Cook vaults back into top ten

A magnificent unbeaten double-century by Alistair Cook has helped him to finish the year inside the top 10 of the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen, which were released following the conclusion of the Melbourne and Port Elizabeth Tests.

The 33-year-old left-handed opener scored 244 in his side’s first innings score of 491, which has helped him to rise nine places to eighth position. He will now start 2018 with South Africa’s seventh-ranked Hashim Amla firmly within his sights, who is 17 points ahead of the former England captain.

Cook had begun the year in 15th position, while he had entered the Ashes in 10th position.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith’s contributions of 76 and 102 not out have not only strengthened his position at the top of the table but also given him sole possession of second place for the highest-ever ranking points.

For his efforts in Melbourne, Smith earned two points and is now 14 points behind Don Bradman (961) and two points ahead of Len Hutton (945) in the all-time list.

England captain Joe Root is the other batsman to improve his ranking, when he moved up one place to join his opposite number from New Zealand, Kane Williamson, in fourth place. Root and Williamson had started 2017 in third and fourth positions, respectively.

Australia opener David Warner is sixth, 24 points behind Root and Williamson, after his scores of 103 and 86 earned him 30 points. Warner had started 2017 in fifth position.

In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, there is no change in the top nine with England’s James Anderson leading the field. Anderson had started the year on 810 points in sixth position and has finished on 892 points in number-one spot.

The spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Rangana Herath had started 2017 in the top three positions, and have finished at third, fourth and sixth places, respectively, while Australia’s Josh Hazlewood started and finished in fifth spot.

The only change in the top 10 is the return of South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel in 10th position. The 33-year-old claimed five for 21 in Zimbabwe’s first innings for which he has been rewarded with a rise of three places, which has now put him one place ahead of Dale Steyn. It is for the first time in nearly two years that Morkel is within the top 10.

Morkel’s team-mate Keshav Maharaj, who took five for 59 in Zimbabwe’s second innings, has gained two places and is now at a career-high 16th position.

Outside the top 20, Chris Woakes of England and Australia’s Pat Cummins have moved up three places each. Woakes is now in 28th place, while Cummins is now ranked 36th.

Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh is the number-one ranked al-rounder and he is followed by India’s Ravindra Jadeja.

ICC Test Player Rankings (as on 31 December, following the Melbourne and Elizabeth Tests):

BATSMEN (top 20)

Rank      ( /-)        Player                  Team     Points   Avge      Highest Rating

1         ( – )         Steve Smith         Aus        947!      63.55    947 v Eng at Melbourne 2017

2         ( – )         Virat Kohli            Ind         893        53.75    895 v Ban at Hyderabad 2017

3         ( – )         C. Pujara              Ind         873        52.96    888 v SL at Nagpur 2017

4=       ( – )         Kane Williamson  NZ          855        50.62    893 v Aus at Perth 2015

( 1)        Joe Root              Eng        855        52.45    917 v Aus at Trent Bridge 2015

6         ( – )         David Warner       Aus        831        48.72    880 v NZ at Perth 2015

7         ( – )         Hashim Amla       SA          776        49.61    907 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2013

8         ( 9)        Alastair Cook       Eng        759        46.52    874 v Ind at Kolkata 2012

9         (-1)         Azhar Ali              Pak        755        46.62    787 v Aus at Melbourne 2016

10        (-1)         D. Chandimal       SL          743!      43.94    743 v Ind at Delhi 2017

11        (-1)         Ross Taylor          NZ          739        48.04    871 v Win at Hamilton 2013

12        ( – )         Lokesh Rahul       Ind         728*      44.62    761 v SL at Pallekele 2017

13        (-2)         Dean Elgar           SA          722        42.12    740 v NZ at Dunedin 2017

14        ( – )         Faf du Plessis      SA          711        46.54    718 v Ban at Bloemfontein 2017

15        (-2)         Quinton de Kock  SA          708        43.83    802 v NZ at Hamilton 2017

16        (-1)         Jonny Bairstow    Eng        707        39.57    772 v SA at Old Trafford 2017

17        (-1)         Kraigg Brathwaite Win        690        37.43    701 v Eng at Headingley 2017

18        (RE)       AB de Villiers       SA          689        50.47    935 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2014

19        (-1)         Ajinkya Rahane    Ind         662        44.15    825 v NZ at Indore 2016

20=      ( – )         Tamim Iqbal         Ban        655        39.25    709 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

( – )         Shakib Al Hasan  Ban        655        40.38    694 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

SELECT RANKINGS

Rank      ( /-)        Player                  Team     Points   Avge      Highest Rating

27        (-8)         Usman Khawaja   Aus        630        42.95    747 v Pak at Sydney 2017

31        (-4)         Shaun Marsh       Aus        612        38.36    626 v Eng at Adelaide 2017

