Criticising the ICC Test rankings for not painting a true picture of the performances of international teams, cricket legend Ian Botham said that England should have been occupying the number one spot in the world, instead of languishing in its present position at number four. Hailing Alastair Cook’s side as the most feared one in the world as present, Botham added that the hosts will win convincingly in the upcoming Test series against Pakistan.
England are currently ranked behind arch-rivals Australia, who occupy the No 1 spot, as well as Asian neighbours India and Pakistan – something which irks the England legend to the core. A 2-0 or 3-1 series win for the hosts in the four-match series against Misbah-ul-Haq’s men will see England join India in the 2nd spot, but according to Botham, England should already be well ahead of the rest.
"England are the best side in the world right now and certainly the most feared - they proved it against Australia and then beat South Africa on their own soil," Botham was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Wednesday. "England are a confident side and a very well-organised unit. I don't pay too much attention to the ranking system, they deserve to be number one in the world now."
A small look at England’s performances in the longest format of the game certainly adds weight to Botham’s claims. In addition to the series triumphs mentioned by the former all-rounder in his comments, England trumped Sri Lanka recently in a three-match Test series, while they also registered a convincing victory over another Asian country, India, back in 2014.
In fact, England have only lost once in their previous seven Test series, which incidentally came against Pakistan in the UAE in 2015. Despite that disappointing loss and the threat posed by the much-awaited return to Test cricket of Pakistan speedster Mohammad Amir, Botham feels England will walk away handsome winners at the end of the series.
"It will be an exciting series but I can't see Pakistan winning a match," he said.
Botham also welcomed the decision by the England team management to promote Joe Root to the number 3 spot for the Pakistan series claiming that he was the best batsman in the world at present and would easily adjust to his new role.
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"I've no problem with Joe batting at three. All the best batsmen in world cricket bat at three - look at Ricky Ponting and Viv Richards,” Botham said. “Joe is the best batsman in the world right now, and I'm sure he'll be fine with moving up the order."