Australia tumble out of top three for first time; SA reach summit

Australia tumble out of top three for first time; SA reach summit

After their 197-run defeat at the Oval in the fifth Test, which meant they lost the series 2-1, Australia dropped to fourth place in the standings released by the International Cricket Council.

Australia had topped the standings since the current Test ranking system was introduced in 2003. Sri Lanka are second, with India third, while England are just behind Australia in fifth.

South Africa are also the top-ranked team in the one-day game.

"This is a fitting tribute to (captain) Graeme Smith and the Proteas, whose triumphs around the cricketing world have made all South Africans very proud indeed," Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said in a statement.

CA backs Ponting

Calls for Ricky Ponting to relinquish his captaincy in the wake of Australia's loss are ‘completely unfair’, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said on Monday.

Ponting became only the second captain to lose twice in England since Billy Murdoch in the 19th century.

Ponting, who averaged 48 with the bat for the series, told reporters in England on Sunday he expected to come under scrutiny on his return home.

"I think that's completely unfair," Sutherland told reporters in Melbourne, when asked about the calls in Australia for Ponting to lose the captaincy.

"Of course, we like to win and we'd prefer to win but we want to be proud of players who we know have given their all and I thought that Ricky held himself very well in the difficult situation of losing the Ashes," he added.

Ponting has led a side that is rebuilding since the retirements of bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne and wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist in the past two years, resulting in three series defeats in its past five Test series.

Sutherland, however, said the organisation was well aware the team was rebuilding.
"I don't think Cricket Australia is under any illusions as to where this team is at," Sutherland said.