England are level on points with South Africa after winning the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Colombo: England retained the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings after their eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka here resulted in the two-match series ending in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
"England will start their domestic international season next month as the number one-ranked Test side in the ICC Test Championship after retaining the top spot following their eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the Colombo Test as the two-Test series ended in a one-all draw on Saturday," the ICC said in a statement.
England had entered the two-Test series against Sri Lanka leading closest rivals South Africa by two ratings points. And though they conceded two ratings points to join South Africa on 116 ratings points, England have been rated above the Proteas when the ratings were calculated beyond the decimal point.
Had England lost the Colombo Test, they would have slipped behind South Africa into second position and may even have been pushed into third place if Australia had defeated the West Indies in all the three Tests of the ongoing series.
This is the second time in less than a month that England's number-one status has been at risk. While this time it was their gutsy on-field effort, last month weather had come to their rescue after two of South Africa's three Tests in New Zealand were marred by rain as the Proteas chased victory in all the three Tests to leapfrog England into the number-one position.
England may have successfully held on to their position, but the threat to their number-one status is still looming. With the West Indies and South Africa touring England this summer from May 17 and July 19 respectively, a series loss in any of the two series will mean England's ranking will take a dive, provided Australia win their series against the West Indies.
If Australia beat the West Indies by 1-0 or better and England win all the three Tests against the West Indies, Andrew Strauss's side can still drop behind South Africa if Graeme Smith's side wins the second Test series of the summer in England by 1-0 or better.
The Championship table will now be updated at the end of West Indies-Australia Test series.