The Proteas will become the No 1 Test team in the world if Australia fail to win the Ashes series.
If the series is drawn, South Africa will go top with Australia slipping to No 2. However, if the Aussies lose the series, they will slip to No 4, behind South Africa, India and Sri Lanka. England currently lead the series 1-0, with two matches to play, and there is bad weather forecast for the fourth Test.
South Africa last held the No 1 Test ranking during a four-month period in 2003, when the rankings were calculated differently and Australia had yet to play weaker opposition that would earn them more ranking points.
‘I have been following the rankings a little bit, and I don’t think we would be out of place at all [at No 1] if that was to happen,’ Proteas coach Mickey Arthur told Cricinfo. ‘We have played some very solid cricket over the past 18 months. We defeated England, Australia and Pakistan away, and we are certainly proud of that. But whatever happens, I think what is clear is that there is very little now between us, Australia, India and even England. That’s healthy for the game.’
The Proteas are already ranked No 1 in ODIs, a point ahead of India. World Cup champions Australia are No 3.