This summer's Women’s Ashes series had a new twist added to the intrigue with England unseating Australia as the world's No.1 ranked team for the first time, following the International Cricket Council's annual update.
The rankings take into account the previous three years' worth of results, with older results given a 50 per cent weighting. Each year the ICC drops the results from the four years ago, which can cause fluctuations in the rankings.
This year the update saw Australia lose the No.1 ranking they had held since the women's team ranking system was introduced in 2015.
The two sides are now separated by a mere 0.04 points following the update. It adds further spice to the one-versus-two match-up ahead of what is already an eagerly anticipated series, featuring an historic day-night Test, three ODIs and three T20Is beginning on October 22.
England captain Heather Knight said while her side was proud of their top billing, there is still plenty more improvement left in the current World Cup champions.
“It's flattering to be named as the No.1 side in the world because it's a sign of how much progress we've made,” she said.
“It won't take anything away from the challenges ahead of us, though. We're a developing side and our journey isn't finished yet.
"We have plenty more hard work to do, starting with the Ashes in Australia this winter but it has been a great 12 months for us. We'll never forget the feeling of winning the ICC Women's World Cup on home soil and we want to keep pushing forward as a side so we can experience more moments like that."
The rankings announcement will heighten interest in what is already tipped to be one of the most-watched Women’s Ashes series in history, after Cricket Australia last week announced the first ODI match in Brisbane to have sold out.
England and Australia are the only sides to see a change in the rankings, both ten points clear of New Zealand in third.
It makes for a huge test for Austraila’s new stand-in skipper Rachel Haynes, who will lead Australia for just the third time after regular captain Meg Lanning was ruled out of the 2017-18 summer following surgery on a serious right shoulder injury.
Haynes was given the nod to lead Australia on two occasions during their recent World Cup campaign in England, becoming the Stars’ 17th ODI captain in the process.
She’ll become Australia’s 19th Test captain when the first ever women's day-night Test gets underway at North Sydney Oval on November 9, and the Southern Stars' sixth T20 captain.
ICC Women’s Team Rankings
- England 128 points
- Australia 128
- New Zealand 118
- India 116
- Windies 101
- South Africa 93
- Pakistan 72
- Sri Lanka 67
- Bangladesh 37
- Ireland 30
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT