Battle for the Champions’ Mace: England v SA

This eagerly awaited series sees the League’s first-placed and third-placed sides pitted against each other, with the Champions’ Mace going to whichever team proves victorious after three Tests.  Interestingly, our rival ranking system, the ICC Test Championship, has thrown up this same mouthwatering state of affairs, albeit with the relative positions of the protagonists reversed.

The Test Cricket League currently has South Africa ranked as number one, with England at three.  The Springboks come into the series as holders of the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy and will consequently remain top of the League in the event of a draw.  A series win, moreover, would improve on the 1-1 draw played out between these teams the last time they met, consolidating the South African’s primacy over both England and second-placed Australia.

A win for Andrew Strauss’s men would see them retake the top spot, which they relinquished in February after their humbling away defeat to Pakistan.  Since that time, a draw in Sri Lanka and a comfortable win against the West Indies have renewed belief that England are capable of wresting back the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy and the Champions’ Mace with it.  The victory that they require would see them swap places with South Africa, and place them perching precipitously above Australia thanks to one extra series win.

The only aspect of this series to lament is that it takes place over just three matches, when it surely deserves a minimum of four.  One can only hope that the outcry that this decision has merited will influence the judgment of the relevent authorities next time around.

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