Babar Azam moves down in ICC Test batters rankings

Smith scored his 32nd Test century in a Player of the Match performance in the second Ashes Test at Lord's

Babar Azam moves down in ICC Test batters rankings PHOTO: AFP

Australia veteran Steve Smith is on the verge of regaining his place as the best Test batters in the world following a major shake-up on the latest  ICC Men's Test Batters Rankings.

Smith scored his 32nd Test century in a Player of the Match performance in the second Ashes Test at Lord's and it helped push the classy right-hander within one rating point of the top ranking in second place on the updated batters rankings.

Smith was previously ranked sixth in the list. Consequently, Babar Azam, who held the fifth position with 862 rating points, has now dropped to sixth place.

England star Joe Root relinquishes the premier position following scores of 10 and 18 against Australia, with injured New Zealand veteran Kane Williamson sliding up one place to claim the top ranking just one rating point ahead of Smith.

It is the first time Williamson has held the No.1 ranking since August 2021, with the Kiwi having first risen to the top back in November 2015.

Australia batters now occupy four of the top seven places on the Test batter rankings, with Marnus Labuschagne (third), Travis Head (fourth) and Usman Khawaja (seventh) all within striking distance of the No.1 spot ahead of the eagerly awaited third Ashes Test against England this week at Headingley.

Just 17 rating points separate the top five batters on the updated rankings list, meaning there could be more change ahead should players perform well in Leeds.

England duo Ben Duckett (up 24 places to 18th) and Ben Stokes (up nine spots to 23rd) also made some ground on the latest Test rankings for batters following their strong efforts at Lord's, while a host of quicks also progressed well on the updated list for bowlers.

Australia skipper Pat Cummins closes in on India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin by jumping two places to second overall on the latest Test rankings for bowlers, while teammate Mitchell Starc also gains two spots to rise to 14th.

Cummins' rise is offset by a two-place loss for veteran seamer James Anderson from second to fourth, while England newbie Josh Tongue improves a mammoth 27 spots to 59th after his impressive effort in London.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi has moved up to sixth position in the ICC Test bowlers rankings with 787 rating points.

Stokes (up one place to fourth) and Root (up one spot to seventh) make some ground on the list for Test all-rounders, with India duo Ravindra Jadeja (first) and Ashwin (second) maintaining the premier positions in that category.

There was also some movement on the latest ODI rankings, with the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe already producing a host of highlights with both bat and ball.

Ireland young gun Harry Tector has been among the runs and he rises one place to equal sixth on the updated rankings for ODI batters, while Netherlands captain Scott Edwards (up five places to 35 and consistent Sri Lanka star Pathum Nissanka (up eight spots to equal 38th) also make ground.

It's status quo inside the top 10 on the ODI bowler rankings as Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood leads the way, with Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana (up 21 places to 32nd) and impressive Scotland quick Chris Sole (up 23 spots to 39th) on the back of some good showings at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.