SA’s Test cricketers losing out
Cape Town - South Africa’s world-leading Test cricketers may well be looking at each other and saying: “What did we do wrong?”
As the clear-cut No 1-ranked side, the Proteas should ordinarily expect to be in high demand for fixtures in the five-day format, but instead the opposite almost appears to be the case at present.
Latest revelations that a belligerent Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will not approve Cricket South Africa’s intended itinerary for India’s headline tour here this summer - and quite possibly slash the overall fixture list by as much as half - will have serious financial repercussions; a possible loss of R100-million has been suggested.
It seems the Indian authorities, who suddenly introduced a hitherto unscheduled visit there by humdrum West Indies in November (when the SA series is provisionally due to begin) and also brought forward dates for the late-summer tour of New Zealand, wish to cut the three-Test plan on our shores to two, the seven one-day internationals to three and possibly also the two-match Twenty20 series to one.
High-ranking officials within the BCCI are thought to be planning the cull as retribution for CSA’s recent appointment of former International Cricket Council CEO Haroon Lorgat - with whom they locked horns in that capacity - as domestic equivalent.
While the surrender of several one-day clashes between the Proteas and the Indian World Cup champions and top-ranked ODI outfit would also irk South African cricket fans expecting a bumper summer, bringing the Test portion down to two is a particular blow given SA’s special prowess in the five-day game.
From a situation several months ago where it had been rumoured South Africa might even apply to extend the Test segment to four, the planned three could also now shrink to a mere brace - Test purists hate that scenario because of the higher danger of a mundane series stalemate.
As Tony Irish, CEO of the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) told Sport24 on Tuesday: “We are obviously awaiting clarity on the situation, but while any reduction of the Indian tour would be unfortunate, it will be especially so from a Test perspective as we are the No 1 nation.
“I was talking to (national Test captain) Graeme Smith on Monday and he is certainly disappointed about the situation as it (presently stands).”
The BCCI is the financial powerhouse of world cricket and there must be every chance CSA will simply have to take what they can get with an adjusted tour roster.
The real losers, in what is becoming a disturbing trend, are South Africa’s Test players, who may be strutting their stuff at the top of the international pile but have not played even a four-Test series since 2009/10 when England last visited - 12 series back - and a five-Test one against the same foes as far back in 2004/05.
So the likes of great veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, closing in on retirement, must look on fairly enviously when they see that the ECB confirmed on Monday a bulging five-Test itinerary when India tour England next year - the first time these countries have played so many in one go since 1959.
Second-ranked England have just won a five-Test Ashes series in England and there is a repeat dose of five Down Under this summer.
In the immediate future the Proteas, meanwhile, have only a two-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, the three- or two-Test series against India, and then a three-Test late summer visit from the Australians.
The whole legitimacy of Test cricket - in a challenging enough modern climate for it anyway - comes under question when some countries routinely play longer series yet supreme nation South Africa almost inevitably contest shorter ones ...
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