South Africa defeated England by 51 runs in their third Test at Lord’s to become world number one.
England was chasing 346 runs made by a well-oiled South African team that set the highest fourth-innings target in history.
England claimed the top spot a year ago when they defeated India 4-0 in a Test series.
The English failed to maintain the top spot, adding to ongoing controversy about the future of one of their key player, Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen’s bad attitude towards his teammates has been under much scrutiny but recent text messages maligning English captain, Andrew Strauss, with others in South Africa’s camp have created further doubts about his role on the team.