Socceroos rise to world number 33. It’s
Australian soccer’s highest world ranking since 1998 and comes off a highly
successful 12 months, but Football Federation Australia boss John O’Neill still
isn’t happy with it. “While Australia’s move of nine places is obviously
positive, it is a little perplexing when compared with some of the other
ranking changes,” he said.
“While we understand that the ranking system considers several years worth of
results, Australia’s relatively meagre improvement would not seem to accurately
reflect the achievements of the Socceroos over the last year or so.” The new
rankings have Australia as the highest ranked nation in the Asian confederation,
with Japan dropping 30 places to 49th following their disappointing World Cup.
Iran and Korea, who also made first round exits, dropped to 47th and 56th
respectively. Brazil retains the number one spot, with Italy jumping 11 places
to number two.

English cricket team drop to world
number three.
While the English
soccer team jumped five places to world number five, the English Test cricket
team has just been knocked out of second spot by Pakistan, who are now just ten
points behind Australia after recent wins against England, India and Sri Lanka. If they can clean sweep
the current four Test series against England, they’ll move to within three
points of Australia, whereas if England can win the series, they can regain
second spot. In the individual rankings,
Ricky Ponting remains the world’s highest ranked Test batsman ahead of Rahul
Dravid and Jaques Kallis. Murali heads the bowling figures ahead of Makhaya
Ntini and Shane Warne, while Adam Gilchrist is the highest ranked one-day
batsman. Shaun Pollock holds the one-day bowling honours.

Molik vying for a Fed Cup spot. As
Alicia Molik inches back to her best after a year away from competitive tennis,
this week she will compete against fellow Aussie Nicole Pratt for the second
singles spot in the upcoming tie against Switzerland. Although Molik is still
in the very early stages of her comeback, good results at the French Open
(third round) and Wimbledon (second round) have been encouraging signs for the
former world number eight. Even more encouraging for the Aussies, Switzerland
will be without Patty Schnyder and
Martina Hingis, and will be led by 17-year-old Timea Baczinszky, currently
ranked 176. While Fed Cup coach David Taylor acknowledged Australia was
favoured on rankings, he said his team would not take the tie lightly. “We’re
not taking day trips yodelling in the mountains,” he affirmed.
“We’re practising like it’s going to be a difficult tie.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey