England has clinched the top spot from India in tests in style sparking off the debate whether they would be the long time dominators like Australia and West Indies or the 4 month dominators like South Africa or maybe the India like dominators, who just manage to dominate for 2 years and are then buried off. Seeing England's recent performance against the previously no. 1 ranked side particularly beating them 3-0 in 3 tests with 1 to go(going England's way again). Their recent ruthless performance in the past 2 years make them look like serious contenders to be the world beaters. But would England really be the same force for a long time?
Well there is no reason as to why they won't be one. They have all their players in their late 20's, at the peak of their forms and apt replacements ready at all time. Players like Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan and Prior are in top form and look set to decimate bowling attacks for atleast 5-6 years without cries of old age retirement. Their bowlers look fresh and are devastating the best batting orders with ease. Its very hard to find a team that can field 5-6 top priority fast bowlers at the same time. They have Tremlett, Anderson, Broad, Bresnan, Finn and Onions who all are international quality fast bowlers. It was exceptional to see a replacement (Bresnan) for Tremlett troubling the Indians to the same extent if not more than Tremlett would have. They have a top class spinner in their ranks and they bat deep until almost no. 10 and sometimes even 11 considering Anderson is their nightwatchman. You get their batsmen out but still there is no respit as the tail wags everytime. England have got a new found professional attitude where they go around and beat teams ruthlessly. they always try to win the match be it by bold declarations, quick scoring rates or clever field placements. They are this well planned bunch of players who know how to play in almost every situation. They seem to have a nice skipper-coach co-ordination which is doing wonders for the team and most importantly their players know what role they have to perform.
But England have got challengers who would be desperate to bring them down. The first and foremost challenger would be South Africa who are always up there in the ranking but lose important games to remain at no. 2 or 3 only. They were no. 1 for a short period of 4 months in 2009 but were toppled by India. They too have a nice bunch of players with players like De Villiers and Amla the forever performers with the experienced and sublime Kallis. they have the perfect combination of young and old players who back each other well.Their bowling attack is 2nd to none with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel among the world's best. Steyn is up there in the list of current crop of best fast bowlers. South Africa have this habit of losing out on important opportunities. They have been the statistical no. 1 but its time when they should look to win all their games and storm to the top of the rankings. They have got the team, they have got the charisma, i don't know what separates them from glory.
Australia can also be never looked down with a strong domestic system and fast bowling talent. But they have been seriously bruised by the sudden retirement of all those players who were world beaters for over a decade. they have not quite recovered and apt replacement batters have not yet come. The team depends on Ponting, Hussey and Clarke with Watson at the top. Rest all players are uncertain and the fact that they have not yet found a good spinner after Warne remains their biggest problem. Their fast bowling unit is decent but not of the quality it used to be. But they still have got the armour to challenge the English. After all you can never count out the bruised old lion.
Another challenger I feel would be India. Inspite of what all has happened to them in this series, I think this might act as a wake up call to the players.I mean after tasting 20 months of leadership, it does n't feel good to be second to someone. The players cannot forget how to play in just a month. They were plagued with injuries and they did play badly but they can come back. And it all can start from a great home series. The team despite its aging and injury woes can still be the world beater at full strength. But they might not do it for long as replacements for the Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman have not been found yet.
So again would England be no. 1 for a long time? i would say YES but I feel that this time the no.1 position might be juggled between 2-3 teams unlike the Australia and West Indies era. England are great but they have some great challengers who can topple them any time. And well England have not yet proved their mettle in the sub-continent yet. So till then the debate continues.