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Former Australian captain Steve Smith exposed the vagaries of the ICC world Test batting rankings when he regained the top spot yesterday, despite being serving a 12-month suspension for ball-tampering.
Smith lost his 32-week reign as number one after the recent first Test at Edgbaston, where Virat Kohli scored 151 and 49 against England.
Those 200 runs took the Indian captain to 934 ranking points, to Smith’s 929, seeing him top the list for the first time.
But Kohli’s 23 and 17 in the second Test at Lord’s dropped him to 919 points, lifting Smith back up.
Smith won’t play another Test until March next year, at the earliest, and in that time the Australians will play two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE, four against India in Australia, and another two against Sri Lanka Down Under.
For each one of those eight Tests, Smith will lose only one per cent of his ranking points, so he’ll still be right up there by the time he again wears the baggy green.
One status he can never lose is his place in Test history as second only to Sir Donald Bradman.
Just 31 Test batsmen have reached the career milestone high of 900 ranking points, with Smith’s highest, 947, bettered only by The Don’s record 961.
That’s a magnificent achievement for a kid who started his Test career as a leg-spinning prospect who batted nine on debut.
Australians have eight among the list’s top 31, with England and the West Indies providing seven each, South Africa five, India two, with Sri Lanka and Pakistan sharing one each.
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Staggeringly, seven of the 13 Test batsmen who scored 10,000-plus runs have never cracked the 900 ranking points barrier:
Sachin Tendulkar – 898 points
Steve Waugh – 895
Rahul Dravid – 892
Mahela Jayawardene – 883
Younis Khan – 880
Allan Border – 877
Alastair Cook – 874
And today’s top ten with their current points:
1. Steve Smith – 929
2. Virat Kohli – 919
3. Joe Root – 851
4. Kane Williamson – 847
5. David Warner – 820
6. Cheteshwar Punjara – 759
7. Dimuth Karunaratne – 754
8. Dinesh Chandimal – 733
9. Jonny Bairstow – 729
10. Dean Elgar – 724