England v South Africa, 1st NatWest ODI, Cardiff August 23, 2012

England's one-day rise surprises Cook

With the top ranking on the line and both teams having different captains for limited-overs cricket this series should retain interest despite the forthcoming World Twenty20
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Alastair Cook admitted his surprise that he is in charge of an England side who find themselves officially top of the ICC one-day rankings. The surprise might be shortlived. If South Africa beat England in the first of five ODIs in Cardiff on Saturday, they will overhaul them.

At least England's reign as the No. 1 Test side lasted a year; their achievement in the one-day game might only last a day. When the usual crop of dignitaries present them with the Reliance ODI Shield, Cook would be well advised to accept the award with the most modest expression he can muster.

"I don't think we feel like No. 1," he said. "It was something we were aiming for a bit later on. We've got such a long way to go."

If South Africa, who trail England by one-sixth of a rating point, win in Cardiff they will become the first country to hold the No. 1 rankings spot in all formats of the game, having deposed England as the top-ranked Test team at Lord's on Monday. To retain that position, they would have to win the series by at least 3-2.

For England's one-day side to be seeking to improve on poor displays in the Test format is an uncommon feeling. Until this year, the assumption had been that England's Test side was the stronger, winning back-to-back Ashes series while the 50-overs side was a poor relation, looking as far as ever from winning a major one-day tournament for the first time. Perceptions are changing. This series will go a long way towards showing whether the shift is more than a temporary aberration.

Two replacement captains help to bring some significance to the series. AB de Villiers assumes command of South Africa, leaving Graeme Smith to spend time, between batting, with his wife and a new baby girl, Cadence, whose birth he returned to see in between the first and the second Tests. Smith spent so long grimacing and growling at England's attack in the Test series that if he briefly forgets himself the new arrival in the Smith family could get a bit of a shock.

New captains and fresh faces have their advantages. The threat to continuity caused by a change of personnel can be offset by a renewed sense of zest. A change is as good as a rest and, in international cricket, change is the best option there is because there is little chance for rest. "This is why three captains seems to work quite well," Cook said. "Certainly I'm ready to go again with the challenge of leadership. When Broady steps in for the Twenty20s, he'll really want to drive the team on."

In normal circumstances, it would be Stuart Broad's Twenty20 leadership that would be observed most closely over the coming weeks. The World Twenty20 is less than a month away and three t20 matches against South Africa therefore hold more importance than usual for both sides, even allowing for the very different conditions that will face them in Sri Lanka.

But these are not normal circumstances. Cook is regarded as heir apparent to Andrew Strauss as Test captain, although Michael Atherton, the former England captain, deservedly praised the leadership qualities of Matt Prior in The Times on Thursday, not just because of his fighting on-field qualities but because he was the one person brave enough to ring up Kevin Pietersen - without permission as it happened - and try to bring some sense to a stand-off that has demeaned all who are involved in it.

"After 18 months I feel more comfortable in the role, happier making decisions in the field and in selections with Andy Flower," Cook said.

He has eased himself into captaincy gradually, not as much groomed for the job as receiving a manicure, full facial and Ayurvedic massage; pretty much everything, in fact, apart from colonic irrigation. Naturally, he was asked about Pietersen's part in England's future and twice claimed the matter was "above my head." It did not smack of leadership, but it a dangerous topic to show leadership on.

There is no doubt that Smith runs South African cricket; de Villiers is a well-mannered understudy who knows the extent of his power and who has Smith in the background for advice should he need him. There is still not much doubt that Strauss runs England cricket. But despite the emphatic support he has received from his coach Andy Flower, who does not regard the matter as up for discussion, it is a dangerous time in a captain's career when he reaches an age where he is most often praised for presentational skills rather than the runs he gets or the fields he sets.

Depict Strauss as a successful England captain and he needs to be depicted as an influential performer in whites, not prized as a man offering calming and intelligent off-the-field guidance, however invaluable that might be. There again, ECB officials are open to so little public scrutiny these days that somebody has to be the public face of English cricket.

Ravi Bopara returns for England after a tough personal time and the presence of Cook, an Essex team-mate, as captain, will help him settle back into the job. That his mind will be attuned to the task should not be assumed to be automatic. A planned return for England Lions against Australia A was aborted, a run-out for Essex against Netherlands in the CB40 brought a score of 1 and his guest appearance for Gloucestershire brought three wickets but little reward with the bat.

South Africa have a different feel to the side that capitulated in the one-day series in England in 2008. Instead of familiar faces from the Test campaign, they have more new faces, some of whom have got into trim in a short tour of Ireland.

