Proteas coach Shukri Conrad on Test fixtures clash - somebody got it wrong

Shukri Conrad head coach of South Africa during 2023 1st Betway Test Match match between South Africa and West Indies on the 28 February 2022 at Supersport Park in Centurion

Shukri Conrad has been tasked with taking a severely depleted Proteas Test squad to New Zealand next month for a two-match Test series due to the fixture clash with Betway SA20 back home. Picture: Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jan 6, 2024


Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad has never been shy to challenge the establishment, but he is also a very pragmatic man.

Conrad has been tasked with taking a severely depleted Proteas Test squad to New Zealand next month for a two-match Test series due to the fixture clash with Betway SA20 back home.

Leading pundits from all over the world, including two former Australian captains Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke, have been particularly critical of the decision, with Waugh stating “obviously they [CSA] don’t care” about the sanctity of Test cricket.

Conrad’s initial reaction to these comments was “not sure Steve Waugh is too worried about what I think”, before being pressed for a further comment.

‘Our hands have been forced’

“I love how everyone outside of South Africa has become experts on South African cricket. Our hands have been forced.

“There was a cock-up, a balls-up, somebody got it wrong, with the scheduling and this is why we find ourselves in this position,” Conrad told reporters after his team shared a two-match series with World No 1 India 1-1 this week.

Cricket SA’s financial plight has been well documented over the past two years, with the embattled governing body struggling to attract any headline sponsors for its men’s national team and premier domestic competitions.

This has led to the formation of the Betway SA20, under the leadership of former Proteas Test captain and director of cricket Graeme Smith, to increase cricket’s revenue stream in the country.

The Betway SA20 was an unprecedented commercial success in its maiden season last year, turning over a profit four years before scheduled, and is looking forward to its second season, starting on Wednesday, with much expectation.

Conrad, therefore, is unwavering in his belief that SA20 is indeed “the lifeblood” for the future existence of the game in South Africa.

“I think everyone understands that the SA20 has to happen... it is going to be the lifeblood of SA cricket. If it doesn’t happen, we won’t have Test cricket anyway.

“It is unfortunate, but you all saw the value of the league last year and we have to find a way to co-exist with the league, co-exist with leagues around the world to ensure the sustainability of the game. Maybe there are powers higher up that also need to start taking a few stances in terms of where Test cricket sits for nations outside of the ‘Big 3’.”

No pushovers

Equally, Conrad dismissed the notion that the team sent over to the Land of the Long White Cloud to defend South Africa’s record of never having lost a Test series to New Zealand will be pushovers.

“It is still South Africa going there. We don’t sing a different national anthem, we don’t wear a different blazer. We are going to give it our best shot,” he said.

“I hate the fact that South Africa goes there as underdogs because I don’t think we ever should be underdogs in anything we do, but let’s not fool ourselves, we do go as underdogs. We’ll have to practice our mankading skills – that is a joke – but anything we come back with, whether a draw, or we sneak a win, that’s going to be massive for us.”

The squad will depart for New Zealand on January 19.

Proteas Test squad for New Zealand:

Neil Brand (captain), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin, Zubayr Hamza, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Raynard van Tonder, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo.

Tour itinerary

Warm-up Match:

January 29 – 31

New Zealand XI vs South Africa – Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln University

Test Series:

February 04 – 08

New Zealand vs South Africa – Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

February 13 – 17

New Zealand vs South Africa – Seddon Park, Hamilton


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