Power Ranking the Test Cricket Nations: August 2014

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2014

Power Ranking the Test Cricket Nations: August 2014

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    Welcome to our power rankings for the nations of Test cricket for the month of August, where we rank all 10 sides based upon a combination of their ICC Test ranking and recent form. 

    Among the latest contests affecting the rankings are England's thumping victory over India on home soil and Sri Lanka's comfortable triumph over Pakistan in Mahela Jayawardene's final Test series.

    For others, however, Test cricket has taken a back seat, meaning sides like Australia and Bangladesh sit relatively closely to where they would have at the conclusion of their most recent outings. 

    As usual, join in the discussion below as you browse our power rankings across the following slides. 

10. Bangladesh

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    Current ICC Ranking: 10th (21)

    Last Series Played: Lost 1-0 in a two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka in January and February. 

    Next Assignment(s): Bangladesh head to the Caribbean to face the West Indies in a two-Test series before hosting Zimbabwe in a three-Test encounter. 

    Disciplinary issues and dire form in all formats have marred Bangladesh's 2014, with Shakib Al Hasan still unavailable for selection until September 15 despite recently having his suspension reduced, per Mohammad Isam of ESPN Cricinfo.  

    Having not played in the five-day arena since February, Mushfiqur Rahim's men find themselves at the bottom of the pile in Test cricket as they prepare to face the West Indies and Zimbabwe in the coming months. 

9. Zimbabwe

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    Current ICC Ranking: 9th (39)

    Last Series Played: Lost 1-0 at home to South Africa in the only Test of the series. 

    Next Assignment(s): Zimbabwe travel to Bangladesh to embark on a three-Test series in October and November. 

    The recent clash with South Africa was Zimbabwe's first Test appearance since a victory over Pakistan in Harare last October.

    Comfortably swept aside by Hashim Amla's team, Brendan Taylor and his men will head to Bangladesh in two months' time looking to improve upon a mixed record against the infants of the five-day format. 

    Taylor, of course, continues to be his team's outstanding player, but the alarming lack of quality elsewhere in the Zimbabwean side inspires little confidence. 

8. West Indies

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    Current ICC Ranking: 8th (74)

    Last Series Played: Lost 2-1 at home to New Zealand in June across a three-match series.

    Next Assignment(s): The West Indies will host Bangladesh for a two-Test series in September before visiting India in November for a three-Test encounter. 

    There's still a feeling that Test cricket is something of an inconvenience for the West Indies, given their unrivalled enthusiasm for the short formats, particularly that of the Twenty20 arena. 

    In their recent clash with New Zealand, the Caribbean outfit continued to show glimpses of promise but all too often were responsible for their own undoing. 

    With the ball, Kemar Roach and Sulieman Benn impressed against the Kiwis, while Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo were both among the runs.

    But the West Indies are still quite some way from being a highly competitive Test outfit, leaving them above only the minnows in these rankings. 

7. Pakistan

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    Current ICC Ranking: 6th (96)

    Last Series Played: Lost 2-0 away to Sri Lanka in a two-Test series.

    Next Assignment(s): Pakistan meet Australia first and then New Zealand in the UAE for five Tests in total between October and December. 

    The same old problem continues to plague Pakistan, with the team continually going from one extreme to the other with the bat—often all inside the space of a session. 

    In the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, Misbah-ul-Haq's men posted 451 in the first innings before collapsing to 180 in the second, while a similar theme handed the hosts a comfortable 105-run win in the second Test in Colombo. 

    Like it has for some time, Pakistan's success still hinges on too few, with the captain and Younis Khan the only sources of reliability in the most volatile batting lineup in the game. 

6. New Zealand

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    Current ICC Ranking: 7th (93)

    Last Series Played: Won 2-1 in the Caribbean against the West Indies in a three-Test series.

    Next Assignment(s): New Zealand will travel to the UAE to take on Pakistan in a three-Test encounter in November. 

    New Zealand have now won their last three Test series dating back to their clash with the West Indies at home in December.