De Villiers suggested that England might be a specialist batsman light. "It's something we'll be attacking," he said. "They may be conservative up front because they are a batter light, they don't have the wicket keeper at No.7 like most teams. But I can't see them carrying a lot of scars from the Test series, maybe just a tiny little mental factor, but if we don't start well that would soon be lost."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 27, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    I am still suprised by Eng rise to the top in the 50 over format. I would say it is still our weakest link. But this is not Eng fault, its just we are the best of a bad bunch right now. I still feel Ind/SA/Pak/WI are all very good one day sides and any of this 5 could rotate round to the top. Hope for clear skies and a good game come tue.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 26, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    @JG2704 - I agree re: Rankings. I would slightly disagree in terms of timeframe. I think it has to be over at least 4yrs as the FTP is so crowded as it is, I don't think a nation can play effectively 18 test series (playing the other 9 test nations home & away) inside of 3 yrs, unless of course we do away with 4 or 5 test series.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 26, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @JG2704 - re: Title Belt. See I don't see it as a problem if say the Saffas lose the belt to Bangladesh (atm unlikely) as great for World Cricket. Why shouldn't a top ranked side be FORCED to maintain its standards ALL the time? At the end of the day, they would NOT be losing their rankings (if they were really dominant), just lose the ability to say UNDISOUTED #1s. My idea would be to work along side of the rankings (calculated under a better method), & a Test Championship! Just so my point is clear, the rankings would be SEPERATE to the Title Belt or Championship. I mean as it stands, what if Pakistan wins the Test Championship? Whilst they have a lot of form on their side & deserve credit for basically playing away from home all the time, but they haven't beaten Oz, SA or Eng in their backyards etc, but should they be Test CHampions if they won, when SA probably "deserve" it more. A Title Belt, like a Championship - is IMO better as it is tangible, not a mathematical formulae!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 25, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @RandyOz, almost as good as it is to see you go quiet when australia get thrashed.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    The Saffers are an excellent side even in the limited overs;might not be riding a wave of success as the english are,but the mighty fall they inflicted on england should give them that mental edge which you always look for at the top level.looks like both teams start evenly balanced.that said,despite the loss of kp the english batting looks a more aggressive bunch,tad inexperienced but free flowing with the likes of bairstow,morgan,their keeper opener.......the proteas batting has more assurance but the zest that is so needed these days in odis to cross the line is missing,except in maybe a couple of players(ab and albie morkel seem players of that mould)........bowling in odis has sadly been reduced to an exercise in fear with bowlers always trying to hurriedly go through the motions and finish their quota of overs with as little injuries received as possible.as such it's quite useless discussing them.the bowling from both sides will be very bland,insipid and artless.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 25, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    How great is it to see Hammond and FrontFoot Lunge go deathly silent again?

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 25, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    How great is it to see Hammond and FrontFoot Lunge go deathly silent again?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    @Meety - PS , The problem with your boxing way of doing things is that team A could be miles ahead of another team and have a one off bad series and lose the crown to a team which might be well down the pecking order. I mean , would Pakistan deserved to have been number 1 just by beating England when they hadn't played outside of their adopted home for some time and hadn't beaten anyone of note previously when SA and Aus were much closer? Honestly I'm a boxing fan and the boxing rankings system really does not work so well these days. I'd honestly say that this idea would just complicate things further

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    @Meety on (August 24 2012, 11:46 AM GMT) I honestly think the only fair way to do it is for the ICC to start from scratch and standardise everything , so that in a 3 year period every top 8 side plays each other home and away in a set amount of tests per series (say 4) and then after that period you'll have a true number 1 and during that period all you'd have is teams placed in order of where they are at the time

  • POSTED BY RFeynman on | August 24, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    @Harmony111: Thank you for explaining the ranking system process. That answers a lot of questions :)

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 27, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    I am still suprised by Eng rise to the top in the 50 over format. I would say it is still our weakest link. But this is not Eng fault, its just we are the best of a bad bunch right now. I still feel Ind/SA/Pak/WI are all very good one day sides and any of this 5 could rotate round to the top. Hope for clear skies and a good game come tue.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 26, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    @JG2704 - I agree re: Rankings. I would slightly disagree in terms of timeframe. I think it has to be over at least 4yrs as the FTP is so crowded as it is, I don't think a nation can play effectively 18 test series (playing the other 9 test nations home & away) inside of 3 yrs, unless of course we do away with 4 or 5 test series.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 26, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @JG2704 - re: Title Belt. See I don't see it as a problem if say the Saffas lose the belt to Bangladesh (atm unlikely) as great for World Cricket. Why shouldn't a top ranked side be FORCED to maintain its standards ALL the time? At the end of the day, they would NOT be losing their rankings (if they were really dominant), just lose the ability to say UNDISOUTED #1s. My idea would be to work along side of the rankings (calculated under a better method), & a Test Championship! Just so my point is clear, the rankings would be SEPERATE to the Title Belt or Championship. I mean as it stands, what if Pakistan wins the Test Championship? Whilst they have a lot of form on their side & deserve credit for basically playing away from home all the time, but they haven't beaten Oz, SA or Eng in their backyards etc, but should they be Test CHampions if they won, when SA probably "deserve" it more. A Title Belt, like a Championship - is IMO better as it is tangible, not a mathematical formulae!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 25, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @RandyOz, almost as good as it is to see you go quiet when australia get thrashed.

  • POSTED BY on | August 25, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    The Saffers are an excellent side even in the limited overs;might not be riding a wave of success as the english are,but the mighty fall they inflicted on england should give them that mental edge which you always look for at the top level.looks like both teams start evenly balanced.that said,despite the loss of kp the english batting looks a more aggressive bunch,tad inexperienced but free flowing with the likes of bairstow,morgan,their keeper opener.......the proteas batting has more assurance but the zest that is so needed these days in odis to cross the line is missing,except in maybe a couple of players(ab and albie morkel seem players of that mould)........bowling in odis has sadly been reduced to an exercise in fear with bowlers always trying to hurriedly go through the motions and finish their quota of overs with as little injuries received as possible.as such it's quite useless discussing them.the bowling from both sides will be very bland,insipid and artless.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 25, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    How great is it to see Hammond and FrontFoot Lunge go deathly silent again?

