Rob Houwing Sport24, chief writer
Cape Town – The good news is that South
Africa, presently third, could recapture top spot on the ICC Test rankings from
England as early as the looming home summer.
Slightly more sobering, though, is that to
do so they will be required to clean sweep their respective 2011/12 guests,
Australia and Sri Lanka, 2-0 and 3-0, to leapfrog Andrew Strauss’s currently
The Proteas, a little disappointingly, only
play two Tests against the Aussies in early season (both during November,
Newlands and Wanderers) before going on to entertain the Lankans in the “peak”
summer of December and January with Tests at Centurion, Kingsmead and Newlands
And a 5-0 clean-up appears to be the
minimum requirement for them to recapture No 1, if reports out of England are
to be believed.
In the shorter term, South Africa can
re-advance to No 2 by this weekend if England complete their own 4-0 series
whitewash over the disappointing Indians at the Oval, thus banishing MS Dhoni’s
side to third on the ICC list.
England’s next Test series will only be
against Pakistan in the neutral United Arab Emirates in January and February,
by which time they could have been pipped to No 1 if Graeme Smith’s side really
hit their straps on home turf ahead of that.
The Proteas, of course, will be under the
coaching command of Gary Kirsten, who took India not only to No 1 in the Test
arena but also to World Cup success earlier this year before returning to more
Africa’s home Test record has been moderate for several summers, with defeat to
Australia in the 2008/09 season – it rather undid their heroics in winning Down
Under just ahead of it – followed by a 1-1 outcome with England in 2009/10 and
a similar result against India in 2010/11.