August 18, 2023 08:45 IST

Dean Elgar Laments Cricket South Africa's Prioritization of SAT20 Over Test Cricket

Deal Elgar likes to talk big, loves to walk that talk, and rarely ever holds back on cricketing topics. The former South Africa captain has lamented Cricket South Africa (CSA) for giving priority to their new T20 franchise league over Test cricket.

South Africa have prioritised their new T20 league over Tests and next year there is a high chance that the they will be forced to send a weakened squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand as it will with the second edition of the SA20 and with all their top star obliged to fulfil their franchise contracts.

“It’s tough to take. It shows what the narrative is when it comes to Test cricket, and again it’s the players who suffer,” former Proteas captain Dean Elgar has told City Press last month.

“A high percentage of the players still really want to play Test cricket, and it’s just extremely sad and clarifies a lot of things when it comes to how Test cricket is viewed by the authorities.

“We can’t butter our bread on both sides here. It’s lekker to have the franchise T20 competition, but what’s the bigger picture?

“How would New Zealand Cricket, with whom we probably have the strongest relationship of all countries, view us sending a ‘C’ side over there? That could cause a breakdown in the relationship.”

CSA reportedly approached New Zealand Cricket about moving the red-ball fixtures, which are part of the World Test Championship cycle, but the request was rejected.

In that scenario South Africa will be without Test captain Temba Bavuma, opening batter Aiden Markram, and star bowler Kagiso Rabada, along with Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj.

Elgar, who had retired from the Intertnational cricket earlier this year had lamented ICC’s FTP calendar which only gives 28 Tests to South Africa, a team with splendid bowling attack and batsmen seemingly finding their feet at this level, over the next four years.

“I guess we could be playing more,” Elgar ahd said after South Africa had won the Lord’s Test in August last year.

“It’s a sad thing but so be it. I can’t say too much about that because I might get into trouble.”

In 2024, 2025 and 2026 South Africa are due to play nine Tests a year, which is more the quantity they are used to, and there are both questions and concerns about what the state of their Test cricket game will be by the time they get to that point.

Although South Africa was never among the “Big Three,” but the Proteas has always packed a punch in the game’s longer format.

Is this the beginning of the end of South Africa’s status as a top-tier Test nation?

While heavyweights India, England and Australia will play off in five-test series, South Africa will not play any with more than two matches in the 2023-25 World Test Championship schedule. Cricket South Africa boss Pholetsi Moseki said in August it was “sad” for the purists not to have more tests but hosting them was costing the board too much money.