Cricket South Africa insists it has “the utmost respect for the Test format” following criticism of its decision to prioritise the SA20 over the Proteas’ two-Test tour of New Zealand in February.
With no SA20 players available for selection due to a scheduling clash, Proteas coach Shukri Conrad was forced to select a severely-depleted 14-man squad that includes seven new caps, including captain Neil Brand.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh accused CSA of not caring about Test cricket, while Proteas stand-in skipper Dean Elgar on Tuesday said he was saddened by the decline of Test cricket in South Africa.
Later on Tuesday, CSA released the following statement:
“The board of Cricket South Africa notes the concerns about the composition of the Test squad that will be travelling to New Zealand later this month.
“We reassure the fans that CSA has the utmost respect for the Test format as the pinnacle of the game we love.
“The dates for this tour were set when the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2023-2027 was finalised in 2022. The window for the SA20 had not been determined at that stage. Once it became apparent that there would be a clash, we made every effort to find another mutually suitable time-slot for this two-Test series in consultation with New Zealand Cricket.
“Regrettably the constraints imposed by the global cricket calendar rendered this impossible, as the games must be played before April 2025 as part of the World Test Championship.
“We commend head coach Shukri Conrad and his staff for preparing the selected players for this tour, and we are confident that they will represent the Proteas badge with honour. We wish them all the very best. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the depth of talent that we have in South Africa.
“Our schedule for the remainder of the FTP has been managed to ensure that there will not be any further clashes between our bilateral commitments and the SA20.
“CSA remains fully committed to international cricket and to strengthening the SA20, a tournament that was initiated by us to help grow and sustain the game.”