TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
TWO months ago SA’s players voiced significant opposition to playing the third test against Australia in Adelaide in November under lights. On Wednesday they agreed to do so. What has made their world go round?
Not money, apparently. Rather, they have been convinced by being given opportunities to ready themselves for the newest challenge in the international game’s oldest format.
Releases from Cricket SA (CSA) and Cricket Australia (CA) said the visitors would play a day/night warm-up match using the pink ball in Adelaide soon after their arrival in Australia and that another such game had been planned before the third test.
The first four-day match of SA A’s tour to Australia next month would also take place under day/night conditions.
“The players looked at all the pros and cons,” SA Cricketers’ Association chief executive Tony Irish said. “There are still legitimate concerns around the ball as it is fundamentally different to a red or white ball.
“Some players will find it more difficult to see as it behaves differently and conditions have to be tailored to make it last.
“So there will be a number of unknowns in what is likely to be a crucial match for the Proteas against a team who have some experience of these conditions.
“What has changed is the players’ willingness to take a bold step and play a pink ball match sooner rather than later given the recent announcements from other countries that they will soon start playing day/night tests.”
Australia and New Zealand played the inaugural day/night test in Adelaide in November and Brisbane will host another against Pakistan in December, while India say the lights will be left on for one of their home tests against New Zealand this year. England are also reportedly keen to host a day/nighter.
It isn’t difficult to see why, what with almost 124 000 people flocking to Adelaide Oval to see the first day/night test.
The match generated millions in revenue. In fact, CA added Aus$1-million – more than R11-million by Wednesday’s exchange rate – to their argument to convince New Zealand to play it. Might something similar have happened in this case?
“This has never been about money,” Irish said. “CA has not offered the players extra money and we haven’t asked for money.”
Perhaps because being involved in the next big thing in cricket is one of money’s few rivals for modern players’ attention.
“This will be the first time that our players in the test squad will play pink ball test match cricket in front of such a large crowd and to be part of this novel concept will no doubt be a landmark moment in all of our careers,” the statement quoted SA captain AB de Villiers as saying.
All of which had the suits tripping over their expensive shoes in mutual congratulation.
“I want to express appreciation to my counterpart, (CA chief executive) James Sutherland, for his understanding of the issues and willingness to accede to our requests for adequate preparation as well as to SACA for their support and assistance in working through the issues,” CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
James Sutherland, the Chief Executive for Cricket Australia, welcomed the decision by Cricket SA and the Proteas.
Sutherland was on the same page: “I would like to acknowledge the open manner in which CSA and SACA have worked through this matter with us. We look forward to welcoming the South African players to Australia in late October and offering them the best possible preparation ahead of the series.”
That may be the nicest an Aussie has yet been to a bunch of Saffers.