Proteas still ranked No. 2 despite a long lay-off

2011-08-25 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It seems an age ago that Jacques Kallis made his back-to-back centuries against India at Sahara Park, Newlands. It was, in fact, the first week of January this year and was the last time that the Proteas played a Test match.

Since then the other main contenders for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship – to be decided in England in June, 2013 – have all been in action, with England taking possession of the ICC Test Championship mace following their 4-0 victory over India in their recent home series.

In spite of being inactive and thus unable to add to their ranking points, the Proteas remain the No. 2-ranked side as India have dropped all the way down to No. 3. That series has shown that there is no such thing as a “dead rubber” Test match any more.

Had India managed to avoid defeat in their final match against England, they would have dropped to only No. 2 on the Test rankings.

Being ranked in the top four positions is the new non-negotiable. Those are the four teams that will play off the Championship, although the Proteas will not be happy if they do not ascend to No. 1 by that time.

At the moment they trail England by seven ranking points. They can start closing that gap by winning both their home series against Australia (in November) and against Sri Lanka over the traditional holiday period of December and January. England do not play any more Tests until the start of next year when they have an away series against Pakistan (on neutral territory) and Sri Lanka.

The Proteas will play three Tests in England in July and August next year, which could well be the next decider for the No. 1 ranking. They will then play Australia away in November and December, 2012.

In the final run-in to the World Test Championship, the Proteas have home series against New Zealand and Pakistan during the 2012/13 summer, while England face away trips to India and New Zealand.

There could be honours in store for various Proteas players tomorrow when the ICC names the final short list for the annual awards ceremony to be held in London next month. The period under review runs for a year until August 2011.

They will also name the ICC Test team of this period and there will be several strong Proteas contenders. Jacques Kallis has been the world’s leading all-rounder for many years and he has also been the No. 1-ranked batsman since his outstanding series against India when he made his maiden double century and then back-to-back centuries.

Dale Steyn has been the No. 1- ranked bowler in the five-day format for some time, while both AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are ranked among the top 10 batsmen and Morne Morkel among the top six bowlers.

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