England in South Africa, 2009-10

Career-best rankings for Smith and Morkel

Cricinfo staff

January 18, 2010

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Morne Morkel broke England's resistance with a spell of 3 for 0 in six balls, 4th Test, South Africa v England, Johannesburg, 17 January, 2010
Morne Morkel leapt into the top 10 of the ICC Test bowling rankings after an impressive series against England © PA Photos

Graeme Smith, the South African captain, and Morne Morkel, one half of his hostile new-ball pair, have climbed to career-best rankings after South Africa's resounding victory in the fourth Test at the Wanderers. Smith crunched a vital 105 in that Test, and Morkel finished with match figures of 7 for 98 as England fell to an innings defeat and South Africa drew level in the Test series.

Smith moved up two places to second in the Test batting rankings, but Morkel's ascent was far more dramatic. He started the series ranked 31st and has jumped 24 places to seventh after picking up 19 wickets at 21.47 in four Tests. Dale Steyn, Morkel's opening partner with whom he shared the man-of-the-match award in the final Test, took 15 wickets at 23.80 despite missing the first Test at Centurion and playing in Durban while not yet fully fit.

Steyn's good showing in the series means that he consolidates his position at the top of the bowling rankings, extending his lead to 72 points ahead of Mitchell Johnson in second place. AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Mark Boucher also moved up the rankings, to 13th, 23rd, and 36th places, respectively, while Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince both dropped two spaces, to eighth and 29th positions.

It's a different story for England, however, as Paul Collingwood is the only batsman to move up the rankings after notching up 344 runs at 57.33 despite not scoring a hundred in the four Tests. Stuart Broad's 13 wickets mean that he climbed up into the top 10, but James Anderson, who lacked penetration after struggling with a chronic injury to his right knee, slipped seven places to 14th.

Far more worrying for England is the news that they are now without a batsman in the top 20 after both Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen put in disappointing performances at the Wanderers. Strauss, who started the series ranked 14th, slipped seven places to 21st, while Pietersen's series aggregate of 177 runs at 25.28 means that he now finds himself 27th in the rankings.

As well as the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy, South Africa also retained their second position in the ICC Test rankings after winning the fourth Test. In a tightly-spaced top three, South Africa are four points behind India and two ahead of Australia, while England are ranked fifth with 107 points.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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