[Scorecard: SA Vs Eng, Lord's Test]
In the third and final Test at Lord's on Monday, South Africa won by 51 runs to clinch the series 2-0 which took them to the top with 120 rating points. England are second with 117 points. South Africa had won the first Test at The Oval by an innings and 12 runs while the second was a draw at Headingley.
Before the start of the series, South Africa had to win the series to become the No. 1 side for the first time in their cricket history.
England had been the top team in the ICC Test Championship table since August 2011 when they dethroned India while South Africa have assumed the number one spot for the first time since November 2009.
Captain Graeme Smith and his boys achieved that at the "home of cricket" Lord's cricket ground. Smith and his team received the prestigious ICC Test Championship mace from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson who was joined in the presentation party by ICC Director and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke, ECB Chief Executive David Collier, Cricket South Africa (CSA) acting Chief Executive Jacques Faul and Pramod Garg - CFO, Europe Reliance Globalcom.
By steering South Africa to the top, coach Gary Kirsten became the first man to take two teams to the number one spot. First it was with India and now his home country.
Chasing 346 for victory, England were bowled out for 294 in the final session of play on the fifth day.
"It was a top Test match. Both teams played really well and England played with a great deal of freedom. We had to work really hard. It was wonderful to come through, a great feeling," said Smith.
There were some anxious moments for South Africa when Matt Prior threatened to scale down the target. But South Africa, aided by the second new ball, brought an end to the innings.
Fast bowler Vernon Philander was the star for South Africa with five wickets in the second innings. He was named the Man-of-the-match. Overall, Philander took seven wickets in the match.
Hashim Amla was South Africa's Man-of-the-series while Prior won the same honour for England.
It was not a memorable 100th Test for England captain Andrew Strauss. He had a poor match and now had to relinquish the top ranking.
In the span of two years, the number one status in Tests has now been with four teams. From Australia it went to India, then England and now South Africa.
For South Africa, they can now celebrate this achievement having had to endure the perennial tag of chokers most of the times.
ICC Test Championship (as of 20 August, after the England-South Africa series)
1. South Africa (120 rating points)
2. England 117
3. Australia 116
4. Pakistan 109
5. India 104
6. Sri Lanka 98
7. West Indies 90
8. New Zealand 80
9. Bangladesh 0