Ranking Cricket's Top 5 Rivalries

Antoinette Muller@mspr1ntFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2013

Ranking Cricket's Top 5 Rivalries

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    The Ashes has started off with a bang. While the actual quality of cricket might not have been all that great, it was one seriously entertaining Test match.

    England and Australia aren't the only two sides with a fierce rivalry. With the sport dating back to the 1800s, many sides have been at each other's throats for centuries. 

    Cricket rivalries are great because there is so much nuance to them. We've picked what we think the top five rivalries are. Share your thoughts in the comments.

5. Whoever Is Number One vs the Rest of the World

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    Whoever is on top of cricket's rankings is always the team to beat. Even if a rivalry doesn't exist between the two sides, one will be created. History can be made and everyone wants to beat the best.

    With South Africa currently ranked number one in the world, their biggest rivals are India. Ranked second and with a tour to South Africa on the cards in December, the two sides will surely put on an entertaining scuffle.

    The two sides are completely different. India, emerging like a phoenix out of their transitional phase, and South Africa, desperate to retain their number one ranking. Many have already written India off, suggesting that they simply will not be able to adapt to South African conditions.

    Never say never, though.

4. West Indies vs England and Australia

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    While the West Indies are no longer quite the ruthless side they were in the 1980s, their rivalry against both England and Australia is, historically, one of the most important. 

    Late in the 20th century, one of the first truly great teams dawned upon cricket. Australia beat them 5-1 in the 1975-76 series, but the West Indies were soon to come into their own.  Their rivalry against Australia was ignited after that, though.

    They would go on to triumph over Australia in the following seven series, drawing the 1981-82 series 1-1. Those victories included three wins on Australian soil.

    Against England, the Windies' rivalry was born with Tony Greig's famous comment. Greig, in the lead up to the 1976 series against the Windies said: You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers. But if they're down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey and a few others, to make them grovel.

    The West Indies won the series 3-0 and, Greig, didn't forget his comment. After the last game of the Oval, he pretended to crawl on his hands and knees in front of the crowd to, essentially, grovel.

3. Australia vs South Africa

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    South Africa and Australia fight it out in almost every sport. And in every sport, the rivalry is fierce. Australia was basically everybody's rival for a few years because they were just so annoyingly good. 

    The Proteas became the first team to beat Australia at home in 16 years in 2008-09. It was an incredible series and an incredible victory and it only intensified the rivalry between the two sides. Australia drew the return Test series in South Africa in 2011. It was yet another memorable contest with the Aussies chasing down over 300 to win the second Test and square the series. 

    Most recently, South Africa beat Australia at home for a second time last year. The two teams will play each other in South Africa again early in 2014 and it should be another cracking contest.

2. England vs Australia

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    One of sport's oldest rivalries, dating back to the 1800s, the England and Australia contest is fierce. The two countries also have an off-field history. During the 18th and 19th century, the British government sent convicts to Australia. 

    That little morsel of history has created many tasteless jokes, but it's also added to the fight between the two sides.

    The Ashes is one heck of a cricketing contest. It's ferocity is helped by some superb TV coverage and some great marketing. But both sides seem to step up their bite. The Ashes has produced some of the most memorable Test series and with one game down in this year's edition, there's plenty more to come.


1. Pakistan vs India

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    Undisputedly, India and Pakistan are cricket's two biggest rivals. England and Australia might try to claim that with The Ashes, but the two subcontinental sides clinch those honours hands down.

    Reports suggest that a clash between the two sides racks up around 300 million viewers around the globe.  It is a great contest which is made even greater by the fact that the game happening in the first place is such a fascinating aspect.

    The rivalry between the two go way back to 1947, when Pakistan was partitioned from India. The first Test between the two sides took place in 1951. They've been at it since then and have dished up some pretty tasty contests.

    Conflict between the two countries is still there, but when it comes to cricket, all that is shelved while the sport thrives.

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