ICC news May 1, 2014

Australia reclaim No. 1 Test ranking


On a day Michael Clarke called the most satisfying of his career, Australia returned to the No. 1 Test ranking for the first time in nearly five years, after the ICC's annual rankings update. Despite not having played a Test since their series win over South Africa in the first week of March, the Australians have edged ahead of South Africa because the rolling nature of the rankings system means results from 2010-11 have now been dropped.

Michael Clarke's men also hold the top position in the one-day rankings, meaning it is the first time since December 2008 that Australia have been No. 1 in both the Test and ODI formats. It is the first time since August 2009 that they have sat at the top of the Test rankings, having originally been displaced following their unsuccessful Ashes tour of England that year.

In Twenty20s, meanwhile, Sri Lanka, who were crowned World T20 champions just last month, lose the No. 1 ranking to India.

The annual update means results from 2012-13 are reduced to a 50% weighting, so Australia's home Ashes fiasco in 2010-11 and their six Test losses across two tours of India have now either disappeared entirely from the rankings or been devalued. Their home Ashes clean-sweep over the past summer and their 2-1 win in South Africa allowed them to move ahead of South Africa, who had been No. 1 since August 2012, by a fraction of a point.

India have suffered a significant fall, slipping from third down to fifth, while England and Pakistan have each gained a place, up to third and fourth respectively. New Zealand and Sri Lanka switched places, with New Zealand now ranked sixth in Tests and Sri Lanka down to seventh, while West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh remain unchanged at the bottom of the table.

However, Australia's immediate reign at No. 1 could be short-lived, with South Africa facing two Tests in Sri Lanka and one in Zimbabwe before Australia's next Test series, which is against Pakistan in the UAE in October. Still, the return to the top is a significant achievement after Australia slipped as low as fifth on the Test rankings in 2010 and 2011, and then went nine consecutive Tests without a win during 2013.

"The last two years have been extremely positive in some ways and there's been a number of tough times, and for a team that makes days like these even more special," Clarke said in Sydney. "As captain of this team over the last couple of years and what we've been through, I don't think I've had a more satisfying day or feeling in my career.

"It's so satisfying because of where we've come from. The fact two years ago we were ranked No. 5 in the world, as captain of the team I remember, it's still in the front of my mind what was written and said about us once we came back from India, we were named the worst Australian team to ever tour India and as captain that's the last thing you want to hear, that breaks your heart. To enjoy today and see the other side in a pretty quick turnaround from No. 5 in the world, I'm extremely proud of that."

Clarke and the coach Darren Lehmann have often said that Australia's goal was to achieve the No. 1 ranking in all three formats and while there is a significant way to go in T20, where they currently sit sixth, sitting on top in Test and ODIs is a considerable accomplishment.

"The players deserve a lot of credit. Our senior players have stood up and led the way over the past couple of years to turn things around. I've had a lot of help from [support] staff," Clarke said. "I think Darren Lehmann coming in in the last eight months has played a big part as well, his support has been fantastic. The power of within has been outstanding, to deal with what we went through in India and the Ashes and turn that around is a great feeling. And I think the public that watch us play see how close a group we are inside the camp.

"We've worked exceptionally hard to get here, we have to work even harder to stay here. The great teams have done that, the Australian team I walked into stayed at No. 1 for a long period of time and that was a sign of greatness. South Africa deserve a lot of credit for how long they've been No. 1 in the world, and we look up to teams like that so hopefully we can do exactly the same, find a way to perform at home and away from home as well."

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said Clarke and Lehmann deserved plenty of credit for the results. "Everyone involved with the Australian team - players, coaches and support staff - should be incredibly proud of this achievement," Sutherland said. "There has been a huge amount of hard work and effort on and off the field to get to this point and it's something that those involved with the side should take time to savour.

"Australian cricket's team performance programme led by Pat Howard deserves considerable credit for this outcome. High praise needs to go to Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann for their excellent leadership."

In the ODI rankings, the only change to result from the annual update was that England and South Africa switched positions, with England up from fifth to fourth and South Africa down from fourth to fifth. Australia, India and Sri Lanka still occupy the top three spots in the one-day list.

Australia's success has had a considerable financial benefit for the players in addition to the prestige of their recent results. Performance bonuses tied to ICC rankings for the past 12 months and also overall in Tests and ODIs have delivered a total windfall of about $1.6 million to the team.

ICC Test Championship

1 May 2014
Team Matches Points Rating
1. Australia (+1) 32 3950 123
2. South Africa (-1) 23 2831 123
3. England (+1) 30 3131 104
4. Pakistan (+1) 20 2064 103
5. India (-2) 23 2343 102
6. New Zealand (+1) 26 2383 92
7. Sri Lanka (-1) 22 1986 90
8. West Indies 19 1442 76
9. Zimbabwe 8 322 40
10. Bangladesh 14 287 21

ICC ODI Championship

1 May 2014
Team Matches Points Rating
1. Australia 35 4020 115
2. India 53 5923 112
3. Sri Lanka 53 5890 111
4. England (+1) 36 3947 110
5. South Africa (-1) 32 3486 109
6. Pakistan 47 4716 100
7. New Zealand 31 3031 98
8. West Indies 40 3744 94
9. Bangladesh 23 1683 73
10. Zimbabwe 20 1228 61
11. Ireland 8 273 34
12. Afghanistan 9 304 34

