Australia claim ICC Test Championship Mace
Australia captain Steve Smith today received the ICC Test Championship mace and US$1million in prize money for leading his side to the number-one ranking on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings on the annual 1 April cut-off date.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson made the presentations to Smith in Pallekele, who captained Australia to 10 Test victories over the 12-month period.
“The mace is a symbol of excellence and recognition of a side’s outstanding achievement in the toughest format of the sport. Australia’s winning performances have been exceptional and they thoroughly deserve to be awarded the mace,” said Mr Richardson.
“These are exciting times for Test cricket as the top four ranked countries are involved in high profile series across three different continents showcasing the very best this format of the sport has to offer. I am sure the incentive of achieving the number-one ranking will further motivate them, bringing out the best in the players,” added Mr Richardson.
Smith paid tribute to his side, saying: “It is a huge honour to be the number-one ranked Test side in the world and the credit should go to all the work the players and support staff have put in over the last 12 months.
“I am really proud of our young team and what we have accomplished so far but there is still more we would like to achieve.
“We now need to put in consistent performances, both at home and away, to continue to be successful and keep the number-one ranking.
“Winning away from home has often been a challenge for us, especially in sub-continental conditions, but this is something we are looking to change in this upcoming series against Sri Lanka,” concluded Smith, who won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2015.
Competition for the number-one ranking on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings this year remains extremely tight as only 10 points separate the top four sides. Second-ranked India, third-ranked Pakistan and fourth-ranked England have a chance to move into the number-one position, depending how West Indies-India, England-Pakistan and Sri Lanka-Australia series pans out.
To permanently shut the door on its nearest rivals, Australia needs to beat Sri Lanka by 1-0 or better and at the same time hope that England wins, at least, one Test against Pakistan.
If India wins 4-0, England-Pakistan series ends in a draw and Sri Lanka wins by 1-0 or better, then India will jump to the number-one position.
If Pakistan beats England and Sri Lanka defeats Australia, then Pakistan will claim the number-one ranking for the first time in its history, irrespective of how West Indies-India series finishes.
England too can top the Test rankings. But to make it happen, it will have to win the remaining three Tests against Pakistan and hope West Indies wins, at least, one Test against India and Sri Lanka beats Australia.