The England cricket team’s cherished world number one status is under severe threat after a humiliating 3-0 series whitewash at the hands of a resurgent Pakistan in the UAE.

An unforgettable Ashes victory in Australia over 2010/11 and a ruthless annihilation of India at home last year helped Andy Flower’s team to the summit of the World Test rankings, but their recent capitulation has given nearest rivals South Africa a glimmer of hope.