by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (February 5th 2013)
Simply the Best
There can be no doubt that South is by far the best team in the world. The Proteas dominate the new rankings. They crushed Pakistan by 211 runs. Dale Steyn, deservedly the top-ranked bowler in the world, was not the scariest according to Misbah ul-Haq, but his devastating bowling in the first innings was the best Misbah had ever seen.
Steyn took the Man of the Match award for a superb bowling performance that won the match with an innings each left to play. Pakistan capitulated meekly to Steyn, who took 6 for 8 – a performance that helped AB de Villiers establish himself as not only a wicket-keeper batsman, but the best in the world. De Villiers became the only wicket-keeper batsman to hit a hundred and take ten catches in the same match – actually he took eleven to equal Jack Russell’s record.
Jacques Kallis began this Test Match with 13,048 runs in Test cricket, but that included a Super Test (World XI), so bizarrely when he reached 35 The New Wanderers crowd gave him a rousing round of applause. He had become the first South African to hit 13,000 runs in Test cricket – only Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar have more. With Dravid and Ponting retired and Tendulkar a shadow of the player that made him the greatest batsman of his era, Kallis, still performing at the top level may eventually break both Tendulkar’s runs tally and centuries record too. He heads the list of Test all-rounders currently.
Hashim Amla started the First Test in second place in the World Test rankings, just one point behind Michael Clarke. The Australian skipper had had a phenomenal 2012 – that Amla stayed just a point behind after Clarke’s year is a testament to Amla’s prowess. Amla knew that a decent performance would see him elevated in the rankings and match a feat last achieved by Australia’s all-time great, the recently retired Ponting – of heading both the Test Match and One-Day-International rankings.
Ponting achieved that feat in 2007. Amla’s 37 – a poor shot by his standards in the first innings – and unbeaten 74 in the second innings lifted him eight points clear of Clarke. Amla is just 5 points under 900. It is the first time he has topped the Test Match rankings.
Although Misbah ul-Haq broke into the top ten for the first time in his career, in tenth position on 733 points, with Younis Khan and Azhar Ali occupying 11th and 12th positions, the signs are ominous for the tourists. De Villiers is in 4th position on 844 – his unbeaten 103 helped – and Kallis, who top-scored in the first innings with an even 50, is in 7th. Inspirational captain Graeme Smith who became the first man to reach the mark of a hundred Tests as captain, at the New Wanderers Stadium is currently in 13th position in the rankings just seven points behind Misbah.
The Proteas have two players in the top ten all-rounders category. Kallis tops the list with 410 points and third place Shane Watson’s injury woes meaning that he won’t bowl if selected for Tests, Kallis is secure from any challenge from that player. The second South African on the list Vernon Philander is in 8th place on 236 points. Kallis has more than double the points of 10th placed Mitchell Johnson.
And they are no slouches with the ball either. Steyn continues to head the rankings have topped 900 points. Ominously for the Pakistani batsmen Philander is in second place with 857 and Morne Morkel is in 9th spot. Only Saeed Ajmal cracked the top ten for Pakistan. He is in 5th place with compatriot Abdur Rehman – he didn’t play in the First Test – in 12th and Umar Gul in 19th. Despite topping the all-rounder rankings Kallis does not feature in the top 20.
The current rankings merely confirm the glaringly obvious – South Africa is the best team in the world in every facet of Test cricket.