SA batsmen take a dive

England’s Jonathon Trott and VVS Laxman of India have achieved career-best rankings in the Reliance Mobile International Cricket Council player rankings for Test batsmen after playing pivotal roles in their sides’ victories in the Melbourne and Durban Tests, respectively.

Trott, whose undefeated 168 helped England to take a 415-run first innings lead which eventually resulted in an innings and 157 runs victory over Australia, has climbed seven places to claim third position in the latest rankings which were released on Thursday.

Trott is now just nine ratings points behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar. The two can swap places depending on how they perform in the final Tests of the series which start in Sydney and Cape Town, respectively next week.

The other England batsmen moving in the right direction are Alastair Cook in 13th position (up by one place) and Kevin Pietersen in 21st spot (up by four places).

The news is not very good for Australia whose top-order batsmen have taken a dive in the rankings.

Mike Hussey has dropped four places to share 10th position with Sri Lanka’s Thilan Samaraweera, Shane Watson has fallen two places to 15th spot, Michael Clarke has slipped three places to 24th position and Ricky Ponting has dropped to 29th place, one behind England captain Andrew Strauss.

Man of the match
Meanwhile, Laxman has also broken into the top 10 for the first time in his career as his scores of 38 and 96 have helped him jump six places to ninth spot. Laxman’s innings in the second innings not only allowed India to square the series with a 87-run victory but also earned him the man of the match award.

Laxman is now the third India batsman inside the top 10 with Tendulkar sitting in the second position and Virender Sehwag occupying fourth place.

In contrast, South Africa’s top four batsmen have failed to retain their places.

Jacques Kallis has slipped to fifth (down by two places), AB de Villiers to sixth (down by one place), Hashim Amla to 12th (down by three places) and Graeme Smith to 14th (down by three places).

In the rankings for bowlers, Zaheer Khan of India and Australia’s Peter Siddle have also achieved career-best rankings.

Zaheer recorded figures of three for 36 and three for 57 in Durban and has been rewarded with a jump of three places which puts him along side James Anderson of England (up by one place) in fourth position.

Zaheer’s team-mate, Harbhajan Singh, has also improved his ranking by two places and he is now in eighth position after his match figures of six for 80.

Sreesanth has also made an impact in the latest rankings as has jumped six places to 27th position after match figures of four for 86.

Closest rival
For South Africa, the only consolation is that Dale Steyn has strengthened his number-one ranking by opening up an 83 points advantage over his closest rival, Graeme Swann of England.

Steyn is now just three ratings points away from reaching the 900-point mark.
Steyn took six for 50 and two for 60, for which earned him 21 ratings points, giving him a career-best rating of 897.

If Steyn manages to earn three more ratings points in Cape Town, he will become only the second South Africa bowler after Shaun Pollock (November 1999) and 20th overall to reach the 900-point mark which, in rankings terms, is the benchmark for top bowlers.

The other bowler to take a big stride in the rankings is Australia’s Peter Siddle. Siddle took six for 75 in Melbourne for which he has been rewarded with a jump of six places. He now sits just outside the top 10 in 11th position.—Sapa

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