Dubai, Feb 18: South Africa have been guaranteed the number-one position on the ICC Test Championship table at the April 1 cut-off date after victory in the Cape Town Test against Pakistan means it cannot be overtaken by its closest rivals - England, Australia and India.
The Proteas will not only retain the prestigious Test Championship mace but will also earn $450,000 for this achievement. This is a significant increase in prize money, as, until last year, the side topping the Test or ODI Championship table received $175,000, ICC said in a media release on Monday.
South Africa had entered the series on 124 ratings points and only needed to draw the series to retain the Test mace. But victory in the Cape Town Test by four wickets means even if it loses the third and final Test at Centurion, it will still gain one ratings point and will finish on 125 ratings points, which will be more than sufficient to give it the top spot at the cut-off date irrespective of how the India-Australia and England-New Zealand series pan out.
If England win all the three Tests against New Zealand, the maximum it can achieve is 119, while India can rise to as high as 112 (if it defeats Australia 4-0) and Australia can move to 121 (if it wins all four Tests against India).
While South Africa has sealed the number-one spot, the battle for second, third and fourth positions is still on, and is not only intense but close, as only 13 ratings points separate second-ranked England from fifth-ranked India.
The side that claims second position at the April 1 cut-off date will earn US$350,000 while the side finishing third will collect US$250,000 and the side ending fourth at the 1 April cut-off date will win US$150,000.