Newlands Cricket Stadium might lose the New Years test against due to safety issues. Photo: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency/ANA

Cricket South Africa may be forced to move the 2020 New Year’s Test away from its traditional home at Newlands over safety concerns. 

The fate of the marquee Test match between the Proteas and England will be decided at a series of meetings in Cape Town next week. “We are worried that they may not be able to host the Test,” Cricket SA’s chief executive, Thabang Moroe, said on Thursday.

Cricket SA earlier this week suspended the Western Province Cricket Association Board, and named Professor Andre Odendaal as administrator to oversee the province's affairs. Cricket SA claimed that the WPCA Board has been conducting business under “distressed conditions in relation to, inter alia, the WPCA’s administrative, governance and financial affairs.”

“We are concerned with the finances of Western Province, so as CSA we want to understand some of the decisions they have taken and what their plans are in terms of moving themselves out of the hole they have put themselves in,” Moroe explained.

That ‘hole’ is both a physical and economic one. The WPCA finds itself in financial trouble as it seeks to raise funds for building developments at Newlands. There is currently a big hole at the ground’s Kelvin Grove End (where the tennis courts used to be) and where a new stand that will include offices is to be built. 

“I’d like to think that by sitting around the table and us working together with them as the mother body, that we make sure the Test stays there. That includes getting the city (council) in as well. There is a big construction project happening there, and there are obviously issues of safety.”

The WPCA announced in March this year that it reached an agreement with Sanlam for a new office block development that would cost in the region of R750-million. Sanlam agreed to cover 51% of those costs while WPCA would pick up the rest. However Cricket SA is not satisfied with WPCA’s progress and wants to figure out exactly what is going on.

If they are not satisfied, the New Year’s Test could be moved to another venue.

“The construction is going to disrupt a little bit in terms of how they would normally host. There is a big hole in the ground. We need to make sure that the hosting standards that the ICC expect us to uphold are upheld, that the English also feel safe in coming to the grounds and that we can cater for all the spectators because we are expecting quite a big number of English supporters,” said Moroe. 

A deadline for when Cricket SA can finally decide if the Test match goes ahead at Newlands will only be determined once next week’s meetings are completed. “We will then (explain) what is expected from us as an international hosting venue and then we can say, based on that information what the deadline will be - that is reasonable for us as CSA - to make a call as far as whether it can host the Test effectively,” said Moroe, who added he remained cautiously optimistic the match would go ahead in Cape Town.

The New Year’s Test, the second of the four match series with England, is due to start on January 3. 


IOL Sport

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