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 25, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    How great is it to see Hammond and FrontFoot Lunge go deathly silent again?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    @Meety - PS , The problem with your boxing way of doing things is that team A could be miles ahead of another team and have a one off bad series and lose the crown to a team which might be well down the pecking order. I mean , would Pakistan deserved to have been number 1 just by beating England when they hadn't played outside of their adopted home for some time and hadn't beaten anyone of note previously when SA and Aus were much closer? Honestly I'm a boxing fan and the boxing rankings system really does not work so well these days. I'd honestly say that this idea would just complicate things further

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    @Meety on (August 24 2012, 11:46 AM GMT) I honestly think the only fair way to do it is for the ICC to start from scratch and standardise everything , so that in a 3 year period every top 8 side plays each other home and away in a set amount of tests per series (say 4) and then after that period you'll have a true number 1 and during that period all you'd have is teams placed in order of where they are at the time

  • POSTED BY RFeynman on | August 24, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    @Harmony111: Thank you for explaining the ranking system process. That answers a lot of questions :)

  • POSTED BY Arrow011 on | August 24, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    England & Australia are losing extremely talented players due to their no mischief policy. Finally their cricket is suffering. Australia punished Andy Symonds for "gone fishing" episode. Andy symonds was coming very good even as a test player, he was the best replacement for the power hitting wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist. Micheal Clarke & Ponting made a mess with Andy Symmonds career by being over strict. England is punishing KP for SMSing, you need to excuse some players, all 11 cannot be tailor-made. Some people have different mindsets but when that odd player happens to be a single handed match winner then why make fool of yourselves? Maybe the other 10 players are jealous of the match winner? Why not see in that direction as well? Without KP England cannot win outside their backyard, earlier they could atleast dream, now they cannot. 1 test win in SL was due to a run a ball innings of KP, nobody has 25% talent of his in England. Without Symmo Australia has no power hitter at all.

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | August 24, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    @JG2704: Eng have played in 3 WC finals not 2 viz 1979, 1987, 1992. As far as the rankings system goes, they are calculated on the performance of a team in a given time window that keeps on moving ahead week by week. Let's say the window starts from T0 to T10 and Eng are #1 and SA #2 blah blah. Eng would be ranked higher cos their performance in that window was the best. As time passes the time window now becomes T1 to T11 and it so happened that England had won 3 ODIs in the week T0-T1. But cos this week was now no longer being considered in the rankings, Eng will lose points unless they make up for those obsolete wins of the week now outside the time window by winning an equal no or more ODIs in the week of the present times. If Eng do not play any ODIs in the present week then they would suffer a net loss in their points and may go down in the rankings. Presently, Eng became #1 cos the incumbent #1 Team's strong performances were cut off and so they dropped down.

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | August 24, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    @JG2704: Eng have played in 3 WC finals not 2 viz 1979, 1987, 1992. As far as the rankings system goes, they are calculated on the performance of a team in a given time window that keeps on moving ahead week by week. Let's say the window starts from T0 to T10 and Eng are #1 and SA #2 blah blah. Eng would be ranked higher cos their performance in that window was the best. As time passes the time window now becomes T1 to T11 and it so happened that England had won 3 ODIs in the week T0-T1. But cos this week was now no longer being considered in the rankings, Eng will lose points unless they make up for those obsolete wins of the week now outside the time window by winning an equal no or more ODIs in the week of the present times. If Eng do not play any ODIs in the present week then they would suffer a net loss in their points and may go down in the rankings. Presently, Eng became #1 cos the incumbent #1 Team's strong performances were cut off and so they dropped down.

  • POSTED BY Badgerofdoom on | August 24, 2012, 14:57 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding well thanks for explaining the details for those not familiar with them but don't "points based system based on recent form" and "statistical points system based on current form" basically mean the same thing?

  • POSTED BY RFeynman on | August 24, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    @Matty and pommyadders: I am aware of England's recent streak in ODIs but when India defeated SL in the ODI series recently, it was stated that India became the no.1 in ODI rankings. Now if that is true, how can a side lose the position if it has not played any ODIs after that? My reply was to Front-Foot-Lunge who gloats that England was awesome in 2 years in ODIs. Where is the consistency if you get white-washed in series or lose the series 6-1? As for the gap between Eng/SA and the rest, I could see the huge gap when Eng played Pak in tests. It's funny that none of the SA fans boast about their team despite it being the ONLY side head and shoulders above the rest.To be the best team, you have to defeat every nation in its backyard. Apart for SA, I don't see any other team doing that in the next 3 years and that includes Aus and one of 5 greatest teams of all time - Eng. Does this mean now SA is one of the 6 greatest teams of all time because it beat 5th greatest team? Go SA!

  • POSTED BY Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on | August 24, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    @screamingeagle, hahaha that's a good one. 11 months in all I guess. KP is their lucky charm. They need to respect him and bring him back into the team.

  • POSTED BY Munkeymomo on | August 24, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Wow, surprised England aren't no1 in 2020s any more. Didn't know that had updated. Quite a surprise considering how many 2020s they win. Hmm, SA could be a challenge in the 2020s then. Still backing England in them. ODIs... probably SA. Or rain. My prediction of 15 days of rian in the test series didn't pan out. My ODI prediction: 5 days of rain. 1 down it looks like...

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 24, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    @Badgerofdoom, actually its a statistical points system based on current form, Ideally you want to play teams higher or equal to yourself in order to minimise points losses if you lose and maximise points gains when you win, If you used a traditional system, then there wouldnt be a problem, afterall Man utd dont not gain points if the beat a team at the bottom of the table, they still get points.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    @Sachin_the_god_forever on (August 24 2012, 08:47 AM GMT) re Zillions of years - Didn't world cups only start in the mid 70s and by my calculations there have been 10. Of those 10 , England got to the final twice which I know isn't great but not as bad as all that. SA have only played 6 of them.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 24, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @JG2704 - re: rankings. That's my gripe with the automatic adjustment period. It is too severe. I put fwd before, that it should be series related, whereby you win a series versus Team A away, until you play Team A away again, those points stay. It is based on the assumption that all Test nations stick to playing each other within a reasonable time (4 or 5 yrs). Whilst I am definately NOT saying Oz are the best ODI side (the 4nil loss to Eng put pay to that idea), there is no way that we should of gone from #1 to #4 so quickly. Just the same as England prior to the Saffa series, should not of increased their lead in the Test rankings. I also put fwd a Title belt along the same lines as Boxing, BOT to replace the rankings, but to give weight. At the moment the Saffas are #1, AND they are the holders of the belt (tracked from the FIRST test of all), if there was a Test Championship right now & the Saffas won it, they would be the UNDISPUTED world #1, holding THREE crowns!

  • POSTED BY chilled_avenger on | August 24, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Fast_Track_Bully I don't know about England,but South Africa are definitely not fast-track bullies because they have shown that are quite able to play spin! Didn't AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla score unbeaten double-tons during the last two tours of India?

  • POSTED BY Badgerofdoom on | August 24, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    I really think people need to come to terms with what the ranking system is, a points system based on your recent form. Since the start of the 2011 season England have won ODI series against SL, Ind, Pak, Aus, WI and a 1 game "series" vs Ireland. In the same time frame only 1 series was lost to Ind and the overall Win vs loss is 15-7. I kind of agree that Eng are a flawed ODI team but on results it seems fair that SA and Eng should be playing for the No.1 spot at the moment.

  • POSTED BY tommytucker on | August 24, 2012, 9:34 GMT

    Don't worry Alistair, we are also equally surprised.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @veerakannadiga on (August 24 2012, 07:16 AM GMT) Could be something in that re Pak. Maybe when we hit rock bottom . is when we start to play our best cricket. I mean vs Pak we'd come off a 5-0 ODI defeat vs India and a 3-0 test defeat to Pak so maybe part is to do with not having the expectation. Not sure how it works now. I mean do we have the expectation due to this years ODI form or are we free of it because we just lost to the same team?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    @CandidIndian on (August 24 2012, 05:20 AM GMT) Fair enough but I actually don't understand these rankings right now. Having said that , while I don't think we are the best ODI side out there , I don't understand what we did to lose our T20 ranking where we were many points ahead and haven't lost for some time. Re our players , I think they just love the battle of the tests and the razzmatazz of T20s more than ODIs. I'll certainly accept the rankings but I certainly won't disagree with folk who don't think we should be there. To me , this years results just show that we're not as bad as the junksters make us out to be. We could win or lose this series 5-0 - nothing overly surprises me with England .All the best

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    @pommyadders on (August 24 2012, 02:37 AM GMT) I still think there is 1 too many nurdlers in our side. For me that man is Trott as I feel Bell has slightly improved while Trott has regressed as far as SR and basic urgency goes. Also Bairstow and Buttler are both better fielders and better runners between the wickets , I've started to wonder if Trott is a bit of a liability re the latter. Also the 1st ODI (I think it was the 1st) vs Aus , Morgan came in and bludgeoned his way to a very fast 80. Had that not happened , Aus might well have won it and had the momentum. I just think that Trott lacks a bit of urgency for this format and I'm not just meaning hitting but also running

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    @ddlj26 on (August 23 2012, 23:56 PM GMT) Actually the last WC was last year so I'm surprised when you're sniping at England you underplay that. It was a strange WC because although we were more bad than good it's funny how folk remember the defeats to Bangladesh (who actually aren't a bad side and have since reached the Asia cup final at the expense of India and SL) and Ireland and forget the win vs SA and draw against eventual winners Bangladesh. We're a strange team , we lost 5-0 to India but have won every match we've played since inc beating Asia cup winners Pak away 4-0 and the then number 1 ODI side Aus at home 4-0. Anything can happen

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    @MattyP1979 on (August 23 2012, 21:14 PM GMT) Certainly isn't a massive gulf at the top. I've said for a while that there's little between the top 3 sides. Even as an England fan , I'd say on form since the last Ashes series Australia must be ahead of us and they drew in SA not that long ago either. Pak beat us 3-0 and SL then beat Pak 1-0. Things will become clearer on England after they've toured India. If they win that would be a great achievement , if they get thrashed then it could mean the continuation of the downward spiral

  • POSTED BY Fast_Track_Bully on | August 24, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    Is it for a - Fast Track Bully trophy? Just to reply someone mentioned India-SL series as Flat Track Bully Trophy...lol In that case, here both the teams not able to play spin and this series will find who is the Fast Track King. Isn't it?

  • POSTED BY Sachin_the_god_forever on | August 24, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    @Sunny xavier winning a world cup is the top honour than to get a number one in odi's Or winning a bilateral ODI series...Thats what England and southafrica trying for zillion years....even though i am SA supporter but this is the fact...

  • POSTED BY Starboomber on | August 24, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    As a South African I feeel SA are not strong in ODIs as they are in Tests. I won't be surprised if we are whitewashed....

  • POSTED BY Selassie-I on | August 24, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @The_blue_android - I take it you were residing in a place with no TV, radio or internet connection during the recent Aus/Eng ODI series not involving KP then? Or you haven't seen cook bat in an ODI in the last 18 months? I'm actually looking forward to this series now, unusual for an ODI series but I am.. a lot of good players on show, will be nice to have a look at a few of these young/new Saffers that I haven't seen personally in action yet too... and hopefully a bit more of what YJB has to offer.

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    @Sachin_the_god_forever , India failed to southafrica in home condition in the last world cup.Wining world cup is not the only thing which makes a team no 1.then australia,westindies,india,srilanka,pakistan will be awarded no 1 rankings.But the truth is these teams cannot beat southafrica in any series.india never won a single game a in world cup game against southafrica or a series in south africa.If indians and australians are too good then why they going for southafrican coach.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 24, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    @zenboomerang cant disagree about the cut off, and I think youd agree not having a stand out team in any format is great for the game as it makes for exciting series. How many series in the last 18month window have been about deciding the Number one test team, off the top of my head around 6, Eng vs India, SA vs SL/NZ, Eng vs SL (England Loss = SA #1), Eng vs WI (england loss = SA #1) ,Eng vs SA, coming up in the next 6 months theres also the SA vs Aus and Eng vs Ind, Aus vs SL, with SA playing PK, NZ so the ranking are going to be volatile for this period or one team (SA) will emerge as the dominant one.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 24, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    @the_blue_android, Hold on, didnt england just Beat the a full strength West Indies Side without KP?, and I seem to remember a lot of commentators on these baords stating that Narine would tear england to shreds in the ODI's and gayle would put them to the sword, which admittly gayle did in ONE game, Te same was also said about England vs Australia, and that Australia would put them in thier place, I dont think they managed that. SA are a different prospect and with or without KP england are likely to struggle but until the final ball is bowled we wont know the result.

  • POSTED BY veerakannadiga on | August 24, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Watch out for Bell. He is the dark horse.England will miss KP. Strange how things have changed. England were a so-so one day team, but now they are doing well in one dayers. Is it because they are avenging their Test defeats?

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    south africa just need to win today and its bye bye number 1 odi spot for england, thanks for the invite england we will take that cheers

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | August 24, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Without KP, this England team will not be able to score even 180 in 50 overs. They may however not lose a wicket though since they are good in blocking and leaving outside off stump. The most hilarious thing would be to actually see England batsman trying to score 6 RPO in a T20.

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | August 24, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    HMM . SO EVEN COOK IS SURPRISED BY ENGLAND 'S ODI RANKING .

  • POSTED BY Jack_Tka on | August 24, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    The ODIs are going to be close matches. My gut feeling says that SA will win the series. This because they are on roll right now. And like the TEST series, Eng will play to justify/save their Rank#1 again in the ODIs. Inspite of all this ranking, I believe that Eng has a decent ODI side. But with Trott, Bell the scoring rate won't be high and bowlers would have to do something to keep AB/Duminy to keep a check on. BTW Cook is a very decent ODI batsman. He has improved his performance over the time in ODIs.

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    RodStark: Do u think losing in home worst than losing away. can you the last time India lost a home serious???????????????? Don't say flat track or spin friendly, both team play on same track.....

  • POSTED BY kitten on | August 24, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    @ Rodstark...'And if England "were the most overrated test team when they took it from india last year" then what on earth were the #1-ranked Indian team that lost to them 4-0?'.

    I would like to remind the above person that India held the position for nigh on 20 months or thereabouts, and they never were beaten at home during that period. They did get beaten out of sight in England, but if one remembers correctly, they came to England after a tour of WI, and their best bowler, Khan, after taking the wickets of Strauss and Cook in the first hour on the first day of the series, gotinjured and took no further part in the series. Also the India team suffered injuries left right and centre, and England beat a very weak and disjointed team. If England do manage to beat Indiia this winter in India, then all kudos to them. Let us make no mistake, India, in India is a powerhouse, and it was a real achievement for Australia to beat then when they did a few years ago.

  • POSTED BY tommytucker on | August 24, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    Don't worry Alistair, we are also equally surprised.

  • POSTED BY Sachin_the_god_forever on | August 24, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Funny!! England vs south africa (JOKERS vs CHOKERS)..teams never won a single Odi world cup fighting for the number one spot...HILARIOUS..anyway best of luck to SA..

  • POSTED BY CandidIndian on | August 24, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    @JG2704-Its not a false position,they deserve the ranking if they reached there.Actually either we should totally believe in system of rankings or dismiss it fully,many people here make lot of comments about deserving no 1 and undeserving no 1 which is too harsh in my opinion.Whichever team reaches top ranking ,they deserve it as simple as that.However to be fair ICC rankings show current form and consistency of a team ,if i am not wrong England won series against Pakistan in UAE and then they managed to beat Aussies,so that shows that their current form has been good and they got to no 1,that's fair enough.As a neutral fan i feel that many Eng players find ODI format too boring like Swann claims it to be.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | August 24, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    @pommyadders... re: Oz - we slid down more due to the 3rd year being dropped this month more than anything else... Just as Eng large T20 advantage disappeared overnight & dropped them to 2nd - swings & roundabouts, though I feel the ranking system should extend out to 3/4 yrs & use less dramatic cutting off points...

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | August 24, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    @pommyadders... Agree on your comms - there are no standout teams atm in Tests & ODI's... The current rankings put SA on 120 in Test & Eng 121 in ODI, which are just average for the no.1 teams... When India were on top they reached 130 & Eng 125, with both slippings back in away series... Oz in ODI got to 134 but has slipped back over the last 2 years... The current top teams haven't risen up, but rather the top teams have fallen back to the ranks... When one of the top teams can reasonably regularly win at home & away then there will be a real no.1 in cricket... As it is, England played poorly against SA, yet still managed to have 2 out of 3 close games... Not much in it atm...

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    @Rod Stark: If England is the deserving No. 1 team then they should be able to win a series in the Sub-Continent(Except in Bangladesh ofcourse) which they have been unable to do for years. If India cannot play in seam conditions and you say they don't deserve to be No.1 team, I say it the other way, If England cannot win on turning pitches, they don't deserve to be No. 1. And for your info, england has won only Home series and the Ashes in Australia to claim the No.1 spot. Let them tour other nations and then win. Especially I want to see them coming to India and SA. That will be fun.

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    As far as I remember India were Number 1 after defeating SriLanka..and none of the teams involved(India,SriLanka,England,SA) played any ODI match after that...so how come England and SA edged out...???

  • POSTED BY on | August 24, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge: "England have been awesome in One Day Cricket these last couple of years". The last time that England toured the sub-continent, they lost 5-0 only because it was a 5 match series. Had it been a 7 match series, like the one they played in Australia just before the 2011 World Cup, they may have been the first ICC full member (or for that matter, even the first team) to lose an ODI series 7-0! In fact, since 2002, England have won just one single solitary ODI in India against India, on April 12, 2005. No other ranked 1 team has done so badly.

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | August 24, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    ddlj26 : Well, first you're wrong on the facts, because SA were ranked #1 in tests for the shortest ever period when they got there a few years ago. And if England "were the most overrated test team when they took it from india last year" then what on earth were the #1-ranked Indian team that lost to them 4-0?

  • POSTED BY pommyadders on | August 24, 2012, 2:37 GMT

    @JG2704. I used to share your concern over our "nurdlers" and didn't see a place for all 3 of Cook, Trott and Bell in the same side, but whilst it's still too soon to judge I think the 2 balls has changed ODI cricket in a big way and "traditional" test batsmen will prosper in the format as a result. It's hard to argue with the results so far with 10 straight wins on the board but it will certainly be a massive test for the lineup when and if they have to chase a score around 350.

  • POSTED BY Harmony111 on | August 24, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    @dsig3: Care to explain why do you think it is unfortunate that India are the ODI World Champions?

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | August 24, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    Interesting that de Villiers thinks we "might be a batsman light". That's exactly what Australia (Watson?) said, and, lo and behold, we didn't even need to worry about the lower order in any of the games.

  • POSTED BY pommyadders on | August 24, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    @RFeynman. You are quite correct about Eng losing 5-0 to India and being horribly inconsistent in the World Cup, but your memory seems to be equally selective. You seem to be glossing over the fact Eng are currently on an unbeaten run of 10 consecutive ODI wins spanning 3 series, something no other team can currently boast. As for "They certainly didn't start the slide for any nation in ODIs in the last 2 years" I'm really not sure how that is of importance, but weren't Australia ranked No 1 before we whitewashed them 4-0. They are currently ranked 4th........wouldn't that fill that criteria??

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 24, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    RFeynman. It is not amazing at all, its very simple. We have won more games than others and have been more consistant. As I have said before slate Eng all you want but the fact is our ranking is justified, if we are a poor side other teams are simply worse. WI/Aus in their prime still lost games. If you are looking for a team to beat everyone everywhere all the time you might have to wait a while, I hope a long time. Every pick at Eng is a backhand at your own sides (SA aside).

  • POSTED BY BG4cricket on | August 24, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    Really looking forward to what should be an enthralling series. England have performed well over the past year in ODIs and it should be very closely contested. Now that Broad is out Finn is absolutely key to England doing well and if he can continue getting regular breakthroughs it will place pressure on SA who would then have to rely on players like du Plessis to score more heavily and consistently which might be beyond them. However if the top 4 of Smith, Amla, Kallis and de Villiers get in it will provide a platform for some big scores as the latter middle order scores very quickly. England could be a batsman short against a very good attack although their top 6 have been very good recently and delivered well. I think Bell striking form will be key for England but looking forward to a great battle between two very good sides.

  • POSTED BY ddlj26 on | August 23, 2012, 23:56 GMT

    England being ranked #1 is the biggest joke ever, this is after all the team that lost to ireland and bangladesh in a world cup tournament just 2 years back with pretty much the same team, i see SA taking this series 4-1, england are destined to be placed 4th in tests after they lose to india at the end of this year and be ranked even below bangladesh in ODI's soon..... I believe england were the most overrated TEST team when they took it from india last year and embarassingly were displaced after just 1 year which is the shortest ranking placement ever :), and according to this ODI this will be even more embarassing after being top of the rankings for just a couple of days lol :)

  • POSTED BY cricketfannik on | August 23, 2012, 23:48 GMT

    good joke @Nadeem1976 that shows how much knowlegde and cricketing brain u have. anyways SA is a tough side to beat any where. Eng have so many issues atm which needs to be resolved and i dont understand why cook is a captain of the side, neither he is aggresive and nor he takes any stand for his player same with broad they are not captain material. Prior is a guy who shows some fight other than that no one. but it would be good series but SA bowling attack is so powerful and Eng is so inexperience. lets see ICC should consider more triabgular seires else these 50 over 5 match 7 match series will kill the interest. cheers

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | August 23, 2012, 23:12 GMT

    @ Chris Sun - The same IS true for poms. 40 years of ODIs and still nothing to show for it. In this series, if they can score about 180/2 in 50 overs, they should feel good about themselves. That would be a pretty good scoring rate for a team which can boast of some serious power hitters in the form of Trott, Bell and Cook.

