Snakes and Ladders: England's quest to reach top of game

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The Independent Online

England have fixed their sights on becoming the world's No 1 Test team – and sooner rather than later.

Given a good run of results, and a fair wind, they could be crowned by the end of a summer, which sees them start against fourth-ranked Sri Lanka and then tackle leaders India.

Knowing England, though, their journey from today in third spot is unlikely to be without its ups and downs. Or snakes and ladders.

Independent Sport will monitor England's progress on a daily basis throughout the summer's seven Tests.

Up: KP may have his problems with left-arm spinners but he is a whiz when it comes to keepy-uppy. We counted nine on the trot, so to speak, during a warm-up session – maybe Chelsea will pay England a handsome transfer fee.

Up: You can never have too many batsmen in good form – and Ian Bell looks ready to enjoy a summer of heavy scoring on the evidence of his sweetly struck unbeaten 103 at Sophia Gardens.

Downp: The list of candidates to replace side strain victim Jimmy Anderson in Friday's second Test is no longer quite so long. Well, not if Ajmal Shahzad's figures for Yorkshire against Sussex (31-2-145-1) are anything to go by.

Up: Who needs five bowlers? Or four? Or three for that matter? With Jimmy Anderson not on the field and Stuart Broad unable to do any damage, the deadly duo of Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann reduced Sri Lanka to nervous wrecks.

State of play on the snakes and ladders board: Jump forward two spaces England.