Current Ratings List
(3 July 2006)
The first of four Tests between England and Pakistan begins on 13 July 2006 at Lord's.

India defeated West Indies by 49 runs in the final Test at Jamaica to win the Test series after drawing the first three Tests at Antigua, St Lucia and St Kitts.

Sri Lanka defeated England by 134 runs in the final Test at trent Bridge after losing the second Test at Edgebaston and drawing the first Test at Lord's.

South Africa defeated New Zealand by four wickets in the final Test at Johannesburg after drawing the second Test at Cape Town and defeated New Zealand by 128 runs in the first Test at Centurion.  

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Four Year Trends

Most test nations repeat their tours of other countries on a four-year basis.  This chart shows the changes in the ratings and world rankings of test cricket nations over the last four years.
Summary of the Period

Australia has been the stand out performer in Test cricket, having completely dominated the last four years.  Australia has held the number one position for the last four years by a comfortable margin and they have won Test series against every nation, both at home and away, over that period.  Stephen Waugh's captaincy saw Australia claim the highest rating of all time from the 1236 points set by (Sir) Vivian Richards' West Indians in 1986.  The best rating set under Waugh was 1241 points in October 2003.  Ricky Ponting's Australians have now bettered that mark on five occasions.  Ponting's team currently holds the highest rating by any nation with 1266 points after whitewashing South Africa and Bagladesh in April 2006.  Australia has now maintained a rating over 1200 points for over 4.6 years, which is in itself a record.

Australia has set a range of other records, including the record for consecutive Test victories, and Australia has also won a Test series in India for the first time since 1969.  However, a 2-1 loss in England in a five-Test series in 2005 brought Australia back to earth.  Since then, Australia defeated a lack lustre World XI, West Indies and South Africa to 'win' their domestic summer six Tests to nil with one draw against South Africa.  Australia then toured South Africa to win a three Test whitewash and Bangladesh for a two Test whitewash.  Australia now holds a rating of 1266 points, which is the highest rating in history by any nation.  While Australia's 'aura of invincibility' took a dent after their loss to England, their subsequent record indicates they have successfully refocussed.  The question of significance is now: How long can they remain rated above 1200 points.

England has shown an almost continuous record of improvement during the last four years.  Victory over all nations, including Australia in 2005, saw their rating rise to 1160 points in September 2005, the highest level since March 1980 and England's third highest rating in history.  Overall, England's rating has been surging upwards in a similar pattern to Australia (1999-2002) and Sri Lanka (2001-2002).  England overtook South Africa in January 2005 to be ranked second.  England last held second place in May 1984. 

However, after the euphoria of defeating Australia, England faced a reality check in Pakistan, losing 0-2 in three Tests, only because England salvaged a backs-to-the-wall draw in the second Test or it could have been a three-Test whitewash.  England then toured India for a drawn three Test series before returning home to draw the three Tests series against Sri Lanka.  England now holds a rating of 1129 points, which is only 15 points clear of third placed South Africa.  However, England is 137 points behind Australia.  England is clearly the second placed nation behind Australia, but will need to be able to win on the subcontinent before they will have a chance of challenging Australia.  As South Africa previously found, England may require Australia to fall back to 'mere mortal' status with a rating below 1150 points before they can be overtaken.  South Africa was not able to wait that long before the decline started.

South Africa had been the second best nation for the majority of the last four years, maintaining a solid rating around 1150 points for almost four years.  However, South Africa was unable to take their rating any higher than the national record high of 1165 points set in May 2003.  Since that time, losses against Sri Lanka, India, England and Australia has seen their rating drop to 1104 points - their lowest point since August 1998.  Most recently, South Africa defeated New Zealand to raise their rating to 1115 points.  In January 2005, South Africa lost second place in the ratings to England and fell back to third place for the first time since January 1999.  The overall downward trend in South Africa's rating has been evident since September 2003 and  raises questions about the future strength of South African cricket.  South Africa can still slaughter the lesser teams, such as Zimbabwe and West Indies in 2005, however, they struggle against world-class opponents like England and Australia.  Considering South Africa once looked to be the only team likely to have any chance of toppling Australia from the number one position, that outcome no longer looks likely.

