Adelaide, Dec.8: Amid the doom and gloom of the humiliating second Test defeat to England in Adelaide yesterday, a strange light is shining on Australia - they have risen to fourth in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.
The jump came after Sri Lanka drew a three-Test series at home to the lowly West Indies, following rain interruptions in all games. That result caused Sri Lanka to drop from third to fifth, as teams lose more points for bad results at home against lesser-ranked teams, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
But this good news will turn sour for Australia if they lose one more Test in the Ashes series, which would put them back to fifth.
The ICC is introducing a Test championship in 2013 featuring only the top four ranked nations, so Australia desperately needs to turn their form around. They have a tour to Sri Lanka and South Africa next year that could well determine the fate of the final place in the top four.
England, meanwhile, will have more lofty goals. If they can win the Ashes 3-0, they will rise to an all-time high of second place in the rankings alongside South Africa and below India. If Australia can fight their way back and win this series, they will jump to third ahead of England.
Meanwhile, Australian captain Ricky Ponting has dropped out of the top 20 in the ICC Test batting rankings for the first time since 2001. The 35-year-old Tasmanian, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, has dropped 12 places to occupy 25th spot in the latest edition of the rankings published overnight.
There are no Australians in the top 10 leading batsmen, while left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson, dropped after the Brisbane Test, is the only Australian in the world''s current top 10 bowlers.