ICC Rankings: Test Batsmen Who've Made Biggest Rises in 2014
The Reliance ICC Player Rankings are a complicated beast but, nonetheless, stand as the game's official standings for individual excellence.
Calculated using a complex algorithm that accounts for raw statistics, opposition strength, playing frequency and countless other factors (you can read how it all works here), the rankings provide a useful tool for comparing the performances of cricket's global array of players.
As always, 2014 has seen some dramatic changes in the rankings, with new stars emerging to challenge those already near the top.
The following players were ineligible for consideration because they didn't feature in the ICC Player Rankings at the conclusion of 2013, meaning the change in their position couldn't be accurately determined.
No. 24: Gary Ballance
No. 45: Jimmy Neesham
No. 46: Nasir Hossain
No. 51: Sarfraz Ahmed
No. 52: Upul Tharanga
No. 54: Gautam Gambhir
No. 55: Jos Buttler
No. 67: Quinton de Kock
No. 71: Tom Latham
No. 72: Jermaine Blackwood
No. 75: Shaun Marsh
No. 88: Alex Doolan
No. 97: Moeen Ali
No. 99: Sam Robson
T10. Dimuth Karunaratne
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 89
Current Ranking: No. 76
Test Record in 2014: 362 runs @ 36.20
Dimuth Karunaratne's recent situation is perhaps an indication that rises up the ICC Player Rankings aren't always indicative of true form.
Despite being a source of moderate consistency for Sri Lanka, the left-hander was dropped after his side's tour of England, replaced by Upul Tharanga for the series at home against South Africa.
But the 26-year-old might feel hard done by, considering he'd passed 28 in eight of his 11 innings in 2014, recording a pair of half-centuries and helping to set a platform for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
T10. Angelo Mathews
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 16
Current Ranking: No. 3
Test Record in 2014: 1,044 runs @ 80.30
Since ascending to the captaincy, Angelo Mathews has been nothing short of outstanding with the bat for Sri Lanka.
Behind only Kumar Sangakkara for runs in 2014, the 27-year-old has crunched two hundreds and six half-centuries in just 10 Tests, playing a leading role in Sri Lanka's impressive calendar year.
Most notable was the right-hander's sublime 160 against England at Headingley that proved instrumental in his side's dramatic final-over victory in Leeds.
9. Brendon McCullum
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 36
Current Ranking: No. 20
Test Record in 2014: 622 runs @ 62.20
In eight of the 10 innings Brendon McCullum has completed thus far in 2014, he hasn't passed 31.
In the other two, he's amassed a combined total of 526 runs.
Who will ever forget his triple hundred against India in Wellington, when the New Zealand captain led his team away from almost certain defeat to clinch a draw and the series with the finest knock of his career?
That it came after his superb 224 in Auckland that propelled his side to victory only made the feat more impressive.
8. Shikhar Dhawan
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 78
Current Ranking: No. 61
Test Record in 2014: 337 runs @ 33.70
Those who watched Shikhar Dhawan labour through India's annihilation at the hands of England this summer might wonder how the left-hander finds himself on this list.
Yet, easily forgotten amid his struggles against James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Co. are Dhawan's impressive performances against New Zealand that saw him compile scores of 115 and 98 in consecutive innings.
Of course, starting from a position as low as No. 78 also makes a rise up the rankings a little easier.
7. JP Duminy
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 56
Current Ranking: No. 36
Test Record in 2014: 392 runs @ 49.00
JP Duminy has always been an unfulfilled talent in the Test arena, averaging only 37 in whites despite being a fine limited-overs player for South Africa.
In 2014, however, the left-hander has doubled his century tally, compiling a pair of valuable hundreds against Australia in Port Elizabeth and Sri Lanka in Galle, cementing his place in his nation's middle order.
Tellingly, both Duminy's milestones resulted in victories for South Africa, the second of which proved to be decisive against Sri Lanka.
6. Ahmed Shehzad
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 91
Current Ranking: No. 67
Test Record in 2014: 266 runs @ 33.25
At the tender age of 22, Ahmed Shehzad looks certain to become a pillar of Pakistan's top-order for a decade or more, breaking into the Test arena in 2014 after excelling in coloured clothing for a number of years.
Admittedly, the right-hander's record in the current calendar year is rather limited, given that he's played only four Tests.
In that short time, however, the opener has given a glimpse into his potential, reaching a superb 147 against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in January that steered his side to a dramatic victory in the third Test of the series.
5. Kraigg Brathwaite
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 93
Current Ranking: No. 66
Test Record in 2014: 217 runs @ 72.33
Like Ahmed Shehzad, Kraigg Brathwaite's sample size in 2014 is rather small, with the West Indian having only played in two Tests this calendar year.
But in his very first innings against New Zealand, after earning a recall to the Caribbean side, the right-hander recorded a decisive 129 at the top of the order to help his team clinch the second Test of the series.
That was followed up by a 68 in the third Test at Bridgetown, completing his significant rise up the ICC Player Rankings.
4. Steve Smith
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 41
Current Ranking: No. 12
Test Record in 2014: 391 runs @ 65.16
No longer the leg-spinner with a shoddy batting technique, Steve Smith has quickly cemented himself as a key member of Australia's middle order and possibly Michael Clarke's successor as captain.
To begin the year, the right-hander compiled a fine hundred against England in Sydney, playing the defining innings of the match to seal a 5-0 whitewash for the hosts.
Smith then enhanced his growing reputation with a superb tour of South Africa that saw him reach scores of 100, 84, 49 and 36 not out, proving himself to be one of the most valuable pieces in Clarke's rampant side.
3. Joe Root
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 39
Current Ranking: No. 9
Test Record in 2014: 777 runs @ 97.12
No player in world cricket is averaging more than Joe Root in the Test arena in 2014. For a 23-year-old, that's a staggering achievement.
Indeed, since returning from England's disastrous tour of Australia, the talented right-hander has been in blistering form, recording three hundreds and three fifties in just 11 innings with a top score of 200 not out.
Perhaps most impressive thing about Root's play has been his ability to shift through the gears when batting with the tail, reflected in all three of his centuries being unbeaten.
2. Dean Elgar
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 92
Current Ranking: No. 59
Test Record in 2014: 321 runs @ 32.10
Dean Elgar endured one of the more bizarre situations in world cricket this year when he was stripped of his Cricket South Africa contract on the same day that he was informed of his selection to his nation's Test side for a clash with Australia at Port Elizabeth.
Putting aside those distractions, the opener capitalised on his opportunity, compiling a composed 83 against an attack led by Mitchell Johnson, helping him to secure a place for South Africa's trip to Sri Lanka.
He also regained his contract after Graeme Smith's retirement.
Carrying on that momentum, Elgar then made a fine 103 in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle.
1. Kaushal Silva
End of 2013 Ranking: No. 96
Current Ranking: No. 40
Test Record in 2014: 769 runs @ 42.72
Rising 56 spots in the ICC Player Rankings in just eight months is a pretty remarkable feat.
Strangely, opener Kaushal Silva has done it rather quietly, performing with a brilliant, but hardly spectacular, consistency that has often laid a platform for his nation's bigger stars.
In 18 innings, the right-hander has recorded one hundred and five fifties, only failing to reach double figures on one occasion.
After years of sustained excellence on the first-class circuit, the Sri Lankan has finally demonstrated his talent on the international stage.
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