Australia legend Steve Waugh admits old enemies England are setting standards that the rest of the world has to aspire to match in Test cricket.
Waugh captained Australia during his country's dominant run in the Test arena and presided over several triumphs in Ashes showdowns against England.
But he has been forced to admit that England's rise to the top of the ICC Test rankings under skipper Andrew Strauss has been an impressive achievement.
Strauss has led England to a pair of series victories over Australia and they took pole position in the rankings with a 4-0 whitewash of previous leaders India.
Waugh believes the key to England's success has been their ability to show a ruthless streak that had been lacking from their talented but fragile predecessors.
"You could see it coming for about the last 18 months, they are a quality professional side, who want to dismantle the opposition, win as quickly as they can," Waugh told Sky Sports News.
"England have got that winning streak now and have good depth in their side. They know how to win and they know how to get out of tough situations.
"Definitely they are the best Test playing side in the world. South Africa are not too far behind and I think Australia will come back pretty quickly as well."
The hectic international schedule has been blamed in some quarters for India's poor showing in England but Waugh is adamant MS Dhoni's team failed to prepare properly for the tour.
"I think it's a pretty lame excuse from India," he said. "I just think they prepared poorly, they only had one game before the Test matches against Somerset.
"You can't expect to come to England, in different conditions against a quality side, not prepare well and still expect to do well. Their downfall was totally down to poor preparation."