Steve Smith
Steve Smith Chris Hyde GETTY IMAGES

Steve Smith rockets up the world rankings

THE contrast in the careers of Steve Smith and Shane Watson couldn't be any more apparent as they head in vastly different directions.

Smith has been rewarded for his golden run with the bat, by rising to a career-high fifth on the ICC World Test Batting Rankings.

The stand-in skipper is rightly now Australia's No.1 after posting three centuries so far in the four-Test series against India.

His haul on home soil has made it five tons in 2014 and already seven in a career that is only 25 matches old.

Following on from his breakout year of 2013, the 25-year-old registered a team-high 1146 runs in 2014 at an average of 81.85, pipping opener David Warner who amassed 1136 runs at 63.11.

Smith's career average has rocketed to the half-century (50.38), which is often seen as the benchmark between the very good and the great.

At the other end of the spectrum, 33-year-old Watson continues to flounder as an unfilled talent.

He scored just 258 runs in 10 innings in 2014, having passed 50 once.

When he steps out for the fourth Test against India at the SCG next week, it will be exactly 10 years since he made his debut in the long form of the game.

In 55 matches since that maiden appearance against Pakistan in Sydney, he has registered four tons, with a career average at 35.49 - not bad for an all-rounder, but not a top-order batsman.

Mitchell Johnson, meanwhile, finished as Australia's top wicket-taker for 2014, with 47 at 23.27 apiece, but it was Ryan Harris who finished on top in the Test bowling rankings.

With 26 wickets at 22.42, including a man-of-the-match haul of six to go with his 95 runs with the bat, Harris jumped to No.2, with Johnson at five.