De Villiers, Clarke top-ranked Test batsmen

Category : News

South Africa’s AB de Villiers has reached the number-one batting position for the first time in his career where he is joined by Australia captain Michael Clarke in the ICC Test rankings released Friday.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar is at 12th position in the batsmen’s standings while Zaheer Khan is the highest-ranked Indian bowler at 12th.

De Villiers’ move to the top of the batting chart is due to a combination of his own good performances in the Hamilton and Wellington Tests, as well as Kumar Sangakkara’s disappointing show with the bat against England at Galle.

De Villiers scored 83 in South Africa’s nine wickets victory over New Zealand in the Hamilton Test and then followed up with 38 and 68 in the drawn Wellington Test. These performances have helped him earn 35 ratings points which have given him a career-best rating of 821 and a lift of two places.

Sangakkara, who had entered the Galle Test as the number-one ranked Test batsman, scored nought and 14 in Sri Lanka’s 75 runs victory over England. This meant the former Sri Lanka captain has dropped from 850 ratings points to 813 ratings point which cost him three places in the table.

Jacques Kallis, de Villiers’ team-mate, has also slipped one position to third after managing just six runs in his only innings in Hamilton and then missing the Wellington Test.

So the fall of Kallis and Sangakkara has helped Michael Clarke regain the number-one position -a week before he leads his side in the three-Test series against the West Indies. It is the second time Clarke has headed the batting table after he first topped the batting list in August 2009 after he scored 93 against England in Australia’s victory by an innings and 80 runs in the Leeds Test.

In the bowlers’ rankings, South Africa’s Vernon Philander has continued to climb up the chart. The fast bowler had figures of four for 70 and six for 44 in Hamilton and six for 81 and none for 29 in Wellington.

Philander has gained 148 ratings points which has not only given him a career-best rating of 764 but also led to a jump of 11 places which puts him in a career-best fifth position.

He is the third South Africa bowler inside the top 10 with Dale Steyn firmly holding the number-one position and Morne Morkel in 10th spot after slipping one place.

Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath is the other bowler to earn a career-best rating and ranking. The left-arm spinner took six for 74 and six for 97 for which he earned 92 ratings points which has put him on 752 ratings points and a seventh position in the bowling charts after a rise of six places.

Meanwhile, England find themselves in a must-win situation in the Colombo Test if they have to retain their number-one position in the ICC Test Championship table. England’s victory will keep them ahead of South Africa by a fraction of a point but a failure to win the Test will make South Africa as the new number-one side.

If England lose the series 2-0, they will drop from 118 ratings points to 113 ratings points – three points behind South Africa – while a 1-0 defeat will mean they will slip to 114 ratings points.

Australia will also be eyeing to gain, at least, one place on the Test Championship table when they take on the West Indies in the three-Test series starting in Bridgetown April 7.

While a series win will put it ahead of India in third position, a 3-0 series win will put Australia on equal points with England on 113 ratings points (if England lose 2-0 to Sri Lanka). And when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point, then Australia will be placed above England in second position as they will have a rating of 113.10 against England’s rating of 113.045.

Source: Mid-Day – March 30, 2012

De Villiers eyes world top spot

Category : News

While he is pleased with their second-place finish in the ODI Championship, Proteas captain AB de Villiers says they are still gunning for the top spot in the world rankings.

“It’s a great honour to lead a squad of extremely talented cricketers and finishing as number two on the ODI Championship is a great achievement, although it means that we still have a lot of work to do,” De Villiers said on Sunday.

“Our main aim as a unit is to be the number one team in the world.

“That is the goal that we have set for ourselves.

“It will be a challenge to get to the top but it is also a process which begins by being consistent and winning every series that we take part in.”

The Proteas would end the ODI Championship race in second place on the April 1 cut-off date, Cricket South Africa confirmed, with the team pocketing $75 000 for their efforts.

Australia would win the championship fo the third successive year, by finishing top of the rankings, while India were set to end in third place.

South Africa, who last won the ODI rankings title in 2009, were victorious in seven of their 11 one-day matches since April 2011.

They went down 2-1 in a home series against Australia, but picked up series wins over Sri Lanka (3-2 at home) and New Zealand (3-0 away).

The Proteas face England, New Zealand and Pakistan over the next 12-month period, followed by the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy in England.

They are also set to finish second, behind England, in the Test Championship table.

Source: Mail & Guardian – March 18, 2012

ESPNcricinfo Weekly: de Villiers relishing winning start

Category : Multimedia

de Villiers’ brand of captaincy “taking off”

Category : News

AB de Villiers, the South Africa limited-overs captain, has said the team has started to respond to his style of captaincy, as was evident from South Africa’s 3-0 trouncing of New Zealand in the one-day series. de Villiers took over the ODI captaincy from Graeme Smith, who is still the Test captain, after the 2011 World Cup, and has led the side to six victories in eight games.

“I like to think that I have my own style of captaincy that’s a bit different to Biff’s [Smith’s],” de Villiers said after South Africa won the third ODI, in Auckland. “I still believe he is an unbelievable captain, but hopefully my style is taking off a bit and the team is getting used to how I do things.”

de Villiers also said he believed the ODI team was as good as the Test side despite being less experienced. “I wouldn’t say our best format is Tests. Our limited-overs side is less experienced but it’s got good energy and is improving quickly. The Test side is a settled side with street-smart cricketers. Both sides are strong in different areas but both try to play a similar brand and quality of cricket.”

South Africa now play three Tests against New Zealand, with the first starting on March 7, and de Villiers said that Smith and Jacques Kallis, who both missed the third ODI due to niggles, would be ready for the Tests. Kallis pulled out on the morning of the third ODI, forcing South Africa to make three changes to their XI and open the batting with fast bowler Wayne Parnell; but de Villiers joked that Kallis was just getting on in years and would recover for the Tests.

“It was a little all over this place this morning when Jacquesy pulled out,” de Villiers said. “He had a very stiff back and could hardly move. So we were caught offside a bit. But the younger guys – like Marchant and Wayne Parnell, who hasn’t played a lot on this tour – came in and performed impressively.

“Jacques should be fine for the Test. He’s just getting a bit older. The mattress he slept on probably wasn’t to his liking and gave him a stiff back. I, like Jacques, suffer from back spasms, so I know that the mattress can play a big role. Sometimes I can hardly get up.

“Jacques has always had a bit of an issue with his back. He bowled a lot in the first two games, probably more than I had originally planned, so it’s not such a bad thing to rest him and keep him fresh for the Tests.”

Smith suffered a blow on the arm before the first ODI and though he played in that game, he sat out the next two. de Villiers said it was just a precautionary move to leave him out. “Graeme will be ready for the Tests, I’m 100% sure of that. His arm is still sore. We waited till this morning and it wasn’t feeling so good, so we decided that him being captain for the Tests, and with this series already won, he would be better off resting for the Tests.”

New Zealand’s batsmen have been troubled by the bounce some of South Africa’s tall bowlers have got. The 6’5” Morne Morkel took a five-wicket haul in the second ODI, and his replacement for the third game, the 6’3” Marchant de Lange, bagged four wickets on ODI debut. de Villiers said there was no specific plan to bounce out New Zealand’s batsmen.

“I don’t think we are really focussed on using bounce as a weapon. Some of our bowlers are naturally tall, like Marchant and Morne, so they do get a bit of extra bounce. I personally have trouble facing our bowlers in the nets sometimes, so it’s a natural skill they have. We will just be focussed on the basics and hitting the right areas with good pace. We’ve got variety in our bowling attack so I’m sure the wickets will come.”

Source: ESPN CricInfo – March 3, 2012