England given Test ranking boost
England's gap at the top of the ICC Test rankings has increased after the annual update of the table, but they can still be overhauled if South Africa win the series that starts on July 19.
Following the refresh to the table, which sees results before 2009 wiped off to give more emphasis on recent form, South Africa have slipped to third behind Australia - that is partly due to a lack of recent Test action for them. However, any margin of victory against England over the three Tests will see them reach top spot.
For England any victory will also see them hold onto the No. 1 position they attained last year by whitewashing India, but they can also maintain their ranking with a drawn series. England are currently in 122 points with South Africa on 113.
South Africa, though, are unperturbed by their shift. "It was the only way we were looking at it, that we have to win the series to go No.1," Russell Domingo, the assistant coach, said. "So it doesn't make a difference to us where we are ranked now."
Australia are currently sandwiched between the two teams, following their successful run in Test cricket under Michael Clarke. Since he took on the captaincy from Ricky Ponting they have beaten Sri Lanka away, drawn in South Africa, drawn at home to New Zealand, whitewashed India and beaten West Indies in the Caribbean.
South Africa's fall to third is because, annually, the oldest results are no longer counted - in this case from 2008-09 - and it was in that period that they won both in England and in Australia. At the same time England's ranking has improved because that home defeat to South Africa and the away defeats in India and West Indies are no longer counted in the rankings calculations.
Elsewhere, India and Pakistan have changed places. Pakistan, despite a 1-0 defeat in the three-Test series that finished in Sri Lanka on Thursday, have moved up to fourth and MS Dhoni's side, No. 1 this time last year, are now down in fifth place.