Australia have returned to the No.1 Test ranking for the first time in nearly five years, after the ICC's annual rankings update. Despite not having played a Test since their series win over South Africa in the first week of March, the Australians have edged ahead of South Africa because the rolling nature of the rankings system means results from 2010-11 have now been dropped.
Michael Clarke's men also hold the top position in the one-day rankings, meaning it is the first time since December 2008 that Australia have been No.1 in both the Test and ODI formats. It is the first time since August 2009 that they have sat at the top of the Test rankings, having originally been displaced following their unsuccessful Ashes tour of England that year.
The annual update means results from 2012-13 are reduced to a 50% weighting, so Australia's home Ashes fiasco in 2010-11 and their six Test losses across two tours of India have now either disappeared entirely from the rankings or been devalued. Their home Ashes clean-sweep over the past summer and their 2-1 win in South Africa allowed them to move ahead of South Africa, who had been No.1 since August 2012, by a fraction of a point.
India have suffered a significant fall, slipping from third down to fifth, while England and Pakistan have each gained a place, up to third and fourth respectively. New Zealand and Sri Lanka switched places, with New Zealand now ranked sixth in Tests and Sri Lanka down to seventh, while West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh remain unchanged at the bottom of the table.
However, Australia's immediate reign at No.1 could be short-lived, with South Africa facing two Tests in Sri Lanka and one in Zimbabwe before Australia's next Test series, which is against Pakistan in the UAE in October. Still, the return to the top is a significant achievement after Australia slipped as low as fifth on the Test rankings in 2010 and 2011, and then went nine consecutive Tests without a win during 2013.
"We are incredibly proud to be the number-one ranked team in the world in both Test and ODI cricket, which are two of the team's most important goals," Clarke said. "There has been an enormous amount of hard work and effort on and off the field that has led to this result.
"However, the true test of a great side is sustained success and now our goal is to maintain these rankings and continue to play great cricket as we lead into challenging Test series against Pakistan and India, and the ICC Cricket World Cup at home.
Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann have often said that Australia's goal was to achieve the No.1 ranking in all three formats and while there is a significant way to go in T20, where they currently sit sixth, sitting on top in Test and ODIs is a considerable accomplishment. James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said Clarke and Lehmann deserved plenty of credit for the results.
In the ODI rankings, the only change to result from the annual update was that England and South Africa switched positions, with England up from fifth to fourth and South Africa down from fourth to fifth. Australia, India and Sri Lanka still occupy the top three spots in the one-day list.(ESPN)