Amla: “The squad has gone through a transition period after the retirements of our legends Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith”
Australia finishes second, followed by England and Pakistan
South Africa has retained the iconic Reliance ICC Test Championship mace and with it has won a cash award of USD$500,000 following its 2-0 series win over the West Indies in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The series win means irrespective of how both the fourth Test between Australia and India, and the second Test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, pan out, South Africa cannot be removed from the top Test pedestal at the 1 April annual cut-off date.
The annual cut-off date for the Reliance ICC Test Championship is 1 April but because the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be played between 14 February and 29 March, these three are the last Test series of the season, thus bringing forward the annual cut-off date.
South Africa first surged to the top of the Test table in November 2009 and has held the number-one position since August 2012, following its 2-0 victory in England. This completes a hat-trick of winning the mace at the annual cut-off dates.
South Africa captain Hashim Amla collected the mace and a cheque of USD$500,000 on behalf of his side from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson in a presentation ceremony that took place after the conclusion of the Cape Town Test.
Amla, upon receiving the prestigious mace, said: “The 2014/15 Test season was a great advert for the longer format of the game. We saw enthralling battles between the Test-playing nations, which only highlighted and gave greater significance to Test cricket’s place amongst the three formats. From Bridgetown, Bulawayo, Dhaka, Galle, Lords, Sharjah and Melbourne to name a few; Test cricket has been alive across the world.
“We had a sparse Test schedule this season due to the focus on 50-over cricket, however, I am pleased by the progress our team has made with away wins in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and a series win at home to the West Indies.
“The squad has gone through a transition period after the retirements of our legends Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith. Thankfully, we have managed to make an almost seamless transition, which is a testament to the team environment and culture.
“Our focus at the start of the season was to win games for South Africa; to work on finding winning combinations and personally, to find my feet as a new captain, so to finish on top of the Reliance ICC Test Team Rankings is almost the cherry on top. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is the obvious challenge for the first few months this year, but we have away tours to Bangladesh and India, then England at home, so I’m looking forward to an exciting year for our Test team.”
Cricket South Africa President and ICC Director Mr Chris Nenzani said: “This is a proud moment, not just for the Cricket South Africa family, but for our entire nation to congratulate the Proteas on finishing the 2014/15 season as the ICC’s number-one ranked Test team.
“Coach Russell Domingo, captain Hashim Amla, vice-captain AB de Villiers and the rest of the senior management have done a wonderful job in ensuring a smooth transition from the Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis era into a bright and promising future.
“We have been blessed with some phenomenal individual talents but to me the hallmark of the Proteas has been their team culture. They are truly a team in the broadest sense of the word and their successes are richly deserved.”
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson congratulated South Africa, saying: “The Reliance ICC Test Championship mace is a recognition of excellence and I would like to congratulate South Africa on retaining it for the third successive year by finishing the season at the top of the table.
“It has been an exciting 12 months for Test cricket. We have witnessed hard-fought matches, exceptional batting performances and the resurgence of genuine fast bowling. A combination of competitive wickets, attacking play, proactive captaincy and pragmatic officiating has provided supporters with compelling matches and series around the world. I would like to thank all the players, match officials, administrators and curators for their contributions that help ensure Test cricket continues to thrive and remains the number-one format of the game.”
Reliance ICC Test Championship table (as on 6 January 2015, after the conclusion of SA-WI Test series)
1- South Africa 124
2- Australia 117
3- England 104
4- Pakistan 103
5- Sri Lanka 101
6- India 96
7- New Zealand 94
8- West Indies 76
9- Bangladesh 32
10- Zimbabwe 18
(Developed by David Kendix)
For more information, go to www.relianceiccrankings.com.
The Reliance ICC Test Championship mace is presented to the team that tops the Reliance ICC Test Championship on the 1 April cut-off date.
The mace was in Australia’s hands for all but three months (August-November 2009) since it was inaugurated in May 2003 before India claimed it after finishing on top of the table on the 1 April 2010 cut-off date. England laid its hands on the mace when it beat India at home in August 2011. It then held on to it to receive the mace and cheque on the cut-off date in 2012.
In August 2012, England ceded the top position to South Africa in a 0-2 reversal at home an retained it for the first time at the 1 April 2013 cut-off date. After retaining the mace last at the 2014 annual cut-off date, South Africa has beaten Sri Lanka (1-0), Zimbabwe (1-0) and West Indies (2-0).
Its dominant performance in 2013 and 2014 has meant that South Africa has sealed its position as the number-one ranked Test side (on the 1 April cut-off date) to retain not only the Test mace, but also earn itself an enhanced reward of USD$500,000.
Previously, the top team on the Reliance ICC Test Championship Table received a cheque for USD$175,000, which was increased in 2014 to USD$450,000. From 2016, there will be further increases in Test prize money.
The increased incentive in the form of prize money was approved by the ICC Board in 2012 and was aimed to promote Test cricket.
A further USD$840,000 will be distributed amongst second-ranked Australia (USD$390,000), third-ranked England (USD$280,000) and fourth-placed Pakistan (USD$170,000).
About the mace
The mace was produced by the then British Crown Jeweller, Asprey & Garrard, in 2001, which was commissioned to make a distinctive prize designed to stand out from other cricket trophies.
The designers produced a 90cm silver and gold-plated trophy based on a cricket stump as its shank, topped by an orb that represents the cricket world – both geographically and through the inclusion of the emblems of all 10 ICC Members that have played Test cricket.
The stump and the orb combine to portray the mace, regarded as a symbol of authority and prestige. This is regarded as an appropriate combination given the rich history of Test cricket and its image as the most traditional and purest form of the game.
The mace sits on a wooden base with a silver-plated plaque in front with room for engravings of the sides to hold it.
The mace was valued at GBP£30,000 in 2001 and automatically passes from one team to another as results confirm a change of leadership in the Reliance ICC Test Championship table.