Australia dethrone South Africa to become top-ranked Test team

"We've worked exceptionally hard to get here, we have to work even harder to stay here"

“We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get here, we have to work even harder to stay here”

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Australia have dethroned South Africa to become the top-ranked Test team for the first time in almost five years.

Australia have been on a roll in Test cricket since they whitewashed England 5-0 in the recent Ashes series and they followed that up by beating South Africa 2-1 in a highly intense series.

Australia, who are also the top-ranked ODI side, have not been able to top the Test team rankings since August 2009.

“The last two years have been extremely positive in some ways and there’s been a number of tough times, and for a team that makes days like these even more special,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said. “As captain of this team over the last couple of years and what we’ve been through, I don’t think I’ve had a more satisfying day or feeling in my career.

“It’s so satisfying because of where we’ve come from. The fact two years ago we were ranked No. 5 in the world, as captain of the team I remember, it’s still in the front of my mind what was written and said about us once we came back from India, we were named the worst Australian team to ever tour India and as captain that’s the last thing you want to hear, that breaks your heart. To enjoy today and see the other side in a pretty quick turnaround from No. 5 in the world, I’m extremely proud of that.”

Clarke lauded his team for their outstanding efforts over the last couple of months and hopes things only get better in the future.

“The players deserve a lot of credit,” he said. “Our senior players have stood up and led the way over the past couple of years to turn things around. I’ve had a lot of help from [support] staff.

“I think Darren Lehmann coming in in the last eight months has played a big part as well, his support has been fantastic. The power of within has been outstanding, to deal with what we went through in India and the Ashes and turn that around is a great feeling. And I think the public that watch us play see how close a group we are inside the camp.

“We’ve worked exceptionally hard to get here, we have to work even harder to stay here. The great teams have done that, the Australian team I walked into stayed at No. 1 for a long period of time and that was a sign of greatness. South Africa deserve a lot of credit for how long they’ve been No. 1 in the world, and we look up to teams like that so hopefully we can do exactly the same, find a way to perform at home and away from home as well.”

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland added: “Everyone involved with the Australian team – players, coaches and support staff – should be incredibly proud of this achievement. There has been a huge amount of hard work and effort on and off the field to get to this point and it’s something that those involved with the side should take time to savour.

“Australian cricket’s team performance programme led by Pat Howard deserves considerable credit for this outcome. High praise needs to go to Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann for their excellent leadership.”

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