In May of last year, India were ranked the best cricket team in the world at the longest form of the game, Test cricket. England were a close second. What a difference nine months make! Shortly after triumphing in the World Cup, India arrived in England where they were dismantled and lost the Test series 4-0 before traveling to Australia where they were eviscerated by the same margin. England, meanwhile, had ascended to number one after beating Australia 3-1 and Sri Lanka 1-0, and were looking a bit smug, only to be destroyed today by Pakistan 3-0 in the United Arab Emirates, which is what passes for Pakistan’s home soil after Pakistan was deemed too unsafe to tour. England will probably retain their number-one spot, since South Africa (who are now in second place), on the rise after a string of successes, have yet to play the New Zealanders, whom they will probably beat handsomely as well.
Such volatility in the rankings is a good thing (unless you happen to be either an India or England supporter). A few years ago, Australia sat atop the pile of the ten Test playing nations in such mastery that it seemed as though no one else would ever remember how uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. England, who seem to be incapable of playing spin, have to cope with India and Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home, in order to return to number one. After the shocker against Pakistan, our money’s on South Africa reaching the top. The question is: How hard will they fall?