Proteas Test plight explained

Proteas (AFP)
Proteas (AFP)
Cape Town - The Proteas losing their No 1 status in Test cricket to Australia caused somewhat of an uproar among local cricket fans on Thursday.

CLICK HERE for full ICC Test rankings

Prior to South Africa’s home Test series against Australia earlier this year it was widely reported that the hosts would not lose their No 1 status even if they came unstuck in the three-Test series.

Australia duly won the series 2-1 to move past India into second spot, but still trailed South Africa (127 points) by 12 ratings points.

So why are the Aussies now all of a sudden ahead of South Africa despite none playing a Test match since their last series? Sport24 explains the scenario:

The reason is that, Thursday, May 1 was the start of a new two-year cycle in the ICC rankings, which saw results from the 2010/11 season dropped from the calculation. Also, results from the 2012/13 season are now reduced to a weighting of 50 percent.

It enabled Australia to gain eight ratings points to move up from 115 to 123, while South Africa dropped from 127 to be level on 123, but Australia are ahead by a fraction of a point.

The Proteas had outstanding 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons when they won six of the seven Test series they played. They beat Sri Lanka (2-1), New Zealand (1-0), England (2-0), Australia (1-0), New Zealand (2-0) and Pakistan (3-0). However, as these series are now only weighted at 50 percent, South Africa dropped four ratings points.

Australia’s recent 5-0 Ashes drubbing of England counted heavily in their favour, as did the 2-1 victory in South Africa in February/March this year.

It may not have been reported at the time, but South Africa’s 2-1 home series loss to Australia DID in the end cost them dearly, as did the drawn series against Pakistan in the UAE last October.

The Proteas should also rue not attempting to go for the world record fourth-innings chase against India at the Wanderers last December. Chasing 458 for victory, they finished on 450/7 but inexplicably decided not to go for the record when it appeared well within their grasp. In the end they won the series 1-0, instead of 2-0.

South Africa had held the No 1 position since August 2012, while Australia were last on top of the Test pile in August 2009.

South Africa’s next Test assignment is two-Test series away to Sri Lanka in July. Only a victory in that series would see them return to the top.

Australia are next on Test duty when they play two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE in October.
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