England’s innings and 242-run victory two days ago assured its place atop the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings for the first time. Anderson took four wickets as India was bowled out for 244 in Birmingham. England declared on 710-7 in reply to India’s first-innings 224 all out.
“Every nation wants to be No. 1 in all forms of the game but it very rarely happens that way,” Anderson, 29, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek program. “We’ve conquered one step, we’re the best Test nation in the world. Now we can push everything else forward now.”
The victory gave England an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the best-of-four contest against India. England started the series third in the ICC’s rankings and needed to win by at least two Tests to overtake top-ranked India when the list is updated. The final Test at the Oval starts Aug. 18.
England was sixth in the Test rankings when Andy Flower was hired as coach in April 2009. The team has since beaten Australia home and away in the Ashes and the Twenty20 squad won last year’s ICC World Twenty20 title.
After beating India to achieve his goal of becoming the No. 1 Test team, Flower spoke of his desire to guide England to its first victory in the one-day World Cup. The English slumped to a 10-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in the quarterfinals of this year’s competition, and is currently fifth in the one-day rankings.
Anderson has played 62 Tests and taken 237 wickets at an average of 30.52. In the current series, he’s taken 18 wickets at 24.27 and is the No. 2 Test bowler in the ICC’s rankings.
He said Flower’s influence had lifted the team’s level.
“Since he came in he sat us down and showed us exactly what we needed to do to become the No. 1 in the world,” Anderson said. “The biggest thing for us that has helped is we’ve concentrated on the small things that have got us here. He has improved everyone and we’ve seen that in the performances of the team.”
England’s sixth straight Test series victory means it will become the fourth country to hold the top spot since the ICC introduced the current rankings in 2003, after Australia, South Africa and India.
Alastair Cook’s career-best 294 helped England take control of the third Test. It was the highest score by an Englishman since Graham Gooch’s 333 against India in 1990, while the team’s total was its largest since amassing 903-7 declared against Australia in 1938. It was the third straight lopsided defeat for India in the series, after losses by 196 runs and 319 runs.
Should England complete a 4-0 series sweep, India would fall from first to third in the rankings behind South Africa. An English loss or draw would see India at No. 2 ahead of the South Africans, who don’t play a Test match until November when they host Australia.
Anderson is determined that the crown shouldn’t slip
“We are not just happy being Test world No. 1 for a week,” Anderson said. “We want to leave a legacy.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan says the team has the potential to stay top.
“This side are going to dominate Test cricket for a period because of their strength in depth, fitness levels, determination and the real hunger they display,” Vaughan told the BBC. “It’s not just this 11, the depth of the 24 or 25 players England have to choose from is fantastic. There’s some great talent out there.”
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