Historical Period No.4
The Professional Era To The New Millennium:
1980 to 1999
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From 1877 until World War One

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Post War to the WSC Revolution

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All Test Results and Ratings
for this period by Country

New Zealand
South Africa
Sri Lanka
West Indies
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The era following the end of World Series Cricket saw the worldwide introduction of the "professional cricketer". That is, the cricketer who could make a significant living from the game without the need of a "normal" career outside of cricket.

In return for their significant salary increases, the administrators significantly increased the number of games the average national representative was expected to play. For example, during the post war period until 1980 there was 587 tests at an average of around 17 tests in 4 series each year. From 1980 to 1999 there were 624 tests in total at an average of around 31 tests in 10 series each year. On top of this is the enormous number of One Day Internationals played each year. 

For the majority of this era One Day Cricket was the game the people wantewd to see around the world and it became the cash cow that kept all forms of cricket going.  Toward the very end of the period the International Cricket Council changed the playing conditions of Test cricket to increase the number of results and interest in this form of the game again started to flourish.

Clearly the most striking feature of this era is the "gear change" by the West Indies in 1983 and their utter domination for the following 14 years.

The West Indies took a quantum leap to a level beyond anything their opponents could achieve. In the relatively short period between May 1983 through to April 1986, the West Indies demolished:

     * India in West Indies 3.5-1.5;
     * India in India 4.5 - 1.5;
     * Australia in West Indies 4 -1;
     * England in England 5 - 0;
     * Australia in Australia 3.5 - 1.5;
     * New Zealand in West Indies 3 - 1; and
     * England in West Indies 5-0.

As a result, their rating rose by 116 points from 1120 in 1983 to 1236 in July 1986. It is worth noting that during their climb to this level, the expected result for the West Indies increased as their rating climbed. This makes such a rating increase all the more difficult to achieve. As a comparison, look at the gradual nature of the increase in the Australian team's rating since the 1989 tour of England.

The West Indian rating peaked at 1236 points, which is the highest rating in the history of Test cricket.  The previous best ever rating of 1217 points was set by Australia in January 1952.  West Indies also managed to keep their rating over the "1200 point barrier" for a longer period than Australia had in the 1950s, despite a brief dip to 1193 in April 1988.

From their "high water mark" of 1236 points in 1986, the West Indies managed to keep their rating at least 50 points higher than their nearest rivals until May 1995. To do this, they had to keep achieving similar results for the entire period. In fact, they did not lose a series until Mark Taylor's 1995 Australian touring team defeated them at home in the West Indies.

This period of West Indian Cricket will be remembered for names like Grennidge, Haynes, Lloyd, Richards, Roberts, Holding, Garner, Marshall and Co.

Other points of interest during this era include the change in fortunes of Australian cricket since their successful tour of England in 1989.  Since that time Australia has climbed gradually until achieving the number one ranking in January 1996.   West Indies retook first position a month later and then Australia again took first position in February 1997, holding on until South Africa moved past them in early 1999.  Australia remained competitive with South Africa and at the end of the era had positioned themselves to dominate the first part of the new millenium.

The decline of English cricket is clearly visible. From a high point (1166) after touring Australia and winning 5-1 in February 1979, they bottomed out at 988 points in August 1989 after the series that marked Australia's change of fortune. England has only had a lower point in 1910 when their rating fell to 978. At that time they recovered far more quickly - as there was only Australia and South Africa to contend with!

England maintained a reasonably steady performance from 1989 until the end of the era. However, while England's rating has more or less stood still, others have gone past them. At the end of the era, England found themselves toward the bottom of the contending pack, with only the also rans well below them.

Pakistan has for most of the period been consistently the second or third best in the world - regardless of any match fixing that may have haunted them toward the end of the era. For a long time, the Pakistani record shows relatively little movement from1983 as their rating has stayed within the range of 1050 to 1130 during this time. However, at the end of the era, they fell to their worst position (4th) since March 1984 and their lowest rating since March 1987 of 1080 points. 

New Zealand managed to improve their standing during the time they had the services of the great fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee (and a batsman or two who could hit a bit). However, after returning to their historically customary position near the bottom they have more recently shown signs of a revival of a similar magnitude to the Hadlee era.

Toward the end of the period, Sri Lanka has managed to improve what has been a poor record in this era.   For most of the time they have been the firm custodian of the wooden spoon.  The only reason they managed to avoid the wooden spoon at all was because for a time Zimbabwe snatched it off them. However, with better results toward the end of the era, Sri Lanka have begun to move away from the wooden spoon while Zimbabwe seem to have become chained to it.

South Africa have managed to improve their position since returning to test cricket in 1992. A steady climb through the rankings has seen them snatch the number one position for the first time in history after thrashing the West Indies 5 - 0 in 1999.  South Africa became the fourth team to hold the number one position in the ratings and maintained that position until the end of the era. 

The era saw some growth of international competition with the questionable introduction of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. The results during this era show that these two teams seem only to be a threat to New Zealand. It is likely that it will be a long time into the next era before they realistically become competitive.

This should be a salient lesson for the game's administrators in respect of new applicants to the top echelon of Test competition. While some new nations may be able to hold their own in one day tournaments, it is a dramatic step up to the Test arena. As such, entry to international one day competitions should not be confused with test cricket competition.
Last Updated:  29 December 1999