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Confusion over South African position on four-day Tests

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Captain Faf du Plessis batting against England on the fifth day of the second Test on the day that Cricket South Africa issued a statement in favour of four-day Tests. AFP

AFP – Cricket South Africa issued a one-paragraph statement on Tuesday stating it was official policy to support four-day Test match cricket.

But the statement appeared to surprise both the acting chief executive of Cricket South Africa and the chief executive of the South African Cricketers’ Association.

The full statement by CSA read: “In view of an unsourced and misleading report in the media this morning please be advised that it is Cricket South Africa’s official policy to support four-day Test match cricket.

“We, in fact, hosted the first official four-day Test match between ourselves and Zimbabwe a couple of years ago.”

Asked to elaborate, a spokesman for CSA said he was not aware whether CSA had taken a formal decision to support a suggestion that the World Test championship should consist of four-day matches from 2023.

The proposal appears to have the support of England and Australia.

The statement was made in response to an article in the London Daily Mail which claimed South Africa was opposed to four-day Tests.

Jacques Faul, the acting chief executive of CSA, said he believed all stake-holders needed to be consulted before an official position was taken.

“I was not privy to any discussions which might have taken place on this issue before my appointment,” he said.

Andrew Breetzke, chief executive of the SA Cricketers’ Association, said SACA aligned itself with the position of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (Fica).

“We believe this is an issue which needs extensive research and discussion,” he said.

CSA has been hit by controversy in recent months, with SACA, at least two sponsors and two former chief executives all calling for the board to resign.

Three of five independent directors resigned in the wake of the withdrawal of accreditation, quickly rescinded, of five journalists who had been critical of the organisation.

In the wake of the controversy, the chief executive, Thabang Moroe, was suspended and Faul was appointed for a six-month acting period, while former captain Graeme Smith was appointed interim director of cricket and former international Mark Boucher was named head coach of the national team.

It was not clear whether Smith, Boucher or captain Faf du Plessis had been consulted on the issue of four-day Tests.

Ironically, the statement was issued shortly before play started on what promised to be an intriguing fifth day of the second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands.

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