Cricket

Proteas tighten Test grip

2013-03-26 14:35
Graeme Smith (Gallo)
Cape Town - South Africa’s already vice-like grip on Test cricket has only got more emphatic.

The Proteas (128 rating points) comfortably topped the ICC rankings for the five-day format even before the conclusion of the respective series between India and Australia and New Zealand and England.

But with India securing a 4-0 home whitewash of the Aussies, and then England having to scrap desperately on the last day of the third and final Test against the Black Caps on Tuesday to secure another draw and a 0-0 outcome, the gap between Graeme Smith’s team and the rest of the pack has actually increased.

Before the last Test in Auckland against the supposed underdog Kiwis, second-placed England lay 10 rating points behind the Proteas, but that gulf has now widened to 14 even as the English (114 points) retain second spot.

The Aussies had been third-placed before their own last Test in India, but another debilitating defeat in New Delhi has seen them drop a place to fourth, and slip by seven points to 110 - now two points shy of India (112) who have seized third spot.

It increases the likelihood that South Africa will head the pack for a long time, even as they enter a greater recess period in Test terms than most others for the next few months.

England get back into the saddle with a home, quick return two-Test series against New Zealand in May, ahead of the mid-summer, five-Test Ashes against old enemy Australia.

But the Proteas are dormant in the five-day arena until October, when they tackle recent foes Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates - that ought to be much tougher than the 3-0 whitewash they’ve just achieved against the Pakistanis on our soil.

South Africa then face India in a three-Test (there is some speculation it may be increased) headline home series in 2013/14, where they will probably be heavily tipped to prevail on spicy South African pitches, especially as some of India’s newer stroke-players have little or no experience of conditions here.

On April 1, the Proteas collect US$450 000 for topping the Test rankings at the April 1 annual cut-off.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  graeme smith  |  cricket
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