IPL could compromise integrity of upcoming Proteas-Pakistan series

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Graeme Smith (Getty Images)
Graeme Smith (Getty Images)
  • The Proteas' forthcoming series against Pakistan might be compromised should this year's IPL start in its planned window.
  • It could mean that the four-match T20 series isn't played with the strongest possible combination despite a fanbase eager to see international cricket on local shores.
  • Graeme Smith, CSA's director of cricket, admits that the issue is a complex one due to SA's commitment to always release players during the IPL window.

While there's much optimism over the presence of the national players in the upcoming CSA T20 challenge and 4-Day Franchise series, the real possibility looms that the Proteas' white-ball series against Pakistan, scheduled for April, could be affected by the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Of concern is the four-match T20 series - considered vital in terms of preparation for the ICC World T20 later this year - which overlaps with the planned start of this year's tournament.

Graeme Smith, national director of cricket, on Monday tiptoed around the issue to an extent, noting its "complexities" and that a lack of international cricket on home soil this season can't be assumed to be enough of a reason for South Africa's top players to initially miss out on their respective gigs.

"It's a little more complicated than (simply saying the top players must play against Pakistan no matter what)," he told a media briefing.

"But it's obviously my opinion that we need to invest in South African cricket and it needs to come first. It's more complex though.

"We have made a commitment to our players over the years to release them for the IPL. It's always been a window we've committed to. So it's something that we'll need to debate robustly and make a decision on in the coming days."

It can be argued that the Proteas' coaching staff have a fair idea of what's at their disposal in terms of first-choice players such as Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Faf du Plessis, but there will come a time where experimentation needs to be replaced by continuity before the showpiece T20 event.

More clarity on what the planning forward looks like is expected in due course.

"We haven't made a definitive decision on that yet," said Smith.

"We've just recently confirmed the fixtures for the Pakistan tour and we're still waiting for final confirmation of the IPL window. 

"Internal engagement needs to happen with team management and the selectors regarding how we're going to move forward. That's going to happen within the coming days, but I need to first hear what the coaching staff have to say."

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