Australia's downfall excites Akram

KARACHI: Australia losing the Ashes and slumping to number four in Test rankings is good for world cricket as it gives other teams the confidence to shine in the future, Pakistan great Wasim Akram said Tuesday.

England beat Australia by 197 runs in the fifth and final Test at The Oval on Sunday to regain the Ashes 2-1 -- a defeat which knocked Australia from the top position for the first time since the rankings were introduced in 2003.

"Thank God, the Australians are now losing and have lost their dominance on world cricket," Wasim told AFP. "I wish I was playing in this period because when I played they were nearly unbeatable."

Australia, which also lost a home series against South Africa and an away series in India last year, are now placed fourth with South Africa perched atop the Test rankings. Sri Lanka are number two and India three.

Pakistan are ranked sixth in the world.

Wasim, one of the best left-arm paceman to play the game, agreed Australia's aura as near-invincible was over.

"I agree with what England captain (Andrew) Strauss said that Australia have lost their aura, they don't have replacements for (Glenn) McGrath and (Shane) Warne and that's making the difference.

"This Australian team is still exciting but they are no more world beaters with two great bowlers in Warne and McGrath, and (Adam) Gilchrist and (Matthew) Hayden all retired."

Wasim confessed he never thought England would win the Oval Test.

"It is unexpected for me that England won the last Test," said Wasim, who took 414 Test and 502 one-day wickets in an illustrious 19-year career.

"England played bold cricket, did bold selections and were not scared of losing.

Wasim said retiring England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff would be missed in Test cricket.

"Of course, Flintoff will be missed. He will be remembered as an exciting and aggressive player," said Wasim of his former Lancashire county colleague who retired from Test cricket after the Ashes.

"We need a series like this to keep Test cricket healthy," added Wasim, who has been linked to Indian Premier League team Kolkatta Knight Riders as their new coach. Wasim, however, refused to comment on the reports in Indian media.