Dubai: South Africa will begin the New Year by aiming to strengthen their No.1 status in the ICC Test Championship Table, when they play a two-match series against New Zealand from January 2 at Cape Town.
South Africa currently lead the rankings with 123 rating points and have a five-point lead over second-placed England. Graeme Smith's side retained the Test Championship Mace in December 2012 after it defeated Australia 1-0.
For South Africa to retain the No.1 spot, they just need a 0-0 result or better in the two-match series against New Zealand. South Africa could at best gain one rating point for winning the series 2-0 but could lose one point if they win the series 1-0. In the event of the series ending at 1-1, South Africa would drop down to 119 points, just one ahead of England, currently placed at 118.
But if South Africa were to lose the Test series against New Zealand 0-1, they would also lose the top position to England - dropping seven points in the process to end on 116. Then, South Africa's final position on the table will depend on the result in the Australia-Sri Lanka series. Australia currently lead the series 2-0 and they could gain three rating points to end at 117 if they win the third Test starting in Sydney from Jan 3. New Zealand, on the other hand, would remain at No.8 on the table but would gain seven ratings to finish at 86.
In the event of South Africa losing both their Tests against New Zealand, they would lose eight ratings to fall to 115 ratings points to finish third on the table. A 2-0 win for New Zealand would push them up to 88 points but they would remain in eighth place.