If England lose in the West Indies, they risk dropping from fourth to sixth in the ICC World Test rankings.
Eight nations are playing Test cricket over the course of February and March, with New Zealand hosting South Africa, India at home to Sri Lanka, Australia away at Pakistan and England travelling to the West Indies.
As a result, there is the potential for plenty of movement in the ICC World Test rankings. In particular, a loss for England in the Caribbean could be particularly damaging. England currently sit just ahead of South Africa and Pakistan in the standings. And if an England loss is combined with South Africa managing a draw in their series away to New Zealand and Pakistan overcoming Australia at home, both sides will overtake England, leaving Joe Root’s side in sixth place.
In fact, even in the result of a South Africa loss (combined with an England defeat), it is still possible for the Proteas to overtake England so long as they themselves only fall to a 1-0 defeat in their two match series against New Zealand. However, given their recent performance at home to India, South Africa will harbour hopes of at least drawing the two match series against the Black Caps. New Zealand have never beaten the Proteas in a Test series, and will need to bounce back from drawing to Bangladesh 1-1 in their last Test series.
And even a win for England might not be enough to halt the slide. A 2-1 win, combined with whitewashes by South Africa and Pakistan, would still see them drop to sixth.
History does not reflect well on England’s chances in the Caribbean. They have won just one Test series in the West Indies in the last 50 years, a result which came in 2004 when they won 3-0 in a series that is most famous for Brian Lara’s record Test score of 400*. Since then England have lost series in 2009 and 2019 and drawn in 2015.
England’s defeat in 2019, their most recent visit, saw them lose 2-1 and fail to pass 300 in five of their six innings, with the low point being bundled out for 77 in the first Test held in Bridgetown.
Unfortunately, even for the most optimistic of England fans, a 3-0 win this time around would not see them rise in the standings as they are too far behind the three nations ahead of them in Australia, New Zealand and India. West Indies are placed seventh in the Test rankings, and are a distance off the top six, meaning there are limited points on offer in the event of an England win. Even if West Indies win 3-0, and Pakistan and South Africa both succumb to whitewashes, the Caribbean side will still sit in seventh place.
Australia currently lead the rankings. However if they lose or draw away to Pakistan the door will be open to either New Zealand or India to takeover the No.1 spot. New Zealand are arguably the favourites to regain top spot as even a 2-0 sweep for India at home to Sri Lanka wouldn’t be enough to take first place if New Zealand beat South Africa by any margin. However, a draw for New Zealand would mean India take top spot with a win over Sri Lanka.
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