Eng vs SA, 1st Test 2022, Dean Elgar hopes boards will ‘provide players with more safety’ when schedule conflicts arise

Dean Elgar hopes clashes between T20 leagues and Test cricket will be minimized and better managed to avoid a repeat of the situation in South Africa in March-April, when six Test regulars chose to go to the IPL instead of going into the two-match series against Bangladesh.
At the time, CSA gave players the choice of whether or not to stay with the national team, which Elgar initially called a loyalty test that could determine their future selections in the Test side. A few weeks later, when the players opted for the IPL, Elgar’s attitude had softened and he said they had been put in “a bit of a situation”, which the team understood.

Now, in the first Tests South Africa has played since the Bangladesh series, all six players (Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and Marco Jansen) are back in the roster and Elgar has them accepted with open arms. “We were aware of the situation that those players were placed in. It was a very unfortunate situation that they had to go through and I don’t blame them for the decision they made. There was no air to clear,” said Elgar. .

He is confident that all six players have committed and will continue to commit to South African cricket. “We’re pretty sure they want to be here,” Elgar said. “I’m pretty sure if you go back they would have loved to play test cricket for South Africa. They were put in a corner and they had to make a decision and as a group they made a decision. It wasn’t an individual decision, it was a group decision that i’m totally happy with because i’ve been in more meetings than anyone else i’m really happy to have them back.

“I didn’t have my potential best XI at the time, but we introduced a lot of guys to Test cricket and it was also an exercise we wanted to try and know there could be a clash – to give the young guys a chance and expose them to this level. But now it’s good to have them back and they are more than welcome in the dressing room.”

South Africa debuted three players – Ryan Rickelton, Lizaad Williams and Khaya Zondo (as a Covid-19 substitute) in the Bangladesh series and both Rickelton and Zondo are on this tour. They also welcomed second spinner Simon Harmer, who was unavailable to South Africa on a Kolpak deal, but returned to share the wicket-taking charge with Keshav Maharaj and provide a second, specialist spin option. Whether South Africa should be just as generous with new caps and comebacks if the opposition were ranked higher is unknown, but they made it in the Bangladesh series winning 2-nil and Elgar hopes the situation won’t pan out to repeat.

“I hope if there’s some sort of clash of events, there’s some sort of thing placed between the two bodies of cricket. I’d like to think there’s something more concrete to give players more security,” he said, referring to the financial rewards for players in T20 leagues. A South African player, who earns in South African Rands, will earn many times more than his annual salary in one IPL season, not least because those amounts are paid in US dollars.

Elgar’s wish may very well come true and clashes are likely to be avoided. In a draft copy of the men’s FTP, seen by ESPNcricinfo and expected to be officially released tomorrow by the ICC, South Africa has no international matches scheduled from mid-March to late May from 2023. They sometimes have tests in January and early February ( 2024 in New Zealand and 2027 at home to England) when their own T20 league is played, but ESPNcricinfo understands that if any of the red-ball team members play in the new league, they will be released to the test squad for those matches.

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