LONDON - England captain Alastair Cook believes the team’s best limited overs days are ahead of them even though they are now again the world’s top-ranked side in 50-over international cricket.

Cook’s men briefly lost their place at the summit of the standings after a heavy defeat by South Africa in Southampton last week. But they bounced back in London following wins by four and six wickets in the one-day internationals (ODIs) at The Oval and Lord’s respectively. Sunday’s success at Lord’s gave England a 2-1 lead in a five-match campaign heading into Wednesday’s finale in Nottingham and meant South Africa could no longer achieve the series victory they needed to extend their brief stay at number one.

Meanwhile Australia’s recent defeat by Pakistan in Abu Dhabi scuppered their hopes of overtaking England at the head of the standings before the year is out. “It’s certainly not a bad thing,” Cook, who last week also became England’s Test captain after the retirement of Andrew Strauss, said of being number one. “But I think we feel this side has its future ahead of it, rather than behind it,” explained the 27-year-old opening batsman, who will hope to lead England to a maiden World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Cook, a member of the England side that lost its position at the head of the Test standings to South Africa earlier this season.