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Australia, South Africa in four-Test talks

Daniel Brettig

March 11, 2014

Comments: 138 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke and Graeme Smith shake hands after Australia's thrilling win, South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day, March 5, 2014
Australia and South Africa have played Test series of three matches in every meeting but one since the latter's readmission © Getty Images
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Australia and South Africa are in talks to expand the size of their future Test series meetings from three matches to four, following the dramatic and high quality series completed at Newlands last week.

As part of the range of FTP agreements being negotiated between ICC Full Member nations following the approval of a series of resolutions that will bring fundamental changes to the way the game is run, Cricket Australia's chairman Wally Edwards said there was a desire to recognise highly competitive match-ups by playing them over a longer duration.

Australia's 2-1 victory remained in doubt until the final half-hour of the series following an encounter of many fluctuations. Edwards is strong in his desire to see such contests become more frequent in world cricket, not only among the presently strong nations but also those looking to improve.

"We're talking to them at the moment about more," Edwards told ESPNcricinfo during the Cape Town Test, during discussions with Cricket South Africa. "They deserve more, and you've got to recognise the quality of the cricket I think. I think it's not a bad stepping stone to have recognised quality by another Test or two. That principle might come out."

Australia and South Africa have played Test series of three matches in every meeting but one since the latter's readmission to international cricket in 1992. The previous series in South Africa in 2011 was shortened to two matches, a decision CA expressed some disappointment about at the time.

Under the commitments made by Australia and England to play each of the top eight nations at home and away over an eight-year period, the boards will also work to find additional windows for fixtures against lower-ranked nations, which had been increasingly marginalised in recent years.

Edwards acknowledged that Australia may consequently return to the scheduling of international matches in the Northern Territory and Queensland during the winter months in order to better accommodate their new obligations.

"Half the challenge is fitting this in," Edwards said. "But Test series have been getting quicker, more compressed because that's life. It's the way the world is, faster, closer and quicker. I think you always want a warm-up game or two, because one might be washed out, that's why you'd want two. [But] this has been a very good series."

It is also believed that South Africa's future series with India may also be played over four Tests, rather than the two their most recent encounter was shrunk down to following a period of considerable doubt about the BCCI consenting to tour at all.

That stand-off was emblematic of the troubles Edwards had witnessed at the ICC since his arrival on the executive board as a reform-minded CA chairman in 2012.

He has spoken to ESPNcricinfo about the pathway from the rejection of the Woolf Report to the current resolutions, and about the difficulty of achieving meaningful change at the ICC following his successful campaign to streamline Australian cricket's governance and add independent voices to the CA board table.

The full interview will be published later this week.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by eggyroe on (March 13, 2014, 19:06 GMT)

Surely,when all is said and done,a 5 Test Match Series is the ultimate requirement between all Test Match playing countries.We do not need all these Mickey Mouse Tournaments all around the World with players dressed in pyjamas.Test Match Cricket should be the ultimate goal for any cricket player in the world.The standard of cricket players around the whole of the Test Match playing world will improve substantially,because surely that is what the game requires that all teams reach a comparable standard to allow a fairly equal game.When this happens surely the crowds apart from Australia & England which already play in front of Full Houses for Test Matches,will increase to allow the the various cricket boards to stop pleading poverty and having to dream up a competition that no test match standard player would even contemplate playing in.It all boils down to the fact that Test Match Cricket is the ultimate standard and all players of the game should attain Test Match standard of play

Posted by baghels.a on (March 13, 2014, 8:49 GMT)

@Biggus, as i said i respect your views and i respect your age and amount of time you have spent watching test cricket, so as i see it basically you and me are on the same page as both of us love our test cricket, only difference being i am also game for shorter formats of variety of reasons, each to his own i guess, anyways in our banter about usefulness or futility of t20 we forgot about the original article and i retriete myself again that 4 test series is a welcome step and it deseves nothing less if not 5.

