Island Cricket

Monday, December 31, 2007

Sangakkara benefits from Ponting’s and Kallis’ failures to regain top slot

Last Updated after: Australia v India Test, 26 December, 2007
South Africa v West Indies Test, 26 December, 2007
New Zealand v Bangladesh ODI, 31 December, 2007

Daily Times LAHORE: Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara has returned to the top of the ICC player rankings for Test batsmen for the second time in three weeks after Australia’s Ricky Ponting and South Africa’s Jacques Kallis suffered rare batting failures in the Melbourne and Port Elizabeth Tests respectively.

Ponting had entered the Boxing Day Test leading second-placed Kallis by one ratings point and third-placed Sangakkara by three. But his contribution of four and three in his team’s 337-run victory over India meant he has conceded 19 ratings points and has fallen behind the two on 917 points.
Official ICC rankings

Kallis also squandered an opportunity to surge to the top when he was dismissed for a duck in the first innings of his team’s 128-run defeat to the West Indies. Despite managing 85 in his second dig, it was not enough to avoid losing 12 ratings points, illustrating just what it takes to stay at the top these days. Kallis did just enough for him to hang on to his second place on 923 points.

Sangakkara, on 933 points, had earlier knocked Ponting off the top spot after his performance of 92 and 152 in the first Test against England in Kandy earlier this month. The 30-year-old from Matale then shared the top slot with the Australia captain after the second Test in Colombo in which he scored one run in the first innings and didn’t get an opportunity to make amends in the second, a trend that was repeated in the third Test at Galle where he scored 46 and consequently dropped to third place behind Ponting and Kallis. Sangakkara’s return to the top now means that Sri Lanka again boasts a player at the top of both the batsman and bowler categories in the ICC player rankings as world record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralidaran tops the bowling list.

Elsewhere, there was good news for Ponting’s team-mate Mike Hussey who edged closer to becoming the 24th batsman in history to reach the 900-mark. Hussey, who began in fifth position at 874 ratings points, climbed one position to fourth after earning eight points from the Melbourne Test which put him on a career-best 882 points. Matthew Hayden was also rewarded for his effort of 124 and 47 when he jumped two places to leapfrog Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jaywardena and England’s Kevin Pietersen in sixth position. While Michael Clarke cemented his place in 11th spot following knocks of 20 and 73, Phil Jaques and Andrew Symonds made movements in the right direction. Jaques, who scored 66 and 51, jumped 12 places to 25th position while Symonds climbed eight places to 32nd spot.

For India, former captain Rahul Dravid dropped two places to 14th but Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly climbed one place each and now have South Africa’s Ashwell Prince and Australia’s Adam Gilchrist firmly in their sights. Only five ratings point separate 15th place Prince from 18th place Ganguly. There were all smiles in the West Indies camp after its first Test victory in 31 months and maiden win on South African soil. Captain Chris Gayle, who scored 66 and 29, jumped five places to 23rd while opener Daren Ganga climbed 11 places to 58th. Marlon Samuels, who won the player of the match award for his 94 and 40, rocketed 18 places to 63rd while Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose 104 in the first innings was the foundation for a big first innings total, established himself in 10th position and is now just nine points adrift of Pakistan’s Yunus Khan in ninth place. The only consolation for South Africa was the improvement in AB de Villiers’ ranking. He climbed eight places to 33rd position.

Meanwhile, Prince and Graeme Smith dropped one place each to 15th and 22nd respectively. Hashim Amla fell four places to 38th while Herschelle Gibbs, who had a pair in the Port Elizabeth Test, dropped 11 places to 40th spot. In the ICC player rankings for Test bowlers, Australia’s Stuart Clark replaced South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini in second place whose team-mate Dale Steyn also dropped three places to sixth. Clark’s effort of 5-48 in the Test helped him jump two places and placed him 27 points ahead of Ntini who managed 4-135 in the match and consequently conceded 13 ratings points.

India captain Anil Kumble and Brett Lee of Australia gained one place each. Kumble’s match effort of 7-186 puts him in fourth place while Lee’s 6-89 places him in fifth position, just two points behind the Indian wrist spinner.

Mitchell Johnson’s 3-21 in the second innings helped him gain nine places and he is now ranked in 45th spot.

Like its batsmen, West Indies’ bowlers are also on an upward move. While Fidel Edwards retained his place in 34th position, Jerome Taylor jumped seven places to 35th spot, Daren Powell climbed two places to 38th position and Darren Sammy lifted four places to 46th position. In the player rankings for Test all-rounders, Chris Gayle leapfrogged India’s Irfan Pathan in sixth place. However, the West Indies captain is still 29 points behind fifth-placed Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka. The all-rounders’ list is headed by Kallis with England’s Andrew Flintoff a distant second.


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