The Australian cricket team were scheduled to tour South Africa for a three-match Test series in March. However, on Tuesday, February 2, Cricket Australia announced cancellation of their tour citing concerns involving around the prevailing coronavirus pandemic in South Africa. As it turns out, the tour cancellation leaves Australia stranded below New Zealand at third spot in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship (WTC) points table.
ICYMI: The proposed #SAvAUS series has been postponed, with Cricket Australia citing the Covid-19 situation in South Africa as a deterrent.— ICC (@ICC) February 2, 2021
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine led his national side in a memorable drawn series in England back in 2019 to start off their ICC World Test Championship campaign. Up until November 2020, he captained Australia to an impressive seven wins from 10 Championship Tests, as they looked one of the favourites to book a spot for the summit clash at Lord’s in 2021.
However, Paine’s fortunes turned for the worst as a depleted Indian unit ravaged with injuries managed to upset the hosts Down Under by a 2-1 margin between December 2020 and January 2021. The outcome of the series pushed Australia down the WTC standings below India and New Zealand, as the latter of the two enjoyed an unbeaten home run against West Indies and Pakistan in the same month.
Not only did the Tim Paine-led Australian side failed to gain enough WTC points in home Tests against India, they were also docked four points for maintaining a slow over-rate at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). India won the match in contention by eight wickets on the back of stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s twin batting heroics.
Despite Australia’s tour cancellation as well as Tim Paine’s captaincy blunder that cost his side four WTC points, they still have an outside chance to meet New Zealand in the summit clash at Lord’s this year. They will now be looking forward to the outcome of the upcoming India vs England four-match series, considering that Australia does not play any further Test cricket up until the final.
For Australia to qualify for the final, they would be supporting their Ashes rivals to beat India by either 1-0, 2-0 or by a 2-1 margin. A 1-0 result in favour of hosts India would also propel Australia to set up an Antipodean WTC final. A drawn series between India and England will also work out in Australia’s favour as they will leap above India in the WTC standings.
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