Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Test cricket on trial as Kiwis take on under-strength Proteas


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Wellington, Feb 2: As cricket fans savor two of the most thrilling finishes in test match history, New Zealand is preparing to play South Africa in a series that some say will damage the status of the longer format of the game.
The West Indies’ eight-run win over Australia in Brisbane and England’s 28-run win over India at Hyderabad seemed to reinforce test match cricket’s place at the very pinnacle of the game.But at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui from Sunday, New Zealand will face a South Africa team entirely stripped of its leading players who have been kept at home for a domestic Twenty20 series.New Zealand has mostly been diplomatic about the selection of the Proteas team which features eight uncapped players, including its captain Neil Brand. But other voices have been raised in strident criticism of South Africa’s decision to give a local T20 competition priority over a test series.Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said the Proteas selection showed South Africa “obviously doesn’t care” about test cricket.“Is this a defining moment in the death of test cricket?” Waugh wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “History and tradition must count for something. If we stand by and allow profits to be the defining criteria, the legacy of Bradman, Grace and Sobers will be irrelevant.” In a subsequent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Waugh called for concerted action to save tests.
“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,” he said. “I understand why players don’t come. They’re not getting paid properly.
“I don’t understand why the ICC or the top countries who are making a lot of money don’t just have a regulation premium set fee for test matches so people are incentivized to play test cricket.” New Zealand now finds itself in a no-win situation in the two-test series. The Black Caps haven’t lost a test series at home since March 2017 but has never beaten South Africa in a test series.If it wins the upcoming series, the achievement will be devalued by the quality of the South Africa team; if it loses it may face ridicule.
Former captain Kane Williamson, who has recovered from a hamstring strain and will play in the first test, said New Zealand has to put those considerations aside. (AP)


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