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Tests are still a key component of South Africa’s cricket ecosystem in, says CSA boss

Tests are still a key component of South Africa’s cricket ecosystem in, says CSA boss
Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket, Enoch Nkwe, insists that Test cricket remains a priority of the organisation. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Enoch Nkwe, director of cricket at Cricket South Africa, has denied allegations that the organisation has turned its back on Test cricket

Of the last 10 Test series that the Proteas men side has played since 2020, seven comprised just two matches per series. 

The remaining three have all seen a trio of battles to separate the competing teams. This is in contrast to some years ago when the Proteas were involved in mostly three- or four-match series, with the odd sprinkling of a five-match buffet for the cricket purists.

This decline in the number of Tests the Proteas have played has led to some accusations that the Cricket South Africa (CSA) hierarchy is neglecting the longest and oldest of the three existing international cricket formats.

These allegations bubbled to the surface and spilt over in early 2024, when CSA sent a team devoid of a number of regulars to compete with New Zealand in a two-match Test series. That inexperienced side was comprehensively beaten by the Black Caps, losing the tussle 2-0.

CSA faced much scrutiny for this decision, which was necessitated by the fact South Africa’s top cricketers were to represent their various franchises in the second edition of the SA20 – which took place from January to February. Many perceived the fixture clash as a middle finger to the longer-format cricket.

Remains a priority

In the aftermath, CSA defended itself saying it was doing all it could to preserve South Africa’s integrity as a competitive Test cricket side, while protecting its financial interests – which will likely be fuelled by the SA20 as the tournament continues to grow in stature and reputation.  

Nevertheless, in a recent interview with Daily Maverick, CSA’s director of cricket, Enoch Nkwe, said the organisation was still committed to Test cricket.

This despite the fact that T20 cricket is the one format that generates large amounts of money, owing to its overall appeal to audiences who have increasingly short attention spans. Currently, only India, Australia and England can afford to host lengthy Test series. 

“There’s been quite a lot of work being done behind the scenes, at a very high level in terms of how we’re going to make sure that we keep Test cricket going. Keep it very strong,” Nkwe told Daily Maverick.

“[The hierarchy of CSA] has had a number of engagements. So, hopefully sometime this year we’ll get a report back that we’ll be able to share in terms of the future of Test cricket.

“But from our perspective, nothing has changed. Test cricket still remains a priority. It is important. Yes, [in terms of] the scheduling of it this time around, there were quite a lot of things that needed to move around. But outside of the Proteas men’s structure, we’re still trying to look for extra content.

“We’ve been quite fortunate that we’ve managed to find a lot of content for the SA ‘A’ side. Which will be driving some of the key objectives for Test cricket moving forward. It’s not like we’re not in support of Test cricket,” Nkwe said.

“We just have to keep looking at whether there are any open windows, especially where we can play white ball and red ball at the same time. Those are the sort of opportunities that we’re looking for. So that we can keep Test cricket alive.”

‘Exciting series’ coming up for Proteas Women 

Proteas Women

Marizanne Kapp of South Africa during the third Women’s ODI against Sri Lanka in Potchefstroom on 17 April 2024 . (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

Nkwe also provided an update on what will come next for the Proteas Women team. They recently hosted Sri Lanka in a series that saw them lose a three-match T20 clash 2-1, before drawing 1-1 in the one-day international tussle.

The players now have a brief break before they battle with an as-yet unnamed opponent. This as they build up to participating in this year’s T20 Women’s World Cup, which will be hosted by Bangladesh between September and October.

“There is an exciting series coming up. But we’re not in a position to announce yet. We’re just finalising a couple of things. That series will be taking place as part of the road to the T20 World Cup,” Nkwe said. 

The series will be hosted by the Proteas’ opponents. DM

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