JOHANNESBURG - Titans chief executive Jacques Faul believes Pakistan will help his union make a success of the Boxing Day Test later this year.
SuperSport Park will host the Test for the first time in its history after Cricket SA released another jam-packed home 2018-19 fixture list for the Proteas.
South Africa will face Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at home during the 2018-19 season over the course of five Tests, 13 ODI’s and nine T20 International matches, but it is Safraz Khan’s team who will be main the attraction over the festive period.
“We’re happy it’s Pakistan because for us they are a very popular team. And then there’s the changing patterns for people going on holiday, many are leaving for the coast a bit later in December, which may help us,” Faul said. “It’s a privilege to host any Test, but we are really looking forward to making this work.”
While the “Boxing Day Test” is an institution in Australia, Cricket SA’s attempts to do something similar at Kingsmead and St George’s Park have failed dismally.
“It’s a difficult one to put your finger on,” Faul offered by way of explaining the poor crowds for the Boxing Day Test.
“Obviously the opposition is one, but some of the reasons that may exist for people not going to the game - like they have other things to do on their holiday - doesn’t explain why Newlands is such a success, because people make going to the (New Year’s Test) part of their holiday.”
The match starts on a Wednesday and encompasses the weekend as well, which Faul hopes will help ticket sales.
After CSA trialled a maiden pink-ball day/night Test, starting on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth last year, there is nothing on the schedule next summer, something Faul says is purely down to economics, with turning on the lights costing somewhere in the region of R250 000 a day.
“It was discussed, but not heavily, mainly because it’s so expensive,” said Faul. “If you don’t have full houses for every day of the Test, it’s just not financially worthwhile.”
The Boxing Day Test will be the first of a three-match series against Pakistan, with the second and third Tests played in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively. The traditional New Year’s Newlands Test has been moved back to start on January 3.
Safraz Ahmed’s team will also play a five-match ODI series and three-match T20 series against the Proteas. The ODI series against the current ICC Champions Trophy holders will be particularly important preparation for the ICC World Cup in England later in 2019.
Prior to the Asian giants’ visit, neighbours Zimbabwe will also face-off against the Proteas in three ODI’s and three T20’s during September and October to kickoff the summer.
The season concludes with Sri Lanka also touring South Africa for another full tour. The Sri Lankans will play Test matches at Kingsmead and St. George’s Park to be followed by five ODIs and three T20 International matches.