SYDNEY: Australia run-machine Marnus Labuschagne has displaced England captain Joe Root to claim the world’s number one Test batter spot following a run of big scores in the ongoing Ashes series at home, the International Cricket Council said yesterday.
South Africa-born Labuschagne scored his sixth Test century and followed it up with a 51 in the second Test in Adelaide to help Australia take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series against their arch-rivals.
Root managed to score a half-century in each of the first two Tests and dropped to second in the list of Test batters.
Having narrowly lost out to New Zealand for a spot in this year’s inaugural World Test Championship final, Labuschagne said Australia’s eyes are not trained on just winning the Ashes.
“Regardless of if we win the next one, our goal is to win every single Test match this summer,” he told reporters. “For us, that is what the Test championship has brought in.
“Not just about winning this series, you’re playing for something bigger than that as well.”
Labuschagne’s first four Tests for Australia came when the side were without banned duo of David Warner and Steve Smith.
After making his debut three years back against Pakistan, Labuschagne lost his place in the side and only returned as a concussion substitute for Smith in the 2019 Ashes series in England.
The 27-year-old, who started the ongoing series ranked fourth, scored 74 in the hosts’ opening win in Brisbane and his average of 62.14 is second only to Don Bradman’s legendary mark of 99.94 among those who have batted in 20 innings or more.
Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and India’s new white-ball captain Rohit Sharma complete the top five.
Labuschagne entered the Ashes series ranked fourth behind Root, Smith and New Zealand skipper Williamson before moving past Smith and Williamson following the first Test in Brisbane.
In the rankings for Twenty20 international batters, Pakistan captain Babar Azam reclaimed the top spot in the list after just one week of losing it.
Babar is currently tied at the top of the rankings with England’s Dawid Malan.