TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
THE New Year won’t be happy for cricketminded South Africans, and all they will get for Christmas is a Boxing Day charade.
India, Cricket South Africa (CSA) said on Wednesday in a release that did not include an itinerary, would arrive in the country on December 28.
A series reduced from four tests to three would start at Newlands on January 5 — jettisoning what has become the centrepiece of the South African summer, the New Year test.
That also means CSA have had to plug the gaping hole in their schedule where the Boxing Day test used to be.
They’ve filled it with the underwhelming prospect of a match against Zimbabwe under what will be the upgraded lights of St George’s Park.
Right now that game is not a test as it has been scheduled for four days, but that could change in October when the International Cricket Council (ICC) decides on a proposal that would allow for the reduction of tests by a day if the countries concerned agree.
“The test status of the match is subject to ICC approval,” the release quoted CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat as saying.
The Boxing Day test has for years been a failure as a spectacle. Crowds have preferred going to the beach or the mall or simply sleeping off their hefty lunch from the day before while keeping an eye or ear on the cricket on television and radio.
But the loss of a test starting on January 2 is a slap in South African cricket’s face that smacks of the Donald Trump of international cricket — India — throwing its arrogance around.
Also significant is the fact that India will play a test fewer than planned, which is likely to cost CSA money in lost revenue.
Not that white-ball enthusiasts will be complaining, what with India’s original five one-day internationals being increased to six.
But one of the grounds that would have expected to host a test against the Indians this summer will lose out.
The tour will end with three T20s.