Men's Ashes 2021-22
Aussies top Test rankings, Head soars on batting list
Australia are again the world's No.1 ranked Test team after the Ashes victory and now boast three of the top six Test batters following South Australian Travis Head's rapid rise
cricket.com.au with AAP
20 January 2022, 10:34 AM AEST
Australia's 4-0 win in the Ashes has seen Pat Cummins side return to top spot on the ICC's Test team rankings, and the side now has three of the world's top six men's Test batters after Travis Head's Hobart century.
It's the first time Australia have claimed the No.1 ranking since May 2020, when the ICC's annual adjustment of the points table saw the side move up.
After thrashing England in Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart – with England holding on for a draw in the fourth Test in Sydney – Australia have leapfrogged India and New Zealand to claim top spot.
India, the previous top-ranked team, have slipped to third after they lost 2-1 in South Africa in an at-times controversial series, while the inaugural World Test Championship winners New Zealand drew 1-1 at home with Bangladesh. The Blackcaps could reclaim the No.1 spot with a 2-0 series win against South Africa in their upcoming Test series.
Head was the biggest mover in the latest update to the player rankings, improving from 10th to equal-fifth after his player-of-the-match effort in the Ashes finale.
The South Australian's rise is more impressive because he was outside the top 25 at the start of the Ashes and engaged in a head-to-head battle with Usman Khawaja to play in the series.
Marnus Labuschagne remains at the top of the list, well clear of second-ranked Joe Root.
Steve Smith has slipped from third to fourth behind Kane Williamson, while Head is equal with Rohit Sharma after being the leading run-scorer against England.
David Warner has dropped from eighth to 11th, after his second career pair in Hobart.
Pat Cummins remains the top-ranked bowler in Test cricket, having held the position since the 2019 Ashes.
Scott Boland is ranked 43rd after an incredible start to his Test career, while Cameron Green has risen to No.20 in the allrounder lists.
Australia's self-anointed 'wheelie bin' Travis Head capped a coming-of-age Ashes summer in style to dominate England's attack and was named both player of the series and player of the match in Hobart.
The South Australian scored 357 runs at 59.5 to occupy top spot on the run-scoring charts for the five-Test series, despite sitting out the drawn SCG Test after contracting COVID-19.
Australia captain Pat Cummins endorsed the left-hander's free scoring approach to Test cricket, saying: "He goes about it a little bit differently to most other batters, which is his biggest strength.
"So as a captain, I don't care if he gets out in non-traditional ways, I just want him to go out, be free and play his game."
That vote of confidence played a significant part in Head's successful return to Test cricket having lost his place in the starting XI, and then his Cricket Australia contract, as a result of last summer's home series loss to India.
Those "non-traditional" dismissals have previously polarised views of the 28-year-old's approach to batting since he made his debut for South Australia as a precociously talented teenager in 2013.
"I went through a period when I understand dismissals might not have looked the best, and I might get caught at third man or flap at a ball and obviously I don't want to do that," Head said after the victory in Hobart.
"My default as a batter technically means (when) I nick the ball, I've thrown my hands through it.
"It doesn't look pretty, I understand that, but I also understand no dismissal ever looks pretty.
"Pat's given me the confidence to go out and play. He alluded to that (India) game at Optus Stadium and he goes, look, if you take the game on and you get done at third man a couple of times and you're playing the right way it's no skin off his nose, and he backs me one hundred per cent.
"That probably gave me the confidence to go into this series and be myself and play the situation as I see it."
Head's next challenge, as he happily concedes, is to take that instinctive approach that's netted him more than 1,500 runs in 23 Tests (average 43.14) and apply it to vastly different batting conditions that await in Pakistan and Sri Lanka where Australia's next two Test assignments take place.
ICC Test team rankings
1 Australia, 119
2 New Zealand, 117
3 India, 116
4 England, 101
5 South Africa, 99
6 Pakistan, 93
7 Sri Lanka, 83
8 West Indies, 75
9 Bangladesh, 53
10 Zimbabwe, 31
ICC Test batting rankings
1 Marnus Labuschagne AUS, 935 points
2 Joe Root ENG, 872
3 Kane Williamson NZ, 862
4 Steve Smith AUS, 845
5= Travis Head AUS, 773
5= Rohit Sharma IND , 773
ICC Test bowling rankings
1 Pat Cummins AUS, 898 points
2 Ravichandran Ahswin IND, 839
3 Kagiso Rabada SA, 828
4 Kyle Jamieson NZ, 825
5 Shaheen Afridi PAK, 822
Vodafone Men's Ashes 2021-22
First Test: Australia won by nine wickets
Second Test: Australia won by 275 runs
Third Test: Australia won by an innings and 14 runs
Fourth Test: Match drawn
Fifth Test: Australia won by 146 runs