Stuart Broad replaces Ashwin as No. 1 Test bowler
Stuart Broad, England fast bowler, has jumped to the peak of the ICC Test rankings for bowlers after his devastating spell of 6 for 17 set up England's seven-wicket win against South Africa in the Johannesburg Test on Saturday (January 16).
Broad, 29, started the Johannesburg Test in third position, with 853 points, but match figures of 8 for 99 earned him 27 points to leapfrog India's Ravichandran Ashwin and South Africa's injured pacer Dale Steyn to the top rank. With 880 points now, Broad leads the Indian spinner by nine points.
Broad becomes the first England bowler, since Steve Harmison in 2004, to top the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers. Before Harmison, who stayed at the top for 120 days, Ian Botham had achieved the number-one ranking, back in 1980.
England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series courtesy Broad's Man of the Match performance in the third game, which also means India will now replace South Africa as the top-ranked Test side when the ICC Test Championship table is updated at the end of the fourth and final Test in Centurion.
Overall, the English pacer has gained four places since arriving in South Africa, courtesy his 15-wicket haul in the three Tests so far.
Ben Stokes, who claimed figures of 5 for 77 in the third Test, gained three places in the all-rounders' list to jump to the sixth spot - three points behind India's Ravindra Jadeja.
For South Africa, the only positive is the movement of newcomer Kagiso Rabada. Rabada's maiden five-for in Tests, in Johannesburg, helped him vault 28 places to 74th in the latest rankings.
In the ICC Test rankings for batsmen, Joe Root has reclaimed the second position after scoring his ninth century, in Johannesburg. Root hit a fine 110 to help England gain a slender 10-run lead in the first innings, and jumped two places in the table. Root now trails number-one ranked Steve Smith by eight points and leads third-ranked Kane Williamson of New Zealand, by only two points.
Dean Elgar, South African opener, and Jonny Bairstow, England's wicketkeeper, are the other two batsmen who have improved their position in the rankings table - jumping up two spots each to 26th and 30th respectively.
Meanwhile, South Africa have a chance to finish second in the team rankings, provided they beat England in the Centurion Test. A draw will mean the recently dethroned Test champions will slip to fourth place behind India, Australia and Pakistan. On the other hand, England will finish fifth, above New Zealand, irrespective of how the Centurion Test pans out.
It is Australia, however, who have a chance to finish at the top of the rankings on the 1 April 1 cut-off date. On their final Test assignment before the focus shifts to the ICC World Twenty20 in India in 2016, Australia travel to New Zealand for a two-Test series. A series win will not only help Steve Smith's side claim the number-one position but also regain the prestigious ICC Test Championship mace and also win a cash award of $1million.