England and South Africa’s decisive Test match was scheduled to take place at The Oval stadium. The last Test match was canceled due to rain on the first day, and the second day was postponed to honor the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. So the England and Wales Cricket Board wished to add another day after that, to make up for the time that was lost.
But the South African cricket team declined the postponement of the game by an extra day. South Africa declared that they were not ready to stay an extra day, and would go back home as per the original schedule so that they can get ready for the upcoming white-ball tour of India.
However, insiders said that the South African team’s decision was more due to practicality and the reluctance to take a chance on another match loss, which might lead to endangering their prospects of qualifying for the World Test Championship final to be held next year. When team South Africa released an official statement, they stated schedules as their reason for showing unwillingness to stay for another extra 24 hours. South Africa mentioned “managing workloads” as the reason behind their decision.
This is what their statement said, ‘The ECB and CSA considered whether it was possible to extend this final match by a day but this was unfortunately not possible due to the Proteas’ schedule and the imminent departure of the white-ball squad for another two-month tour,’ read the Cricket South Africa statement.
‘Players have already been away from home for over two months and will have only a few days with families at home before leaving on their tour of India and then the T20 World Cup in Australia.’
Only six players from South Africa’s team are set to travel to India, namely Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, and Marco Jansen.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s futile attempt at extending the game reduces the probability that a 1-1 series will see a winner. But since the earlier two games reached a decision in 3 days, England has shown commitment to put in every effort in order to reach a satisfactory outcome. Even outgoing coach of the South African team, Mark Boucher, expressed his dissatisfaction that South African batsmen did not offer ample chances to their bowlers to challenge the England team, to win what would have been his last Test series as coach. Speaking before news of his resignation went public, and after the defeat in the 2-1 series, a clearly dejected Boucher regretted South Africa’s shortage of runs that failed to support a powerful pace pack.
“England v South Africa in a decider at The Oval is a huge occasion. It’s a week for everybody to leave everything out on the field, particularly in South Africa, who are at the end of a long, hard tour of the UK. I know Mark Boucher will be asking his players to put in one last big shift. He’ll be rallying his troops”, Kevin Pietersen had hopes from African side ahead of the third test match.
The South African team has to play only one more 3-Test series in the current cycle of the World Test Championship (WTC). They will be facing the Australian team during the festive period, and will then go for a 2-Test series until they turn hosts for England in the year 2026.
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