Clarke Picks Up ICC Test Mace
Australia captain Michael Clarke has today been handed the ICC Test mace as reward for his his side topping the current Test match rankings.
For the first time since August 2009, the mace is back on Australian soil, which Clarke is delighted about.
"Having the mace back on Australian soil is something that brings us a great amount of pride," he said.
"It is a great achievement by everyone involved with the team - our support staff, our families, the staff at Cricket Australia and our fans who have supported us through a couple of really tough years.
"For me personally, as captain, this is an incredibly satisfying achievement and one of the proudest moments of my career."
These are the Test series expected to take place between now and 1st May 2014:
West Indies v New Zealand
England v Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka v South Africa
England v India
Sri Lanka v Pakistan
Zimbabwe v South Africa
West Indies v Bangladesh
Pakistan v Australia
Pakistan v New Zealand
Australia v India
South Africa v West Indies
Clarke has led his side to victories over England and South Africa to get back to the top of the rankings and believes that Test cricket remains the ultimate challenge for any cricketer.
"Test cricket truly is a ‘test’," he added.
"It requires stamina, skill, patience, fitness and the ability to adapt to different conditions and opponents.
"It is still the purest form of cricket and I don’t think there would be a young cricketer in this country that wouldn’t want to represent Australia and wear the Baggy Green in a Test match."
Although Australia currently have the edge over nearest challengers South Africa, the Proteas, under the command of new captain Hashim Amla, have the chance to return to the top of the rankings when they play Sri Lanka in two Tests in July.
A 2-0 series win would put them back ahead of Australia, although to regain the mace, they - or any other team - would need to be at number one in the rankings on 1st May 2015.
"The prestigious mace recognises excellence and sustained consistency in the traditional and most demanding format of the sport," International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson commented.
"The competition at the top of the rankings between Australia and South Africa is incredibly exciting and great for cricket.
"In fact, fans can look forward to a season of high quality competitive Test cricket with all ten Full Members involved in series in the forthcoming months. Competition amongst the top teams has never been keener."
© Cricket World 2014