England on guard in UAE against Pakistan to preserve Test ranking

The world No 1 side could also forfeit a jackpot of $175,000 if they lose 2-0 or worse in the three-Test series as Pietersen promises England will forgive the sour past.

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DUBAI // England will win a US$175,000 (Dh 643,000) jackpot for topping the world Test rankings if they win the series against Pakistan or lose by a single match, the International Cricket Council announced Monday.

The annual award is presented to the side that finishes at the head of the ICC Test championship table on the 1 April.

England, who rose to world number one in ICC Test rankings by beating India 4-0 in August last year, face Pakistan in a three match series in Dubai from Tuesday.

"England will have a chance to the win the $175,000 jackpot for topping the ICC Test championship table when it goes head-to-head with Pakistan in a three-Test series," the ICC said.

They will only lose the jackpot if Pakistan beat them either 2-0 or 3-0, with world number two side South Africa poised to benefit.

South Africa visit New Zealand for a three-Test series between March 7 to 27 and can still snatch the jackpot from England should their rivals lose by more than one Test and they win on their tour.

"In case of a 1-0 or 2-1 series loss, England will finish on 120 ratings points, one ahead of South Africa (assuming it wins 3-0 against New Zealand)," the ICC explained.

"The side that finishes second in the Reliance ICC Test Championship table on the 1 April cut-off date will receive $75,000."


The lead-up to the current series has been dominated by discussion about the scandal, stirring anger in the Pakistan camp, led by captain Misbah-ul Haq, at the perceived distraction from the cricket.

But Pietersen, a notoriously combative player, said the scandal will be banished from players' minds when the cricket starts and dispelled any suggestions that England could use the issue to sledge their opponents.

"There will not be an undercurrent about what happened in 2010. Not with our players -- we've spoken about it and it will not happen at all with us," Pietersen told reporters.

"Of course there will still be on-field chat because we play our cricket very hard. There's no way Jimmy Anderson, who is a grumpy bowler, won't be grumpy. But there will be no hangover from the past."

Fast bowler Stuart Broad, however, has admitted players involved in the 2010 series were still "a little hurt" by the scandal which overshadowed England's Lord's performance.

"A win at Lord's, one of the highlights of any cricketer's career, was turned into a very sour occasion," Broad wrote in a Daily Mail column.

"Nobody will start any problems but people are still a little hurt by it all so we want to get the job done here," said Broad, who scored his maiden hundred in that Lord's Test.

Meanwhile, Australian opener David Warner has made a big move in the ICC player rankings for Test batsmen, which were updated after the Perth Test.

The 25-year-old, man of the match after hitting the joint-fourth fastest century in Test cricket history, jumped 35 places to 34th position.