Australia retains Test championship; Proteas takes ODI honours

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Mumbai, 17 Apr (UNI) After holding South Africa to a 1-1 draw in the three-Test series at home, India held on to their second spot in the ICC Test rankings and were fourth in the ODI table.

Australia retained the ICC Mace, the Test championship trophy for the fourth year in a row whereas South Africa has picked up the ICC Shield for being this year's top-ranked side in the ODI ladder.

Congratulating the teams, ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed said,''Australia deserves praise for once again being the most consistent team in Test cricket.

''The success of Ricky Ponting's side represents a benchmark for all teams at Test level and that is reflected in its standing in the ICC Test Championship table.

''Now, with the retirement of several high-profile players, it will face a challenge to its long-held top spot and it will be fascinating to see how all teams deal with that situation in the months to come,'' Speed added.

Australia finished the 12-month period up to 31 March 30 rating points clear of India in the ICC Test Championship with four wins, one defeat and one draw in Test cricket.

At the same time, the Proteas edged out Ricky Ponting's side by a fraction of a rating point to top the ODI table, winning 21 and losing eight ODIs during the same 12-month period.

Australia and South Africa received 175,000 dollars each for their achievements while Ponting's side also pocketed an additional 75,000 dollars for finishing as runner-up in the ICC ODI Championship after 17 wins, six loses and three no-results in the twelve-month window.

India got richer by 75,000 dollars after ending the period in question in second place in the Test table with four wins, seven draws and two defeats.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, former South Africa captain Shaun Pollock and India coach Gary Kirsten received the cheques in the ceremony held here yesterday.

Reflecting on his side's fortunes in the Test and ODI rankings, Ricky Ponting said,''I am obviously proud of the performance of my team over the year.'' ''We have faced a number of challenges but have met them head-on and, in terms of the Test table and the large lead we hold, it shows we have met them.

''It's disappointing to lose the lead in the ODI Championship table but it is great incentive for us as a unit to regain that top spot and, given this coming twelve months will also see us defend our ICC Champions Trophy title, there is plenty for us to look forward to,'' Ponting said.

Former South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock said that toppling Australia in the ODI ranking was the grat achievement.

''Australia is the benchmark in all forms of the game and especially one-day cricket with it winning three successive ICC Cricket World Cups and holding the ICC Champions Trophy.

''So, for South Africa to take over the top spot in the one-day table is a huge achievement for the playing group as well as a great honour for everyone connected with South Africa cricket,'' he said.

''Now the challenge is to maintain the standards the side has set itself and with Australia and a host of other teams hot on South Africa's heels Graeme (Smith) and his players have the perfect incentive to do that,'' Pollock added.

Speaking on the occasion Gary Kirtsen said, ''It has been a tough 12 months for us as a Test team but the fact we have risen to many of the challenges put before us is reflected in our second position in the ICC Test Championship table.'' ''We now have to press on and try and close the gap to Australia as well as stay ahead of the sides below us and that is something to look forward to for all the players and support staff in the months ahead,'' he concluded.

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