BY JAMES CAMPBELL
With England struggling in India and Australia getting beaten by seemingly anyone they face right now, who is likely to usurp India from the Number 1 Test Rankings spot over the next year or so?
The current test rankings are:
Realistically, only the top 5 teams are in with a shout. New Zealand are not the greatest travellers and Sri Lanka are, like South Africa, a side in transition. I’d only consider South Africa as possibles as they just beat the Aussies away. That came as something of a shock after the English beat them in South Africa quite comfortably last winter.
I’ve had a quick look at the upcoming tests that will decide World Number 1 and given my thoughts on Leading Test Nation Position by September 2017:
England face South Africa but not until July 6th. They then face West Indies in 3 tests over the summer. Their lack of cricket will surely result in them staying somewhere between second and fourth – I can’t see them losing to West Indies but a resurgent South Africa might well signal the end of Alistair Cook’s captaincy either which way (as South African tours to England often signal a changing of the guard). Position: 2nd
Pakistan are away in Australia, which will surely be too much for them. Position: 4th
India have a one-off test against Bangladesh in February followed by a full five match series against the Aussies at home. The Aussies are about as well-equipped to travel to India as the English are, so surely that will result in India maintaining the number 1 spot until September and likely for the next year. Position 1st.
Australia will beat Pakistan but lose to the Indians. Position 3rd.
South Africa will be playing New Zealand in March away and that will be a good series. I can see them doing well in England in the summer but surely England are too strong for anyone at home right now if they show up (which they didn’t against Pakistan). Position: 5th
So, I predict no change to the existing table, although England will close a bit on India and South Africa will nudge closer to Pakistan.
I’d predict the English will take the World Number 1 spot by Christmas 2018 under Joe Root as captain. India will be at the top for a long, unbroken spell now.
Then again, I’d have said the same for this year about England.
If only the English had shown up.
Under Root maybe England will find their killer instinct. Even then, they are two spinners short of ever winning in India. If they can snaffle a win in one of the next two tests in India then India will be held back. But not enough to be usurped at the top.