Labuschagne's reign as world's best Test batter ends

Marnus Labuschagne's rare double-failure at Edgbaston has cost him No.1 spot in the ICC rankings, with Steve Smith and Travis Head bumped out of the top three

Marnus Labuschagne has been backed to respond after his rare double-failure at Edgbaston cost him top spot in the ICC's Test batter rankings.

Labuschagne reign as the world's best Test batter came to an end on Wednesday with Joe Root overtaking the Queenslander to claim back the No.1 spot.

Australia's historic stranglehold on the top three positions in the rankings lasted only one Test, after Steve Smith and Travis Head also dropped down the pecking order.

Labuschagne's scores of 0 and 13 resulted in him falling from first to third, while Smith has taken the biggest drop from second to sixth.

Travis Head also from third to fourth, after making scores of 50 and 16 in Australia's thrilling two-wicket win over England at Edgbaston.

Labuschagne had held the No.1 ranking for the past six months after dislodging Root last December, which followed a previous stint at the top from December 2021 to June 2022.

But Root's first-innings 118 not out – his 30th Test century – has catapulted him up the rankings from sixth and he looms as the key man standing in Australia's way of a first Ashes series win in England since 2001.

Labuschagne and Smith endured their worst Test match together in the Ashes opener, with the batting maestros managing 35 runs between them, but it mattered little as Australia won a nail-biting first Test by two wickets.

Labuschagne in particular was beaten by Stuart Broad's outswinger, drawn into pushing at the right-armer twice before edging behind.

But Australia can see positives from the fact they were able to secure victory without their two best batters scoring runs, giving them confidence they have the depth to pile on big scores through the series.

"I genuinely just expect him to score a hundred next game," Usman Khawaja said of his fellow Queenslander in Labuschagne.

"We had potentially our two best batsmen not score runs this game, it's very unlikely, doesn't happen very often.

'I just like to bat': Khawaja explains unrelenting patience

"In my opinion, the greatest batsman of my era in Test cricket, Steve Smith, not very often he misses out twice.

"We've still got four Ashes Tests. Might be a good thing for us, they have some runs in the bank."

Khawaja, who was named player of the match following scores of 141 and 65, gained two places in the ICC rankings to a new career-best rating of 836 and seventh place overall.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Pat Cummins dropped one spot to fourth in the Test bowler rankings despite his 4-63 helping restrict England to 273 in their second innings.

2023 Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK

First Test: Australia won by two wickets

Second Test: Wednesday June 28-Sunday July 2, Lord’s

Third Test: Thursday July 6-Monday July 10, Headingley

Fourth Test: Wednesday July 19-Sunday July 23, Old Trafford

Fifth Test: Thursday July 27-Monday 31, The Oval

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner

England squad: Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood