Smith regains crown as world's top Test batsman
Steve Smith jumps ahead of Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah moves up to third in the latest ICC rankings
3 September 2019, 07:06 PM AEST
Steve Smith is officially the best Test batsman in the world again, taking over the top spot from India captain Virat Kohli.
Kohli's golden duck in India's second innings against the West Indies in Jamaica this week has seen him slip to 903 ranking points, one point behind Smith.
The Australian had been the No.1 Test batsman from December 2015 to August 2018 but lost the title to Kohli while he was on the sidelines serving his 12-month suspension from international cricket.
Smith surged back to No.2 following his return to Test cricket in the Ashes series a month ago and has put together scores of 144, 142 and 92 in three innings.
He missed the third Test at Headingley as he recovered from a concussion he sustained following a blow to the neck by England paceman Jofra Archer, but will play in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, starting tomorrow, having returned to full fitness.
In 66 Tests, Smith has scored 25 centuries and averages 63.24, the second highest Test batting average behind Sir Donald Bradman's 99.94 among those who have played at least 20 Tests.
Smith's elevation to top spot means Australia now boast the No.1 Test batsman and bowler in the world, with Pat Cummins the leading bowler in the five-day game since February this year.
It's the first time Australians have led the way in both categories since March 2006, when Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath topped the respective rankings.
India speedster Jasprit Bumrah and Jason Holder have also climbed the rankings following India's 2-0 series win in the Caribbean.
Bumrah took 13 wickets at 9.23 in the series, including a hat-trick in the second Test and is now third on 835 ranking points, behind only Cummins (908 ranking points) and South Africa speedster Kagiso Rabada (851).
One position behind Bumrah on 814 points is Holder, who claimed six wickets in Jamaica to move level with England legend James Anderson in equal-fourth spot.
The 30-year-old Smith has been imperious in the Ashes, and having spent half-an-hour throwing balls to the right-hander this week, Australia coach Justin Langer is thrilled to have his trump card back in the XI and back to his best.
"He’s moving really well," Langer said.
"We’re hopeful that he gets back into the zone, hits the ball off the middle of the bat.
"He’s shown that throughout the summer, the whole time he’s been here he’s been batting well.
"So let’s hope he can continue that. It’s important for our team and it’s just nice to know that he’s back in the team."
Veteran England seam bowler Stuart Broad is excited to see Smith and Archer resume their battle after a captivating duel in at Lord's that led to the Australian being felled before bravely returning and then falling eight runs short of what would have been his fourth Ashes hundred on English soil in a row.
"We’ve not bowled at him since Lord’s and he’s had a period without batting, which is a bonus for us," Broad said.
"Every time a batsman looks in great rhythm, a period of time out of being in the middle could affect them.
"But he’s obviously a world-class batsmen who will be very ready for the conditions he’ll face here at Old Trafford.
"I think there’s been a bit of to and fro between him and Jofra, so Jofra will be excited to continue that battle.
"It’s great to have him back. No one wants to see anyone miss cricket through a head injury and he’d have been very disappointed not to play at Headingely and very hungry to come back in to two crucial Tests."
ICC Test rankings
1) Steve Smith (Aus) – 904 points
2) Virat Kohli (Ind) – 903
3) Kane Williamson (NZ) – 878
4) Cheteshwar Pujara (Ind) – 825
5) Henry Nicholls (NZ) – 749
6) Joe Root (Eng) – 726
7) Ajinkya Rahane (Ind) – 725
8) Tom Latham (NZ) – 724
9) Dimuth Karunaratne (SL) – 723
10) Aiden Markram (SA) - 719
1) Pat Cummins (Aus) – 908 points
2) Kagiso Rabada (SA) – 851
3) Jasprit Bumrah (Ind) – 835
=4) Jason Holder (WI) – 814
=4) James Anderson (Eng) – 814
6) Vernon Philander (SA) – 813
7) Trent Boult (NZ) – 795
8) Neil Wagner (NZ) – 785
9) Kemar Roach (WI) – 780
10) Mohammas Abbas (Pak) - 770
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval