Posted by: Pete Robertson | August 18, 2011

Top of the World England Still Have a Long Way to Go.

For the first time in recent history, England go into a Test match as the number 1 ranked side in the World.

After thrashing the Indian team at Edgbaston last week and confirming their number 1 status, England travel to the Oval hoping to once again show the form that has catapulted them to the heights of their new-found World Ranking.

But listening to Captain Andrew Strauss, this is an England team not prepared to rest of any of their laurels. Instead, Strauss talks of being the World’s best Test team as just another stepping block along the way to bigger and better things. And personally, I completely agree with him.

Looking at the most recent form, we have thrashed India, and won the Ashes in Australia, both stirling achievements in the Test match arena. The form being displayed from the whole team has been magnificent, so much so that it’s difficult to pick out just one or two individuals. I suppose there must be a mention for Alistair Cook, who has shown that he is more than qualified to hold down a spot at the top of the English batting line up, and James Anderson, who has continued to grow into the 2nd ranked bowler in the world, despite world number 1 Dale Steyn admitting that Anderson is realistically one up on him.

ODI Captain Alistair Cook will hope to be lifting the World Cup in 2015

But it is Cook’s one day side that is under the most pressure to perform. In the test rankings, England now top the world, so why in the One Day International rankings are we down in 5th place?

This is the target area for England who have ambitions to win the World Cup when it next comes around in 2015. However, the same group of players that work so well as a Test team, with no apparent weak links to the chain, often struggle in the game’s 50-over format.

This stems from not having a settled team in my opinion. The frequent changes made, especially to the lower order batsmen, makes it that the team often has a number of players who are neither there to be high order batsmen, nor a front line bowler. This seems a waste, and not the same kind of thinking that stems from the management of the test match side, where every player knows their role and what is expected of them for the team.

England need to settle on a one day side, with a mix of experienced International cricketers and youthful players doing well in the county game, if they want to improve on their current world ranking position.

Our success in the test arena recently has come from having a settled squad of players, meaning that any injuries suffered have not led to any real disruption in the team, and the players then moving into the starting XI are grabbing their opportunities with both hands. This is not replicated though in the one day side, with too many players moving in and out of the starting XI, but not staying in the squad, instead being cast aside, with a brand new player moving in, rather than one with any previous experience.

Once England settle on their best team in 50 over matches, Cook and coach Andy Flower can start to work together towards the ultimate goal of World Cup success. Right now, they would admit themselves that they’re not quite ready, but with 3 years to work on improving the one day side, there is no reason that England’s number 1 status in the test rankings cannot be replicated in either ODI’s or even T20 rankings.

But first things first. Let’s finish off this series against India, ideally with another convincing win, and confirm our place as the best Test match team in the World. Let’s enjoy the status, and match the expectations that come with it. After all, with England’s recent form, Strauss and his men deserve it.

Do you think England deserve to be the World number 1? How could we improve in other formats of the game? Let me know your thoughts below, any comments are always welcome.

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