NZC not open to negotiating 2024 SA Test dates

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is not open to negotiating the dates of the two-Test series against South Africa scheduled for February next year, despite CSA’s hopes that the matches could be moved to avoid a player availability crunch with the SA20. The matches, due to take place from February 4 to 17, 2024, necessitate that South Africa arrive in late January but will clash with the latter stages of the SA20 and CSA was hopeful of discussing a reschedule but NZC insists the fixtures are set, as per the FTP.

“These Tests have been part of the FTP since it was announced two years ago,” Richard Boock, NZC’s manager of public affairs, told ESPNcricinfo. “We’ve collaborated and agreed dates with CSA, who have confirmed the tour, acknowledged the arrangements and have been in receipt of the schedule for several weeks. Flights have been confirmed, dates for the practice game have been agreed, and we’re looking forward to the squad’s arrival. The Proteas are a popular and formidable Test team and we view them as an important part of our home summer schedule.”

New Zealand were unable to adjust South Africa’s fixtures to any other time in a home season which also includes a visit from Australia, whose series must end before late March for the IPL.

That means South Africa could be forced to field a makeshift Test side with a significant proportion of their first-choice players required for the SA20. Although South Africa’s centrally-contracted players are bound to both the national team and the SA20, CSA has guaranteed the SA20 first rights to the players over the January window and as such, the players will be obliged to play for their franchises rather than the national team. An SA20 mini-auction will take place in September which could see more players snapped up for the league and will also give CSA a clearer idea of who can make the trip to New Zealand.

The series in New Zealand will be South Africa’s second engagement of the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle, during which they will only play two-Test series. It is understood that there are serious concerns within CSA of the quality of the squad South Africa will be able to send to New Zealand but no suggestion that they will forfeit entirely. On Wednesday, CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki told ESPNcricinfo the organisation was mindful of their bilateral obligations, while also stressing that the SA20 takes first priority.

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