Dubai: Australian supremacy as world's best Test nation is on shaky ground, but the ICC has not even waited for them to be overtaken before demanding they hand back the coveted trophy given to the No.1-ranked team.
Though Australia is still the NO.1 team, Cricket Australia has been forced to return the ICC Test Champion trophy to Dubai after holding it for all eight years of its existence - apart from four months in 2003 when South Africa briefly claimed it. Australia's coming Test series in South Africa will decide which team has the No.1 ranking and instead of waiting until the conclusion, the ICC has decided to take back the trophy now in anticipation that it could change hands.
CA's new Jolimont office in Melbourne was designed around the gold and silver mace-shaped trophy speckled with jewels, but in a few days all that will remain is an empty space in the wall.
"We have held it ever since the ICC Test rankings were introduced in May 2001, so apart from the four months in 2003 it's been with us," said CA spokesman Peter Young. "Our building was designed around the trophy. We are most certainly planning to bring it back with us from South Africa. If that does not eventuate we may have to get some Polyfilla and fill the space in our foyer."
The trophy's departure is certainly a sign of the tough times that have befallen Australia's once mighty Test team. While its last-gasp victory against the Proteas in Sydney kept it in the No.1 spot, few would argue that Ponting's side is still the strongest Test outfit in the world.