Dubai: Ravichandran Ashwin and Australia captain Steve Smith have finished 2015 as the number-one ranked batsman and bowler respectively in the ICC Test Player Rankings, which were released today following the conclusion of the Boxing Day Tests in Durban and Melbourne.
Ashwin has achieved the number-one spot for first time in his career after injury prevented Dale Steyn from bowling more than 3.5 overs in England’s second innings. Even though the fast bowler bagged four wickets in the first innings, these were not enough for him to end the year as the number-one ranked bowler for the sixth time since 2009.
Ashwin, for the second time in three years, has finished as the number-one ranked Test all-rounder. Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan had started 2015 as the top all-rounder. Steyn had started the Durban Test leading Ashwin by four points and now trails the India off-spinner by the same margin.
In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, Ashwin has become the first India bowler since Bishen Bedi in 1973 to achieve the milestone of finishing the year in number-one Test position. In fact, Bedi, an ICC Hall of Famer, is the only India bowler to ever top the Test bowling table, while Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble peaked at number-two during their careers.
Ashwin has finished 2015 as the most successful bowler with 62 wickets in nine Tests, and this is reflected in his ranking after he started the year in 15th position and slowly but surely moved to the top of the chart.
In the past decade, Shane Warne has finished in the top position in 2005 and Muttiah Muralitharan completed a hat-trick from 2006 to 2008, before Steyn got his grip on the top spot which was only broken in 2013 when his team-mate Vernon Philander topped the table.
Reacting to the news, Ashwin said: “Finishing the year as the number-one ranked Test bowler is like an icing on the cake that I have managed to build over the past last 12 months. I always wanted to get there one day. “There can’t be a better way to finish the 2015.
“Replicating what Mr. Bedi did is something I am very proud of. The former India captain was a master at his craft and I am very humbled to follow in his footsteps. “I would like to thank my Test captain Virat Kohli, who has been a big influence, and, of course, the team management, my team-mates and the BCCI for their continued support.”