New Year’s cricket Test at Newlands sacrificed

2013-10-31 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — New Year’s day will just not be the same.

These were the words of Cricket SA (CSA) senior council member advocate Norman Arendse, over the furore that the traditional New Year’s day cricket Test at Newlands in Cape Town has been sacrificed by the announcement yesterday of the shortened Indian tour line-up.

The crack of the whip by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) resulted in Newlands not getting one of the matches.

There is a feeling that the Cape contingent in the CSA, who had been responsible for the appointment of Haroon Lorgat as CSA CEO, wanted to take the BCCI on.

In a counter move — as a result of this attitude — the Indians apparently decided that Newlands would not see any cricket action during the month-long tour.

A senior administrator in the highest circles of CSA yesterday said it does not make any sense that Newlands has been totally ignored.

“This is the one stadium in the country that enjoys the best support, and no country that tours SA would not want to play in Cape Town,” he added.

Arendse said he has a lot to say about the matter, but would in his capacity as council member rather not say how he feels.

“What I can say is that as a cricket fan, it is very disappointing that India will not play at Newlands.”

There are also questions being asked whether the Gupta influence ensured that a two day warm-up matches prior to the tests will be played at Willowmoore Park, which is being sponsored by the influential family.

Leonard Rajagapaul, the chief executive officer of the Easterns cricket club, whose headquarters are situated in Benoni, said yesterday that he was taken aback to hear that they will get one of the matches.

“I was actually shocked when I heard the news this morning [yesterday morning]. I am however very excited about it and want to thank CSA for this opportunity.

“The East Rand has a big Indian community and I think that must have played a deciding role,” he added when asked whether the Guptas had used their influence to ensure that the match would be played there.

According to the initial touring programme no match had been scheduled for Benoni, and the warm-up matches were due to have been played in Potchefstroom and Pietermaritzburg.

Both those venues will now have to back down, while Willowmoore Park, which is being sponsored by Sahara, the Guptas’ computer company, will host the two-day match on December 14 and 15 between the touring team and a SA invitation side.

Good news for Durban though is the return of its traditional Christmas Test. That will be the second Test from December 26 to December 30, which will mark the end of the tour.

The tour starts with three one-day matches. The first is on December 5 at the Wanderers, followed by matches at Kingsmead in Durban and SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The Wanderers and Kingsmead are the big winners of the tour, with both of them also hosting a Test.

CSA president Chris Nenzani yesterday said Newlands, as well as Centurion and Port Elizabeth will host Tests against Australia next year. According to Nenzani they are also busy arranging a one-day series for early next year to fill the gap the shortened Indian tour had left.

The tour programme

Monday, Dec 2: India arrive in SA.

Thursday, Dec 5: 1st ODI in Johannesburg (day/night);

Sunday, Dec 8: 2nd ODI in Durban (day);

Wednesday Dec 11: 3rd ODI in Centurion (d/n);

Dec 14 and 15: two day match vs. SA Invitation team in Benoni;

Dec 18 to 22: 1st Test in Johannesburg;

Dec 26 to 30: 2nd Test in Durban.

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