Sydney, Jan 1: Legendary Australia cricketer Steve Waugh has slammed South Africa for announcing a weakened Test team for their upcoming two-match tour of New Zealand, adding that he fears about the trend continuing in other countries over playing the longest form of the game.
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 second season of SA20 league at home.
“Obviously they don’t care. It’s going to happen if the South African Cricket Board are any indication of the future, keeping their best players at home. If I was New Zealand I wouldn’t even play the series. I don’t know why they’re even playing. Why would you when it shows a lack of respect for New Zealand cricket?”
“It’s pretty obvious what the problem is. The West Indies aren’t sending their full-strength side (to Australia this summer). They haven’t picked a full-strength Test team for a couple of years now. Someone like Nicholas Pooran is really a Test batsman who doesn’t play Test cricket. Jason Holder, probably their best player, is not playing now. Even Pakistan didn’t send a full side (to Australia),” said Waugh to ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.
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.
Waugh also wants for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to incentivise playing Test cricket so that it continues to be taken seriously. “If the ICC or someone doesn’t step in shortly then Test cricket doesn’t become Test cricket because you’re not testing yourself against the best players.”
“I understand why players don’t come. They’re not getting paid properly. I don’t understand why ICC or the top countries who are making a lot of money don’t just have a regulation set fee for Test matches which is a premium, so people are incentivised to play Test Cricket.”
“Otherwise they just play T10 or T20. The public are the ones who are going to suffers because it’s not the full side playing, so it’s not Test cricket,” added Waugh.
The future of Tests is also something which David Warner, who will retire from the following Australia’s game against Pakistan at Sydney, believes will depend a lot on scheduling. "I think the concerns are with the governing bod(ies) to make sure that the scheduling is well in place. I think they're doing that at the moment.”
“Don't think it's on my terms to comment about South Africa's seven debutants (in their Test squad for their upcoming New Zealand tour). But that's just showing at the moment where it could be potentially heading. There's going to be a lot of conversations in the next year about it. For us we need to keep Test cricket alive. It's the pinnacle of the game.”
“We absolutely love it and when you get that taste of it and you're out there five days toiling – I look at that Pakistan series (in 2022) and we played 15 days of hard cricket and it all came down to that last day, that's what Test cricket is all about – hopefully that can keep surviving.” (IANS)