Pakistan rose to the No.1 ranked Test team after drawing the series with England 2-2. They had a little bit of help from mother nature as the rain set in at the Queen’s Park Oval to stop India’s 3-0 sweep and from Australia’s inability to play spin but their performance in England showed they were worthy of the spot. But is a team’s worth based solely on their ability to play Test cricket?
Test cricket may be the most grueling format, the hardest format and the most respected but are we now ignoring Pakistan’s rank #9 in ODIs and #7 in T20’s? Two forms of cricket they once dominated with the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi being leading one day wicket takers. Does their No. 1 Test rank – the spot that every team strives for – mean they’re now classed as the best in the word?
Pakistan have done a wonderful thing over the past five years. Or rather, Misbah Ul Haq has done a wonderful thing. From the depths of despair when Pakistan were facing their darkest hour he took over and pulled them up towards the light. He marshaled his troops, rallied the country and brought Pakistan to the No.1 spot in Test rankings. A team without a home. A team that has not been able to play on their own soil for the past seven years. Yet still they somehow managed to create talented and unique players that brought them up to the no.1 ranked team. Players like Mohammed Amir who was reborn to cricket this series, like Wahab Riaz who can bowl bolts of lightning as if Zeus himself was playing cricket, like Misbah who fixed and lead a shattered nation. Pakistan’s rise to the #1 rank is a real disney fairytale ending. I believe very few other teams could accomplish what Pakistan have given the challenges they have faced.
Life would be that simple if Test cricket were the only format of cricket (and I wouldn’t mind that at all) but it’s not. Pakistan have had an extremely tough time in one day cricket. Once one of the best T20 sides, they have slipped down the rankings. Can we truly judge a team based solely on their Test performance? Pakistan’s overall ranking over the three formats is 5.67. Yet India’s combined average is 2.33, South Africa’s is 4.33 and England’s is 4.67. Can we truly even accept a Test no. 1 rank when Pakistan haven’t played the no.2 ranked team, India? nor have they played Zimbabwe or the West Indies in five years. A potential word championships in Test cricket could do wonders. Just as there are reforms set to create a more inclusive ODI structure, the ICC must consider changes to Test cricket.
England’s complete dominance over the first three ODIs has semi stolen the spotlight from Pakistan’s triumph. A world record of 444-3 was scored at Trent Bridge against a similar bowling attack to the one that had earned Pakistan that no.1 rank. A bowling attack that had almost taken England apart in one format was being smashed to all parts of Nottingham in another. Pakistan may be missing some key experience in their line-up but they do not lack the ability. There has been an abundance of misfields, and bowling errors, especially in the latest ODI. Both Hales and Morgan were dropped, Riaz took wickets off no-balls and ended on the second most expensive ODI figures. Balls found gaps in long barriers, found the floor when they should’ve found hands and found bat over and over and over again.
Pakistan have a lot of work to do in their one day department. They are currently risking their automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in England and with the Champions Trophy only a year away they will have to pull their boots up.