Only half as many home Tests for SA as World Cup looms
South Africans will have the opportunity to watch the team they support four more times next summer compared to 2017-18.
But that’s where the favourable comparisons end with Test cricket aficionados‚ in particular‚ having been given reason to feel aggrieved.
Sixteen of the 23 games South Africa played at home last season were against powerhouses India and Australia.
Next season’s slate of 27 home matches starts on September 30 with three one-day internationals and as many T20s against Zimbabwe.
Pakistan arrive in December for three Test‚ five ODIs and three T20s‚ the highlight of an otherwise dowdy summer in terms of South Africa’s opponents.
The campaign ends on March 24 in the last of three T20s against Sri Lanka‚ who by then will also have played five ODIs and two Tests.
What with the 2019 World Cup on the horizon South Africa will play more ODIs than anything else: 13‚ up from last season’s nine.
Five T20s will be played compared to the five in 2017-18.
The big losers are Test fans‚ who will be able to see only five matches in the format. That’s half as many as last summer’s 10 and against far less compelling opposition.
But spectators were spoiled last season‚ one of only five campaigns in which South Africa played 10 or more Tests and the first time since 2007-08‚ when a record 12 were staged.
At least fans who are within reach of Centurion will have a novel reason to celebrate extra this festive season in the shape of a Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.
After years of wrongheaded reasoning for putting matches during this period in Durban and Port Elizabeth — people do not go on beach holidays to watch cricket — the suits have finally got it right.
Staging a match on the Highveld when there’s not a lot else going on there seems a sensible idea.
South Africa’s home fixtures in 2018-19:
South Africa v Zimbabwe:
Sept 30: 1st ODI‚ Kimberley‚ 10am
Oct 3: 2nd ODI‚ Bloemfontein‚ 1pm
Oct 6: 3rd ODI‚ Paarl‚ 1pm
Oct 9: 1st T20‚ East London‚ 6pm
Oct 12: 2nd T20‚ Potchefstroom‚ 6pm
Oct 14: 3rd T20‚ Benoni‚ 2.30pm
South Africa v Pakistan:
Dec 19 to 21: Tour match‚ Benoni‚ 10am
Dec 26 to 30: 1st Test‚ Centurion‚ 10am
Jan 3 to 7: 2nd Test‚ Newlands‚ 10.30am
Jan 11 to 15: 3rd Test‚ Wanderers‚ 10am
Jan 19: 1st ODI‚ St George’s Park‚ 1pm
Jan 22: 2nd ODI‚ Kingsmead‚ 1pm
Jan 25: 3rd ODI‚ Centurion‚ 1pm
Jan 27: 4th ODI‚ Wanderers‚ 10am
Jan 30: 5th ODI‚ Newlands‚ 1pm
Feb 1: 1st T20‚ Newlands‚ 6pm
Feb 3: 2nd T20‚ Wanderers‚ 2.30pm
Feb 6: 3rd T20‚ Centurion‚ 6pm
South Africa v Sri Lanka:
Feb 13 to 17: 1st Test‚ Kingsmead‚ 10am
Feb 21 to 25: 2nd Test‚ St George’s Park‚ 10am
Feb 28: one-day tour match‚ Benoni‚ 10am
Mar 3: 1st ODI‚ Wanderers‚ 10am
Mar 6: 2nd ODI‚ Centurion‚ 1pm
Mar 10: 3rd ODI‚ Kingsmead‚ 10am
Mar 13: 4th ODI‚ St George’s Park‚ 1pm
Mar 16: 5th ODI‚ Newlands‚ 1pm
Mar 19: 1st T20‚ Newlands‚ 6pm
Mar 22: 2nd T20‚ Centurion‚ 6pm
Mar 24: 3rd T20‚ Wanderers‚ 2.30pm