The three-Test series between South Africa and West Indies starts at Centurion on Wednesday with the host looking to further consolidate its position at the top of the Reliance ICC Test Team Rankings Table. Ahead of the series, Hashim Amla’s men know that irrespective of how the Australia-India series pans out, if they beat the West Indies by 1-0 or better, then they will be guaranteed top Test spot at the annual cut-off date. However, if the Proteas-Windies series ends in a draw and the Australians win all four Tests against the Indians, then the Aussies will claim the top spot by 0.2 ratings points, with the current leaders falling to second.
Meanwhile, AB De Villiers will go into the series as the highest-ranked batsman from either side, in second place, on the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen and the 30-year-old holds a slender one-point advantage over West Indian left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is on 887 ratings points. In all there are three Proteas batsmen in the top 20 with De Villiers joined by sixth-placed Amla, who is currently 10 ratings points adrift of Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews in the rankings table, and Faf Du Plessis, who lies in a career-high 15thplace on 707 points. Other batsmen to feature inside the top 50 and likely to appear during the series are Marlon Samuels (44th) and Alviro Petersen (46th).
In the ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, Dale Steyn enters the series as the number-one ranked bowler, and he is one point shy of his highest career ranking of 908 points, which he achieved in the Test victory over Pakistan in Johannesburg in February 2013. Vernon Philander (sixth) is 21 points behind England’s James Anderson, while paceman Morne Morkel, in 12thposition, is the third Proteas bowler in the top 20. Eighth-ranked Kemar Roach is the highest-ranked Caribbean bowler on 768 ratings points and he will be aiming to reduce the six-point deficit on England’s Stuart Broad.
Sulieman Benn (20th), Jerome Taylor (45th), Kyle Abbott (51st) and Shannon Gabriel (68th) are some of the other bowlers who may feature in the series. In the ICC Player Rankings for Test All-rounders, Philander is ranked in third place on 348 points and is just two points shy of India’s Ravichandran Ashwin.