Kane Williamson's reign as the top batsman in test cricket has been shortlived.

Australian skipper Steve Smith will start 2016 as test cricket's No 1 ranked batsman after a strong performance in his side's Boxing Day test win over the West Indies.

Williamson became the first New Zealander to top the test batting rankings 11 days ago after scoring an unbeaten century to lead New Zealand to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second test at Hamilton.

He now sits in second spot.

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Smith, who last week was named ICC cricketer and test player of the year, entered the Melbourne test against the West Indies in fourth position. But after scoring 134 not out and an unbeaten 70 in Australia's 177-run win over the West Indies, he moved ahead of Williamson, England's Joe Root and A.B. de Villiers of South Africa.

Indian offspinner R Ashwin finished the year as the top-ranked bowler. Ashwin, who started the year ranked 15th, claimed the No 1 bowling spot for the first time in his career, taking a 2015-best 62 wickets in nine tests, including seven five-wicket hauls.

Williamson's scores in tests in 2015 were 69, 242 not out, 132, 27, 6, 0, 140, 59, 166, 32 not out, 22, 9, 88, 71, 1 and 108 not out.

- With AP