38        (-2)         Moeen Ali             Eng        578        33.20    655 v SA at Old Trafford 2017

40        (-1)         Temba Bavuma   SA          571        33.13    589 v Ban at Potchefstroom 2017

45        ( – )         Brendan Taylor    Zim        534*      32.53    684 v Ban at Mirpur 2014

47        (-4)         H. Masakadza      Zim        531        29.77    559 v Win at Bulawayo 2017

49        (-3)         Sikandar Raza     Zim        510*      38.10    547 v Win at Bulawayo 2017

51        (-2)         Craig Ervine         Zim        505*      33.60    536 v SL at Colombo (RPS) 2017

54        ( 4)        Aiden Markram    SA          492*!     95.00    492 v Zim at Port Elizabeth 2017

56        (-4)         Dawid Malan        Eng        488*      33.66    501 v Aus at Perth 2017

65        ( – )         Mitchell Marsh      Aus        440*!     27.06    440 v Eng at Melbourne 2017

69        (-3)         Vernon Philander SA          423        25.44    457 v Eng at Trent Bridge 2017

BOWLERS (top 20)

Rank      ( /-)        Player                  Team     Points   Avge      Highest Rating

1         ( – )         James Anderson  Eng        892        27.35    896 v Win at Lord’s 2017

2         ( – )         Kagiso Rabada    SA          883!      22.29    883 v Zim at Port Elizabeth 2017

3         ( – )         Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         870        23.73    899 v Aus at Ranchi 2017

4         ( – )         R.Ashwin              Ind         829        25.44    904 v Eng at Mumbai 2016

5         ( – )         Josh Hazlewood  Aus        819        25.60    863 v Ind at Bengaluru 2017

6         ( – )         Rangana Herath  SL          799        28.04    867 v Zim at Harare 2016

7         ( – )         Neil Wagner         NZ          784        27.87    785 v Win at Wellington 2017

8         ( – )         Mitchell Starc       Aus        774        27.52    805 v Pak at Brisbane 2016

9         ( – )         Nathan Lyon        Aus        771        31.60    774 v Eng at Adelaide 2017

10        ( 3)        Morne Morkel       SA          753        28.45    776 v Aus at Cape Town 2011

11        (-1)         Dale Steyn           SA          741        22.30    909 v Win at Centurion 2014

12        (-1)         Vernon Philander SA          739        22.37    912 v Ind at Johannesburg 2013

13        (-1)         Trent Boult           NZ          725        28.56    825 v Eng at Lord’s 2015

14        ( 1)        Stuart Broad         Eng        711        29.10    880 v SA at Johannesburg 2016

15        (-1)         Yasir Shah           Pak        704        29.44    878 v Eng at Lord’s 2016

16        ( 2)        Keshav Maharaj   SA          695*!     25.03    695 v Zim at Port Elizabeth 2017

17        (-1)         Tim Southee        NZ          682        31.45    799 v Win at Jamaica 2014

18        (-1)         Shakib Al Hasan  Ban        668        32.35    705 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

19        ( – )         M.Shami               Ind         630*      30.77    647 v SL at Kolkata 2017

20        ( – )         Kemar Roach       Win        612        29.42    774 v SA at Centurion 2014

SELECTED RANKINGS

Rank      ( /-)        Player                  Team     Points   Avge      Highest Rating

28        ( 3)        Chris Woakes      Eng        536*      33.75    609 v Pak at The Oval 2016

29        (-2)         Moeen Ali             Eng        535        39.55    633 v Win at Edgbaston 2017

36        ( 3)        Pat Cummins       Aus        447*!     27.25    447 v Eng at Melbourne 2017

38        (-2)         Steven Finn          Eng        438        30.40    624 v NZ at Headingley 2013

46        ( 1)        Graeme Cremer   Zim        366*      45.68    377 v Win at Bulawayo 2017

48        (-1)         Duanne Olivier     SA          349*      23.11    353 v Ban at Bloemfontein 2017

53        (-8)         Jackson Bird        Aus        337*      30.64    417 v Pak at Melbourne 2016

66        (-1)         Mitchell Marsh      Aus        245*      40.89    349 v Win at Melbourne 2015

ALL-ROUNDERS (top five)

Rank      ( /-)        Player                  Team     Points   Highest Rating

1         ( – )         Shakib Al Hasan  Ban        438       489 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

2         ( – )         Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         415       438 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2017

3         ( 1)        R. Ashwin             Ind         369       493 v Eng at Mohali 2016

4         (-1)         Ben Stokes          Eng        366 /*    396 v Win at Lord’s 2017

5         ( 1)        Vernon Philander SA          313       376 v Aus at Cape Town 2014

*indicates provisional rating; a batsman qualifies for a full rating after playing 40 Test innings; a bowler qualifies for a full rating when he reaches 100 Test wickets.
! indicates career-highest rating