Posted by Biggus on (March 13, 2014, 5:11 GMT)

@baghels.a:- Fair enough, but I'm an unabashed cricketing romantic and T20 is about as romantic as a quickie behind the bike shed. I like the fact that watching traditional cricket has space and time for reflection and contemplation. I like the fact that it's an anachronism, out of step with the "OMG, I have a million things to do today" pace of the rest of my life. Some people like to escape that by lying on a beach in the sun, going fishing or hiking in the bush. Me, I like to watch test cricket.

Posted by pauldk on (March 13, 2014, 2:34 GMT)

As much as I would live a 4 Tests series between the two countries, I think the main obstacle comes down to the sell-out Tests on all grounds during the Australian summer - especially Boxing Day is the big hit - and it is a problem to find longer time to tour SA outside the Aus home summer (just look at the weather situation in SA at the moment).

Likewise SA don't want to tour over Christmas due to their own Boxing Day arrangement (even if it is only an ODI).

Therefore, weather wise, there is really only room for a 3 Tests series on either side of Christmas/New Year in the Southern hemisphere. On top of that, Australia is one of the heaviest booked countries, so it is unrealistic to suggest that they should tour during their summer.

Posted by baghels.a on (March 12, 2014, 20:17 GMT)

@ Biggus, i am not such a T20 lover and as much a test lover as you are , so your rather poetic,eloquent and in depth analysis of the meaninglessness and inadequecies of the T20 is rather wasted on me , i was just responding to certain posts which seemed like elitist snobbery to me, T20 despite all it's limitations has still multiple times more skills than kick and rush affairs like Aussie rules or Rugby .As i commented earlier we Indians love all formats of Cricket and we don't beat ourself over what consitutes real or unreal cricket , reason i support IPL in particular is because there are 7 Indian players allowed in starting xi and many of them are uncapped domestic players who toil all year long in domestic circuit , it is a nice platform to be recognised and appreciated and earn some decent money in the process, i still repeat people sure hit a lot in IPL but seriously nobody giggles , appreciate a senior gent like you replying back ..

Posted by volmitius on (March 12, 2014, 19:30 GMT)

Finally its happening. All the this time since I have started watching cricket, I wondered why they dont play more than 3 matches...same with India and SA. at last we will see some prolonged quality contest. BCCI should take a leaf out of CA.... We were unfortunate thay such high octane series lasted only 2 matches.

Posted by Biggus on (March 12, 2014, 18:00 GMT)

@baghels.a:- Sorry, T20 is colloquially known as 'hit and giggle' down here in Australia, and I rather like that euphemism. If you think we're going to stop using that term to please you then you're dreaming. Whatever connotations you choose to assume are your business, but we make no apologies for it's sardonic tone which reflects the reality that we don't take it all that seriously. It's an amusement, a trifle, something to take the wife and kids to because if you take them to that long awaited test you know they'll be wanting to go home by the end of the first session. Unlike tests or even odis they're as ephemeral as a soap bubble, devoid of thematic development, barren of nuance and about as much fun in my book as someone shouting at me for 3 hours, which the commentator is usually doing anyway. Like Miles Davis said, the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves. I just can't summon up enough guilt to care whether you think that attitude is fair or not.

Posted by AH_USA on (March 12, 2014, 15:18 GMT)

@Adrian Ratnapala: I am excited about that series too. Personally, I would like to see PAK playing on wickets that have some movement for the quick bowlers and not the ones that are in UAE but we will have to settle for the dust bowls for now.

Posted by WarVdm on (March 12, 2014, 11:46 GMT)

Hope it prospers, and perhaps curves the trend of fewer tests per series? SA vs England used to be 5 Test match series, now are 3, SA vs India used to be 3 (should have been 4) but are now down to 2 Tests; Pakistan home series tend to be 2 tests series, 3 at best. 3 Tests should be a minimum, with the exception for "developing" teams (BD, ZIM, and why not? EIRE and Afganistan). This possible agreement and the forthcoming India tour to England (5 tests, for the first time in ages) may just be the beginning of "Test Cricket" orientated tours.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 11:29 GMT)

Not before time! Test series between Australia and South Africa since SA's readmission have been mostly titanic affairs and deserve a larger canvas over which the players can better express themselves. Breath taking cricket every time. I love this idea a lot!

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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