If Steve Smith’s sublime year at the crease wasn’t already enough to confirm his status as the world’s best Test batsman, the International Cricket Council’s latest player rankings certainly is.
Smith has jumped to No.1 in the ICC’s rankings, after his brilliant first-innings 199 earned him man-of-the-match honours in Australia’s second-Test drubbing of West Indies in Jamaica overnight.
The captain-in-waiting, who also made 54 not out in just his second match batting at No.3, leapfrogged Sri Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara and South Africans AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla to become the first Australian to top the Test rankings since captain Michael Clarke did so in 2012.
Smith’s 199 was the latest in a tremendous and rarely-seen run in which he has averaged 131.5 over his last 12 Test innings.
The right-hander has also logged five centuries in his last six Tests and nine from his past 17 following his incredible dominance over India in Australia’s home summer.
The extraordinary streak has brought Smith’s overall Test average up to 56.23 – just two weeks after he turned 26.
David Warner has retained 10th place in the rankings, while Clarke is in 14th spot after he missed three Tests over summer due to injuries.
In the Test bowling stakes, Australia boast three quicks in the top 14 but interestingly only one of that contingent played in the tour of the West Indies.
Mitchell Johnson slipped to sixth after the rampant left-armer’s comparatively quiet two Tests in the Caribbean.
Fellow fast bowler Ryan Harris dropped from third to fourth place in his absence from the West Indies tour, while Peter Siddle is still ranked 14th despite having not played a Test since December.
Both face an uphill battle to unseat in-form pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc from the team facing England in The Ashes next month.
Hazlewood, who was named player of the series thanks to his 12 wickets at an amazing 8.83 per scalp, was rewarded with a rankings boost to 27th.
Starc’s position lifted to No.21 following his impressive 10 wickets at an average of 16.