Cricket: Ashes rout of hapless England lifts Australia to world No.3

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia jumped two places to third on the world cricket Test rankings after sealing a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series in Sydney on Sunday, overtaking England and Pakistan.

Michael Clarke's men climbed to within six points of second-placed India with their 281-run rout of England. Australia's third-ever clean sweep of the Ashes brought them 10 points for ratings of 111.

England's crushing defeat cost them nine points and saw them slide to fourth place at 107, five points clear of Pakistan.

South Africa remain comfortably atop the world rankings at 133 points, according to the International Cricket Council.

It is a remarkable turnaround for the Australians, who had a forgettable year in 2013 - losing a four-Test series to India without a single win and the previous Ashes series in England 3-0.

Clarke is targeting the top spot in Test cricket and Australia's three-game series against South Africa in February-March will be a major test of his in-form squad.

India will have a chance to shore up their position with a two-Test series against eighth-placed New Zealand beginning in February. England face Sri Lanka, ranked sixth, for two Tests in June.

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