Indians play hardball

2013-09-06 00:00

CAPE TOWN — India’s cricket authorities appear only to be adopting a more and more hardball approach to their intended main-event summer tour of South Africa.

It was reported in the Times of India newspaper on Wednesday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wants the national team to play the bare minimum of matches required to fulfil commitments under the International Cricket Council’s future tours programme (FTP).

If that ends up being the case — a consequence of their tetchy relations at present with Cricket South Africa — then the once 12-match glamour Indian visit, which CSA indicated several weeks ago would feature three Tests, seven one-day internationals and two Twenty20 clashes, will be depressingly whittled down to as few as five: two Tests and three ODIs.

The paper also said BCCI officials had indicated that if CSA didn’t confirm acceptance of the radically slashed programme by the end of September, India will invite subcontinent neighbours Pakistan or Sri Lanka to tour their country during December, which should be the peak period of the keenly-awaited SA tour.

South Africa are No. 1-ranked Test side in the world, while India are top of the ODI rankings and defending World Cup champions — a bumper season had been intended on our shores, with Australia also arriving later in the season for three Tests and some T20 activity.

Under the provisional itinerary for the Indian tour released by CSA — the BCCI claims they jumped the gun in doing so — the tour is scheduled to begin with a warm-up game on November 18, but it now seems the earliest India could get the ball rolling in South Africa will be November 30 as a sudden trip by West Indies in that same month has been arranged.

There are fears of disastrous financial ramifications for cricket in this country if the Indian tour is so badly cut back.

On the Business Day website, writer Telford Vice on Wednesday quoted Castle Lager GM Alastair Hewitt as saying the long-time critical sponsors are “concerned” about the tour being shortened.

“India is one of the powerhouses of cricket … a shortened tour will impact our marketing programmes, particularly our television exposure and association with the [Proteas] team.”

There have been no public signals yet from CSA that any bilateral talks to delicately resolve the impasse have got under way.

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