Cape Town – Cricket South Africa virtually surrendered control for India’s tour to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, sacrificing one of the summer’s most popular events in the process.
India will spend just 27 days in the country in December, for a tour comprising two Tests and three one-day internationals. The New Year’s Test at Newlands, one of the highlights of the South African sporting calendar is not on the schedule.
One Cricket SA insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the organisation had “basically acceded all control for the tour to the BCCI.” The two Tests are at the only venues where India have previously won Tests in South Africa.
“Everything (about the schedule) had to be approved by them (BCCI),” said the insider.
The Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) was left gutted by the news that Newlands was erased from the schedule.
“From being scheduled to host Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th Test to nothing, this is a big shock to us and it will impact seriously on our business,” WPCA president Beresford Williams said in a statement yesterday.
The WPCA stood to lose several million rand, with advertising income, beverage sales, hospitality and vending all affected, it said.
“Worse still, the most loyal cricket spectators in South Africa are going to be losing out,” said WPCA chief executive Andre Odendaal. “Newlands is the premier Test ground in South Africa, traditionally bringing in the most spectators and the highest income for Tests for Cricket SA. So we are mystified by the decision.
“There has been no explanation given to us so far, but we are encouraged by the President’s statement that CSA is “working on plans to fill the gaps in our international itinerary for this season”.
The big winners as far as the revised, shortened schedule is concerned are Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal with the Wanderers and Kingsmead each hosting a Test and a one-day international.
South Africa were originally supposed to host India for seven ODIs, three Tests and T20 Internationals, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India, ostensibly because of its unhappiness with CSA for making Haroon Lorgat it’s chief executive, have punished CSA by reducing the tour’s schedule. Cricket SA stand to make losses in the region of R200million as a result.
Preparations were already in full swing at the Wanderers on Wednesday with the Gauteng Cricket Board’s new chief executive Greg Fredericks saying: “We are delighted, there have been some lean years for the Wanderers recently, so to have two matches of this stature here is obviously fantastic.”
Fredericks did have some sympathy for his counterparts at other unions who have lost out on a lucrative gate-takings as a result of not hosting cricket’s most popular team, but he added that ultimately, CSA had to do what it felt was right for South Africa cricket in general.
“There were always going to be casualties when the schedule was shortened. We just want to make sure as far as possible that South African cricket benefits from this.”
Johan van Heerden, the Free State Cricket Union’s CEO, said his union would suffer a “major financial blow” as a result of missing out on an ODI, which was originally scheduled for Bloemfontein on December 12.
“We know this wasn’t deliberate on Cricket South Africa’s part. It was a situation that was largely out of their control,” said Van Heerden.
“It’s just a pity that politics interferes in the game of cricket. It looks like sometimes, the game of cricket is the last thing on people’s minds.”
Van Heerden remained hopeful that CSA would be able to organise some alternate fixtures to make up for “some of the lost boodle.”
Cricket SA are yet to confirm any alternative tours but it is believed the organisation is working to bring Pakistan here for a few limited overs matches in the later half of November, with Newlands set to be the major beneficiary.
There are no plans yet for the first week in January when the New Year’s Test would have been played.
As it stands there is no cricket scheduled for that week, with the RamSlam T20 only due to start on January 8. Australia’s tour here is scheduled to start on February 12.