ICC Player Ranking System Explained – in Under 5 Minutes!

If there’s something more mysterious in cricket than Muralitharan’s bowling action or Saqlain Mustaq’s doosra, then it has to be the ICC’s Cricket Ranking System! Many are left scratching their brains trying to understand how this system works! But, in today’s post, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know about the ICC Player Ranking System in under 5 minutes!

But first, what is the ICC Ranking System? The ICC Ranking System is a method designed to accurately gauge the world’s best team or a player. These rankings work across all the three formats of the game i.e. Test Matches, ODI, and T20. The rankings are released separately for Men’s and Women’s Cricket.

The rankings work differently for teams and individual players. Even for team rankings, the system of calculation for Test Matches is a bit different than it is for a One Day International (ODI) match or a T20 match.

But, don’t worry, we’ll explain it to you in a very simple manner that is easy to understand!

In this post, we shall be only talking about the ICC Player Raking System. We have written another post outlining the details of how exactly the ICC Team Ranking System works. You can read more about it by clicking on https://cricketmastery.com/icc-team-rankings (don’t worry, the link will open in a new tab).

So, let’s get into the detail of the ICC Player Ranking System.

Firstly, “Rankings” is not the same as “Ratings”

Throughout this post, you will hear these two words thrown around quite a lot. Often some people use the two words interchangeably. However, when it comes to ICC Cricket Rankings, the meaning of the words “rating” and “ranking” is not the same.

Rating or Rating Points are the points awarded to a batsman, bowler, all-rounder or a team based on their performance during a match. These are done using complex calculations.

Ranking, on the other hand, is attained by arranging the players or teams in a descending order based on the ratings they have achieved. It is the position of the player or the team in the ranking table.

For example, if India has 120 rating points in test matches and it happens to be the highest amongst all the 12 test playing teams, then India is ranked number 1.

ICC Player Ranking System

The player ranking system was initially devised in the year 1987 as a system to measure and compare the world’s best players. This was mostly based on their batting or bowling averages.

However, there was a major flaw in this system. A player’s average doesn’t take into account their recent form or the conditions in which a match was being played or even the strength of an opponent against which a player performed well.

Thus, ICC came out with a new rating based ranking system which we will talk about in detail below. The ICC’s ranking system is used in all the three formats of the game. Additionally, there are 3 different category of rankings; one each for batsman, bowlers and all-rounders.

There is no separate ranking for wicket-keepers or fielders.

So, how does the ICC Player Ranking System Work?

The ICC Player Ranking system largely depends on the ratings points a player has earned based on his/her performance. The rating points given to a player are based on several parameters.

However, since there are several factors involved and so many permutations and combinations possible, calculating a player’s rating can become quite complex even for just one player. The task becomes extremely difficult when there are hundreds of individual players representing their respective teams at the international level. (You’ll see what I mean in a minute)

However, to help you understand how the system works, we’ve outlined the methodology in a very simplified manner.

Basic Outline

There are certain steps that are common to all the three formats. These form the very basis of the ICC Player Ranking system –

  1. All players are rated on a scale of 0 to 1000 based on their performance. This is common for both – a batsman and a bowler. The system is slightly different for an all-rounder.
  2. If a player performs better than he/she did in the previous match, then the rating points increase and the converse is also true if the performance is below par as compared to the previous match.
  3. The performance of every single player is assessed after every match is completed.
  4. The performance is analyzed based on an algorithm and all the calculations are computerized as there is no human intervention involved in any part of the process. (also keeping track of all this is humanly next to impossible).
  5. Thus, new ratings are given to players at the end of each match. However, the changes in ranking take place at the end of each series for ODI and T20, and after each match for Test Matches.
  6. For new players, who are just starting their international career, the rating starts at 0 and they have to consistently keep performing well in order to improve their rating points.
  7. If a player misses a match, he/she will drop some points for every match they miss.
  8. If a player retires from international cricket, he/she is removed from the list.

Player Ranking in Test Matches

As I mentioned earlier, the player rankings are based on the ratings received by a player based on his/her performance during a match. There are several factors that are considered while analyzing the performance of a player. Furthermore, the player rankings contain three categories i.e. Batsmen, Bowlers and All-rounders.

Let’s look at the factors involved for rating the performance of a batsman first.

