Australia’s refusal to tour South Africa in March put the power of the so-called ‘big three’ to make or break the international calendar, and rightly so. Still, Cricket South Africa should acknowledge that their own scheduling input can be cutthroat at times.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
This year will be six years since South Africa played a Test match in Bangladesh and seven years since the Proteas last played a Test in Zimbabwe.
South Africa have played just five Tests in Zimbabwe since our neighbours were granted full membership of the ICC. Mitigating factors are that Zimbabwe Cricket cannot afford to foot the bill of hosting Test matches, by their own admission, and their exile from the ultimate format between 2005 and 2011.
The Proteas have embarked on three test tours of Bangladesh in 2003, 2008 and 2015, playing two five-day matches on each trip. They have also played hosts to Bangladesh in six Tests across three series, the most recent of which was in 2017. South Africa were not obligated to play a series against Bangladesh in the World Test Championship, and it is unclear when they will next visit the South Asian nation.
South Africa might well benefit from playing more Test cricket in Bangladesh who have come a long way since 2015 and would arguably be favourites to win a home series against a South African team whose struggles against spin are well documented.
Should the responsibility to make sacrifices for the good of the game as a whole fall only to the big three or should the likes of South Africa and New Zealand also be asked to play a role in nurturing cricket’s weaker member nations.
The West Indies and Zimbabwe are the member nations to have played the most Tests in Bangladesh with ten apiece while India and Sri Lanka are tied for third-most having played a total of eight.
Bangladesh can relate to CSA’s plight having suffered from Cricket Australia withdrawals in the past. Only the newest full members, Afghanistan and Ireland have played less Test cricket in Bangladesh.
South Africa have yet to arrange Test matches against either Ireland or Afghanistan. Ireland have played just three Tests and Afghanistan four since they were welcomed to cricket’s elite. Their exclusion from the World Test Championship alongside Zimbabwe has left all three nations at sea, and it surely cannot fall only to the big three to ensure that all the full members keep their heads above water.