Dubai: England have secured top spot in the ICC Test Championship table at the April 1 cut-off date after the first Test between New Zealand and South Africa ended in a draw in Dunedin on Sunday.
This is the first time, since the current rankings system was introduced in 2003, that England has topped the table at the cut-off date.
As such, England will receive the Championship mace and will also receive a cheque of USD 175,000 which is presented annually to the side that tops the table.
For the next three years, a total of USD 3.8m will be distributed in prize money with the side topping the table at the 1 April cut-off date in 2013 to receive a minimum of USD 450,000 rising to USD 500,000 in 2015.
From 2016, there will be further increases in Test prize money.
Graeme Smith`s men had entered the Test series against New Zealand needing to win all the three Tests to move ahead of England at the cut-off date. But after the draw in Dunedin, the best series result South Africa can now achieve is a 2-0 win, which will keep it at 117 ratings point, one behind England.
South Africa now needs to ensure that it doesn`t lose the remaining two Tests so that it can finish in second place on the Championship table and with it win an award of USD 75,000.
If the Proteas win by 1-0, it will finish on 116 ratings points while in case of a one-all drawn series, South Africa will end up on 113 ratings points-- two ahead of India and Australia who are on 111 ratings points, each but Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s side is ranked above Michael Clarke`s side when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
However, if New Zealand wins both the Tests, then South Africa will slip behind India and Australia on 108 ratings points, while New Zealand will gain 10 ratings points and will jump to 93 ratings points.
England has been holding on to the number-one position since toppling India from the top spot after inflicting a 4-0 defeat in the last English summer.
At the end of the series against India, England led its closest rival and second-ranked South Africa by seven ratings points.
However, the Championship table turned on its head and become a two-way dogfight to the finishing line after South Africa, in its backyard, drew its series against Australia and then beat Sri Lanka 2-1, while in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan shocked England 3-0.
These results meant the gap between England and South Africa narrowed to one ratings point, with the Proteas having a real chance to finish as the number-one ranked side at the 1 April cut-off date.
While the weather has denied South Africa to keep its chances alive of moving ahead of England on the Championship table, it has set up a mouthwatering series in England this summer when these two sides go head to head in a three-Test series which starts at The Oval on 19 July.