South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 25, 2012

CSA, CA willing to discuss Boxing Day impasse


South Africa and Australia could play festive-season Tests against each other before 2021 as the boards of both countries are willing to discuss the current scheduling. Australia are due to host South Africa in November 2016, and Pakistan over the holidays, but the fixtures could be switched after Cricket South Africa (CSA) indicated a willingness to tour Australia over Christmas and New Year.

If a rearrangement is agreed upon, it will be a change from CSA's announcement two years ago, when chief executive Gerald Majola said the teams would not meet in that period until 2020 at least because both boards wanted to host Boxing Day and New Year Tests. With Majola no longer in office, acting CSA chief executive Jacques Faul said South Africa would consider revisiting the issue. "We can always discuss the option as long as it is mutually beneficial," Faul said.

Apart from the ongoing tour, South Africa had always visited Australia over the holiday season. They made five trips after readmission before Majola convinced the ICC not to include another visit in that period in the 2012-2020 FTP. His reasons were driven by Australia's refusal to tour South Africa over the same time.

"When the FTP was being discussed we brought forward a proposal that we would play them once in Australia and once at home. They didn't accept our proposal," Majola said in November 2010. "We thought if they don't want to tour here, we will also say we don't want to tour there during that time so we can host our own Tests."

Majola's rationale seemed to make sense but South Africa brought the policy into question when they scheduled a Twenty20 instead of a Test on Boxing Day this summer. New Zealand will be touring South Africa and will play three Twenty20s on December 21, 23 and 26. CSA thought that would be the best way to maximise revenue over the period, given the opposition. However, they gave an assurance that there would be a Boxing Day Test in future seasons.

While the Boxing Day Test is regarded a grand tradition in South Africa, as it is in Austalia, it not particularly profitable for CSA, with numbers dwindling after the first day. In contrast, festive-season Tests draw the biggest international crowds of the summer in Australia. For that reason, CA would prefer if South Africa travelled to Australia and not vice versa. Hosting South Africa would also be to CA's liking because, along with England and India, they are big draw cards.

"We have a long-held view that our preference is to play South Africa during that festive season," James Sutherland, CA chief executive, said. "We understand the background and the reasons why that hasn't happened this time, but
it's not as easy as that. There's a future tours programme that is in place until 2020. While we might like to try and engineer something, if that was a possibility, the knock-on effects all around the
calendar would be quite significant. But it would be a nice conversation to have. Both commercially and in terms of the promotion of the game here, it's something that we have wanted to preserve."

The FTP has already been planned for the next eight years and Australia will host the Ashes, and series against India, New Zealand and West Indies over the next three. South Africa are due to tour in November 2016 with Pakistan to follow later that year. That could be an opportunity for the boards to agree to move the fixtures so South Africa visit over Boxing Day and New Year. Sutherland and Faul will meet at the ICC Chief Executive's Conference in Dubai this week and Sutherland said it would be "something to add to the agenda."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Heather on November 28, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    Being a Capetonian, I have been attending the traditional "Second New Year's Day" matches at Newlands for over 30 years, and so have many others. It would be a shame should CSA deprive us of that pleasure. Some things in life should really be above mere monetary gain. Having said that, I realize I am probably shouting against thunder. So here is a suggestion: one year we go to Oz, the next they come here. Why should the arrogant lot down under dictate things?

  • Amol on November 28, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    Anything decision that comes out will be surely better than the decision of replacing of the Boxing Text at Durban by some meaningless rubbish T20 match. There...there you see...there's actually where the deterioration of cricket kicked off.

  • Rob on November 27, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    SA should never tour any other country over the festive season. Look after those at home etc and really establish a Boxing Day test tradition at one ground. Repetition of a New Year test works so well at Newlands, why not elsewhere on December 26? I'd pick St Georges in Port Elisabeth. And, for once in the calendar only have a couple of days between tests so always start any New Year test on January 2nd so as mnay people as possible can go to the fixture.

  • Andrew on November 27, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    @PureTom on (November 26 2012, 07:35 AM GMT) - IF, Sth Africa toured Oz for a Boxing Day Test at the MCG, you could almost guarantee (weather permitting) 75-85,000 people on Day 1!

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Makes no logistical sense for South Africa to tour Australia over Christmas as both countries are in the Southern hemisphere at the peak of there respective cricket seasons. November tours make more logistical sense as either country has to alternate every year in touring each other. This is a good preamble for both countries' busy cricket season's. Three or Four Tests, Day/night if possible in November would be perfect.

  • Tom on November 26, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    As a South African I initially agreed with CSA's viewpoint on the issue, but as I have become more aquainted with the facts my viewpoint has swung quite drastically. Firstly to expect a 1 to 1 arrangement is just not practical, maybe Australia could visit us for every 2 or 3 times we go there but the Durban test is always embarassingly poorly attended and while the Newlands test is well attended it's still only around 25000 supporters a day. The Australian grounds host 60-70000 a day for the same 2 tests! There is simply no comparison there. The nail in the coffin for me though was CSA scheduling a T20 instead of a test for boxing day! After going on and on about tradition and values and blah blah blah they quite happily decided to "maximise revenues" anyway. So why not tour Australia? The worst outcome of this whole fiasco though is not the timing of the tests so much as that there will be NO FULL TOUR between SA and Aus until after 2020.

  • Stanton on November 26, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I still feel that if Australia are keen on the future of cricket, they should be willing to sacrifice one summer and tour other countries as well, and do a christmas tour in South Africa at least. It is pathetic that they expect other coutries to tour to them over the Christmas/new year period because it is "profitable", it is not suppose to be purely out of profits, but to move the game forward, as it is at the moment moving no where. It's just as profitable here in South Africa, so why not tour?

  • Rohan on November 26, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    I find it very strange that, despite the tradition of great cricket between Australia and SA, there can't be engineered a five test series instead of these brief and a little unfulfilling three test series. It's disappointing SA won't play a Boxing Day test, but really whose loss is it most? Sri Lanka are thrilled to have another Christmas test, it'll be good cricket and be very well attended, so bad luck SA, seeya later!

  • Paul on November 25, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    While never a great Gerald Majola fan, I agree with him on this one. Why should we sacrifice our high summer calendar if Australia refuses to do likewise. The solution, as I see it, is for both countries to compromise. We each take a bit of pain when we have to tour the other nation over Christmas and New Year. Otherwise, we simply agree that we'll both protect our Christmas/New Year calendar and schedule Tests between these two countries outside of these times. Goose, gander. Need I say more?

  • Prashan on November 25, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    @Metro-ant, yes I am a Lankan and have to say that we have played our worse test cricket both home and away against the Aussies and that is why we have only managed just one test win against Aussies and that was in 1999. We will have great support next month but not turning pitches at all. Look at the 4 tests we won sans Vaas and Murali as 3 were in Galle and 1 in Durban last year where it was like 70% of Galle in terms of spin. I hope we can win in Sydney but it spins less these days than once a upon a time. Hobart will be the toughest for us. But still my worry is as to how can we get 20 wickets as only Eranga is the one who has a glimmer of hope.

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