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Best is still the rest


When cricket first started it didn’t really matter who was the number one side in the world. I mean who really cares about who is the number one team if there are just two teams playing a game. Over time more and more teams started playing cricket but it was still irrelevant as the top two sides remained unchallenged for years. And then it all changed.
It all started in 1976 with these famous words from the England captain Tony Greig, “We’ll make them grovel”. These words sparked off the fire that was beautifully captured in “Fire in Babylon”. The West Indies team arrived in England seeking blood. Fredricks, Richards, Garner, and Holding went after then English with a vengeance and the result was a 3-0 win in the 5 match series. The rise of the West Indian cricket team as the supreme force in World cricket was interrupted by the Packer and his dollars but all it took was another series that hurt the mighty Windies to spark their resurgence. The 1979 tour of New Zealand wasn’t amicable in any terms and the whole drama surrounding the umpiring in Churchgate Test left the West Indians feeling wronged. And they had their revenge on the world as this sparked off an era of dominance where West Indies remained the unofficial number one team in the world for 15 years to come. With talents like Richards, Richardson, Greenidge, Haynes, Holding, Garner, Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, and Patterson gracing the side in this period, no wonder this was the golden era of West Indian cricket.
However all eras, no matter how great, come to an end. The decline of West Indies coincided with the rise of the Australians. It all started with the Ashes 1993 where Shane Warne turned the limelight upon himself as he blew the English away. With the Waughs, Border, Taylor, Jones, Warne, McDermott, and McGrath being in this team it was no surprise they pretty much dominated the rest of the decade, winning 42 of the 78 Tests they played from Ashes ’93 till Dec, 2000. As the century turned the old guard was replaced with new and the Aussies side now boasted of Hayden, Gilchrist, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Lee, McGrath, and Warne. No other side stood a chance as they dominated the world cricket just like the West Indies of the 80s, winning 70 of the 118 matches played. Though by the turn of the decade they were beginning to decline with the retirements of Gilchrist, Hayden, Warne and McGrath. 
But this time there was no team fir enough to be the number one. Granted the Indian side was the number one for a year but with their golden generation on its ebb and their troubles away from home, they quickly lost the top spot to the English team. India is in a decline but they have enough talent to prop them up but can they take the team to unprecedented heights? This English team is not special. It is far from special. They are bound to struggle on the road against any team with decent spinners and do not have the players to dominate teams at home and away consistently. Australians are rebuilding and looking on an upward swing but they have a long way to go before they can be anywhere near their legendary side. That remains to be seen. South Africans have the best bowling attack but their batting woes seem to be holding them back. Kallis is the most valuable player in the world right now but once he is gone that is a huge void to fill. They look most likely to emerge as the front runners for the number one spot but can they hold on to it. Sri Lankan cricket has been in a rut since Murali retired and they don’t seem like coming out of it anytime soon. New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh are also rans at best. 
With no team worthy of the number one spot on the horizon, the number one ranking has gone to the earlier days, meaningless.

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