Auckland, Jan 3: Former New Zealand cricketer Ian Smith has slammed Cricket South Africa (CSA) for naming a weak Test team for the upcoming two-match tour of New Zealand in February, saying it is a ‘bit of a kick in the teeth’ moment.
South Africa recently named a 14-man squad for the New Zealand Test tour, to be captained by opener Neil Brand, who is amongst the seven uncapped players in the team. Capped Test players in the squad will be batters David Bedingham, Zubayr Hamza and Keegan Petersen, currently playing in the series against India.
Other capped players on tour of New Zealand include batter Khaya Zondo, fast-bowling pair of Duanne Olivier and Dane Paterson, and spinner Dane Piedt. Cricket South Africa (CSA) has chosen to field a weakened Test squad due to the series clashing with the second season of SA20 league at home.
“We (New Zealand) have such a proud record in sport in South Africa. Mainly through the rugby, All Blacks (and) Springboks is one of the great rivals. We’ve always got great respect for South African sporting people. So, this is a bit of a kick in the teeth, to be perfectly honest, for us anyway at this time,” said Smith on SEN Radio.
Frontline Test players like Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Ryan Rickelton, Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Anrich Nortje, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, Tony de Zorzi, Nandre Burger and Simon Harmer will play in the SA20, as they are obliged to play in the league at home instead of being on national duties.
Amidst heavy criticism over the move, CSA Board said it is a one-off instance for the Test team being depleted on tour of New Zealand due to the scheduling conflicts between the series and second edition of SA20.
"The Board of Cricket South Africa (CSA) 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 2 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.” (IANS)