Steyn rockets up ICC player rankings

South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn has left his mark on the LG International Cricket Council (ICC) player rankings following his man-of-the-series performances against New Zealand.

Steyn, who took 20 wickets in two matches against the Black Caps, has rocketed up to third in the latest listings for Test bowlers, a reflection of his recent potency.

And if the player, who made his debut at the highest level against England three years ago, can continue his current form against South Africa’s next Test opponents, the West Indies, there is every chance of him overhauling teammate Makhaya Ntini and taking second place in the ladder.

Steyn is not the only player making all the right moves up the player rankings—Australia’s Brett Lee is also on the charge.

Lee has responded superbly to the absence of the retired Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, putting in his own man-of-the-series display to capture 16 wickets in two Tests against Sri Lanka and he now lies in fifth spot on the bowling table.

The player, with 247 Test wickets from 61 matches, now has five weeks to reflect on a job well done against Mahela Jayawardena’s side before Australia’s next Test action, against India starting on December 26 in Melbourne.

Ricky Ponting is clinging on to top spot in the LG ICC player rankings for Test batsmen by the skin of his teeth, as just one rating point separates him from second-placed Jacques Kallis after another stellar display from the South Africa batsman in his side’s innings victory over New Zealand this week.

Kallis, who scored three hundreds in four innings on his side’s tour of Pakistan, followed his 186 against the Black Caps in Johannesburg with 131 at Centurion on Saturday.

It has left him within touching distance of the number one ranking, something he last held in December 2005 before Ponting overtook him.

The Australia captain also has Kumar Sangakkara to worry about as the battle for that top placing really intensifies.

The Sri Lanka batsman, who missed his side’s first Test against Australia with a hamstring injury, returned to the team with scores of 57 and 192 in Hobart, the latter effort his maiden Test hundred against the world champions, and that is enough to lift him ahead of Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan, the winner of the ICC Test Player of the Year award at the ICC awards ceremony in September.

Yousuf himself has been in red hot form as Pakistan’s leading run-getter in successive one-day series, against South Africa and India, and he will get his own chance to reassert his Test credentials when the three-match series against India gets under way in New Delhi on Thursday.

Adam Gilchrist, who became the first batsman in Test history to hit 100 sixes, a feat he achieved in Hobart, is the biggest climber inside the batting top 20, up four spots to 15th position, and he is one of five Australia players inside that elite group. The others are Ponting, Michael Hussey—who has achieved a career-high tally of rating points and has moved into fifth place—Matthew Hayden (8th) and Michael Clarke (10th), another player with a career-best haul of rating points.

Jayawardena, who like Sangakkara recorded a maiden Test hundred against Australia in Hobart with a fighting first-innings 104, is his side’s other representative inside the batting top 20, in 12th position.

In the bowling list, Sri Lanka’s talismanic spinner Muttiah Muralidaran may be licking his wounds after taking just four wickets at an average of 100 in the two-match series against Australia but he can content himself with still being way out in front in the rankings for Test bowlers.

In the rankings for Test all-rounders, Kallis has extended his lead over England’s Andrew Flintoff, currently out of action as he recovers from ankle surgery.

In the Test championship table, Australia’s 2-0 series win has seen them lengthen their advantage over second-placed England to 32 points. Sri Lanka remain in fifth position but have lost two points as a result of defeats in Brisbane and Hobart and that is the margin between them and India, who lie directly above in the table in fourth spot.

South Africa are third after their series success against New Zealand while the Black Caps have slipped to seventh place, below Pakistan.—Sapa

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