Cape Town - Kane Williamson has become the second New Zealand batsman after Glenn Turner to top the ICC player rankings for Test batsmen after producing a man-of-the-match performance in the Hamilton Test against Sri Lanka, which helped the home side win the match by five wickets and the series 2-0.
Williamson scored 108 not out, his 13th century in 46 Tests, as New Zealand achieved the 189-run target with five wickets to spare. Williamson, who also played in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in 2008, earned 11 points for his efforts, which was enough to put him ahead of England’s Joe Root and AB de Villiers of South Africa in the No 1 batting spot.
Root has dropped down to No 2, with De Villiers down to No 3.
Turner was at the top for 425 days between 1973 and 1975, but this was before the ICC rankings were officially launched in 1987. The other highest-ranked New Zealand batsmen have been Martin Crowe (third), John F Reid (third), John R Reid (fourth), Bert Sutcliffe (fourth), Mark Richardson (sixth) and John Wright (seventh).
In terms of points, the all-time leading New Zealand batsman is Williamson, who achieved 893 points last month. He is followed by Ross Taylor (871 in 2013), Turner (845 in 1974) and Geoff Howarth (804 in 1981). The foursome are the only New Zealand batsmen to reach the 800-point mark in Test cricket.
With the ball, Richard Hadlee was the No 1-ranked bowler for 1 824 days between 1984 and 1990, while Jack Cowie topped the bowling chart for 266 days in 1947.
Root and De Villiers, along with Australia’s fourth-ranked Steven Smith and fifth-ranked David Warner, will go into the Boxing Day Tests aiming to finish the year as the No 1-ranked Test batsman. Root and De Villiers trail Williamson by three and eight points, respectively, while Smith is 15 points and Warner 26 points behind the New Zealander.
It has been an outstanding year for Williamson. He started the year in 13th position, but after scoring 1 172 runs in 16 innings and eight Tests with five centuries and four half-centuries, he has stormed to the top of the tree.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s middle-order batsman Milinda Siriwardana has broken into the top 50 for the first time in his career after vaulting 18 places. He is now in 48th position after scoring 62 and 26 in the Hamilton Test.
In the ICC player rankings for Test bowlers, New Zealand’s Tim Southee has returned to the top 10 after rising two places to 10th. Southee, who won the Player of the 2008 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup award, returned figures of three for 63 and four for 26.
Southee’s team-mate, Doug Bracewell, has moved up four places to 36th after match figures of four for 112, while Sri Lanka’s Dushmantha Chameera has achieved a career-best ranking of 50th. Chameera recorded figures of five for 47 and four for 68, for which he has been rewarded with a jump of 39 places.
The bowling table is still headed by South Africa’s Dale Steyn. He leads India’s Ravichandran Ashwin by just four points, which means the fast bowler will have to perform strongly in the Boxing Day Test against England to retain the top spot.
Meanwhile, sixth-ranked New Zealand have earned four points for their 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka and have, thus, joined England on 99 points on the ICC Test Championship table. However, New Zealand are ranked below England when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal points.
Seventh-ranked Sri Lanka, in contrast, have conceded four points and have slipped to 89 points, 13 points ahead of eighth-ranked West Indies.
The ICC Test Championship table will now be updated at the end of the Australia-West Indies series, while the player rankings will be updated at the conclusion of the Boxing Day Tests.
December 26-30 - 2nd Test, Australia v West Indies, Melbourne
December 26-30 - 1st Test, South Africa v England, Durban
ICC Test Team Championship (as on December 21, after the end of New Zealand-Sri Lanka Test series)
1. South Africa 114 points
2. India 110
3. Australia 109
4. Pakistan 106
5. England 99
6 New Zealand 99
7 Sri Lanka 89
8 West Indies 76
9 Bangladesh 47
10 Zimbabwe 5