Johannesburg — South Africa’s Test captain Dean Elgar said he fully understood the difficult position the Proteas’ IPL contracted players found themselves in and why they chose to play in India instead of the two Tests against Bangladesh.
Elgar said he couldn’t go into detail, but having had comprehensive talks with all the players he was satisfied with their reasons for missing the Bangladesh series. “I’m pretty comfortable with where I sit with the players that aren’t here. I’ve had some really detailed chats with them, to find out mentally where they are from the perspective of playing a Test series to playing in the IPL. I’m very comfortable with the answers they gave me,” said Elgar.
Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen and Marco Jansen — who would almost certainly have started in the first Test at Kingsmead on Thursday — are all contracted to different IPL teams, and chose to represent them in the tournament that started at the weekend.
Three weeks ago Elgar said he would be appealing to the players to show loyalty to the country. On Monday he acknowledged that a lot had changed since then. “I know the players were put in a situation with regards making themselves available,” he said. “I do know the players were put in a situation with regard to making a decision on their availability. I’m pretty sure a lot of them were put in a situation and had to deal with circumstances in which they wouldn’t have made a rash decision if it didn’t mean a helluva lot to them.”
The players held several talks with the players body, the SA Cricketers Association. “It was unfair for the onus to be put on the players. It placed them in a difficult predicament of choosing,” said SACA’s chief executive, Andrew Breetzke.
“It should have been done differently. Cricket SA should have said players have been released to go to the IPL and not said players have a choice about what they must do.”
Cricket SA’s new chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said last week that he sympathised with the players, but that the agreement that they go to the IPL is set through the Memorandum of Understanding that exists between CSA and SACA.
“I know where they stand with regards to Test cricket, and us as a Test team,” Elgar added. “I think they were put in a situation that was a pretty unavoidable one, bearing in mind quite a few guys have not played IPL before, they are pretty new to that environment and I don’t think they wanted to hurt any opportunities (they may get) going forward in that competition. And rightly so, we have to respect the situation they were put in, and we have to move on as a unit.”
“We’ve lost a few Test caps not having the IPL players here, but it’s a great chance for the others to stand up and put those players under pressure. I am confident that they can do that,” said Elgar.