Proteas oppose four-day Test

HARARE - Proteas players have opposed to the proposed historic four-day Test against Zimbabwe on Boxing Day saying Cricket South Africa (CSA) did not consult them before confirming the match.

Zimbabwe are scheduled to play a four-day pink ball Test against the Proteas on December 26 in Port Elizabeth after CSA struggled to secure an opponent for the date.

Initially, the Proteas were expecting to face India on this traditional Test date but CSA was forced to come up with a contingency plan.

Due to their demanding schedule, India will only arrive in South Africa after the New Year which meant that the Proteas did not have an opponent to take on for the Boxing Day Test.

As a result CSA and their Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) counterparts reached an agreement to play a four-day Test which ends on December 29 in order to give the Proteas rest time to recover for their first test against India on January 5.

The International Cricket Council is yet to approve of the four-day Test but the two countries are hopeful they will be given the green light.

As the longest format of the game, Test cricket is supposed last five days as this is highest standard of the sport.  

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said that removing a day would make the game less challenging.

“I am a fan of five-day Test cricket,” du Plessis told reporters after the Proteas’ 333-run win over Bangladesh in the first Test at Potchefstroom on Monday. 

“I believe the great Test matches have gone to the last hour of the last day on day five. That's what is so special about Test cricket. In four-day cricket or first-class cricket, it does feel easier because there are only four days.

“For five days you have to graft it out. Bowlers have to bowl a lot more and batters have to construct much bigger innings. This Test proved that a day five was needed. If it was a rain-off yesterday, it would have been very disappointing so I am a fan of that.”

Proteas’ Test specialist and opening batsman Dean Elgar suggested that cricket “should not tinker with something that's not broken”.

“I'm a five-day Test specialist, and it must stay that way in my opinion," Elgar said.

“I don't think you should tinker with something that's not broken. If you go and play around the world, Test cricket is followed quite well.

“If you play in Australia, if you play in England, even if you play in South Africa against the relatively big nations you still get very good crowds. There are other formats that are being experimented with.

“I don't see why Test cricket should suffer. I am a purist when it comes to that. Hopefully, the game can have longevity in the five-day format.”

Even the South Africa Cricketers Association (Saca) is concerned by the scheduling of the day/night four-day Test.

“I expressed the concern to CSA before Haroon (Lorgat) left that there was no proper consultation,” Saca chief executive Tony Irish said.

“There should have been proper consultation because there are a lot of cricket aspects — it is quite a big change to a new format, it's four days and also day/night, playing against a team that has never played pink-ball cricket.

“There's a lot of work that needs to go into it.  We know there are scheduling advantages but there hasn't been enough work done on it. I understand why CSA want to do this. They want to provide content over a period where there is traditionally cricket. I am not sure that a four-day day/night Test against Zimbabwe is the answer.”

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