Cape Town - The Proteas’ Castle Lager Test squad will put a period of
frustration behind them when they get back into the five-day format of the game
against Australia and Sri Lanka this summer.
It seems an age ago that Jacques Kallis made his
back-to-back centuries against India at Sahara Park Newlands. It was, in fact,
the first week of January this year and is the last time that the Proteas
played a Test match.
Since then, the other main contenders for the inaugural ICC
World Test Championship – to be decided in England in June, 2013 – have all
been in action with England taking possession of the ICC Test Championship Mace
following their 4-0 victory over India in their recent home series.
In spite of being inactive and thus unable to add to their
ranking points the Proteas remain the No 2 ranked side as India have dropped
all the way down to No 3. That series has incidentally shown that there is no
such thing as a ‘dead rubber’ Test match any more.
Had India managed to avoid
defeat in their final match against England, they would only have dropped down
to No 2 on the Test rankings.
Being ranked in the top four positions is the new
non-negotiable. Those are the four teams that will play off the Championship
although the Proteas will not be happy if they do not ascend to No 1 by that
At the moment they trail England by 7 ranking points and
they can start closing that gap by winning both their home series against
Australia (in November) and against Sri Lanka over the traditional holiday
period of December and January. England do not play any more Tests until the
start of next year when they have away series against Pakistan (on neutral
territory) and Sri Lanka.
The Proteas will play three Tests in England in July and
August next year which could well be the next decider for the No. 1 ranking and
will then play Australia away in November and December, 2012.
In the final run-in to the World Test Championship the
Proteas have home series against New Zealand and Pakistan during the 2012/13
summer while England face away trips to India and New Zealand.
Following the honours bestowed on Hashim Amla, Jacques
Kallis and Makhaya Ntini at the SA Sports Awards function last weekend, there
could be more honours in store for various Proteas’ squad members on Friday
when the ICC names the final short list for the annual awards ceremony to be
held in London early next month. The period under review runs from August,
2010, to August, 2011.
They will also name the ICC Test Team of the period under
review and there will be several strong Proteas’ contenders. Jacques Kallis has
been the world’s leading all-rounder for many years now while he has also been
the No 1 ranked batsman since his outstanding series against India when he
made his maiden double century and then got his back-to-back centuries.
Dale Steyn has been the No 1 ranked bowler in the five-day
format for a long period of time as well while both AB de Villiers and Hashim
Amla are ranked among the top 10 batsmen and Morne Morkel among the top