BIRMINGHAM, England - Australian captain Steve Waugh made history today when he was presented with the International Cricket Council Test world championship trophy at Edgbaston.
Waugh and his players received the trophy - a mace design produced in silver and gold, bearing the national logos of all Test countries and valued at STG30,000 ($A81,900) - on the eve of the first Ashes Test against England.
Australia is the first country to win the newly-introduced award and the ceremony was a stark reminder to England, training nearby, of the task that awaits them when play begins tomorrow.
Waugh's team is No.1 on the rankings ahead of South Africa, with England a distant third.
"The ICC Test championship trophy is a great idea," said Waugh.
"Since the game began people have debated which the best Test side is at any one time.
"The introduction of this league table, coupled with the ICC's ten-year tours program, means we will now have a definitive answer to that question.
"It's a huge honour for Australia to be the first holder as the players place enormous value on their success in this form of the game."
Australia has won ten of its last 13 series, lost two and drawn one, while South Africa has won ten of its last 15, with three losses and two draws.
Those two sides play each other home and away over the next nine months, giving South Africa the chance to become No.1.