England would be looking to maintain their position atop the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings as they prepare to take on Scotland at Edinburgh on Sunday before hosting a high-profile five-ODI series against World champions Australia from June 13. The series against Australia will help both the teams in their preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 that runs from May 30 to July 14 at 11 venues across England and Wales.
Though Lord's, where the two sides are slated to meet in their World Cup league match on June 25 next year, is not a venue, the series will provide both sides an opportunity to gauge the conditions as the countdown begins to the 10-team event.
England, who overtook India to grab the top ODI spot after the annual update on May 2, are comfortably ahead of Australia and will remain at the top even if they lose the series by a 2-3 margin provided they win the one-off match against Scotland.
However, in such a scenario, they will be tied with India on 122 points and ahead only on decimal points.
On the other hand, if England kick off with a loss to Scotland, they will have to win the series against fifth-ranked Australia or else lose the top position to India, who are presently three points behind England at 122 points.
A 2-3 loss to Australia in such a scenario will see them slide to 120 points. If England lose to Scotland, they will start the Australia series with 123 points while Scotland, who last week made it to the expanded 16-team points table, will gain five points and move up to 33 points.
Australia will not be able to overtake the opposition even if England lose all their six upcoming matches but Australia could go up to third position if they complete a 5-0 whitewash of England.