Shukri Conrad defends SA’s T20 league priority amidst test team criticism

Shukri Conrad, South Africa’s coach, emphasizes the importance of T20 leagues while defending the team’s composition for the upcoming New Zealand tour.

Shukri Conrad, South Africa’s head coach, defended the decision to send a relatively inexperienced team to the New Zealand Test tour amidst criticism. Conrad emphasized the necessity of coexisting with T20 leagues worldwide to ensure the game’s sustainability in the country.

Top South African players will prioritize participation in the second season of SA20, leading to their absence from the Test tour of New Zealand. Neil Brand, an opener, will captain the 14-member team, including seven uncapped players, sparking debate over prioritizing the franchise T20 league over the Test series for financial reasons.

The move drew severe backlash, including criticism from former Australian captain Steve Waugh, who questioned its impact on Test cricket’s significance. Responding to criticisms, Conrad stated, “Outside opinions don’t comprehend our circumstances. SA20’s significance is crucial for South African cricket’s survival and growth.”

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“Embracing T20 leagues worldwide is essential for cricket’s sustainability. Without accommodating these leagues, our Test cricket’s existence could be in jeopardy,” Conrad emphasized during the post-match press conference following South Africa’s loss to India at Newlands Cricket Ground.

Conrad highlighted the team’s preparation, indicating that the squad selected for the New Zealand tour had prior training and would have additional warm-up sessions at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln University, from January 29-31. The Tests are scheduled for February 4-8 at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui and February 13-17 at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

Reflecting on the team’s recent performance against India, Conrad acknowledged India’s excellence but refrained from blaming the playing XI entirely. He revealed the utilization of the A side tour against West Indies as part of the team’s preparation and emphasized departing earlier for New Zealand to acclimatize better.

The South Africa squad for New Zealand comprises both capped and uncapped players, aiming to give their best despite the absence of key figures prioritizing the T20 league.

“We represent South Africa regardless of circumstances. We aim to perform our best, despite being considered underdogs. Any positive outcome, even a draw or a potential win, would mean a lot for us,” Conrad expressed optimistically.

-IANS