ICC Twenty20 Championship

1 May 2014
Team Matches Points Rating
India 15 1963 131
Sri Lanka 22 2859 130
Pakistan 26 3194 123
South Africa 23 2785 121
Australia 22 2454 112
New Zealand 20 2196 110
West Indies 23 2520 110
England 23 2220 97
Ireland 12 1046 87
Bangladesh 16 1147 72
Netherlands 14 951 68
Afghanistan 12 743 62
Zimbabwe 11 573 52
Scotland 10 512 51

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryn on May 6, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    back to where they belong!!!! and will stay there like true champions. but how in gods name are england 3rd???!!! they are lucky to be in the rankings at all but 3rd?!? seriously outrageous.

  • Richard on May 5, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    @ IndianSRTfan,I am very much looking forward to seeing the Indian batsmens dance moves when Mitch and co start playing their 'chin music' later this year. It'll be a real hoot.

  • Aniket on May 3, 2014, 18:37 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha: 'Massively doctored pitches?' When the visiting teams aren't able to compete even a little bit, these myths fly around. If you don't believe me, take a look at pitches for Australia's tour of India. Chennai, Hyderabad were exactly similar to what they have always been, Mohali was a flat deck and one day was lost to rain, yet Aussies lost under 4 days. Only real minefield was Delhi. Here's the real cherry, Australia won EVERY toss and BATTED FIRST every time. They didn't lose because of pitches, they lost because played awful cricket.

    And if by doctoring, you mean pitches were made to assist spin rather than letting them to be flat, what could be better than that? Flat pitch means tame draws in India 99/100. I want to see ball ripping and turning so that A.there's a result and B.only batsmen with skill to play spin will succeed here. As far as fast bowlers getting a fighting chance, 2 words 'reverse swing'. Don't believe me? Chk Steyn's record and performances in India.

  • Aniket on May 3, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    @JG2704: Well my question is should bilateral ODIs matter as much as they do now? For me World Cup win and a CT win where a team competes with more than a single team is paramount and it should count more, for it needs more adaptation and skill.

    Whereas in bilateral ODI series by midway the game becomes almost formulaic. And here as well I'd like to see away wins count more. They really need to use the tier system in ODIs at least. Teams from tier 1 and 2 will still play each other as they do now so as to say the tier won't determine which teams can play each other but a series/match win against a tier 1 team will earn more points and if it's an away win, the team gets bonus points. That would put rankings in more context.

  • Aniket on May 3, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    @fickspin: Some valid points but a couple of them are wrong. It's a myth that all the pitches used in domestic first class cricket in India are either flat tracks or turners. I'd request you to take a look at Ranji coverage on cricinfo to see it for yourself.

    For last 4 or so years many tracks were green tops! But this hasn't helped India produce fast bowlers. Why? It's simple really, on these green tops ordinary medium pacers have been able to get wickets without much of an effort or display of skill. More serious is the fact that these pitches are slowly contributing to the demise of genuine spinners on the domestic circuit. That to me is the biggest concern. So the popular opinion that India should simply prepare tracks suited to pace bowling in order to produce good bowlers is false

    Re Population, it's a naive argument. If that logic was true, why hasn't China produced a top 100m athlete with 1+ billion population whereas Jamaica does it regularly with population of 2.7 million?

  • ra on May 3, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    Dropping Warner 9 times and gifting Johnson with a bouncing wicket lost SA that number one ranking. Shows how close the teams are at the top.

    SA will bounce back strong. We just need tests(game time) to do it...

  • James on May 3, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    It's a bit hard to say who is really the best team at present. I'd still go for SA on the basis of consistent results at home and OS. Te problem is that so many teams are crap as soon as they step into alien conditions. Australia still need to win in India - but did win in SL last time, and on slow wickets in the Windies (those games fell outside the current "assessment" period). NZ and SL are good in patches, but not threatening overall ( but good in short formats). India has deservedly fallen to number 5. The problem is that they massively doctor pitches at home, which exaggerates their abilities, and then they are absolutely awful as soon as they travel - 1 win from 12 on their recent jaunt to SA/NZ says it all.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    it is difficult to understand the point table, country played 23 Matches are below the table & who played 32 matches are on the top

  • John on May 3, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @Jerome Alexander on (May 2, 2014, 7:39 GMT) Personally I think SA should still be number 1 as their record looks better during this period (2011 to now) but what I will say is that the ICC rankings have nothing to do with how many games you play. The points gained is divided by the number of games played. If you look at the rankings table you will be able to work this out and also you will see that Eng have more points than SA so if more points meant higher up the table Eng would be ahead of SA

    please publish this time - nothing of offence , just politely explaining re the ranking system

  • John on May 3, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @dungerbob - Ctd - not sure if away results count more or not. IMO they should do.

    For the record , I'm not saying Australia are not the best side in the world at the moment and I think long term - with the retirement of several key SA batsmen they could even pull away - I just don't see that their results in the whole 2 year period are better than SA's

    please publish this time - nothing of offence