With the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingsmead getting washed out, leaving the final Test of the series to decide the outcome of the two-match rubber, captains of the two teams – New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis – have called for more matches in a Test series.
“I don’t know if you have too many lotteries in Test cricket,” Williamson said ahead of the second Test on Friday (August 26). “Over five days, the team that plays more consistent cricket over a period of time wins the match, but it is a shame that we aren’t able to play two full Tests, perhaps even more.”
The South African skipper too voiced concerns similar to his counterpart and said: “Two-test series is too short. With the current schedule, a five-Test series will be hard to slot-in going forward. For me a three or four-match series is ideal. When you play two Tests, you just get going, there’s always a great match and then the series is finished. Two is just too short, especially now that we’ve had one rained off.”
Du Plessis had voiced his disappointment after three and a half days of play was lost in Durban, with less than 100 overs bowled. South Africa, batting first, were bowled out for 263, before the visitors lost two early wickets.
Du Plessis, who plays for Twenty20 franchises across the world, stated that Test cricket remains the ultimate format of the game. “Test cricket is the best thing to play,” Du Plessis said at the pre-match press conference. “That is the challenge you want. You want to sit after a day’s play as a bowler (with) your toenails bleeding and you are extremely tired and you want to, for the guys that drink beer, have a sip at the end and say we gave it everything.”
“You can’t copy the feeling of winning a Test match in any other format, especially in T20s,” he said.
He even added that despite the glamour associated with T20 cricket, players have been expressing their desire to play more Test cricket.
“I am (concerned that the message is not getting through). When we fill those anonymous forms, the general thing that comes out is to play Test cricket. It’s still the No.1 thing for international players. To create a structure for the Test championship, that’s a great step in the right direction, but you need to play as many Tests as possible.”
South Africa, who are lying at No 7 in the ICC Test Rankings, can improve upon their standings by one place if they manage to beat New Zealand in Centurion. “Definitely, there is more pressure, especially because we are a team that is very disappointed with where we are lying on the rankings at the moment. We’ve got much higher standards. We want to win as many Tests as possible to try and jump up that ladder again,” he said.
With the pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander waning in power, and the opening combination yet to be settled, South Africa haven’t been at their best in recent times. They will play 11 Tests in the ongoing season, although most of it would be away from home, and that wouldn’t help their case in moving up the rankings.
“We don’t play a lot of Tests at home. If you look at India, this season they have got 15 Tests coming up in their country. You want to try and make use of your own conditions and play as many Tests as possible.
“We play a little bit and then there’s a big break. With the space the team is in now, we would like to play as much Test cricket as possible and try and build something. We have a mission as a team and we are trying to get there,” he concluded.