Taylor, Jhulan and Sthalekar on top of the world

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Dubai/Mumbai, Oct.16 : Claire Taylor of England, India captain Jhulan Goswami and Australia's Lisa Sthalekar are on top of the world in the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Women's Rankings which were launched in Mumbai on Thursday.

Thirty-three-year-old Taylor spearheads a strong field of six England batters in the top 20 while fast bowler Jhulan leads the bowlers' chart and Sthalekar is just ahead of her team-mate Shelley Nitschke in the all-rounders' listing.

The rankings have been introduced as part of the ICC's continued promotion of women's cricket. They will initially apply to ODI cricket only and will help identify where the leading players stand in women's international cricket to add further competition and context to their achievements.

Sanjay Behl, head of branding at Reliance Communications, said: "Reliance Mobile is privileged to be associated with the launch of the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Women's Rankings.

"These rankings are the authoritative player rating guide, the first of its kind, which will officially recognise the talent and achievements of the game's leading players. Through the rankings system we hope that Reliance Mobile can play an important role in making the profile of individual players more prominent and contribute to the expansion of the sport.

"We are excited about this encouraging development and are proud to be associated with the overall ICC Rankings for cricketers in the international arena," he added.

David Richardson, ICC General Manager - Cricket, added: "The ICC believes that great progress has been made in the development of the women's game since the merger with the International Women's Cricket Council in 2005.

"Through the development of the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Player Rankings, we hope to bring added profile to the leading stars in the women's game, as part of our long-term commitment to growing the sport across the globe.

"With tournaments such as the ICC Women's World Cup and the ICC World Twenty20 providing an exciting opportunity to bring increased attention to the game's top players, there has never been a more exciting time in the history of women's cricket."

Leading batter Claire Taylor is one of 13 women cricketers to have played 100 or more ODIs and is the only female cricketer above the 800 ratings points mark. In women's ranking terms, 800 points marks out a player as truly remarkable.

The England player heads the list clear of India's Mithali Raj and Lisa Sthalekar of Australia.

Taylor said: "To be number-one batsman in the world means a lot to me. It's something that I've been aiming for since the World Cup in 2000, the point where I really thought I could have an impact on the game.

"However, it's not the most important thing this year. There are personal battles to be fought against great rivals, a World Cup to contest and perhaps win and an Ashes duel to finish off what promises to be an amazing 12 months."

Jhulan, the ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year in 2007, leads the bowling table from England's Isa Guha and Shelley Nitschke of Australia.

Sthalekar says she is delighted to be on top of the all-rounders' rankings. "It's great that the ICC is supporting women's cricket through the launch of the player rankings. It will add interest to the women's game and increase the profiles of the top players in the world.

"Hopefully this will give greater exposure to the women's cricket and provide more sponsorship opportunities as well," she said.

The first set of the rankings have been released ahead of the eagerly awaited series between Australia and India to be played in Sydney and Canberra from 31 October to 9 November.

The other series to be played in a lead up to the ICC Women's World Cup in March 2009 includes the five-match ODI series between the Sri Lanka and West Indies in Sri Lanka from 5 November to 12 November and the traditional Rose Bowl series between New Zealand and Australia in New Zealand from 1 to 12 February.

Next year will be huge for women's cricket with the ICC Women's World Cup to be played in Sydney, Australia, from 7 to 22 March. This will be the first time the biggest event in women's cricket will be played under the banner of the ICC following the merger with the International Women's Cricket Council in 2005.

Then in June, the ICC World Twenty20 in England will include a men's and women's competition running simultaneously. The semi-finals and final of the women's event will be played at the same venue on the same day as the men's tournament.

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