‘We could be playing more Tests’ - Dean Elgar unhappy with ICC's FTP

South Africa skipper Dean Elgar feels that his side could have been allotted more Tests than the 28 assigned in the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-27 cylce, released recently.
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“I’m still a purist when it comes to Test cricket.”

South Africa, who currently top the ongoing World Test Championship 2023 points table with a point percentage of 75, are in with a great chance to contest the final next year at Lord’s. 

However, in the FTP 2023-27 cycle released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) recently, South Africa are due to play just 28 Tests, contrary to England, Australia and India, who play 43, 40 and 38 Tests respectively.

“I guess we could be playing more,” said skipper Dean Elgar. “It’s a sad thing but so be it. I can’t say too much about that because I might get into trouble.”

Interestingly. South Africa prioritised their new CSA T20 league over the international game, which reflected in the FTP cycle release. The call had been justified by the board officials earlier.

“We know that you need to play a minimum of two Tests in a series for the World Test Championship and so that’s what we’ve done. We also have to be honest that hosting Tests costs us money,” Cricket South Africa’s CEO Pholetsi Moseki had told Espncricinfo.

“We needed to create enough space so that we would not have international fixtures clashing with our new league.”

As for the five-day game, South Africa have extended their brilliance with a dominant innings and 12 runs win in the first Test against England at Lord's.

England had kicked off the Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes era with a 3-0 clean sweep of New Zealand in their first Test assignment of the home summer, and followed that up with a resounding seven-wicket win over India at Edgbaston. Those four successive wins came while chasing 250-plus totals in the fourth innings, which were brought about by a refreshing aggressive brand of cricket, commonly termed “Bazball”.

However, the hosts were comprehensively beaten at Lord’s, with the visitors playing the hard, traditional style of red-ball cricket. South Africa bundled out England for 169 in 45 overs in the first innings and 149 inside 37.4 overs in the second, with themselves having managed a solid 326 with useful contributions throughout.

Proteas skipper Dean Elgar, who hadn’t read much into England’s style of play at the start of the series, maintained that the new approach is not quite sustainable.

“It is always difficult to judge from afar, but I don’t think England’s brave cricket is sustainable,” Elgar had told The Rapport newspaper. “If New Zealand had taken their catches, England’s new attacking style would have left them with egg on their face.

“England’s new style is quite interesting, but it would have been very different if New Zealand had taken their chances.”

After his side secured a 1-0 lead in the series on Friday, August 19, Elgar said: “This game ended quickly. We thought they [England] would fight back hard.” Elgar said after South Africa’s dominant win.

“If they come out playing like that in an official Test match and it goes pear-shaped, that will not look very good for England … With all due respect, I am really not going to entertain that [Bazball] anymore. We have chatted about it long and hard. I just want to crack on with the cricket. I think the game deserves that respect and mud-slinging is now a thing of the past for me.”

As for his own team, Elgar expects South Africa to fight it out hard and tough to maintain consistency.

“It might be hard work for us but this is what we are here to do,” he said. “We are not here to play soft-natured cricket. We want it hard and really tough and hopefully the results go our way. I would like to think from a bowling point of view, our bowlers are big, tall, fast and strong buggers and we have ticked the boxes in regards to the spin department.”

“I’m still a purist when it comes to Test cricket,” Elgar told the BBC. “I don’t stuff around with too many styles of play. I think the game demands and kind of deserves it.”