Ashes defeat could send Australia plummeting to No.4 in ICC Test rankings

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Islamabad, Aug 6 (ANI): Australia must win against England at both Headingley and the Oval to retain their No.1 Test ranking, as an Ashes series defeat would precipitate a stunning fall from grace which would relegate Ricky Ponting's side to fourth place on the ICC Test ladder behind South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.

A drawn series will place them second after Graeme Smith's men. Either rain or England could seal Australia's demise in the coming weeks.

The tourists require victory at both Headingley and the Oval to retain their No.1 Test ranking, but a bleak weather forecast for Yorkshire could greatly reduce their chances of forcing a result in the fourth Test.

Australia have won just five of their past 14 Tests, three of which were against the South Africans, and their inability to register a victory in the first three Tests of the Ashes series has drawn Smith's side to within two points of the top ranking.

Mickey Arthur, who so very nearly engineered Australia's overthrow earlier this year, was adamant his side was worthy of recognition as the world's premier Test side, even if rain proves the deciding factor.

"I have been following the rankings a little bit, and I don't think we would be out of place at all [with the No 1 ranking] if that was to happen," the Dawn quoted Arthur, as saying.

"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."

Arthur has been under whelmed by Australia's performances over the course of the Ashes, having previously predicted them to comfortably account for England.

Like Andrew Strauss, Arthur feels the Australians have lost their aura, but warned England against underestimating them in the final two Tests of the Ashes series. (ANI)

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