Johannesburg – The Indian cricket tour to South Africa may have been given the green light, but there will no place for the iconic New Year’s Test in Cape Town at Newlands.
In a joint statement released by Cricket South Africa and the Board of Control for Cricket in India yesterday, it was agreed that Team India will play two Tests and three One-Day Internationals. It is understood MS Dhoni’s side will arrive in South Africa on December 1 for a month long tour, before departing on New Year’s Eve. The statement said “specific dates and details (of matches) will be announced in due course.”
“We are obviously disappointed that there will be no New Year’s Test this summer,” Western Cape Cricket chief executive Andre Odendaal said yesterday. “The schedule, though, has not yet been finalised with discussions on-going, so we’re hoping that we might still be awarded a Test or an ODI.”
South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith also voiced his disappointment at the Proteas being shunted from historically one of their most successful venues. The Proteas have not tasted defeat at Newlands over the New Year period in 17 Tests since playing the first Test at the picturesque venue since returning from isolation in 1993.
“It’s our marquee game of the year,” admitted a dejected Smith in Dubai on Tuesday. “It’s the one game every year that all the guys look forward to, it’s the best attended Test match of the year, it’s just the centre point of the whole summer. It’s extremely disappointing to think it won’t be there this year (sic).”
The South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) was similarly dejected by the events that have unfolded, with Saca’s chief executive Tony Irish stating: “This is a huge blow not only to the players but also to the cricket loving public of South Africa. Cricket is the loser, plain and simple.
“In addition, CSA will suffer massive financial losses which will affect players, cricket programmes and cricket development at all levels in our country,” Irish added.
Newlands could still stage an Indian Test, with CSA President Chris Nenzani hopeful that the revised schedule for the tour would be confirmed by the weekend.
Nenzani said on Tuesday, that even though the schedule for the tour was “not ideal, having a shortened tour is better than having no tour at all.”
Nenzani was at pains to stress that CSA had to maintain good relations with its Indian counterparts, despite CSA likely losing up to R200-million in revenue as a result of the reduced schedule. “I am satisfied that we have a resolution, it may not be entirely what we want, it’s not the best resolution. It’s been hectic. But it was the best way to resolve this, to ensure a comprise and keep channels of communication open for the future.
“I and my BCCI counterpart (Narayanaswami Srinivasan) agreed that the relationship between Cricket SA and the BCCI is a historic one and we need to keep it that way. There are challenges in that relationship, but we can’t be building walls, we must build bridges,” said Nenzani.
“We can’t afford to let the current challenges cloud the future of this good historic relationship we have had. The problems that exist between individuals now, we can’t let that drag into the future of relations between CSA and BCCI, there is a responsibility on us now, to ensure that in future relations are good.”
He also said that CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat – the man at the centre of what is currently a tempestuous relationship between the two boards and who has since been withdrawn from all dealings between Cricket SA and the BCCI due to a pending investigation by the International Cricket Council “offered to withdraw as a result of this inquiry.”