As per the latest ICC rankings, Australia have climbed to number one in the Test rankings. It is a great achievement for Australia, and a culmination of some wonderful cricket after a few years of struggle following the loss of some of their star players. In fact, the last time Australia were ranked number one in the world was half a decade back in 2009, before they lost the same after going down to England in the away Ashes. So, the climb back to the top will be extremely satisfying for the Aussies.
Even as Australia would be overjoyed with having reclaimed the numero uno spot, the ranking doesn’t actually make them the best team in the world. Remember, even though they beat England comprehensively at home in the Ashes and even went on to defeat then number one South Africa, they actually had a terrible 2013. Australia went down to India 4-0 at the start of the year, and towards the end were lacklustre against England as well in the Ashes, in which they were defeated 3-0. It only needed a couple of good series’ for them to get back the number one ranking.
While officially Australia have become the number one side in the world, deep inside they would know that they would have to prove themselves worthy of the ranking. To be seen as a genuine number one, which they were under Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s leadership, they will need to win in the sub-continent, especially India, just like other teams must in Australia and South Africa, if they have to be rated as the best. Australia have been thrashed miserably every time they have visited India since 2008. The task wouldn’t be very easy for Australia considering their resources.
Even since Australia last relinquished the number one ranking in 2009, the spot has been changing hands frequently. One of the key reasons for the same is the fact that no side has showed the kind of invincibility that Australia displayed during their elongated run at the top. India held the top spot for a little over a year, but their climb to the peak was achieved on the basis of some stupendous performances at home. As soon as they stepped out of familiar territory, their weaknesses were exposed. Infamous by now, they lost the number one ranking after going 0-4 down to England.
England’s famous whitewash of India meant that they were the new kings of Test cricket. However, even their rein did not last long. England headed to UAE to take on Pakistan as the top-ranked Test side in the world. Their batting was completely exposed by Saeed Ajmal and co. One series away from home, and their number one ranking looked hollow. Next, South Africa took over from England, and were competent against most sides. However, in the clash between the two best sides in the world, officially, they came second best, and had to forego the hard-earned number one Test ranking.
--By A Cricket Analyst