While India and South Africa have traded places for the second position in the ICC Test rankings, it appears that irrespective of the ICC rankings, South Africa should logically occupy the top position.
Australia’s vulnerability was first exposed in the Border Gavaskar Trophy when Australia lost the series 2-0 to India in India. That they came up against a team with tremendous self-belief only compounded matters more. South Africa simply refused to lay down when knocked down and worse still from Australia’s perspective, came back with a sting.
Here is why South Africa make a good case to be crowned already which has led to some experts dubbing them the “unofficial” world champions.
Over the past one year, Australia have won their home series against India 2-1 but failed to do so in India losing the four Test series 2-0. They beat the flailing West Indies on their own turf. Before they lost the current series to South Africa, Ricky Ponting’s men’s only success was beating New Zealand 2-0 which in Australia itself was not such a big deal anyway and even then they were tested in the first Test.
By that contention, Australia have only won five of their fourteen Tests, losing five and drawing four. Far from impressive record for a team that has been considering cutting edge in cricket with greater emphasis on deriving result oriented Tests.
But Australia’s defeat puts in perspective what we have known all along: this is their first home defeat since 1992-’93 when Richie Richardson’s boys destroyed Australia. If they do end up losing the series 3-0, it will be only their sixth whitewash, the last coming in 1982-’83 against Pakistan.
It is their eighteenth home defeat in 131 years of history and only their fifth in the last decade that involved the Ashes of 2005, the series in India in 2001, again in India this year and back in 1999 against Sri Lanka. Not since 1969 has Australia lost a series to South Africa and only their third in twenty-one Test series encounters. But their chapter is now in disarray and South Africa would want to say, it is all official.
India’s contention to the top consists largely in beating Australia in the Border Gavaskar Trophy and in the fifteen Tests that India has played in 2008, they have won six, lost five and drawn four games.
South Africa have by far the most awesome record then in 2008, when they have played the same number of Tests as India but have win an unbelievable eleven Tests, drawn two and lost two. These have included winning a series against the West Indies, drawing level with India, beating Bangladesh home and away, winning their first series in England since 1965 and now beating Australia in Australia.
By that comparison, no team stands a chance against South Africa which would make the undisputed Test champions of 2008, even if the tag is yet unofficial. It is no wonder then that the Australian coach Tim Nielsen called the debacle in Melbourne when JP Duminy made his maiden century in only his second Test a nightmare while without disrespecting those that have come before him, Graeme Smith described the Melbourne victory as undoubtedly the greatest moment in South Africa’s cricket history, at least in recent times since their readmission post apartheid in 1991-’92.