Durban will not host a Test against India this summer after Cape Town, Centurion and Johannesburg were named as the venues for South Africa's three-match series. The news is particularly surprising since Durban is documented to have the largest Indian population outside of India.
Since readmission, when India first visited South Africa, there has only been one tour in which India did not play a Test in Durban. In 2001, the matches were held in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. Kingsmead has been a Test host in all India series of three Test matches or more.
The same Test venues were chosen to host the T20Is against India. The T20s will all be double-headers with the South African Women playing the India women before the men's matches.
The only consolation for Kingsmead is that it will host the first of the six ODIs. The second and sixth ODI will both be played at Centurion's SuperSport Park with Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth being given the third, fourth and fifth matches.
In their release confirming the fixtures, CSA did not provide an explanation for Durban's exclusion and Dolphins CEO Heinrich Strydom admitted he was not privy to the exact reasons behind it. "With the shortened tour, it was a tricky one for them to sort out," Heinrich Strydom, Dolphins CEO told ESPNcricinfo. "We just want to serve cricket as best as we can."
ESPNcricinfo has learned Kingsmead had to take the fall for contractual agreements CSA made with other stadia and the India series being cut from four Tests to three. As a result, one major ground had to lose out and it was expected to be the Wanderers. Since there are two Test venues on the Highveld, SuperSport Park, not given an Australia Test, was thought to be the favourite venue to host India, while the Wanderers, South Africa's largest stadium, could be content with the inaugural T20 Global League final. Instead, Kingmead was cut off.
South Africa have grown wary of playing India at a venue where they enjoy a large support base and a surface that has become slower over the years. India have won one Test win at Kingsmead - and only two in South Africa - in 2010. Still, there may be a subcontinental argument. Sri Lanka's only Test win in South Africa was achieved in Durban in 2011 and Pakistan's first of two Test wins in the country came at Kingsmead, though that was in 1998.
A more convincing argument could have been the debacle of last summer, when Durban's August Test against New Zealand was unable to be concluded after the outfield became waterlogged following a massive storm. The fault, though, was largely CSA's after they didn't allow much time for the outfield to settle after a re-scarifying process. Some sources said the incident last year had nothing to do with the scant fixtures the venue will stage this summer.
The biggest beneficiary in Test terms is St George's Park, where a four-day, day-night match against Zimbabwe over Boxing Day and a Test against Australia will be held.