Joe Root eyes top spot after rise in batting rankings

July 27, 2016

Joe Root is closing in on a return to the top spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) batting rankings, following his stunning performance at Old Trafford in the second Test against Pakistan.

The Yorkshireman marked his move up to number three in the order by hitting 254 in the first innings, a knock described as the "perfect" Test match innings by former England skipper Michael Vaughan. He followed this with a brilliant 71 not out from just 48 balls in the second innings as the home side piled up the runs ahead of the declaration.

His feats have led to him reaching second place in the rankings on 901 points, rising two places from fourth. Australian Steve Smith, who is currently playing in a low-scoring Test in Sri Lanka, remains on top with 925 points, while Alastair Cook has returned to the top ten, climbing to ninth after scoring 105 and 76 not out.  

In the bowling rankings, James Anderson is now up to second and Stuart Broad third as England's bowlers impressed. Chris Woakes is up ten places to 23rd as his rise up the list continues. By contrast, Pakistan's bowlers suffered, none more so than Yasir Shah. Having risen to the top of the rankings with his match-winning performance at Lord's, he has dropped to fifth after taking one wicket for 266 runs in Manchester.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the final Test at the Kia Oval may be particularly keen to see if Root and Anderson can continue their rich vein of form and regain top spot, particularly if Smith cannot maintain his recent hot streak in Sri Lanka.

England could yet reach the top spot in the team rankings, although the situation is not in their own hands. A series win would elevate them from fourth above Pakistan, who are presently in third place. However, a 2-1 win would only take them to 110 points, whereas a 3-1 victory would elevate that to 112. Australia are currently on 114 and would stay top unless they lose the three-match series in Sri Lanka. India could also go top if they win the four-match series in the West Indies by three or more Tests, a prospect they will fancy after winning the first match of the series by an innings at North Sound.

Were Australia to lose 2-0 and India win 2-0, a 2-1 series victory would put England top, with three sides all on 110 points but England a few decimal points ahead. All that means there is a close race for number one, with the added excitement of an England tour to India this winter.

Firstly, however, England must push on to beat Pakistan, who will consider changing their batting line-up. Most vulnerable is opener Shan Masood, who has now been dismissed by James Anderson on all six occasions they have faced each other.

England will also have decisions to make about the form of James Vince and Alex Hales, while Ben Stokes may be a doubt for the Edgbaston Test after pulling up with a calf strain.

By Sam Coates

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