Who Is the Best Batsman in the World Right Now? April 2014

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

Who Is the Best Batsman in the World Right Now? April 2014

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    A.M. Ahad

    Over the course of a period of time, the cricketer who can call himself the best batsman in the world inevitably fluctuates and changes regularly.

    Some hit form and see their ranking points sky-rocket, while others are out of touch and see themselves drop like a stone.

    Meanwhile, others are idle, with their countries’ lack of international fixtures meaning they have no option but to sit on the sidelines.

    With everything that has gone on in the last three months since we last asked this question, who is currently the best wielder of the willow as of April of this year?

    Is it a new name, someone who has been at No. 1 before or has the holder of this honour gone unchanged?

    Let’s try and answer that question, first examining our methodology in getting to our findings.

    All stats courtesy of ICC Player Rankings, correct as of 13 April 2014.

Methodology

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    A.M. Ahad

    The statistics we will be examining are the ICC Player Rankings, which is explained below by the world cricket governing body:

    The Reliance ICC Player Rankings are a sophisticated moving average. Players are rated on a scale of 0 to 1,000 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.

    The ICC Rankings take into account factors such as strike-rate, how many runs were scored in each match and who those runs were scored against.

    This means that a player’s ability with the bat in each form of the game can be boiled down to one number for Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20.

    For the purposes of our rankings, we will do something else with those final numbers to try and reflect the difficulty of the different forms of the game.

    Test cricket is generally regarded as the most difficult form of the game, so to try and reflect that, every player’s Test rating will be doubled to give it more weight against the others.

    Further to this, a player’s ODI rating will be multiplied by 1.5, reflecting the specific difficulties that come with playing the 50-over format.

    Finally, a player’s Twenty20 rating will not be adjusted at all, as this form of the game is perhaps not as mentally taxing for batsmen as the other two.

    With all that said, however, there are still limitations to this manipulation of the statistics, as no system will ever be completely perfect.

Limitations

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    Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

    This system rewards players who are consistent in all three forms of the game but does not take into account those who are clearly good batsmen but do not play a certain type of cricket.

    One example of this is Australian Chris Rogers, who has enjoyed something of an international renaissance at the top of their order.

    Rogers is ranked as the No. 19 Test batsman in the world after a superb run of consistent form, especially against the old enemy England.

    However, he does not play limited-overs cricket, and with the number of options the Baggy Green have to open their innings, he is unlikely to.

    He is without a ranking in either one-day internationals or Twenty20 internationals, meaning he drops right down to No. 49 on our overall list, despite his high Test rank.

    There is unfortunately no way around this, although perhaps this is only fair as we are looking for the best player across all three forms of the game.

Previous Findings

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Those of you with long memories may well remember that we carried out this same study in January, as we tried to work out who the best batsman in the world was at the start of the calendar year.

    It was an interesting collection of players, with Michael Clarke’s lack of ranking points in Twenty20 cricket not preventing him from reaching No. 15.

    Perhaps the most surprising finding came at No. 5, as New Zealand’s Ross Taylor could not break into the top three despite being the No. 3 Test batsman at that time.

    However, there were few surprises in the top three, as Virat Kohli occupied the bronze position, behind Kumar Sangakkara and No. 1 AB de Villiers.

Notable Omissions

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    Hannah Peters/Getty Images

    Before we get into the main bulk of our rankings, which players have missed out on the top 20?

    Shivnarine Chanderpaul remains one of the best Test batsmen in the world but finds himself way down due to not playing the other two forms of the game.

    Cheteshwar Pujara has enjoyed a superb rise to No. 8 in the Test rankings, but his lack of experience in the other forms is telling in our final table.

    Finally, Shikhar Dhawan has rapidly become one of the better players in ODI cricket but is hamstrung by a poor record thus far in Tests.

    However, above them come a collection of batsmen who have proven themselves to be enormously talented in all forms of the game, so let’s start with those ranked between No. 20 and No. 11.

