Before the World Test Championship came into existence, the Test ranking was the sole criteria to determine the world’s best team.
Introduced in early 2003, the two teams involved in a Test series receive points based on a mathematical formula involving both teams’ previous ratings and the rest of the series. The total points that each team accumulates over a period of the last 3-4 years are then divided by a figure based on the total number of matches and series played.
The ICC updated the rankings after every bilateral series and at the end of the cut-off month- April- the No.1 ranked side is awarded a mace and 1 million dollar cash price.
While plenty of teams have claimed the No.1 spot since 2003, only a handful of sides’ have managed to regain the top spot for an extended period of time.
On that note, here’s a look at the top-5 teams who have dominated the No.1 Test ranking for a prolonged period:
5. South Africa – 18 Months (July 2014- January 2016)
After having briefly lost their numero-uno spot in Test rankings to Australia in May 2014 thanks to a home Test series defeat to the former world champions, South Africa regained the top spot just two months later and they proceeded to hold on to the spot for another 18 months.
During this period, the Proteas won in Sri Lanka (1-0), obliterated Zimbabwe (1-0) and West Indies (2-0) at home before thumping Australia (2-1) Down Under for the third time in a row in the winter of 2016.
The only blip that South Africa had during the period was when they were annihilated in India by Virat Kohli’s team 0-3.
South Africa eventually lost the No.1 spot to India in January 2016. India held it for a month before Australia took over for the next four months.