ICC hail 'consistent' England
Birmingham - International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat praised England's rise to number one in the Test rankings after their latest thrashing of India on Saturday.
England won by an innings and 242 runs, with more than a day to spare, to win the third Test at Edgbaston and so take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in this four-match series.
Victory also meant Andrew Strauss's men had won this series by the two-match margin they needed to replace India at the summit of Test cricket and top the table for the first time since its creation in 2003.
"This achievement is just reward for the hard work from all the players and team management and they no doubt will celebrate being on top of the world," Lorgat said in a statement.
England had started the series in third position behind South Africa and trailing top ranked India by eight ratings points.
But a series of progressively larger wins - by 196 runs in the first Test at Lord's, 319 runs at Trent Bridge and their innings success in Birmingham - saw them overhaul India in style.
"On behalf of the ICC, I would like to congratulate Andrew Strauss, (England coach) Andy Flower and the whole team for becoming the number-one ranked Test team in the world," Lorgat said.
"I know they were determined to be number-one and through careful planning and a series of clinical performances, they have deservedly achieved their goal," the South African added.
"They were clearly the most consistent side in the world over the past few years as evidenced by their 19 out of 30 Test wins and only four loses."
Although the ICC table is only eight years old, it also retrospectively ranks Test sides.
On that basis, England were last top of the rankings in February 1979 when the then number-one ranked West Indies lost a six-Test series in India 1-0.
However, the West Indies bounced back 17 months later to beat England by 1-0 in a five-Test series to reclaim the number-one ranking.
Prior to this and since the 1950s, England had twice achieved number-one status.
The first occasion was from 1955 to 1959, when teams captained by Len Hutton and Peter May produced a golden era for English cricket and then from 1970 to 1973, a period where England regained the Ashes in Australia under Ray Illingworth in 1970/71.
India's current period atop the ICC table started when they beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in a three-Test series in December 2009.
If England win the fourth and final Test at The Oval next week, they will finish on 125 ratings points while India will drop to third on 117 points.
However, if India wins or draws the Test, it will stay ahead of South Africa in second position. A win will take India to 120 points while a drawn Test will see them finish on 119.
The four teams at the top of the standings in mid January 2013 will progress to the playoffs with the inaugural World Test Championship final set to be played in England later that year.