by 90 points less than the team’s own rating.
The weaker team gets:
• The team’s series points multiplied by 90 points more than the team’s own rating, plus
• The opposition’s series points multiplied by 10 points less than the team’s own rating
This series score is added to the team’s previous total ratings points, and divided by total number of matches plus series played to arrive at an average score for the team, which is their rating points.
What is the time period considered?
A minimum of 36 months and a maximum of 48 months. Every May, the results from months 37 to 48 drop off. For example, in May 2015, the time period considered is May 2012 onwards, with results from May 2011 to April 2012 dropping off. Till April 2016, this is the time period considered; in May 2016 all results between May 2012 and April 2013 will be knocked off.
How are the older results weighted compared to the more recent ones?
The first two years get 50% weightage, while the last 12 to 24 months gets 100% weightage. For example, in May 2015, all matches from May 2012 to April 2014 gets 50% weightage, while matches after May 2014 gets 100% weightage.

The MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings are a sophisticated moving average. Players are rated on a scale of 0 to 1000 points. If a player’s performance is improving on his past record, his points increase; if his performance is declining his points will go down.

The value of each player’s performance within a match is calculated using an algorithm, a series of calculations (all pre-programmed) based on various circumstances in the match.
All of the calculations are carried out using pre-programmed formulae, using the information published in a Test match scorecard. There is no human intervention in this calculation process, and no subjective assessment is made.
Test Match Rankings

For a batsman, the factors are:
• Runs scored
• Ratings of the opposing bowling attack; the higher the combined ratings of the attack, the more value is given to the batsman’s innings (in proportion)
• The level of run-scoring in the match, and the team’s innings total; an innings of 100 runs in a match where all teams scored 500 is worth less than 100 runs in a match where all teams were bowled out for 200. And if a team scores 500 in the first innings and 200 in the second innings, a century in the second innings will get more credit than in the first innings (because the general level of run scoring was higher in the first innings)
• Out or not out (a not out innings receives a bonus)
• The result. Batsmen who score highly in victories receive a bonus. That bonus will be higher for highly rated opposition teams (i.e. win bonus against the current Australia team is higher than the bonus against Bangladesh.)
For a bowler, the factors are:
• Wickets taken and runs conceded
• Ratings of the batsmen dismissed (at present, the wicket of Steven Smith is worth more than that of Matthew Wade – but if Wade’s batting rating improves, the value of his wicket will increase accordingly)
• The level of run-scoring in the match; bowling figures of 3-50 in a high-scoring match will boost a bowler’s rating more than the same figures in a low-scoring match
• Heavy workload; bowlers who bowl a large number of overs in the match get some credit, even if they take no wickets;
• The result. Bowlers who take a lot of wickets in a victory receive a bonus. That bonus will be higher for highly rated opposition teams
Bowlers who do not bowl in a high-scoring innings are penalized.

The players’ ratings are calculated by combining their weighted performance in the latest match with their previous rating. This new ‘weighted average’ is then converted into points. Recent performances have more impact on a player’s rating than those earlier in his career, but all his performances are taken into account. A great player who has had a lean run of form will still have a respectable rating. Players who miss a Test match for their country, for whatever reason, lose one per cent of their points.

New players start at zero points, and need to establish themselves before they get full ratings. There is a scale for calculating qualifications. For example, a batsman who has played 10 Test innings gets 70 per cent of his rating (i.e. his rating will be between 0 and 700 points). He doesn’t get 100 per cent until he has played 40 Test innings. A bowler who has taken 30 wickets also gets 70 per cent of his full rating. He doesn’t get 100 per cent until he has taken 100 Test wickets. This means that successful new players can enter the top 30 after just a few Tests, but are unlikely to reach the world top five until they have many Test matches under their belts.

One-Day International and Twenty20 International Rankings

The principles behind the ODI and T20I Ratings are similar to those for the Test Ratings, with the following important differences:
• Batsmen gain significant credit for rapid scoring. They only get a small amount of credit for being not out (because a not out batsman is, by definition, batting at the end of the innings when the value of his wicket is low)
• Bowlers gain significant credit for economy. An ODI bowler who bowls 10 overs 0-10 is likely to see his rating improve significantly, even though he hasn’t taken a wicket. For a T20 bowler, economy is even more important, and 4 overs 0-10 would get significant credit.
• Players lose only a half per cent (½%) of their points for missing an ODI match for their country. They lose 2% of their points for missing a T20.

Women’s ODI and Twenty20 Rankings

The Women’s ODI and T20 Rankings operate in the same way as the men’s equivalent. However, statistically there are some differences between men’s and women’s cricket, so there are some adaptations for the women’s version. The average scores in women’s matches tend to be lower than in men’s so the points scales were adjusted so as not to favour bowlers, and there are fewer women play ODIs in a given year than men, so there are typically more men bunched within a few points of each other in the table than in the women’s equivalent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still slightly confused about how the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings work? Hopefully your question can be answered below, if not, please feel free to submit your question to us using the Contact Us page.

What do the rankings measure?

Think of the MRF Tyres ICC Rankings as a system for identifying the players who could be selected for an ICC World XI if it was picked today. Take a look at the latest top tens, and you should find that most of the players at the top would be candidates for your current World XI. The rankings have often been described as a measure of form, but this is a simplification. A form ranking would only look at what a player has done in (say) the last year, whereas our rankings take into account a player’s entire career – though they put more emphasis on what he or she has done recently.

What’s the difference between ‘rankings’ and ‘ratings’?
We use ‘rankings’ to refer to the positions of players in the tables, and ‘ratings’ to refer to their points.

How do you decide who is or isn’t included in the list?

