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Thu Apr 17 14:55:12 SAST 2014

Spare calendar, anyone?

Firdose Moonda | 13 June, 2012 06:430 Comments

IF YOU needed proof that sport can sometimes be silly, cricket will provide it. This weekend, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will play in an unofficial Twenty20 series.

Such a thing actually exists and was primarily driven by South African interests.

Let's go back to late last year. South Africa, apparently on head coach Gary Kirsten's request, asked Zimbabwe if they could go and beat them up for five days in June as part of their preparations for the World T20. Remarkably, Zimbabwe agreed.

At face value, the contest made little sense from both sides, even to the most logical of us. South Africa wanted to prepare for a 20-over tournament that will be played in September in Sri Lanka, in Zimbabwe in June, three weeks before departing to contest for the No1 spot in test cricket in England.

They seem to have countered some of the clashes that will arise from that by naming a 20-over squad that does not include captain AB de Villiers.

It is also robbed of the most experienced bowlers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Those three evidently do not need to prepare because their schedule, which will include the full tour of England, is too demanding.

Bizarrely, Johan Botha, who will be released from his Cricket SA contract after the World T20, will captain the side even though vice-captain Hashim Amla is part of the squad. Andrew Hudson said the selection panel felt Botha was the "best man for the job", which is only another way of saying they either have no faith in the deputy, Amla, or that he no longer wants to do it.

For Zimbabwe, the event has given their cash-strapped board somewhere to hide. Zimbabwe Cricket postponed the scheduled tests against Bangladesh in August, saying pitch surfaces in Bulawayo and Harare would need to be scarified at that time. They added that they could not do it in June, as planned, because of South Africa's visit. They forgot to say they probably cannot afford to host any incoming tours.

It means Zimbabwe will not play a test for the rest of the year, after making a fairy-tale comeback to the format 12 months ago.

Bangladesh are probably the only team that will benefit. They had no competitive matches after being snubbed by Zimbabwe and then South Africa, whom they approached to play an ODI series in June.

Given the weather, and the impossibility of the timing, Cricket SA turned them down, but did not object to their being part of the Zimbabwe arrangement, which has now been distorted out of the shape Cricket SA first had in mind.

To add to that, Cricket SA has also taken away the opportunity for some, like Faf du Plessis, to play in the 20-over competition in England, which may have been an actual shot at competitive cricket.

In the words of Denesh Ramdin, who said to Viv Richards after his century in the third test against England earlier this week: "Yea CSA Talk Nah."

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Spare calendar, anyone?

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Thu Apr 17 14:55:12 SAST 2014 ::

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