London: England's legendary all-rounder Ian Botham believes his country's Test side is the most feared in the world and deserves to be in the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.
Alastair Cook's team is fourth in the ICC world rankings behind Australia, India and this summer's tourists Pakistan, who they face in the first Test at Lord's on Thursday.
England have won four of their seven Test series since a shock home defeat to Sri Lanka in 2014, with their victory over Angelo Mathews' men earlier this summer following triumphs against India, Australia and South Africa.
Cook's side has also drawn with New Zealand and the West Indies in that time, with their only defeat coming against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last November.
England can leapfrog Pakistan and tie India with a 2-0 or 3-1 series win, but former skipper Botham insisted they're are already the best side in the world regardless of where they are ranked come the end of the four Test matches.
"England are the best side in the world right now and certainly the most feared — they proved it against Australia and then beat South Africa on their own soil," Botham was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Wednesday.
"England are a confident side and a very well-organised unit. I don't pay too much attention to the ranking system, they deserve to be number one in the world now."
Pakistan's recent record in England is poor, with 0-3 and 1-3 defeats in 2006 and 2010 respectively, and Botham does not expect things to improve this summer, despite the hosts being without record wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson and all-rounder Ben Stokes for the opening Test.
"It will be an exciting series but I can't see Pakistan winning a match," he said.
England have had their problems at the top of the order and have countered that by moving Yorkshire's Joe Root up to No 3 following Nick Compton's decision to take a break from the sport.
Root had an indifferent series against Sri Lanka, scoring 87 runs in the series, and slipped down to number four in the ICC rankings, but Botham believes it is the right move to promote him up the order.
Botham agreed with the decision to move Root up to No 3 in the batting order.
"I've no problem with Joe batting at three. All the best batsmen in world cricket bat at three — look at Ricky Ponting and Viv Richards."
"Joe is the best batsman in the world right now, and I'm sure he'll be fine with moving up the order," Botham concluded.