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Now that Australia have fallen off the perch, who stakes the most persuasive claim to being the world's No. 1 Test side?
January 14, 2009
former South Africa batsman and selector
The top two sides are South Africa and India. Both are pretty even, and it is hard to say who is better. India have done well against Australia in the last year or two and they have a good Test side, and South Africa have just won a series in Australia, which doesn't happen too often. A good Test side is one that has a good balance - where your top six are good players, all scoring runs, and you have a balanced bowling attack, with two good fast bowlers. Australia had all that till they lost a good spinner, and that's why they're are a pretty ordinary side at the moment.
former England captain and selector
It is difficult one to assess, but potentially, at the Test match level, probably South Africa at the moment. A lot will depend on how Australia's new players settle in. One of the problems is that everybody has a dearth of spin bowling, apart from India, and everyone has been a bit let down by that. It also depends on the types of pitches you play on: certainly if you go to India, India are the best side in the world. Whether they'll be able to do that on harder pitches, I don't know. Over the next 12 months South Africa play Australia again, England play Australia, and India play in New Zealand. So things should get more clear.
former Australia wicketkeeper and New Zealand coach
You can't put a finger on any one team at the moment. It is very difficult to say one is better than the other at this point of time because different teams play better in different conditions. The one thing I do know is, there are only three in this particular race: Australia, South Africa and, of course, India. All of a sudden the wheels have turned and it is the first time people have started to ask this question.
former India player and coach
South Africa are on top, followed by India. The South Africans have not only proved themselves at home but away, and the kind of the cricket they are playing for the last few years has been absolutely outstanding. India are yet to conclusively prove themselves overseas, and the series in New Zealand is a good starting point to overcome that challenge. They have faced problems on sticky, moving, seaming, bouncy pitches, so if they beat New Zealand then they stand a good chance of being called No. 1.
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