When England reached No1 in the Test world rankings in 2011 there were questions from subcontinent nations about whether we deserved that billing as we’d only really won in our own conditions and in Australia.
The ultimate test of being the top team on the planet is to perform in any given circumstance as the Australia team of the 1990s and the early 2000s did. They dominated for about 15 years in all sorts of conditions, which is the truest sign of being the best.
A lot of teams get to No1 and then drop quickly – top spot has changed hands five times in 2016 – but quite often it’s because they’ve had to go to the subcontinent. It happened to Australia in August following a 3-0 hammering in Sri Lanka.
Should England come away from India with a victory it will be a massive achievement and if they go on to hit the rankings summit then it will be fully deserved with them winning in those conditions.
Although it was not enough to claim victory, the tourists played very well during the first Test in Rajkot, got themselves into a great position on that final day and turned the screw against India. It’s so far, so good on the tour.
Conditions are set to be more spinner-friendly during the second Test in Visakhapatnam, which is due to get underway in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Any wicket which turns more from the off will be problematic for England, although in contrast to Bangladesh I’d be surprised if it spun from ball one. Pitches in India generally tend to deteriorate as the game goes on.
But England can take a lot of confidence into the second showdown, and while this match may perhaps be more of an examination, it in turn will be a more accurate reflection of their credentials to be world No1.
Australia, meanwhile, are another team who usually dictate in their own conditions and had, until this week, only lost one home Test series since England won there during the winter of 2010/11 on our way to becoming world No1.
It has therefore been a bit of a surprise to see South Africa, without the likes of AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, go there and completely wipe the floor with them.
During the second clash of the three-Test series, which the Proteas have already wrapped up, Australia were bowled out for 85 and 161 as they were thrashed by an innings and 80 runs in Hobart. Skipper Steve Smith described it as embarrassing and humiliating.
I wouldn’t say Australia are in crisis, but there are a lot of questions which need answering. England of course will hope their rivals’ poor form continues, especially with an away Ashes series on the horizon next winter.