Only two SA Tests for Oz

2011-03-01 15:31
SA Test cricket (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – The ever-cluttered global cricket programme has curtailed South Africa’s home cricket series against Australia early next summer to a two-Test affair.

Sport24 understands that this situation has come about because of the need to schedule the third edition of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament pretty close to when the Aussies visit in October.

So the original plan to play three Tests was scuppered and for the first time ever these great foes will lock horns just twice in five-day combat.

It was common in the pre-isolation period for them to play five-Test series, while in the period since South Africa’s return from the wilderness all have been three-Test affairs, whether home or away.

Two-Test series tend to be frowned upon by devotees of the extended game, because of the increased likelihood that the battle will be indecisive, at either 1-1 or with two draws, and people crying out in vain for a decider under those circumstances.

But if there is a silver lining, it is that Australia will apparently “owe” South Africa a Test on our soil now, meaning that the next time they tour there will be four Tests.

Cricket South Africa unveiled international plans for the 2011/12 season on Tuesday, revealing that five Tests will be staged at home – the two against Australia and then three against Sri Lanka in the prime holiday season nearer mid-summer.

Although any Proteas series against Australia obviously commands greater “needle” given the rich heritage between the two powers, it is worth keeping in mind that the Lankans (due in December and January) are currently one rung higher than the Australians in fourth spot on the ICC rankings; South Africa remain second behind India, with England third.

And CSA says that both tours will include combat in all three forms of the international game: apart from the five Tests, the season will also comprise a generous 11 one-day internationals and “four or five” Twenty20 contests.

The ODI quota will include an unexpected visit by West Indies in January, “part of the ICC’s new ODI championship to give this format a more relevant context”, according to CSA’s media release.

Fixtures will be announced in due course.

As reported by Sport24 a few months ago, the Test stronghold of Newlands could benefit from a five-dayer against each of Australia and Sri Lanka (the latter almost certainly the traditional “New Year” Test).

Read more on:    proteas

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