The ICC on Thursday came under attack for its "baffling" all-time Test player rankings which had no place for champion batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara in the top 20 but the game's governing body made it clear that the list did not rank players in terms of true greatness.
A day after the new chart was released, former cricketers expressed surprise at the composition of the list and said it was 'extremely misleading" since many great names did not figure in the top ten positions.
India's former left-arm spinner Maninder Singh went to the extent of calling it a "joke" and said "sadistic" ICC officials should stop coming out with such lists.
"The ICC is in the habit of making a joke of themselves, and this list proves that. Now, how can you explain Tendulkar who has scored over 12,000 Test runs not being in that list ? I think these jokers should not be given the pleasure of rating players in this way", Maninder told PTI.
The ICC, on its part, promptly, came out with a clarification saying that the list does not rank players in terms of true greatness and does not give a full picture of a player's level of consistency or longevity in the game.
It said that Matthew Hayden's place higher up the table than Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara in the all-time Test and ODI rankings does not necessarily mean that the just-retired Australian is the 10th-best Test batsman or 18th-best ODI batsman in the history of the game.
"The rankings give an indication of how players peaked during their careers but do not give a full picture of those players' level of consistency or longevity in the game", the ICC said in a statement.
Explaining the manner in which the rankings have been decided, the ICC said, "A batsman or a bowler who averages around 700 ratings points for most of his career apart from a purple patch where he shoots up to 900 points before dropping down again may be ranked higher on the all-time ratings.
"But that does not mean he should necessarily be considered to be better than a player who hovered around the 850-point mark for his entire career," it said.
The ICC accepted that the all-time list does not rank players in terms of true greatness.
"For that reason some players, who are considered by most observers of the game to be truly great, such as Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Wally Hammond, Greg Chappell and others, do not feature in the top 20 in the all-time high ratings," the statement said.
Tendulkar was ranked 26th in the Test rankings while Lara was listed three rungs above him.
The ICC urged fans to take a closer look at a player's entire career graph to determine his greatness rather than go by the snapshots, which is what the "best-ever ratings" effectively are.
If a player's career is considered as a mountain, then a single peak would hold worth less than a high, long plateau, he ICC said.
"Hence Tendulkar would be deemed greater than most other players despite having a lower peak. One way of assessing a player would be to calculate his "average rating" over his career though of course this could penalise a player whose long career included a slow start," the ICC said.