If Australia fail to win both of the final two Ashes Tests, South Africa will top the rankings South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith on his way to an undefeated 154 and victory against England at Edgbaston last summer, a win which secured the four-Test series.
If the meteorologists are right and Supertramp provides the soundtrack to the Headingley Test, then Australia‘s long stay atop the Test-cricket perch will finally be over. A drawn series would drop them to No2 behind South Africa and an English triumph would see them inhabit the unfamiliar No4 position. (England will remain fifth regardless of the result of the series.)
Unlike other sports, the ICC has yet to devise a ranking system that the average punter can actually understand – teams, for example, can lose points despite winning a series – but when it comes to a South African ascension to the top spot, there would be few naysayers. Barring two poor home Tests against Australia last March-April, they have been utterly dominant for two seasons, comfortably beating all-comers home and away. The only team to fight them to a standstill were India but there, too, South Africa had the better of matches in Chennai (draw) and Ahmedabad (innings win).