Johannesburg – The entire international schedule for the summer will be thrown into chaos as Cricket South Africa (CSA) now attempts to accommodate India’s short tour with the ripple effect likely to be felt even by the time Australia tour later in the season.
Cricket SA are in no position to confirm when the tour by India will start, because they are awaiting the outcome of a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) working committee meeting scheduled for this Saturday. That meeting will outline exactly when India will depart for South Africa and based on that CSA’s organisers will be able to determine when and where the five international matches – two Tests and three ODIs – will be played.
India are scheduled to play the West Indies in two Tests and three ODIs, the last of which takes place in Visakhapatnam on November 24. The Indian team could presumably be in South Africa by December 1. The BCCI has also insisted that CSA organise a warm-up game before the internationals.
What is clear though is that for CSA to maximise the financial output from those five matches, they will have to be hosted in bigger centres, meaning the grounds in East London , Bloemfontein and Paarl are likely to lose out. Kingsmead, which didn’t host the Boxing Day Test last summer, may very well hold onto that match, over that period – with the Test likely to be the second of the two. However, which of the Wanderers or Newlands hosts the first will be a major challenge for CSA.
If Cape Town were to host the first Test, CSA would ideally want it to be played around the December 16 public holiday – which falls on a Monday, meaning the Test would start either the Friday or Saturday before that. Newlands is set to host a four-day Sunfoil Series match starting December 19, but with that venue always proving popular with spectators for Test matches, CSA may choose to move the domestic game to Paarl. The Wanderers will be free around that period as the Highveld Lions’ home game for that week is scheduled for Potchefstroom.
Whichever of Newlands or the Wanderers loses out on the Test, is likely to be granted an ODI with the other two likely to go to Port Elizabeth and Durban.
The knock-on effect as far as the Australian tour – which will consist of three Tests and three T20 Internationals – is concerned will likely involve venues needing to be changed. In the current schedule St Georges Park and SuperSport Park will each host a Test and a T20 International. Those venues are likely to lose one of those matches, with the Wanderers and one of the smaller centres likely to be given one of the T20 matches.
Cricket SA’s chief executive, Haroon Lorgat is currently in Dubai and is only expected to be back in the country next week. He will hold a series of meetings with franchise CEOs in which they will try to work through the mess that the international summer has now become. Cricket SA’s revenue streams will take an enormous hit – losses of somewhere in the region of R200-million will be incurred as a result of India’s drastically shortened trip – and for all the provinces, so reliant on income when their grounds host international matches, the outlook is grim.