But just in case any of Steve Smith’s men require a little added incentive to get themselves up for the fourth Test of a highly-charged tour, half a million US dollars from the International Cricket Council is up for grabs.
India locked up top spot on the ICC’s Test rankings for the governing body’s official April 1 cut-off date, and the US $1 million prize cheque that goes with it, with their second Test victory in Bengaluru. Australia faced a mammoth task to wrestle the No.1 ranking off Virat Kohli’s side on this tour; they would have needed to win the four-Test series three- or four-nil.
But the $500,000 that goes to Test cricket’s runners-up come April 1 is certain to end up in the hands of either Australia or South Africa.
The third South Africa-New Zealand Test also gets underway on Saturday, with the Proteas holding a 1-0 lead going into the final game of their three-match series against the Black Caps.
Should Australia prevail in the Himalayan foothills over India, they’ll hang onto second spot regardless of how the Proteas fare in Hamilton. A draw or a loss in the fourth Test against India will only be enough for Steve Smith’s men to cling on to second spot if South Africa also lose their Test against the Kiwis.
Australia’s destiny is in their own hands, and after the Proteas pipped them in the one-day international rankings by snaring top spot with a 3-2 series win in NZ earlier this month, the men in Baggy Green will be intent on achieving a small consolation. For India, their guaranteed prize money represents sweet revenge.
Last year they were the No.1 Test nation after England dethroned South Africa from top spot, until Australia beat New Zealand to leapfrog Virat Kohli’s side at the last minute.