Durban discarded as Test venue for India series

27 September 2017 - 18:15
By Telford Vice
An empty Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, during the first of four Tests between hosts South Africa and England on Boxing Day, December 26.
Image: GETTY IMAGES An empty Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, during the first of four Tests between hosts South Africa and England on Boxing Day, December 26.

This summer‚ for the first time since South Africa’s re-admission to Test cricket 25 years ago‚ Kingsmead Stadium in Durban will not host India in a home series of at least three matches.

The itinerary for India’s tour‚ which was finally announced on Wednesday‚ includes neither a Boxing Day nor a New Year Test — both firm fixtures on the South African calendar.

Instead‚ India will start the series at Newlands on January 5 before playing in Centurion and at the Wanderers in Gauteng.

That’s one fewer Test than they were set to play‚ but a one-day international has been added to the schedule.

“With the shortened tour it was a tricky one for [Cricket South Africa] to sort out‚” Dolphins chief executive Heinrich Strydom said.

“We just want to serve cricket as best as we can.”

Subjecting the Indians to consecutive tests on the harder‚ faster Highveld pitches could be interpreted as South Africa’s reaction to the diabolical surfaces they were forced to play on in India in 2015.

Leaving Kingsmead out of the equation could also be a tactical ploy: South Africa have won only four of the nine tests they have played there against Asian opposition.

Durban’s slower pitches might thus be seen as having played into sub-continent teams’ hands‚ and the significant support those sides tend to receive from the city’s large Asian community won’t have helped the ground’s cause.

But it will no doubt sting that community that a venue that staged South Africa’s first home test after isolation‚ against India in November 1992‚ would seem to have been at best ignored and at worst snubbed.

A CSA release on Wednesday did not give reasons for the decision.

The only other time on a tour of South Africa that India did not play a test in Durban was in November 2001‚ when only two matches were scheduled — in Bloemfontein and at St George’s Park.

This summer Kingsmead will have to be satisfied with a mere ODI out of the 12 matches India will play in South Africa.

If Kingsmead is on the swings‚ Centurion is on the roundabouts. In addition to the second test the latter will host two ODIs and a T20.

India’s women’s team will also visit South Africa this season to play three ODIs and five T20s‚ the last three of the latter as part of a double-header with the men’s fixtures.

India itineraries:

Men: Dec 30 and 31: tour match‚ Paarl

Jan 5 to 9: 1st test‚ Newlands

Jan 13 to 17: 2nd test‚ Centurion

Jan 24 to 28: 3rd test‚ the Wanderers

Feb 1: 1st ODI‚ Kingsmead

Feb 4: 2nd ODI‚ Centurion

Feb 7: 3rd ODI‚ Newlands

Feb 10: 4th ODI‚ the Wanderers

Feb 13: 5th ODI‚ St George’s Park

Feb 16: 6th ODI‚ Centurion

Feb 18: 1st T20‚ the Wanderers

Feb 21: 2nd T20‚ Centurion

Feb 24: 3rd T20‚ Newlands

Women: Feb 2: tour match‚ Bloemfontein

Feb 5: 1st ODI‚ Kimberley

Feb 7: 2nd ODI‚ Kimberley

Feb 10: 3rd ODI‚ Potchefstroom

Feb 13: 1st T20‚ Potchefstroom

Feb 16: 2nd T20‚ East London

Feb 18: 3rd T20‚ the Wanderers

Feb 21: 4th T20‚ Centurion

Feb 24: 5th T20‚ Newlands

 - TimesLIVE