Southee moves to career-best Test ranking

New Zealand

Fast bowler Tim Southee has achieved a career-best ranking, while off-spinner Mark Craig has marked his rankings debut by entering just outside the top 50 in the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers.

Fast bowler Tim Southee has achieved a career-best ranking, while off-spinner Mark Craig has marked his rankings debut by entering just outside the top 50 in the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, which were released after New Zealand defeated the West Indies by 186 runs in the first Test in Kingston on Wednesday.

Southee returned match figures of six for 51, including an impressive four for 19 in the first innings. For this achievement, he was rewarded with a jump of three places, which put him behind Dale Steyn, Ryan Harris, Vernon Philander and Mitchell Johnson, in fifth position.

This means the top five spots are shared between the fast bowlers, while the next three places are shared by the spinners in Saeed Ajmal, Rangana Herath and Ravichandaran Ashwin.

Southee, who was declared player of the tournament at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2008, has become his country's highest-ranked bowler. His closest rival is fellow fast bowler Trent Boult, who dropped two places to ninth position after claiming one wicket in the Test.

In 53rd position, Craig is the third highest-ranked New Zealand bowler. The 27-year-old made an impressive debut when he claimed four for 91 and four for 97 in the Kingston Test to walk away with the man of the match award.

He was only the third New Zealand player after Stephen Fleming and Mathew Sinclair to win the award in their first Test. This is the best bowling performance by a New Zealand bowler on Test debut.

The Kingston Test also provided an opportunity for three West Indies' bowlers to return to the rankings table, with Kemar Roach in 15th position, Suleiman Benn in 35th spot and Jerome Taylor in 75th place.

In the rankings for Test batsmen, New Zealand opener Tom Latham made the biggest improvement in the latest rankings. The 22-year-old who represented New Zealand at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010 in his backyard scored 83 and 73, thus enabling him to jump 74 places to 66th place.

Given he is still in the qualification period for batsmen, it is likely that he will move even further up the ladder if he performs as well in the second and third Tests, which will start in Trinidad and Barbados on 16 and 26 June, respectively.

Latham's team-mates, Kane Williamson, BJ Watling and Jimmy Neesham also moved in the right direction. Williamson's century in the first innings (113) helped him break into the top 20 for the first time in his career.

Williamson, who captained his side in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2008, is now in 20th position after moving up one place, Watling jumped eight places to 35th position following his contributions of 89 and 22 not out, and Neesham occupied 47th spot after scores of 107 and 20.

The only consolation for the West Indies was that star batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul leapfrogged Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara into second position. Chanderpaul scored 84 not out and 24, and he trailed number-one ranked AB de Villiers by 41 ratings points.

Batsmen moving in the opposite direction in the latest rankings included Ross Taylor ninth (down by three places), Brendon McCullum 15th (down by six places), Darren Bravo 28th (down by six places), Marlon Samuels 36th (down by six places), Kieran Powell 57th (down by four places), Kirk Edwards 67th (down by seven places) and Peter Fulton 85th (down by 12).

There was more good news for Southee, who moved up a spot to claim seventh position on the rankings for Test all-rounders.

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