  • POSTED BY pommyadders on | August 23, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    @MattyP1979. Agree with what you are saying mate, apart from..... "The simple truth is there is a massive gulf between SA/Eng in all three formats compared to the rest. If you want to throw stones go ahead but look at the games coming up, Eng will should cement no.2 perhaps even go back up." In the test and ODI formats I don't think SA/ENG are far in front at all, Aus and India are in the mix as well. Aus could go No1 one if they beat SA later this year. And looking at the upcoming games, Eng's next test series is against India in India. As an England fan realistically I can't see us wining that series, so we'll be going backwards before we go forward. If India beat NZ and then us (as I expect) all of a sudden they are 2nd again. The top 4 teams are a lot closer than you think they are and it will take a good prolonged run of wins for Eng to get back to No1. Can they do it?? Of course they can.......COME ON THE LAND!!!

  • POSTED BY 360review on | August 23, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge, your sign-on name should be foot-in-mouth. Since when did England caused India's ODI slide? Did you forget that England got white-washed in India within last 12 months? Beating other teams in England with help of weather does not count as a strong team. Just keep praying that it rains during all ODI's and England will find a way to win.

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | August 23, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    Its just rankings folks. England are a pretty good outfit in all formats. Alot of teams are very close at the top. With ODI's, rankings mean nothing, world cups are more important. In my mind, India are still the champs unfortunately.

  • POSTED BY MattyP1979 on | August 23, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    If Eng are that rubbish then how bad are the other cricketing nations? We are ranked no.2 in tests and top in the other 2 formats. Eng are a decent side and unlike some other nations our best players are about to hit their prime and not the old peoples home. The simple truth is there is a massive gulf between SA/Eng in all three formats compared to the rest. If you want to throw stones go ahead but look at the games coming up, Eng will should cement no.2 perhaps even go back up.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | August 23, 2012, 21:00 GMT

    @Rabul Vats: England were #1 in Test and T20 when the T20 rankings started, but not ODIs. By the time the ranking periods were updated, they stayed #1 in Tests, rose to #1 in ODIs but dropped from #1 in T20s. The T20 rankings especially fluctuate a lot.

  • POSTED BY Nadeem1976 on | August 23, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    ICC should scrap ODI after 2015 WC. More T2020 and more Tests between top countries i am looking for. ODI is not that attractive any more. England at home under lights is threat in ODI, they will easily beat SA because the ball moves too much and it's not that easy to play slow medium swing bowlers of england. I hope SA wins but after putting too much effort in test series i don't think SA will go for kill in this ODI series. It's cricket and one should not over kill it.

  • POSTED BY RFeynman on | August 23, 2012, 20:27 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge: "England have been awesome in One Day Cricket these last couple of years". Really? You seem to have a very selective memory because the last time I checked, they were white-washed in India 5-0. How is losing the complete series 5 - 0 awesome? They were the most inconsistent side in the World Cup 2011 by winning against SA, tie with India and losing to Bangladesh and Ireland. And all this in the past 2 years. And just before the world cup, lost 6-1 to Australia. They certainly didn't start the slide for any nation in ODIs in the last 2 years. It is amazing how they are ranked no.1 despite these performances.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | August 23, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    Must admit I find it hard to believe we are ranked the best in ODIs and for once I do feel it is a false position. Having said that ,I don't understand how we lost our number 1 spot in T20s as we seem to do little wrong there. I'm still not convinced by the side and still feel that we will miss KP and that we have too many nurdlers/accumulators compared to hitters.I said this before KP was omitted.This will sound controversial (as I think he's officially our number 1 batsmen) but I'd replace Trott with Jonny or Jos. I thought Trott laboured a bit in the last series and while he still scores runs I worry about him eating up overs if we're chasing a big total. Re the team , I too would like to see Woakes in it. The guy deserves a chance and if we go for 2 spinners he should replace Bresnan who I feel has been a bit hit or miss lately.

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    @ Rahul. Not quite, They were number one in T20 and lost it (not while playing - but while other teams were playing) and are now number 2. I agree with this. No way are these rankings right. England are a decent ODI side (and that's a BIG improvement on a year ago and the WC) but number 1? No. England just about deserved to be number 1 test for a while (SA only one 2 of their last 8 test series - they just kept on drawing against all comers..why? Who knows) England had won 6 out of their last 8 series when they reached number one. Nevertheless, SA are now clearly number one test side and I believe a better ODI side than England. Let's see though. England have some promising players coming through. Just seen Mills of Essex bowling VERY quick, Finn, Bairstow, Taylor, Gale and others. A new guard of players brought up with T20 and "clearing the ropes" since they were juniors is on the horizon. Looking forward to the next few years.

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    And no one should be surprised that SA will never win a world cup or win against Australia.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | August 23, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    Rahul Vats - No, England were not number 1 in all 3 formats at the same time. Many English posters here stated they were, but they ignored the rankings when it suited them (like actual T20 ranking of #2 they claimed to be #1 anyway because of winning the last ICC tournament) but quoted the rankings where England were #1 like in ODIs, despite not winning the WC. So no, not #1 in all formats at the same time.