A.) Factors considered for a Batsman –

There are several factors considered while analyzing the performance of a batsman and for assigning the rating points. These are mentioned below –

1. Runs Scored by a Batsman

This one is pretty straight forward. The amount of runs scored by a batsman in a particular match directly impacts his rating points.

2. Rating of the Opposition Bowlers

While assigning the rating points, it is not just important how many runs does a batsman score, but also how strong was the opposition’s bowling attack against which the batsman scored these runs.

An easy way to assess this is to combine the ratings of all the bowlers of the opposition team. The higher the combined ratings of the bowler, more value is assigned to the performance of the batsman.

3. Level of Runs Scoring

The “Level of Runs Scoring” sounds pretty confusing. However, it is actually quite simple.

If a batsman scores a century in low scoring match, it is considered of higher value and more rating points are assigned to it than a century scored by a batsman in a high scoring game.

For instance,
Situation A – a batsman scored a 100 but his team only managed to score 220.
Situation B – a batsman scored a 100 but his team managed to score 600 runs.

Century scored a batsman in situation A will be considered more valuable than in situation B.

4. Not Out Innings

If a batsman manages to remain not out by the end of the innings, bonus points are given for such a performance.

5. Result of the match

The outcome of the match also contributes to a player’s rating points.

If a player performs well and the outcome of the match ends in a victory for his/her team, players are given bonus points for such performances.

Furthermore, the bonus points received are higher if a good performance results in a victory against a stronger opponent (high ranked team) as compared to a victory against a weaker opponent (low ranked team).

B.) Factors Considered for a Bowler

A Bowling in a bowling action

Just as there are several factors considered while attributing the rating points of batsman, there are many factors involved in calculating the rating points that a bowler receives. These are as follows –

1. Wickets Taken and Runs Conceded

The number one responsibility of a bowler in any team is to take wickets. So, one of the key factors contributing to the player ratings of a bowler is the number of wickets taken by a bowler and the amount of runs conceded in the process.

2. Rating of the Batsman dismissed

For a bowler, while the wickets taken is an important factor, the quality of the batsman dismissed is also important. These can easily be assessed by analyzing the rating points of the batsman dismissed. Higher the value, more rating points are given to the bowler.

For example , if a bowler takes 5 wickets of which 4 wickets were that of a top order batsmen (with high rating points), then this will hold more value than a bowler who takes 5 wickets of which 4 were that of a lower order batsman.

Likewise, if two bowlers took 1 wicket each against India, the bowler who dismisses Virat Kohli will get more rating points than a bowler who gets Ajinkya Rahane out. This is simply because the rating of Virat Kohli is higher than that of Ajinkya Rahane.

3. Level of Runs Scoring

This works similar to the “level of runs scoring” factor of a batsman.

If a bowler takes 3 wickets for 45 runs in a match where the opposition scored 400 runs (high scoring match), then the bowler will be awarded higher rating points than another bowler who take 3 wickets for 45 runs in a match where the opposition scored 150 runs (low scoring match).

The key reason for this is because, in a high scoring match, it is difficult to give away fewer runs than it is in a low scoring match.

4. Heavy Workload of Bowler

Those bowlers who manage to bowl more overs than other bowlers in a team get some extra credit points added in their ratings.

These credit points are given even if they have not taken a wicket during the match.

5. Result of the Match

Lastly, the result of the match is a contributing factor not just for the batsman but also for the bowlers.

Those bowlers who perform well during a match that ends in a victory for his/her team are given bonus points.

The bonus points are higher if a good bowling performance results in a victory against a stronger opponent (high ranked team) as compared to a victory against a weaker opponent (low ranked team).

Player Ranking in ODI and T20 Matches

The basis of the player raking for One Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20 matches is similar to that of the Test Matches as mentioned above.

The rankings are again derived based on the ratings each player receives as per their performance during a match.

Furthermore, the factors considered to attribute rating points to each player after the match are also similar to that in the test matches.

Additional factors considered for ODI and T20 matches

Even though the rating system is similar to that of the Test Matches, there are a few minor but important differences when considering rating points for a player in ODI and T20 matches. These are as follows –

1. Rating Points for Scoring Runs Quickly (for Batsman)

In One Day Internationals and T20 cricket, a batsman is required to score runs much faster than in Test Match cricket. This gives their respective team a very useful advantage.

