Eng vs SA, 1st Test 2022, Dean Elgar hopes boards ‘give players more certainty’ when scheduling 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 South Africa faced in March-April when six Test regulars chose to go to the IPL rather than play in the two-match series series against Bangladesh.
At the time, the CSA gave the players the choice to join the national side or otherwise, which Elgar originally called a loyalty test that could determine their future selection in the Test side. A few weeks later, when the players opted for the IPL, Elgar’s attitude had softened and he said they were put in “a bit of a situation”, which the team understood.

Now, in the first Tests South Africa play 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 squad and Elgar has accepted them with open arms. “We were aware of the situation those players were put 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,” Elgar said.

He is confident that all six players have been and will continue to be committed to South African cricket. “We’re pretty confident they’ll be here,” Elgar said. “I’m pretty sure if you go back then they would have loved to have played Test cricket for South Africa. They were cornered and they had to make a decision and as a group they made a decision. It was”t an individual decision it was a group decision that I’m very happy about because I sat in more meetings than anyone else and I’m very happy to have them back.

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

South Africa gave debuts to three players – Ryan Rickelton, Lizaad Williams and Khaya Zondo (as a Covid-19 replacement) in the Bangladesh series and both Rickelton and Zondo are on this tour. They also welcomed back off-spinner Simon Harmer, who had been unavailable for South Africa on a Kolpak deal but returned to share the wicket-taking load with Keshav Maharaj and provide a second specialist spin option. Whether South Africa would have to be as generous with new caps and comebacks if the opposition were higher ranked is unknown, but they managed in the Bangladesh series and won it 2-nil and Elgar hopes the situation will not repeat itself.

“I hope that if there is some sort of clash of events, there are some sort of things in place between the two cricket groups. I would like to think that there is something more concrete put around that just to give the players more certainty.” he said, alluding to the financial rewards for players in the T20 leagues. A South African player, earning in South African Rands, will earn many times his annual salary in one IPL season, not least because these amounts are paid in US dollars.

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

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