Smith, Ashwin top ICC Test rankings for 2015
Australia captain Steven Smith and India offspinner R Ashwin have finished 2015 as the ICC's top-ranked Test batsman and bowler respectively. Ashwin finished as the No. 1 ranked Test allrounder as well, for the second time in three years.
While Smith leapfrogged Kane Williamson, Joe Root and AB de Villiers to the top, Ashwin achieved the No. 1 rank by unseating Dale Steyn, who could only bowl 3.5 overs in the second innings of the Durban Test against England.
Smith was ranked No. 4 at the start of Australia's Boxing Day Test against West Indies but surged to the top following unbeaten scores of 134 and 70. No one had more Test runs than him this year - 1474 from 24 innings at an average of 73.70 with six centuries and five fifties. He was also named the ICC's Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year last week. Smith is the third Australian batsman in the last decade - after Ricky Ponting (2005, 2006) and Michael Clarke (2012) - to finish as the top-ranked batsman at the end of the year.
Ashwin finished 2015 as top-wicket taker with 62 scalps in nine matches. He started the year ranked 15 but rich hauls on India's tour to Sri Lanka (21 wickets in three matches) and in the home series against South Africa lifted him to the No. 1 spot. Of his 62 wickets, 31 came in the four-match Test series against South Africa, where his performance ensured India swept the series 3-0.
Ashwin, who became the first Indian bowler since Bishan Singh Bedi in 1973 to finish the year at the top-ranked position, also chipped in with the bat, scoring 248 runs in 14 innings, with half-centuries against Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
"Replicating what Mr Bedi did is something I am very proud of," Ashwin said in an ICC release. "The former India captain was a master at his craft and I am very humbled to follow in his footsteps.
"I would like to thank my Test captain Virat Kohli, who has been a big influence, and, of course, the team management, my team-mates and the BCCI for their continued support."
Among other batsmen, Adam Voges (11), Usman Khawaja (39) and Dean Elgar (28) finished the year at career-best rankings following centuries in the two Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne and Durban.
Stuart Broad ended the year as the second leading wicket-taker - 56 scalps in 14 Tests - and sits at No. 3 in the bowlers' rankings. Nathan Lyon, who won the Man-of-the-Match award for his seven-wicket haul against West Indies in Melbourne finished at a career-best rank of 14, while Moeen Ali, Man of the Match against South Africa, finished the year ranked 23.