    Since that 2-0 triumph, Brendon McCullum's men have defeated India 1-0 and claimed another 2-1 victory over the Caribbean outfit in June.

    Boasting an emerging seam attack in Tim Southee and Trent Boult, while also building a strong middle order built around McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, the Kiwis can only continue to rise in the Test arena in the coming 12 months. 

5. India

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    Current ICC Ranking: 5th (96)

    Last Series Played: Lost 3-1 away to England in a five-Test series. 

    Next Assignment(s): India will host the West Indies in three Tests in November before embarking on a four-Test tour of Australia to conclude the year. 

    It's difficult to imagine a more abject surrender than India's recent collapse against England. 

    Seemingly possessing a decisive advantage after victory in the second Test at Lord's, MS Dhoni's side spectacularly imploded across the final three matches to hand Alastair Cook's men a convincing series triumph. 

    While Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron performed admirably with the ball, the utter disarray of the team's batting lineup needs to be urgently addressed before India don the whites again. 

4. England

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    Current ICC Ranking: 3rd (104)

    Last Series Played: Won 3-1 at home to India in a five-Test series. 

    Next Assignment(s): England don't have a Test series scheduled until a visit of the Caribbean next April. 

    It would easy to place England among the top three of these rankings, but it needs to be remembered that Alastair Cook and the current regime are only three Tests removed from utter despair.

    Following their thrashing at the hands of Australia and subsequent loss to Sri Lanka, England had seemingly hit rock bottom following defeat to India at Lord's. 

    That was all turned around amid the recaptured brilliance of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who destroyed India's lineup and awarded the team's batsmen a sense of freedom that had been missing for almost 12 months.  

3. Sri Lanka

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    Current ICC Ranking: 4th (101)

    Last Series Played: Won 2-0 at home to Pakistan in a two-Test series.

    Next Assignment(s): Sri Lanka will visit New Zealand for a two-Test encounter in late December and early January. 

    Only a recent defeat to South Africa has interrupted Sri Lanka's stunning year in 2014, with Angelo Mathews' men building on a recent 1-0 victory over England to secure a convincing 2-0 win over Pakistan. 

    So far this year, it's all clicked for the Sri Lankans: Mathews has gone to another level as captain, Kumar Sangakkara's excellence has been unrelenting, Rangana Herath continues to thrive in his mid-30s and Mahela Jayawardene has been superb right till the end. 

    That might change with the latter's retirement from the Test arena, but there's a feel-good factor surrounding the tiny island nation right now that's hard to ignore. 

2. Australia

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    Current ICC Ranking: 2nd (123)

    Last Series Played: Won 2-1 away to South Africa in a three-Test series that concluded in March. 

    Next Assignment(s): Australia will head to the UAE in October to take on Pakistan over two Tests. 

    Australia would find themselves at the top of these rankings if it weren't for the fact that Michael Clarke's men have been absent from the Test arena since March.

    After his team's stunning 5-0 annihilation of England, Clarke's surging outfit toppled South Africa in the most heavyweight clash of the year—a series that culminated in a dramatic final session in Cape Town. 

    Australia will now prepare to take on Pakistan but will be forced to do so without Ryan Harris, who has undergone surgery on an injured knee. 

    How Mitchell Johnson and Co. cover the speedster's absence will likely determine their success in the UAE. 

1. South Africa

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    Current ICC Ranking: 1st (124)

    Last Series Played: Won 1-0 away to Sri Lanka in a two-Test series in July. 

    Next Assignment(s): South Africa won't put on the whites again until December, when they host the West Indies for a three-Test series that will conclude in the new year. 

    South Africa reclaimed their No. 1 ranking from Australia in July when Hashim Amla led the Proteas to an impressive 1-0 victory in Sri Lanka. 

    On surfaces, that should have been a deathbed for the speed-heavy South Africans, but Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel performed superbly, adapting their approach to the slower subcontinental conditions.

    Still also possessing a robust middle order held together by the captain, the Proteas move above Australia in these rankings thanks to their recent series victory.