Players Ranked 20-11

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images
    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank
    Shane Watson11721014621935.6611
    Faf du Plessis 1272790.5714925.512
    Brendan Taylor1212925.5584907.1613
    Misbah-ul-Haq16481072.50906.8314
    Kane Williamson12801032404905.3315
    Shakib Al Hasan 1188919.5597901.516
    Chris Gayle1202802.5671891.8317
    Rohit Sharma 1156940.5578891.518
    JP Duminy 1034928.5698886.8319
    Michael Clarke16369900875.3320

    In this section of our list, Michael Clarke and Misbah-ul-Haq are present despite not having a ranking in Twenty20 cricket, showing how much more important the other two are in this context.

    J.P. Duminy’s international revival brings him a ranking of No. 19, while Rohit Sharma forces his way in after a series of consistent displays in all three forms of the game.

    Dropping down from the top 10 comes Shane Watson, while Brendan Taylor continues to impress despite Zimbabwe’s problems as he comes in at No. 13.

    This section contains a number of very talented players, but as we move up the list into the next part, some others who have shown a little more in all three forms of the game sit in some very good positions.

Players Ranked 10-4

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images
    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank
    Hashim Amla 174612606111205.664
    David Warner1742844.56811089.165
    Ross Taylor16841069.54861079.836
    Brendon McCullum 1448922.57771049.167
    Mahela Jayawardene1398889.5670985.838
    Mahendra Singh Dhoni 1174.51174.5507963.169
    Angelo Mathews1412921489940.6610

    Moving into the top 10, the most notable name here is Angelo Mathews, who has moved up three spots from No. 13 after a very impressive 2014 so far.

    He sits below Mahela Jayawardene, who will surely drop down these rankings after his retirement from Twenty20 cricket with Sri Lanka.

    Meanwhile, David Warner’s rise to prominence with the bat continues as he sits at No. 5, while Hashim Amla misses out on the top three by just 10.5 ranking points.

    Which players sit above them, though? Could there be some new names or are they the same as before? Read on to find out.

The Top 3

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

     

    NameTest Rating (x2)ODI Rating (x1.5)Twenty20 RatingAverage RatingOverall Rank 
    Virat Kohli 15681321.5 889 1259.5 
    AB de Villiers 1844 1308 498 1216.66 
    Kumar Sangakkara 1758 1249.5 641 1216.16 

    It’s incredibly tight at the top, with just 0.5 ranking points separating Kumar Sangakkara at No. 3 from AB de Villiers just above him at No. 2.

    However, like his countryman Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara will undoubtedly fall in this ranking list as he will no longer play Twenty20 cricket for Sri Lanka.

    Above them both, and standing at No. 1 with a massive ranking points advantage of 42.833 stands Indian Virat Kohli, fresh off a very successful World T20 tournament.

    He is a new No. 1, displacing de Villiers, and he is rapidly becoming one of the best in the world in all forms.

    India fans may well have been worried for their country’s future after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, but Kohli’s form means they are in capable hands.

Risers and Fallers

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    This edition has seen quite a bit of movement in the top 20, capped off by a new leader—our third different one in three versions spread across a six-month period.

    Gautam Gambhir, Tamim Iqbal and Marlon Samuels all drop out of the bottom of our top section, replaced by JP Duminy and Rohit Sharma.

    Shane Watson also drops heavily, while Angelo Mathews rises into the top 10 to replace him among the very best in the world.

    It is perhaps not a surprise to see Virat Kohli as our new No. 1, given his very impressive form in recent times, but his margin of success is surprising given how far behind he was in January.

Conclusion

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    Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

    Our third leader in three editions, Virat Kohli is rewarded for a run of form that may mean he is finally beginning to fulfil his early promise and becoming India’s undisputed premier batsman.

    His is the most notable mover in the top three, but Kumar Sangakkara should expect to drop given his retirement from Twenty20 cricket, as should Mahela Jayawardene.

    The system is not perfect, but it does reward players who are consistent across all three forms of international cricket, hence Kohli’s elevation.

    Misbah-ul-Haq and Michael Clarke are anomalies in this sense, as they do not have a Twenty20 ranking, and this is testament to their prowess in the other two forms.

    Kudos must go to Kohli, however, who stands alone atop our rankings and is very deserving of his status.