Players have to have appeared in a match within the qualifying period to appear in the lists (normally 12-15 months for Tests, 9 -12 months for T20s and ODIs). For example, Parthiv Patel lost his place in the Indian Test side in 2008 and disappeared from the lists in 2009. But he retained a rating which slowly diminished as he missed matches. He was then picked again 2016 and returned to the rankings. If a player confirms his retirement he is also removed from the list. So, for example, MS Dhoni retired from Tests in 2014 and was removed from the Test rankings – but he remained in the ODI tables. Players are in the rankings as soon as they complete a match. However, we only publish the top 100 players (at most), so it can take several matches for a player to break into that.

When are the rankings updated?

Our normal practice is to update the Test rankings after each Test match (usually within 12 hours) and ODI ratings at the end of each ODI series. We generally don’t publish Test rankings if another Test match is currently in progress. However, if there are lots of overlapping Test matches running into each other we try to be more flexible so that the rankings on the website don’t get too out of date.

What happens to a player’s rating if he plays but does not bat/bowl?

If a batsman does not bat, his rating is unchanged. We don’t want the ratings to punish a player when he hasn’t done anything wrong (and it would be tough if, for example, rain wiped out an innings causing all the team to lose points). The situation with bowlers is slightly different. If the opposition are bowled out for less than 150, then a bowler who has not bowled is not penalised (conditions obviously suited the other bowlers, and his services weren’t needed). But if the opposition makes a big total, then bowlers who don’t bowl in the innings lose points.

What does it mean to have, say, 500 points?

Ratings points have a meaning in the same way as traditional averages do. Over 900 points is a supreme achievement. Few players get there, and even fewer stay there for long. 750 plus is normally enough to put a player in the world top ten. 500 plus is a good, solid rating.

What about ratings for wicket-keepers?

The challenge is to find a fair way of rating a keeper. You can’t just rate him on catches and stumpings taken, since these are highly dependent on the bowler creating these chances (how many chances did Warne create for Healy, for example?) No accurate details are kept historically on missed chances, and in any case what is a missed chance? So, as with other fielding skills, we won’t attempt to produce a rating since we aren’t convinced it would be credible.

Who decides how good the pitch is?
Nobody does. There is a common misconception that there is an expert panel that sits down to assess the pitch in each match. In fact, all the Ratings calculations are based purely on the information in the scorecard (as you would find published online or in a newspaper). If both teams score 500 in each innings, the computer rates this as a high-scoring match in which run-making was relatively easy, and therefore downgrades the value of runs scored. If both teams score 150, this indicates that runs were at a premium and a player gets greater credit for scoring well in this game.

How do you rate all-Rounders?
We have devised an all-rounder index that gives a good indication of who the best all-rounders in the world are in Test and One Day cricket. To obtain the index, simply take the player’s batting and bowling points, multiply them together and divide by 1000. So a player with 800 batting and 0 bowling gets an index of zero (because he can’t bowl and therefore isn’t an all-rounder!), 600 batting/200 bowling gets a rating of 120, and 400 batting/400 bowling points gets a rating of 160. An index of 300 plus is world class. There are far more all-rounders in T20s and ODIs than Tests, but the same names tend to appear high in both lists. Incidentally, this index does omit one important all-rounder skill, namely fielding. There is no satisfactory way of rating fielding skills statistically at present.

Is it harder to score points against some of the lower ranked teams than it might be to score points against the higher teams?

Because the ratings take account of the opposition strength, there shouldn’t be any obvious advantage to playing against any particular team. Of course that’s not to say that certain individuals do seem to play better against certain opposition or on certain types of pitch.

What is the best way to determine the “best players of all time”. Can you produce a definitive list?

We have compiled a list of “best-ever ratings” which are effectively snapshots of greatness, as they capture a player when he or she was at the peak of their form. When it comes to judging a player’s greatness over his career, it’s necessary to look at their entire graph rather than the peak. It’s not so much how high a player gets as how long they stay there. If you think of a player’s rating graph as being the shape of a mountain, then the greats will have graphs shaped more like Kilimanjaro than the Matterhorn. Hence Tendulkar would be deemed greater than Clyde Walcott despite the latter’s higher peak. One way of assessing a player would be to calculate an ‘average rating’ over his career though of course this could penalize a player whose long career included a slow start. So it’s over to you to make your own judgment by comparing graphs, or by other more subjective means.
How do batters qualify for full points?
A batter gets a rating as soon as they complete a match. If they score 50 runs, the computer will rate them as a “50” type player, but will then reduce the points displayed by about 60%, to err on the low side – players need to establish themselves before being ranked alongside experienced 50-type players. With each innings he plays, the new player points reduction reduces until, after 20 innings, the computer displays 100% of the points that the batsman has earned.
How are the Ratings updated?

At the end of a match, the scorecard is entered onto our computer. The computer performs a number of checks on the data to ensure that there are no errors (for example the number of runs + extras has to be the same as the total!) and then the new ratings are calculated.

What happens to a player’s rating if they suffer a long-term injury?
A player who misses a game for his country is treated exactly the same whatever the reason (injury, poor form etc). In Tests, the player loses 1% of his points for each match missed. In ODIs players lose ½ % of their points for missing a match. Because T20s are more sporadic, players who miss a T20 lose 2% of their points for missing matches.

Why isn’t there a combined Test and limited overs player list to determine who is the greatest all-round cricketer in all forms of the game?

We don’t try to mix apples and pears, though the points scales are similar for the three forms of cricket, so it would not be completely unreasonable to add together a player’s points for all forms of the game to get a grand total.

Source courtesy- International Cricket Council,Quora.com


Haineel Shah

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