England must win series against the West Indies to stay as the number-one ranked Test side

Dubai: England will need to win its three-Test series against the West Indies starting at Lord’s from tomorrow (Thursday) if it is to stay as the number-one ranked Test side on the Reliance ICC Test Championship table.

England is currently on equal points with South Africa but is ranked above the Proteas when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point. However, if England is held to a drawn series, then it will slip behind South Africa into second position.

In the scenario of a 0-0 or 1-1 series result, England will drop to 114 ratings points – two ratings points behind South Africa, which will be arriving in England next month for a three-Test series.

With the annual Test championship update due to take place immediately after the conclusion of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Test series on 12 July and before the start of the England-South Africa Test series on 19 July, Andrew Strauss’ side will be hoping to collect maximum points from its series against the West Indies so that it can end all hopes of either Australia, Pakistan or South Africa to top the table at the annual Test Championship update.

While a 1-0 or 2-1 series win will keep it on 116 ratings points, a 2-0 series win will earn it one ratings point, while it will finish on 118 ratings points if it wins all the three Tests of the series.

In sharp contrast, England will drop behind South Africa and Australia if it loses the series 1-0 or 2-1, while in case of a 2-0 or 3-0 defeat, England will finish in fourth position.

Meanwhile, in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test batsman, West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul will once again be defending his number-one ranking. The ICC Cricketer of the Year 2008 was in a similar situation exactly three years ago when he arrived in England as the number-one ranked batsman but fell off the top spot after scoring just four runs in the first Test at Lord’s which England won by 10 wickets.

This time around, the 27-year-old Guyanese player will be trying to make amends for that failure and will also be hoping to carry on his man-of-the-series award winning performance against Australia, which will go a long way in helping him to extend his advantage over South Africa’s second-ranked AB de Villiers, which currently stands at just six ratings points.

Darren Bravo is the other West Indies batsman inside the top 20, in 20th position.

On the other side of the coin, England boasts four batsmen inside the top 20 – Alastair Cook (sixth), Jonathan Trott (14th), Kevin Pietersen (17th) and Ian Bell (19th) – while Matt Prior and captain Andrew Strauss are just outside the top 20 in 24th and 28th positions, respectively.

In the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, England’s pace and spin combination of James Anderson and Graeme Swann will be aiming to narrow the gap with the two top ranked bowlers – Dale Steyn of South Africa and Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal.

Steyn leads Saeed by 51 ratings points, Anderson by 88 ratings points and Swann by 107 ratings points whereas Swann trails Saeed by 56 ratings points and Anderson is 37 ratings points behind the Pakistan off-spinner.

Other bowlers sitting inside the top 20 are Stuart Board of England (eighth), West Indies’ Kemar Roach, who is enjoying his career-best ranking of 16th, and Tim Bresnan (18th) of England.

Bowlers aiming to break into the top 20 in this series include Chris Tremlett (23rd), Darren Sammy and Steven Finn (joint 25th), Fidel Edwards (27th), Ravi Rampual (43rd) and Shane Shillingford (46th).