x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Playing in the Asian subcontinent is a test for all No 1 cricket sides

England's stay at the top could be a brief one, too, given that their year is hardly about to get easier, with Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home to come.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Judging by the way England have played in their first series since rising to the top of the world Test rankings, being top dogs is a heavy burden to bear.

"We didn't devise the rankings system," Andrew Strauss, England's captain, said before the start of the third Test against Pakistan, when asked if he thought his side had lived up to their status in this series.

As cases for the defence go, it was pretty submissive, but such has been their way in the UAE.

They have been every bit as supine, indeed, as India's performance last summer when they arrived in the UK as world champions an d the No 1 ranked side in Tests, too.

Being the official No 1 is like kryptonite. India have been in decline ever since they reached the summit.

England's stay at the top could be a brief one, too, given that their year is hardly about to get easier, with Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home to come.

The Australia side of the nineties and noughties were the last to be indisputably the best team in the game. It is no coincidence that they were capable of winning overseas.

India have proved that is beyond them in the recent past. It would be harsh on England to say the same is true of them, as it would forget some fine performances on their travels in the recent past, most notably in last winter's Ashes.

However, like that Australian side, they need to prove their worth in Asia if they are going to win people's minds, not just ranking points.

Winning anywhere on the subcontinent (UAE included) is becoming their final frontier.

 

pradley@thenational.ae