Snakes & Ladders: 04/06/2011

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.

Ladder: Ticket touts, conspicuous by their absence in Cardiff, are back in evidence at Lord's – a sure sign that England- are hot property. Mind, at 22 for 3 some fans were ready to demand a refund: "Hardly used tickets, we'll sell hardly used tickets."

Snake: It is hard to see England winning another Test so long as Sri Lanka include Mr Welegedara in their attack. Because of his work with the new ball? No, because by the time the question about the bowler's name (Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage Chanaka Asanga Welegedara) has been answered everyone stops for a drinks break.

Snake: Someone needs to tell Jonathan Trott that being crowned England's Cricketer of the Year does not mean you cannot be given out. When Trott queried yesterday's lbw decision, third umpire Aleem Dar must have been tempted to ask the batsman: "You having a laugh?"

Snake: Oh well, at least KP has found an answer to his old problem against left-arm spinners. But getting out to the new ball will only bring relief for so long. Better make that a snake, then.

Ladder: To be fair, whether or not England can fight their way to the top of the Test table did not seem that important yesterday. Not when the sun was shining, Lord's was full to overflowing and all seemed right with the cricket world.

Ladder: Remember Alastair Cook's problems last summer? Remember thinking this lad will be for the chop soon? We must have been watching someone else, surely.

Snake: Cook, looking destined for one more century, is out for 96 off a top edge. Eoin Morgan follows before the close to leave the match finely balanced.

State of play on the snakes and ladders board: Go back one place, England.