  • POSTED BY sharmas21 on | August 23, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    If SA becomes number1 in all three forms of Cricket, England will follow them and will be number 2 in all three forms.

  • POSTED BY 200ondebut on | August 23, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    As a supporter I tend to agree with Cook - it doesn't feel like we have the best team. The batting does not seem to have enough players who can clear the ropes and the bowlers seem to find it hard to cope if someone goes after them.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | August 23, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    If England go with the team suggested in the preview, I would say they look slightly stronger in the batting department than SA on paper... But hey, we all know what that's worth. Bresnan's form sucks of late, so not only does AB have a point but it shows how much pressure England are putting on their all-rounders/bowlers-who-can-bat-a-little to contribute.

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    There's an amusing (Freudian?) typo in here: "But despite the emphatic support he has received from his coach Andy Flower, who does not regard the matter as up for DESTRUCTION, it is a dangerous time in a captain's career...".

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    Were England not the first team to be No. 1 in all 3 formats of the game?

  • POSTED BY yorkshire-86 on | August 23, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    De Villiers suggested that England might be a specialist batsman light. "It's something we'll be attacking," he said. "They may be conservative up front because they are a batter light, they don't have the wicket keeper at No.7 like most teams.

    Really?

    Position of wicketkeeper in leading ODI teams:

    England - opener SA - 4/5 Australia - opener Pakistan - opener New Zealand - 3 India - 4/5 Sri Lanka - 3 West Indies - 7 Ireland - 5 Zimbabwe (when they were actually good) - opener

    So West Indies are the only top team that regularly field thier wicketkeeper at 7...

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 23, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    England have been awesome in One Day Cricket these last couple of years, just look at how they whitewashed Australia recently. People may say Australia aren't really that good these days, but just remember their slide, along with India's, was started by England.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | August 23, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    give us a break they have won 10 out of the last 11 so thats why they are top. to say they have lost the odis top spot after 1 game, i hope that was tongue in cheek. they have done very well to were they were a couple of years ago. unlike the tests i think they will win. the 1st odi looks to have rain for the forecast so maybe a washout or the toss decides who wins. we had the aussies watson saying we were a batter short. when did any english cricketer or manager or captain ever say that it in a build up to a series. the aussies could not get that far down the batting order. though i expect a harder fight than a poor aussie side. so lets wait till the end of the series before saying were about we are.

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 23, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Of course, Cook should be surprised about how rapid the fall of the test team was as well.

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  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 23, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Of course, Cook should be surprised about how rapid the fall of the test team was as well.

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | August 23, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    give us a break they have won 10 out of the last 11 so thats why they are top. to say they have lost the odis top spot after 1 game, i hope that was tongue in cheek. they have done very well to were they were a couple of years ago. unlike the tests i think they will win. the 1st odi looks to have rain for the forecast so maybe a washout or the toss decides who wins. we had the aussies watson saying we were a batter short. when did any english cricketer or manager or captain ever say that it in a build up to a series. the aussies could not get that far down the batting order. though i expect a harder fight than a poor aussie side. so lets wait till the end of the series before saying were about we are.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | August 23, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    England have been awesome in One Day Cricket these last couple of years, just look at how they whitewashed Australia recently. People may say Australia aren't really that good these days, but just remember their slide, along with India's, was started by England.

  • POSTED BY yorkshire-86 on | August 23, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    De Villiers suggested that England might be a specialist batsman light. "It's something we'll be attacking," he said. "They may be conservative up front because they are a batter light, they don't have the wicket keeper at No.7 like most teams.

    Really?

    Position of wicketkeeper in leading ODI teams:

    England - opener SA - 4/5 Australia - opener Pakistan - opener New Zealand - 3 India - 4/5 Sri Lanka - 3 West Indies - 7 Ireland - 5 Zimbabwe (when they were actually good) - opener

    So West Indies are the only top team that regularly field thier wicketkeeper at 7...

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    Were England not the first team to be No. 1 in all 3 formats of the game?

  • POSTED BY on | August 23, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    There's an amusing (Freudian?) typo in here: "But despite the emphatic support he has received from his coach Andy Flower, who does not regard the matter as up for DESTRUCTION, it is a dangerous time in a captain's career...".

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | August 23, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    If England go with the team suggested in the preview, I would say they look slightly stronger in the batting department than SA on paper... But hey, we all know what that's worth. Bresnan's form sucks of late, so not only does AB have a point but it shows how much pressure England are putting on their all-rounders/bowlers-who-can-bat-a-little to contribute.

  • POSTED BY 200ondebut on | August 23, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    As a supporter I tend to agree with Cook - it doesn't feel like we have the best team. The batting does not seem to have enough players who can clear the ropes and the bowlers seem to find it hard to cope if someone goes after them.

  • POSTED BY sharmas21 on | August 23, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    If SA becomes number1 in all three forms of Cricket, England will follow them and will be number 2 in all three forms.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | August 23, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    Rahul Vats - No, England were not number 1 in all 3 formats at the same time. Many English posters here stated they were, but they ignored the rankings when it suited them (like actual T20 ranking of #2 they claimed to be #1 anyway because of winning the last ICC tournament) but quoted the rankings where England were #1 like in ODIs, despite not winning the WC. So no, not #1 in all formats at the same time.