Pakistan had historically held a mortgage on second or third place in the rankings from 1983 until their rating slumped significantly in December 1999 and they found themselves in fourth position.  Over the past four years, Pakistan has maintained a rating in a very tight band between 1059 and their current rating of 1095 points, which is the highest they have achieved since November 1999.  During 2004, a resurgent England overtook Pakistan.  In December 2004, India briefly overtook Pakistan but then Pakistan reclaimed fourth position after defeating India in January 2006.  Pakistan is currently ranked fourth, 20 points behind third placed South Africa and four points ahead of fifth placed India.  With South Africa weakening, Pakistan could soon move into third place in the rankings.

India suffered a ratings slump in the final two years of last millennium where their rating fell from 1053 points to bottom out at 1008 points by mid 2000.  Over the last four years, India's rating has been gradually increasing back to and beyond the mid 1998 levels.  India's form in 2004 saw them claim fourth place in the rankings before setting their highest rating in history of 1097 points. However, a lost series in Pakistan and a draw against England has seen India drop back to fifth place in the rankings.  India most recently defeated West Indies in the Caribbean 1-0 in four Tests to currently hold a rating of 1087 rating points, which keeps them within striking distance of third placed South Africa (28 points) and fourth placed Pakistan (8 points).  India has a very comfortable 40 rating point lead over sixth placed Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has been consistent over the last four years in a similar manner to Pakistan and New Zealand.  In the last four years, Sri Lanka's rating has only moved between 1022 and 1054 ratings points, which was a national record highest rating that was set in September 2005.  In the last year, Sri Lanka has only managed to: defeat West Indies and Bangladesh; while losing to New Zealand, India and Pakistan; and drawing in England.  Sri Lanka is now ranked sixth with a rating of 1047 points, which is a massive 40 points behind fifth placed India and 13 points ahead of seventh placed New Zealand. 

New Zealand has been remarkably consistent over the last four years, maintaining a rating between 1017 points and 1046 points, which is only one rating point off their best ever rating of 1047 points that was set during the Hadlee era in March 1990.  New Zealand reached fifth position in late 2002 but then dropped back to seventh in mid 2004 where they have remained for most of the last two years.  New Zealand's current rating is 1034 points sees them ranked seventh, just 13 rating points behind sixth placed Sri Lanka.  New Zealand is at the bottom of the list of 'competitive' Test nations and need not worry about the risk of falling back into eighth place, as their lead over West Indies currently stands at a more than comfortable 91 rating points.

West Indies managed to maintain a partly stable rating from April 2002 until January 2004.  However, since January 2004, the West Indian rating has continued an overall downward trend that has been evident since December 1993.  The West Indies' rating has dropped a total of 78 points since January 2004 and they currently hold a rating of 943 points, which is just above the worst West Indian rating on record of 939 points.  West Indies currently hold eighth place in the ratings and are a distant 91 rating points behind seventh placed New Zealand, a margin that would take some years to close under normal circumstances.  West Indies appear to be locked into eighth place for the foreseeable future as they hold an equally significant lead of 94 rating points over ninth placed Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has been haemorrhaging points consistently over the last four years.  Starting with 911 points four years ago, Zimbabwe now holds a rating of 849 points, their national record worst ever rating.  The decline is clearly linked to ongoing political interference and domestic instability.  The cream of Zimbabwe's players have migrated to other parts of the world or retired in disgust at the poor administration of the game in that country.  Zimbabwe is likely to take a very long time to recover their lost ground, if at all, as the International Cricket Council may well boot them out of the Test arena in the near future - the fact they remain included reflects poorly on the game and its administrators.  Zimbabwe is currently ranked in ninth place, 94 points adrift of eighth placed West Indies and 74 points ahead of last placed Bangladesh.

failed miserably to make any impact in Test cricket after being admitted to the exclusive club in 2000, until their first Test and series victory in January 2005, against Zimbabwe.  Bangladesh had previously only drawn three Tests beforehand, two of which were rain affected when rain prevented any play for the last two days of both Tests (in different series) against Zimbabwe.  Since that victory, Bangladesh has been winless.  Bangladesh has now played 44 Tests for one win, four draws and 39 losses.  Bangladesh holds a rating of 775 points, which is the lowest rating by any team in history.  Bangladesh's maiden Test victory on their 35th attempt leaves New Zealand as the holder of the record for the worst ever introduction to Test cricket, with New Zealand's maiden Test victory occurring in their 45th attempt.
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