South Africa aim for clean sweep to claim No.1 ranking
Dubai, March 6 (IANS) South Africa will be aiming to carry the winning momentum from its ODI series into the three-Test series against New Zealand starting in Dunedin Wednesday which will earn it the status of the No.1 Test-ranked side in the ICC Test Championship table by the April 1 cut-off date.
For South Africa it could be the first time they finish on top since the Test rankings were introduced in 2001.
Second-ranked South Africa trail top-ranked England by just one rating point. And to move ahead of Andrew Strauss's side, Graeme Smith's men have to win all the three Tests.
A 3-0 win will put South Africa one ratings point ahead of England on 119 while any other series result will not be enough to help the Proteas make history.
Though England and Sri Lanka go head-to-head in a two-Test series from March 26 in Galle, the series outcome will not affect the Test Championship table as the series will conclude April 7 in Colombo.
If South Africa win all the three Tests, it will celebrate the achievement by receiving the prestigious Reliance ICC Test Championship mace which is presented to the side which tops the Championship table at the April 1 cut-off date, along with a cash award of $175,000.
However, if South Africa fail to achieve the desired series result, then England will retain the mace it won at The Oval last year after defeating India 4-0, as well as a cheque of $175,000 while South Africa will once again have to settle with the runner-up prize of $75,000.
1.England 118 rating points
2.South Africa 117
6.Sri Lanka 98
7.West Indies 88
8.New Zealand 83
(Zimbabwe will have to play eight Tests in the qualification period before it will have a ranking)