CSA’s director of cricket Graeme Smith is always just a call away from BCCI supremo Sourav Ganguly, and the former Proteas captain assured on Wednesday that reports from India that their tour of South Africa would be reduced in duration had no basis.
The Times of India, quoting unnamed sources, reported that the BCCI had been “left with no choice” but to reschedule the series, with the number of Test matches reduced from three to two, ostensibly allowing the Indian team to fly out to South Africa later than their scheduled departure date of December 9.
The report implied that it was the players who were pushing for a shorter tour, with India also scheduled to play three one-day internationals and four T20s.
Smith’s response to questions over whether there was any truth in the Indian reports was a terse: “Nothing like this has been discussed.”
Smith has been a long-time supporter of BCCI president Ganguly and the mutual respect between the two former national captains is obvious. They are in regular cellphone contact.
The uncertainty is still causing immense frustration, however, because South African cricket has been down this road before with both England and Australia pulling out of tours.
Meanwhile, the selection of the Proteas squad for the first Test, starting on December 17, has been delayed. Not just because of the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid but also because of some injury problems.
Lungi Ngidi’s positive Covid test – and the fact he has bowled only seven competitive overs since July – and Lizaad Williams’ side strain are in the public domain, but there are also apparently a couple of other injuries that nobody seems willing to talk about.
On the plus side, the selectors have confirmed that they have been in contact with rampant Central Gauteng Lions fast bowler Duanne Olivier and he is available for the Proteas again. The former Kolpak player has roared to the top of the wicket-takers’ list in four-day provincial cricket, with 28 scalps in four matches at an average of just 11.14.
He has been ferocious and the thought of a raging Olivier hurling down the ball at India’s batsmen at Centurion and the Wanderers, along with fellow fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, is a tantalising one.