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South African batsmen AB De Villiers lines up a shot from Saeed Ajmal.
South African batsmen AB De Villiers lines up a shot from Saeed Ajmal.

South Africa's AB de Villiers answers the batsman call for Proteas

After their dismantling of Pakistan, South Africa's AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis are all ranked among the top of the Test batting table

JOHANNESBURG // Hashim Amla occupies the top spot in both the Test and one-day rankings but would not call himself the best batsman even in the South African dressing room.

Amla's 74 not out in the second innings of South Africa's 211-run win over Pakistan on Monday elevated him above Australia's Michael Clarke to the top of the Test batting table.

It also made him the first man since the former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in December 2007 to top both the Test and one-day batting rankings.

The 29 year old, however, remained characteristically modest.

"It's been a great year for our squad, and to be honest I still don't think that I am the best batsman in our team," he said.

"What has been most pleasing though for us has been the all-round contribution from everyone in the squad, that has been the main reason for our success over the last few years."

South Africa have two more batsmen in the top 10 – AB de Villiers in fourth and Jacques Kallis, who tops all-rounders' list, seventh.

Their dominance in Tests was reflected in the bowling chart as well with Dale Steyn extending his lead at the top following his 11 for 60 match figures at the Wanderers, with Vernon Philander still second and Morne Morkel in ninth.

Meanwhile, the question of whether De Villiers should keep wicket in Tests may have been answered by his record-breaking performance against Pakistan.

De Villiers became the first player in Test history to score a hundred and take 10 dismissals behind the stumps in the same match, with his final tally of 11 equalling Jack Russell's all-time Test record for a stumper.

It was an eye-catching performance by the 28 year old, whose role with the gloves since the retirement through injury last year of Mark Boucher has been the subject of much debate.

While his selection allows South Africa to pick the specialist batsman Dean Elgar at No 7, questions were raised as to whether he had the ability to perform the role on a long-term basis.

"The keeping is something I want to do well. I am getting better, though I am not yet where I want to be," De Villiers told reporters.

He has been receiving inputs on and off from Boucher, which he believes have been a major contributor to his growing into the role.

"The work I have done with Bouch has helped me a lot. He doesn't try to change too much technically, but if he picks something up on TV he will let me know.

"I am moving my feet a lot better than when I started and I am much more confident now about standing up to the stumps to the spinners."

Cricket Round-up: New Zealand XI fail against the visitors

Stuart Broad claimed a hat-trick on Tuesday as he led England to a comfortable 46-run win over a New Zealand XI in the visitors’ first hit-out of their two-month tour.

England made an imposing total of 186 for three after losing the toss and being sent in to bat in the Twenty20 match at the Cobham Oval in Whangarei, with Jos Buttler top scoring on 57 not out and Eoin Morgan contributing an unbeaten 48.

Broad, the T20 captain for the tour, then bowled out the New Zealand tail, showing no sign of a heel injury that had sidelined him since November as he dismissed Andy Ellis, Ian Butler and Matt Henry in successive balls.

He was ably supported by Chris Woakes and Jade Dernbach, who each took three wickets apiece and maintained a steady stream of dismissals to prevent the New Zealanders building meaningful partnerships.

Woakes, a late call-up for the tour after Tim Bresnan was ruled with an elbow injury, seized his opportunity, bowling out New Zealand’s openers cheaply, while Dernbach removed Colin Munro as he looked threatening on 55.

Munro received little support as the required run rate climbed steadily higher and New Zealand’s resistance crumbled after his dismissal, allowing Broad to mop up.

The sides will play another warm-up game at the same venue today before the first T20 international in Auckland on Saturday.

Australia take on the West Indies today in Canberra in the third game of their five-game one-day series

Shane Watson was named in Australia’s squad following his recovery from a calf injury.

The all-rounder replaced Usman Khawaja as Australia seek to wrap up the five-game series after winning the opening two matches in Perth over the weekend.

The two teams also face each other in the fourth ODI in Sydney on Friday.

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