Broad goes top of Test bowling rankings


England fast bowler Stuart Broad has achieved the status of the number-one ranked Test bowler in the world after producing a Man of the Match performance in the Johannesburg Test against South Africa.

England's win also confirmed that India will replace South Africa as the top-ranked Test side when the ICC Test Championship table is updated at the end of the Centurion Test.

Broad had entered the Johannesburg Test in third position on 853 points but, after figures of two for 82 and six for 17, the 29-year-old earned 27 points to leapfrog Ravichandran Ashwin of India and South Africa’s Dale Steyn into the top position. Broad now sits on 880 points and leads the India spinner by nine points.

Broad is the first England bowler since Steve Harmison to top the rankings. Harmison had reached the top in 2004 and stayed there for 120 days. Before Harmison, Ian Botham had achieved the number-one ranking in 1980.

Broad gained four places after earning 40 points since arriving in South Africa as he picked up 15 wickets in three Tests to date.

Broad’s team-mate Ben Stokes has also improved his rankings. Stokes took three for 53 and two for 24, and scored 58 in his only innings in Johannesburg. As such, he has gained 10 places in the bowling chart to 33rd spot, having moved up two places to 36th in the batting table. He gained three places in the all-rounders’ category to claim sixth position, just three points behind India’s Ravindra Jadeja.

The only good news for South Africa was the movement of Kagiso Rabada. The fast bowler took five for 78 in the first innings, which meant he vaulted 28 places to 74th in the latest rankings.

In the rankings for Test Batsmen, England’s Joe Root reclaimed second position after scoring his ninth century in his 38th Test. Root’s 110 helped England to take a slender 10-run lead for which he was rewarded with a jump of two places.

Root had last achieved second position after the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2015, before reclaiming the top spot after the second Test in Dubai. Root had first topped the batting table after the Trent Bridge Test against Australia in August 2015.

Root now trails number-one ranked Steve Smith by eight points and leads third-ranked Kane Williamson of New Zealand by two points.

South Africa’s Dean Elgar and Jonny Bairstow also made gains in the latest rankings. Both the batsmen moved up two places each with Elgar in 26th position and Bairstow joining Faf du Plessis in 30th spot.

Meanwhile, when the ICC Test Championship table is updated following the conclusion of the Centurion Test, to be played from 22-26 January, India will replace South Africa as the number-one ranked Test side.

This was confirmed after England romped to a seven-wicket victory in the Johannesburg Test, which gave them a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

The best Test ranking South Africa can now achieve is second position, which will only be possible if they win the Centurion Test. If the Test ends in a draw, then South Africa will drop to third position behind India and Australia, while a 3-0 series loss will result in them finishing in fourth place behind India, Australia and Pakistan.

By contrast, England will finish above New Zealand in fifth place irrespective of how the Centurion Test pans out.

This situation will be of tremendous interest to Australia, who have an excellent chance to finish as the number-one ranked Test side at the 1 April cut-off date.

In the final Test series before focus shifts to the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, Australia travel to New Zealand for a two-Test series, and if they win the series, then they will not only claim the number-one position but will regain the prestigious ICC Test Championship mace and also win a cash award of $1million.