Australian captain Steve Smith and Indian off-spinner Ravi Ashwin have topped the ICC batsman and bowling rankings for 2015.
Smith has had what can only be described as a meteoric rise in the last 18 months. Originally picked for his country as a bowler who was a handy lower-order batsman, he debuted in the 2010 series against Pakistan at number nine. He steadily worked his way up into the top six for the home Ashes series of that year.
After that series, which they lost three-one, he was not picked for over two years, but after working extremely hard to fix his flaws returned for the away series' in India and England in 2013.
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It was in that Ashes series where he scored his debut century. Since then he has not looked back, scoring over 1000 test runs in 2014 and having an even better year in 2015, scoring 1474 runs in 24 innings at an average of 73.70.
Smith also claimed the Sir Garfield Sobers award for being the ICC Cricketer of the year as well as Test Cricketer of the year. Smith had to beat an elite field to claim the number one ranking, which included New Zealand's Kane Williamson(2nd), England's Joe Root (3rd) and South African AB De Villiers(4th). He becomes the third Australian after Ricky Ponting (2005 & 06) and Michael Clarke (2012) to top the rankings.
For Ashwin, it was also a standout year where he claimed the most wickets of any international test bowler with 62 in nine matches.
Even more impressively, exactly half of his wickets came in the four-match series against the number one ranked South African team.
The off-spinner also chipped in with the bat, scoring 248 runs in 14 innings, which also makes him the leading all-rounder in test cricket for the past calendar year.
Ashwin becomes the first Indian bowler in 42 years (Bishan Bedi) to top the bowling rankings and he beat South Africa's Dale Steyn and England's Stuart Broad to the award.
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