Rankings

When it comes to sports, there are certainly a lot of really dumb things, but for me, one of the dumbest is surely the ranking system certain leagues/sports use. From the BCS in college football to FIFA’s international football rankings to, of course, the ICC’s format rankings, it all seems so convoluted, and wrong, and random. The formulas are simultaneously too simplistic and too complex. They try to explain the intangible using the tangible, and that never works. It’s like trying to use statistics to describe the act of falling in love. It just doesn’t translate. And to use these rankings to decide championships and tournament seedings lends an air of corruption to the whole system.

The ICC’s rankings are, of course, some of the most ridiculously complicated out there, and we all tend to give them a bit of a hard time – but just how wrong – or right – are they?

Take the current T20 rankings, for example. They go something like this:

Team Matches Points Rating
Sri Lanka 26 2848 129
India 19 1843 123
Pakistan 40 3638 121
South Africa 31 2940 118
Australia 31 2869 115
West Indies 29 2690 112
New Zealand 29 2475 108
England 34 2811 104
Ireland 17 1106 92
Bangladesh 18 1034 74
Afghanistan 15 928 66
Netherlands 12 508 56
Scotland 13 545 50
Zimbabwe 17 589 45
Kenya 17 633 42
Canada 8 11 2

Is Sri Lanka really the best T20I team out there? I think so. Probably. But what about all the other places? Should Afghanistan really be behind Bangladesh? And India has only played 19 qualifying matches – shouldn’t that go against them? And is England REALLY that bad?

Thankfully, we have a T20 World Championship going on right now. So let’s test these out – see how silly – or how spot on – they truly are.

The qualifying matches are happening as I type, but if we use rankings alone, Ireland and Bangladesh will move on to the Super 10 stage.

Then Group 1 will look like this:

South Africa
Sri Lanka
England
New Zealand
Ireland

And Group 2 like this:

Pakistan
India
Australia
West Indies
Bangladesh

And based solely on ICC’s rankings – and just assuming for fun that there are no ties or no results – the Group 1 Super 10 stage will play out like this:

Super 10; Group 1 Winner
SA v SL SL
ENG v NZ NZ
NZ v SA SA
SL v IRE SL
SA v IRE SA
ENG v SL SL
NZ v IRE NZ
ENG v SA SA
ENG v IRE ENG
NZ v SL SL

And the Group 2 Super 10 stage like this:

Super 10; Group 2 Winner
IND v PAK IND
AUS v PAK PAK
IND v WI IND
WI v BANG WI
AUS v WI AUS
IND v BANG IND
PAK v BANG PAK
AUS v IND IND
AUS v BANG AUS
PAK v WI PAK

Final Super 10 tables:

Group 1 Wins Points
South Africa – 2 3 6
Sri Lanka – 1 4 8
New Zealand 2 4
England 1 2
Ireland 0 0
Group 2
Pakistan – 2 3 6
India – 1 4 8
Australia 2 4
West Indies 1 2
Bangladesh 0 0

Those results put Sri Lanka v Pakistan in Semi-Final #1 (Sri Lanka to win) and India v South Africa in Semi-Final #2 (India to win).

And then Sri Lanka will win it all, just as the ICC Ranking Gods decreed.

So why even play the games?

I am kidding of course. We play the games because sport exists outside the realm of math and science and statistics. Sure, they play their role, but at the end of the day, sports are played by humans, and humans are by nature completely unpredictable.

But just as an exercise, I will track the 23 matches above as they go – noting the actual outcome versus the robot’s prediction – and see how it all shakes out.

You have your way to enjoy a T20 World Championship, and I have mine.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rankings

  1. Pingback: We are the Robots | Limited Overs

  2. Pingback: We are the robots, part 2 | Limited Overs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s