The Australian Test side have witnessed a huge turnaround in performances and
fortunes in the last year as they top the World Test rankings for the first since 2009. They are already regarded as the best one-day outfit and now hold both number one spots for the first time since 2008.
Less than twelve months ago Australian Cricket was in turmoil. The Aussies were soundly beaten by India and then sacked coach Micky Arthur just as the Test side were about to face England in the Ashes series. There were also rumours of problems between players within the camp and clear disciplinary issues taking place.
New coach Darren Lehmann could do very little to prevent a 3-0 series defeat to the English but there were signs of improvements from the Australians both on and off the field. Indeed many onlookers felt that a 3-0 defeat was harsh on Australia who competed against England in each Test.
After the series in England Australia were able to spend time away from the limelight to make plans for how they wanted to move forward as a team unit and develop their plans for the visiting English.
Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke were rewarded for this hard work as Australia dominated the return series by thumping England 5-0 and ending a number of International careers.
They then faced the ultimate challenge as they headed to South Africa to face the then World number one Test nation. Although Australia had annihilated England the South Africans were seen as a different proposition in their own backyard. However, in the three match series Australia emerged triumphant with an impressive 2-1 series victory.
Under the guidance of Lehmann and Clarke Australia had produced some very tough, almost brutal cricket in both Test series victories which has guided them to the top of the Test rankings. With the results that this brand of cricket has produced it is unlikely that the Aussies will change in the immediate future as they try and consolidate their position.
Both South Africa and Australia are only divided by fractions at the top of the latest Test rankings but at present they are a long way ahead of England who are in a distant third place.
England have their own, well-advertised problems and will hope they can cement their place in third this summer with a Test series victory against both Sri Lanka and India but will have an eye on those above them who they will hope to challenge more forcibly in future matches, not least in the 2015 Ashes series.
Meanwhile, Australia must now hope that their performances can continue as they bid to
have an extended stay at the top of the World and one-day rankings.
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