Thus, in both, ODIs and T20, a batsman gets significant credit for scoring runs quickly.

Thus a batsman scoring 50 runs of 25 balls will be considered more valuable than a batsman score 50 runs of 100 balls.

2. Economy Rate (for Bowlers)

Just the way it is important for a batsman to score fast in limited-overs cricket, it is equally important for a bowler to concede fewer runs every over.

Thus, a bowler having a lower economy rate (average runs conceded per over by a bowler), is given higher ratings points.

3. Losing Points

If a player misses a match, they are penalised for it. For an ODI match, a player is penalised 0.5% of their total rating points for missing a match. However, a player is penalised 2% of their total rating points for a T20 match.

For example, if a player has 500 rating points in the T20 format. Thus, if he/she misses 1 T20 game, 10 rating points (2% of 500) will be deducted from the player’s total rating point. Thus, after the match, the player will have 490 rating points.

Ranking for All-Rounders

The player rankings for all-rounders works in slightly different manner than the way it does for batsman and bowlers.

In order to determine the ratings of an all-rounder, a simple formula is used. This is as follows –

All Rounder Rating Points = [(Batting Points X Bowling Points)/ 1000]

The basic premise behind this formula is that an all-rounder is a player who bats as well as bowls. Thus, since the rating points are already derived using several factors for his batting and bowling, a simple multiplication of those points gives a picture of how well an all-rounder has batted and bowled.

In simple terms, if a player has high ratings for his batting as well as his bowling, he will be rated high even for an all-rounder.

Related Questions about ICC Player Rankings

Q. How does ICC decide which player should be included in the list?

All players who play an international match are tracked by ICC in their player’s ranking. However, in order to be part of the list, the player should –

  • Appear in a match within the qualifying period at least once (generally 12-15 months for Tests, 9-12 months for ODIs & T20s).
  • Player should be a current player and should not have retired from international cricket.

Furthermore, ICC only publishes the Top 100 players ranked based on their ratings. Thus, it may take some time for a player to appear in the list.

An interesting example is Parthiv Patel, who lost his place in the Indian side in 2008 and as a result, disappeared from the rankings in 2009 (after 12 month qualifying period). However, even though he was out of the list, he retained the ratings which slowly decreased as he missed matches. He was then picked up again in 2016, and as a result, he returned to the list.

Q. How often are rankings updated?

The test rankings are updated after each test match (usually within 12 hours). However, ODI and T20 rankings are updated after the end of the series.

Q. If a player doesn’t bat or bowl in a match, what happens to his ratings?

If a batsman does not bat, his rating remains unchanged. It would not be fair to punish the ratings of a batsman if, for example, a team only lost 2 wickets in its innings and the batsman didn’t even get a chance to bat.

For bowlers, however, the situation is slightly different.

If an opposition is bowled out for a score lower than 150, then a bowler who has not bowled is not penalised (it may be possible that the conditions of the match suited other bowlers, and his skills weren’t needed). However, if the opposition makes a big total, those bowlers who don’t bowl in such innings get penalised and they lose points.

Q. Why are rankings not issued for wicket-keepers?

The reason there are no rankings for wicket-keepers is that it is difficult to fairly rate them based on solely their skills. Catches or stumpings affected by a wicket-keeper are highly dependent on the chances created by a bowler. Furthermore, no accurate record is kept of missed chances by a wicket-keeper. (How would you define a missed chance anyway?)

The same logic applies for fielders as well. Thus, there are no separate ranking system for wicket-keepers and fielders.

Q. Is there a way to judge based on the rating points if a player is good?

Since rating points capture such minute details of a player’s performance, it functions the same way as traditional averages do.

  • Over 900 points is a supreme achievement. Very few players get there, and even fewer continue to remain there for long!
  • Similarly, a 750 plus rating points is normally good enough for a player to appear in the top 10 of the player’s ranking.
  • A score of 500 plus rating points is a good solid rating.

Final Thoughts

Phew! The ICC Player Ranking System is a bit complex especially when you consider the scoring for each and every single player who plays international cricket. For this reason, the calculations are all automated. However, in order to truly understand how the system works, it is important for us to understand the methodology and the factors considered.

I hope this article has been able to answer some or any queries and helped you understand how the ICC rankings work. We shall soon be coming out with a video in order to help explain this visually. Till then, stay tuned!

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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