London: Rahul Dravid, who made a strong comeback to Indian ODI squad after a gap of two years, says he expects the battle to top the ICC rankings in the coming months will be extremely tight.
The Karnataka batsman, who played against both Australia and England at home late last year, says England's Ashes victory "could have gone either way", and that no one team will dominate the sport in the immediate future.
"I don't think you'll see one team dominating like Australia did, at least not in the immediate future," Dravid said. "There are three or four teams that are evenly matched and you could see the number one spot change hands a few times in the next couple of years," the 36-year-old, who makes a comeback to the Indian One-day side after two years, was quoted as saying in The Guardian.
"I always expected it to be close, and it was. But England won the moments that mattered, and over the course of the five Tests, I'd say that they just about edged it."
Australia's slide down to No 4 in the rankings sets up an intriguing few months of Test cricket. Top-ranked South Africa will host England and then visit India, ranked No3, who will prepare for that by facing the second-ranked Sri Lankans this November.
Asked whether India would also face the transitional crisis that the Australians are battling once the likes of Sachin Tendulkar retire, Dravid said it would boil down to how well the Indian pace bowling attack shapes up.
"We've got a great blend of experienced cricketers, and promising talent coming through. We've done really well over the past couple of years and if we can keep a core group of fast bowlers fit enough to support the spinners then we have as good a chance as anyone," he said.
"When Australia dominated, it was the bowling of (Glenn) McGrath and (Shane) Warne that was the key and I believe that England won Ashes series because they had the more balanced bowling attack. We certainly have that balance, and so do Sri Lanka and South Africa. I think the bowling strength will determine which team gets to top," he added.
On his assessment of the Ashes that England won 2-1, Dravid said the series never looked one-sided and could have gone either way.
"I always expected it to be close, and it was. But England won the moments that mattered, and over the course of the five Tests, I'd say that they just about edged it," he said.