England as number one Test nation

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Who does number two work for?

We don’t have any amazing insights into this, in the unlikely event that that’s why you visit this website. However, what we will say is that it is a measure of England’s progress that we English are being forced to search for new goals.

For pretty much our entire life, English cricket’s goal has been to win the Ashes. Every two years, that wouldn’t happen. Then it did. Then it happened a second time and the goal became to win the Ashes in Australia. Then that happened, so we nervously aimed for number one.

The best Test team

Being ranked number one Test nation is a particularly big achievement for England, because it rewards qualities they have rarely had. They have needed to win regularly and they have needed to be dominant. The 2004-05 vintage team almost managed the former, but never achieved the latter – it was always seat-of-the-pants stuff, which was entertaining, but not nearly so convincing.

Dominance forms a major part of the new goal. England are now aiming for a stint at the top, correctly recognising that would be more meaningful than a momentary summit. They should be aiming to open a gap such that they could have a wobble and still technically remain number one. That’s what Australia managed.

Not the best cricket team

The other thing that Australia managed was complete dominance. As well as being the number one Test team, they were also world champions in the one-day game and actually racked up three titles in a row. They were simply the best cricket team. England are a million miles away from being the best one-day team of the moment, let alone maintaining that for a period of a decade or more.

There’s plenty to be done and no guarantees they’ll achieve any of it. No-one seems to acknowledge the fragility of a situation where so many good players are so fit, so determined, so knowledgeable, so ruthless, so well-prepared and so committed to the team’s collective aims. It is an absolute luxury. People complaining about the speed of Alastair Cook’s batting and stuff like that remind us of this.

There have been times in the past where we’d have settled for the England team exhibiting just one of the attributes we just listed, so we’re enjoying every minute of watching this Test team while this lasts. Complaints about their ruthlessness in this series or any other will fall on ears that have been deafened by the booing from all those years gone by.


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  1. As someone who was:

    * there at the Oval 1999 watching a mere New Zealand side beat England to the bottom of the rankings while the crowd sang “we’ve got the worst team in the world”;
    * also there at Edgbaston this week witnessing the domination and elevation to the top of the rankings…

    I can only wholeheartedly endorse your sentiments, KC.

  2. There is no clear domianator right now. It seems the test would be dominated by England while the one dayers would be by India and the T20 champs might just be Sri Lanka or Pakistan!

  3. Let’s clear something up. I don’t visit this site *expecting* amazing insights – I take them for granted and choose instead to be bitterly disappointed by their conspicuous absence. It has nothing to do with you – that’s just how I operate.

  4. Looking at the number of appeals for your last 2 posts. England’s success cold be the death of this site.


    People need to understand what being #1 team means. Primarily, being #1 test team is something that EVERYONE ELSE IN WORLD CRICKET ISN’T. Even if you think it might not last, or you think it’s contrived, or you think that because it’s only tests it isn’t a complete picture, the fact remains that nobody else is #1.

    And this means that there are no teams or sets of fans that can point to the rankings and smile knowingly while you are explaining all about how Prior and Swann and Cook make England brilliant. Since Saturday you can explain all about Prior and Swann and Cook and people will just have to listen to you, or possibly walk away. England can now get on with the job of actually proving to the world that they are the best test team, and we the fans can get on with our given job of explaining in detail to the world WHY England is the best test team. And while the rankings don’t tell the whole story, at least now they don’t contradict us.

  6. http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/527277.html

    BTW, this article is notable for two things. Firstly, the photo of a game of Pin The Limbs On The Spinner which went wrong with hilarious results, and secondly, that in virtually all of Ian Chappell’s analysis you can swap the India/Australia team names. That’s what getting a battering from England does to teams – it makes them indistinguishable from each other.

    Are we still #1 test team in the world? I think we are.

  7. I have spent most of this morning attempting to think of a Prisoner-related joke involving Number One, Number Two and Number Six. My lack of success has forced me to the unhappy conclusion that England being Number One means cricket is no longer funny.

    1. At least we have the comfort that England are both Number One and Number Six at the same time, and were also Number Two for a while.

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