Star India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Australia captain Steve Smith have finished 2015 as the number-one ranked bowler and batsman respectively in the ICC Test Player Rankings, which were released on Thursday following the conclusion of the Boxing Day Tests in Durban and Melbourne.
Ashwin has achieved the number-one spot for first time in his career after injury prevented Dale Steyn from bowling more than 3.5 overs in England’s second innings. Even though the fast bowler bagged four wickets in the first innings, these were not enough for him to end the year as the number-one ranked bowler for the sixth time since 2009, a statement from International Cricket Council said.
Smith, who last week won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Cricketer of the Year as well as the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year award, had entered the Melbourne Test in fourth position. However, after scoring 134 not out and 70 not out, the 26-year-old has leapfrogged Kane Williamson of New Zealand, England’s Joe Root and AB de Villiers of South Africa into the top spot.
Ashwin, who took 62 wickets in nine Tests this year including 31 scalps in the four matches against South Africa, became the first India bowler since Bishen Bedi in 1973 to achieve the milestone of finishing the year on top.
In fact, Bedi, an ICC Hall of Famer, is the only India bowler to ever top the Test bowling table, while Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble peaked at number-two during their careers.
Ashwin’s successful season was reflected in his ranking after he started the year in 15th position and slowly but surely moved to the top of the chart.
In a double whammy, the 29-year-old also ended the year as top-ranked Test all-rounder.
“Finishing the year as the number-one ranked Test bowler is like an icing on the cake that I have managed to build over the past last 12 months. I always wanted to get there one day. There can’t be a better way to finish the 2015,” Ashwin said, reacting to the news.
“Replicating what Mr. Bedi did is something I am very proud of. 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,” said Ashwin.
Another Indian, Ravindra Jadeja, who also had an impressive outing against the South Africans, ended the year at sixth. Ashwin and Jadeja are the only two Indians in the top 10 rankings of the Test bowlers.
Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane ended at 11th among Test batsmen and he is the only Indian in the top 20.
Feature image source: Reuters