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Steve Waugh criticizes the leaders of the sport for speeding up the decline of Test cricket.
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Steve Waugh criticizes the leaders of the sport for speeding up the decline of Test cricket.

The former Australia captain Steve Waugh has lambasted South Africa’s decision to send a shadow side to New Zealand for a Test tour while their top players take part in a domestic T20 tournament, saying it proves the longest format of the game is under serious threat.

In an Instagram post, Waugh stated that Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) choice to select seven untested players, including the captain Neil Brand, was a significant event in the decline of Test cricket.

He further expressed his thoughts by mentioning that the ICC and other officials in charge should intervene to safeguard Test cricket. He stated to the Sydney Morning Herald, “It is evident that they are not concerned.”

“I wouldn’t participate in the series if I were New Zealand. I am unsure why they are even choosing to play. It demonstrates a lack of regard for New Zealand’s cricket team.”

“If the ICC or another entity fails to intervene soon, Test cricket will no longer hold its true value as it won’t involve competing against top players.”

The CSA board officially declared their dedication to the global cricket scene. In their statement, they emphasized that CSA holds the highest regard for Test matches as the ultimate form of the sport. The tour dates were arranged according to the future tours programme (FTP) for 2023-2027, which was finalized in 2022. The specific time frame for the SA20 tournament had not yet been decided at the time.

After realizing that there would be a conflict, we worked hard to find a different time slot that would work for both parties for the two Test series, while consulting with New Zealand Cricket.

Unfortunately, due to the constraints of the international cricket schedule, it was not possible to arrange these games. They must be played before April 2025 as part of the World Test Championship. Our schedule for the rest of the Future Tour Program has been carefully planned to avoid any conflicts between our bilateral commitments and the SA20.

The International Cricket Council has limited involvement in organizing bilateral cricket matches or domestic T20 leagues. This responsibility falls on the participating boards. According to its chairman, Greg Barclay, the ICC is unable to control the dominance of T20 leagues in the cricket calendar.

The rise in popularity of franchise cricket has affected the frequency of bilateral tours, and the West Indies team has especially faced challenges in assembling their strongest lineup. CSA made the decision to cancel a tour of Australia in early 2020 in order to have their best players participate in the first SA20 tournament, which is financially supported by Indian Premier League franchises.

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Pat Cummins, the captain of Australia, expressed his hope that South Africa’s choice did not indicate a departure from Test cricket. “I am aware that the South African team is not fielding their strongest players, and I hope it is just a temporary situation,” Cummins stated to journalists before the third Test against Pakistan.

I believe the decline is not as severe as it is often portrayed, but I do think there is a concern regarding the abundance of other cricket matches being played.

Shan Masood, the captain of Pakistan, expressed that the current situation could have been prevented through improved scheduling. He stated that it was unfortunate that South Africa was unable to send their strongest team to participate in the World Test Championship. He hopes that in the future, schedules can be arranged to ensure that the best teams compete in Test cricket.

Source: theguardian.com