CSA’s India feast that flopped
Chris Nenzani (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Cricket South Africa made an audacious proposal to
India, ahead of their controversial short tour here, for a five-Test feast – at
home and away but considered all one series – with a heavyweight Gandhi-Mandela
Trophy at stake.
This was revealed on Wednesday by Anand Vasu, managing
editor of www.wisdenindia.com who
covered the eventual two-Test and three-ODI visit.
According to the writer, when CSA president Chris Nenzani
and director Norman Arendse met Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)
officials in Dubai for a “firefighting meeting” days before the disputed,
slashed tour was finally given the go-ahead, they had already been briefed
about the BCCI’s need to play some cricket at home ahead of the SA safari,
given lucrative domestic broadcasting considerations.
“With this being the case, CSA suggested that the South
African team would come from the United Arab Emirates, where they were playing
Pakistan, to take on India in two home Tests – this would have happened at the
time India ended up playing West Indies.
“CSA proposed that this would be followed by three Tests in
South Africa, and the five Tests viewed as a complete series could be played
for the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy.”
Vasu quoted a leading CSA official as saying: “We got the appropriate
clearances to use the Mandela name, and had asked BCCI officials if they could
seek similar permission for the Gandhi name in India.
“We kept hearing that (CSA chief executive) Haroon Lorgat
was the problem, but a lot of this was through reports in the media, and when
we tried to clarify things directly with the BCCI we drew a blank.”
Vasu said a big snag, according to BCCI sources, had been
the proposed third Test of the SA leg at Newlands over the customary New Year
period: the BCCI’s sponsorship deal with Sahara ended on December 31 and they
could not have played in early 2014 without time to get a new sponsor on board.
Vasu wrote: “If the five-Test proposal had been accepted, it
would have had a kind of perfect symmetry that even scriptwriters cannot plan.
“The second Test in Mumbai, against a strong South African
team being tested to the hilt in conditions they don’t really enjoy, against
two spinners on a turning track, would have been (Sachin) Tendulkar’s last.
“Subsequently the fifth Test at Newlands would have been
Jacques Kallis’s last, at home.
“Of course no one could have predicted that Tendulkar and
Kallis would call time when they did. And with Mandela passing on, there would
have been a gravitas to the series not quite matched by its official name,
after producers of triple-refined sunflower oil (Sunfoil).”
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing