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Australian batting trio makes history before start of Ashes

Travis Head has joined Steve Smith in the top three of the ICC Test batting rankings.

Travis Head has joined Steve Smith in the top three of the ICC Test batting rankings. Photo: AP

Australia will officially enter the Ashes with the best three batsmen in the world, after becoming the first side in almost four decades to claim a trifecta in the ICC rankings.

Travis Head’s sparkling 163 against India at The Oval has moved him from sixth to third in the latest ICC rankings, behind Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.

Head’s personal-best ranking caps a stunning rise from being out of Australia’s side ahead of the last Ashes series 19 months ago.

It also marks the first time a team has occupied the top three batting spots since 1984 when West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd and Larry Gomes were first, second and third.

“It’s cool to see us all at the top of the tree in terms of the rankings,” Smith said.

“Those two in particular, the improvements they’ve made over the last four or five years have been exceptional.

“We all do it completely differently. Obviously Trav comes out and plays very aggressively and takes the game on and see ball, hit ball mentality.

“Marnus and I probably think our way through situations a little bit different.”

Usman Khawaja also makes for a fourth Australian in the top 10, albeit after dropping two spots from seventh to ninth after two low scores at The Oval.

England has just one batter in the top 15, with Joe Root at No.6.

But its bowling remains primed for the series.

While much of the focus has been on England’s batting in the past 12 months, the hosts have James Anderson (second), Ollie Robinson (sixth) and Stuart Broad (10th) in the world’s top 10 bowlers.

Their record has also improved significantly under coach Brendon McCullum, who has given them the freedom to set more attacking fields in the hunt for wickets.

England’s bowlers have gone from taking a wicket once every 67 balls before McCullum’s arrival to every 51 balls in the past year.

Their average has also dropped from 33.1 to 28.4, which is why Smith knows success in this year’s Ashes for Australia will mean far more than any rankings record.

“We don’t play for those reasons. It’s to help the team have success,” Smith said.

“The more runs we get and stay in those rankings, it probably helps us out in in terms of the team as well. That’s the important thing.”

Pat Cummins remains at No.3 on the bowler’s list behind India’s omitted spinner from the Test Championship final Ravichandran Ashwin and Anderson.

-AAP

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