LAHORE: South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander has achieved the coveted number-one ranking on the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers after a stellar performance against India in the Johannesburg Test, which ended in a thrilling draw on Sunday. Philander had entered the Test trailing team-mate Dale Steyn by four ratings points. While Philander recorded figures of four for 61 and three for 68, Steyn managed just one wicket. The contrasting performances resulted in Philander gaining 13 ratings points and Steyn conceding 13 ratings points. This swing means Philander now leads Steyn by 22 ratings points and the 28-year-old from Bellville will now start the Durban Test as the number-one ranked bowler in the world for the first time in his career.
Philander has dislodged Steyn, who had been at the top of table since July 2009 when he went past Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralidaran. Overall, Steyn spent 186 matches at the number-one position, the second-most ever after Muralidaran. Philander is now the seventh South Africa bowler to claim the number-one rank after Aubrey Faulkner (1914-1921), Hugh Tayfield (1955-1958), Peter Pollock (1969), Allan Donald (1998-1999), Shaun Pollock (1999-2003) and Steyn (2008-2013). Overall Philander is the 74th bowler to head the Test bowling ranking. Philander has also become the third South Africa bowler after Pollock and Steyn to break the barrier of 900 ratings points, considered a landmark for top bowlers. Philander’s total of 912 ratings points is the joint-sixth best ever, with England’s Tony Lock and West Indies paceman Curtly Ambrose, and the best-ever by a South Africa bowler.
Johannesburg Test centurions on the move: Meanwhile, two of the four centurions in the Johannesburg Test, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, have moved in the right direction on the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen. Kohli, who stroked 119 and 96, has jumped nine places to a career-best 11th position, du Plessis’ 134 in the second innings has helped him rocket 16 places to a best-ever 28th position. Of the other two century-makers in the Test, number-one ranked AB de Villiers and India’s Cheteshwar Pujara have consolidated their number-one and number-seven spots, respectively. De Villiers now leads second-ranked Hashim Amla by 25 ratings points while Pujara has earned 37 ratings points to lead eighth-ranked Misbah-ul-Haq by 55 ratings points and has reduced the gap with sixth-ranked Kumar Sangakkara to 28 ratings points.
New Zealand gain points on Test table: New Zealand’s eight-wicket win over West Indies in the third and final Test at Hamilton has helped it register a 2-0 series win and, thereby, gain seven ratings points to retain seventh position with 82 ratings points on the ICC Test Team Rankings Table. West Indies, on the other hand, have dropped behind Sri Lanka in seventh position. The biggest movers among the players were Shivnarine Chanderpaul in third (up by two) and Ross Taylor at a career-best fourth (up by two) on the batting table. New Zealand’s Tim Southee at 13th (up by four) made the biggest move on the bowling table.
Swann ends Test career in 15th spot: England off-spinner Graeme Swann has finished his Test career at 15th in the bowlers’ table. Swann’s highest ranking with the ball was when he achieved the number-two position in March 2010. He reached a peak of 858 points later that year. Swann also spent 41 matches and 111 days in 2011 as the top ranked ODI bowler, first reaching top spot on 3 July 2011. He has ended his ODI career in 24th rank on the bowling table. He also spent 35 matches and 338 days as the top ranked T20I bowler, first reaching top spot on 30 December 2010. Swann has ended his T20I career in 17th position.
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