England still top of Test rankings for now after Sri Lanka series draw
England were 4/7 to retain their status at the top of the Test rankings prior to their series-levelling victory with Sri Lanka and this now looks a fine price as they prepare to return to home soil.
The last few months have been tricky for Andrew Strauss and his team on the subcontinent, losing 3-0 in Pakistan and then dropping the opening Test to Sri Lanka.
However, led primarily by Kevin Pietersen’s exploits with the bat and Graeme Swann’s wickets with the ball, England won the second Sri Lankan Test by eight wickets.
This means they just retain their number-one status from South Africa by the smallest margin, with both having 116 points, but England shading top spot on decimal places.
The good news for England is that they can now enjoy successive Test series’ at home, where conditions will be more familiar and the spin issues that plagued them on the subcontinent should be less prevalent.
Spin has never been the deadliest weapon in the West Indies bowling attack and Devendra Bishoo should not prove as destructive as either Saeed Ajmal or Rangana Herath in the subcontinent.
Although Bishoo has taken 39 wickets in just 18 Test innings and his leg breaks could especially trouble Pietersen.
South Africa follow the West Indies in playing in England and Imran Tahir could pose problems with his spin.
But it is in the seam department where they are arguably more dangerous, with pace trio Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and most notably Vernon Philander, who has a bowling average of 14.15 in his seven Test matches.
A South Africa victory in England would almost certainly see them enter 2013 at the top of the world rankings and they are 7/4 to take over in this position by January 1st.
Alternatively, Australia are 8/1 and India 16/1.