England’s hopes of reaching the World Test Championship final may be over, but they can harbour realistic aspirations of reaching the summit of the ICC’s Test world rankings later this year.
Using the ICC’s ranking predictor tool, you can chart out a set of not wholly unrealistic paths that would see England reach the top of the world rankings by the end of their home summer.
The most straightforward route to the top involves sealing a series-levelling win in Ahmedabad this week. Though a drawn series against India would keep them in fourth place – behind New Zealand, India and Australia – it would put them within striking distance of the top three.
Much rests on their home series against New Zealand, the side currently ranked top of the pile. A 2-0 series victory would still keep England in fourth, but crucially bringing New Zealand down by six rating points. If England win the fourth Test at Ahmedabad, beat New Zealand 2-0, a series victory of any margin at home to India would take them to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2012, if New Zealand win the World Test Championship final. If India or Australia win the WTC final, England would need a two-game margin of victory to take them top.
Should England lose at Ahmedabad, it is still possible for them to reach the summit by the end of the summer, though it becomes markedly less plausible. An India victory would take the hosts back above New Zealand at the top of the rankings with a rating of 120, 14 rating points above England.
To reach the summit from there, England would need a dominant home summer. Realistically, they would need to beat New Zealand 2-0 and conquer India either 4-0 or 5-0 to catapult themselves back over Virat Kohli’s side. Even a 4-1 victory, which they achieved over India in 2018, wouldn’t be enough for England to get back to the top of the rankings. Similarly, a 1-0 series victory over New Zealand and a 5-0 win over India wouldn’t suffice either.
A draw at Ahmedabad gives them a slightly better chance. That would mean that a 3-0 or 4-1 series victory over India at would see them top the rankings, as long they beat New Zealand 2-0 earlier in the summer.
Anything less than a series win over New Zealand will see England without a chance of reaching the top. A 1-0 series win would see them requiring a 3-0, 4-0, 4-1 or 5-0 series victory over India to go top. It is possible for any of England, India, New Zealand or Australia to finish the English summer at the top of the rankings.