Rob Eastaway explains how the women's ODI rankings have been developed.
It's over 20 years since the first rankings were produced for international cricketers, but it's taken until now for the first women's rankings to appear. Why the delay? The main reason has simply been the quantity of cricket played. In the men's game, there are typically over 100 international matches played in a calendar year whereas, until the end of the 1990s, there were often fewer than ten women's ODIs per year. A ranking is only relevant if the leading players are playing enough matches to have something that can be described as form. There also need to be enough matches for there to be interesting fluctuations in the tables. There's little interest in a ranking where the top ten players remain static for a year or more.
Now, that the leading countries are regularly playing each other in series, player rankings have become relevant in ODIs. Far fewer women's Test matches are played at the moment, so for the time being there will be no player rankings there.
We had the option of developing a completely new ranking system for the women's game, but since their game so closely parallels the men's, we decided to start by using the men's ranking system and applying it directly to women. So, for example, in both systems players are rated on a points scale of 0 to 1000, with 800 being an outstanding level rarely reached by any player in the one-day game. In each performance, a batsman's runs are adjusted to account for the opposition strength, with extra credit for scoring quickly. A bowler gets credit not only for taking wickets, but also for bowling economically.
Statistically, however, there are some differences between the two forms of cricket, so we needed to make some adaptations. The average scores in women's ODIs tend to be lower than in men's so we needed to adjust the points scales so as not to favour bowlers, and there are fewer women play ODIs in a given year than men, so there are typically more men bunched within a few points of each other in the table than in the women's equivalent.
We developed the new women's rankings early in 2008, but before launching them it has been important to get experts from the women's game to observe the results and comment on whether they made sense. As a result of their feedback, we've adjusted various elements, particularly the amount by which points change after an individual performance, so that the rate at which the rankings change is similar in the men's and women's game.
It's not possible to make direct comparisons between the men and the women, but you can be sure that any man or woman who makes it to 800 points in their respective version of one-day cricket is a world class player at the top of their game.